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Naira Marley: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

This year, NPR Music is celebrating Black Music Month with an array of brand new Tiny Desk concerts — both from home and from behind our beloved Desk. Together, these artists represent the past, present and future of Black music. This month of carefully curated shows is a celebration of Black artists expressing themselves in ways we've never seen before, and of the Tiny Desk's unique way of showcasing that talent.


British-Nigerian pop star Naira Marley opens his set with a sly smile and softly says "Marlians," the name for his stans, a loyal group of followers who call Marley their president. Then, the first song kicks right in with a bouncy dance beat that just might get you dancing, wherever you are.

It's OK that you might not know what Marley is actually speaking about. His casual rapping style, defined by lexical tones in the Yoruba language, is enough. The first song, "Ayewada," means "where is the time and space" and has an English language line: "They are calling you thief / You are dancing wit de goat."

Marley is one of the greatest and most celebrated artists performing and producing in the Afrobeat scene today. He just released his debut album, God's Timing's the Best, on his own label. All songs performed here are from that new record, except the third song, "Soapy, '' which is a hit single from 2019.

His Marlian Records label has been producing and developing many rising Afropop stars, including Zinoleesky, a singer, songwriter and performer who performs on his own and is featured here on the last two songs of this set. Keep an eye out for him as he is sure to be another big name in the Afrobeat world.

SET LIST

  • "Ayewada"
  • "Coming"
  • "Soapy"
  • "O'dun" (feat. Zinoleesky) 
  • "Montego Bay"
  • MUSICIANS

  • Naira Marley: vocals
  • Ubiene Orowo Precious: keyboards
  • Ogueji Kenneth Uchenna: guitar
  • Stanley Unogu Amanze: drums
  • Rexxie Chisom Ezeh: keyboards
  • Elizabeth Famuyiwa: vocals
  • Zinoleesky: vocals
  • CREDITS

  • Video: Eluma Munachisom, Omobonike Olofin
  • Audio: Elisha Olanrewaju aka Audioboy, Tayo Akinyemi 
  • TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Abby O'Neill
  • Video Producer: Joshua Bryant
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Animator: Kaz Fantone
  • Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Kara Frame, Michael Zamora, Maia Stern, Ashley Pointer
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Suraya Mohamed is a three-time Peabody Award-winning producer, sound designer and editor. She currently serves as the project manager for Jazz Night In America and is a contributing producer on the Alt.Latino podcast. She also produces NPR's holiday specials package, including Tinsel Tales, Hanukkah Lights, Toast Of The Nation, Pink Martini's Joy To The World: A Holiday Spectacular and most recently Hamilton: A Story Of US. You'll also find her work on the Tiny Desk series as either a producer or engineer.