After going viral with her soul-baring single ‘People’, the afro-pop singer talks us through her own internet favourites – from Tiktok chefs to soothing sleep sounds
Every now and then, TikTok brings us a song that warrants more than a viral dance routine: 22-year-old singer/songwriter Libianca’s “People” is one of those. When a self-recorded video reminiscent of a Colours session (drop down mic and all) featuring her singing a stripped-back version of her latest single was released, the internet did its thing: 32 million streams and 700,000 TikTok videos later, the global hit led her to a record deal with 5K records and a worldwide audience demanding more of her dulcet-toned take on Afro-pop.
“‘People’ went viral overnight,” Libianca tells Dazed. “I posted a snippet of the song, went to bed and woke up to my manager (M3tro) having a ball about it. From there, it was like a positive virus that kept spreading every single minute of every day. My emails were flooding with labels and inquiries more than ever.”
A beautiful blend of R&B and Afrobeats, “People” sees Libianca exploring loneliness while navigating feelings of anxiety and depression, thus turning to various vices as coping mechanisms. “My mental health was at a low and that’s where ‘People’ came from,” she explains. “The lyrics naturally came out of me and the song represents my exact thoughts and feelings at the time.”
Perhaps that’s what makes it so relatable, with TikTokers around the world making the song’s opening among the most popular sounds on the platform – so much so that an official music video, which has amassed over 20 million views, followed while the “People” remix featuring Omah Lay and Ayra Star (two artists who have respectively mastered the art of creating viral hits) dropped last week.
When it comes to genres, Libianca doesn’t believe in categorising herself – nor should she have to. She gives herself the creative freedom to delve into whatever she’s feeling at a particular moment. Having grown up between Cameroon and Minnesota, citing the likes of Chronixx, Yebba and Charlotte Dipenda as her current inspirations, she describes her sound as flexible and melodic. “Soulful, sweet like bread and butter, and smooth like molasses,” she adds.
As one of the internet’s latest obsessions, we invited Libianca to partake in our Faves series, where artists tell us about their own online fixations. Here, she explains why TikTok is nothing without Keith Lee, and the Nigerian YouTube movie she’d pick over any Oscar winner.
Libianca: I don’t have a favourite Instagram account but this is my favourite post right now because it’s so accurate. My best friend and I can run our mouths for a good minute and then say ‘anyways to each their own’ to make it seem like we weren’t just talking shit.
@keith_lee125 He isn’t on yelp so I tagged him on my IG 💕 Southern Taste Seafood taste test 💕 would you try it ? 💕 #foodcritic ♬ original sound - Keith Lee
Libianca: I just love watching Keith’s videos and seeing how he’s changed so many people’s lives with his empathy. He’s a good food critic who has helped so many small businesses gain exposure. He’s such a pure soul and a blessing to this world, honestly.
Libianca: When I can’t fall asleep and my mind won’t shut up, this video helps a lot to calm me down. This video – plus a lit candle for dim lighting – equals great sleep.
Libianca: One of my favourite songs is “You Can’t Save Me” by SiR. It’s about meeting the right person at the wrong time, and he tells the story so well. Like I love you, but my own demons won’t let me love you the way you deserve to be loved, and it’s heartbreaking to say but you can’t save me from myself. You’re better off elsewhere. It really tugs at my heartstrings.
Libianca: This is my favourite movie of all time. I’ve watched it over 50 times and I’ll keep watching it. It’s too funny from Pawpaw putting sugar in soup to make it sweet to him cockblocking Mr Ibu. It also takes me back to my childhood, so I like the nostalgia.