Across the music videos he’s anchored over the past year, Nigerian singer Fireboy DML has shown an increasingly wide range of himself, who he can be, and what he wants you to know about where he came from. In the azure clip for “What If I Say,” he’s as charismatic as the deep oceanic vistas the overhead camera captures, and in more cinematic feats like the already iconic “Scatter” and last month’s Aaliyah-recalling “Eli,” the budgets are increased, which means Fireboy can further flex an already dazzling array of styles.
“Tattoo,” his latest video that dropped Wednesday (August 12), adds one more: sexual superstar. It’s distinctly 2020 — one of his co-stars wears a colorful face mask at the outset — and yet it’s singular to Fireboy’s world-spanning brand of artistry. As his soft voice hovers over a squiggly rhythm, his onscreen persona embodies pure desire. “Tattoo is a very sexual song,” he tells MTV News. “The moment I heard the beat, I just knew what I had to do. It just put me in the mood. I was like, let me just go right in and just stay with the falsetto.”
Fireboy said the song typifies his entire approach to Afrobeats, which is to put his own hold around the genre and combine it with the best of silken R&B. “When the song starts, you will be like, ‘Am I listening to Usher, or what is going on?’ But then as the song goes on, you will be like, ‘Oh, this is an Afrobeats artist. What’s the vibe? It’s good.’ I will actually be in the mind space of the listener. That’s basically what ‘Tattoo’ is all about. Just pure desire.”
The three-minute clip paints Fireboy as a top-floor Don Juan, with every woman in his building drawn into his magnetic energy. But that’s only the loose narrative. As ever, the visual is more about mood and aesthetics — in this case, the warm lights of desire as painted through rotating fans and lingering dusk light. “I don’t like to give away too much, because I’m a very private person, but I don’t mind giving out my heart,” he says. “You have to portray different stuff that are not usually seen in Afrobeats videos. I just like to show the African culture, the colors, the fashion, the Black African beauty.”
This is just a taste of what to expect from Apollo, his second album, set to arrive on August 20. In the meantime, spend a few minutes in the humid world of Fireboy DML in the tantalizing “Tattoo” video above.