The Stability of Sability | “Sability” by Ayra Starr


Ashe Burr, Writer/Volunteer

Ayra Starr, Nigeria’s newest superstarr and self-nicknamed “sabi girl,” just released a song that established her place as one of the hottest artists coming out of West Africa right now. 

I’ve written about Ayra on length back in October, and since then, “Rush” has charted in six nations as well as on the Billboard Global 200. Following that level of success is a tall order, but if anyone was going to be able to match it, it would be Starr. Almost as if to prove that she’s one of the next musical greats to come from the continent, she interpolated Awilo Longomba’s 1999 hit, “Coupé Bibamba,” as the basis for the instrumental of her track “Sability.” The track, which featured Jocelyne Béroard, became a staple in clubs across Africa in the early 2000s. The sampling of such a hit to create a feeling of nostalgia with the new song reminds me of songs like Nicki Minaj’s “Super Freaky Girl” and David Guetta and Ava Max’s “I’m Good (Blue).” 

The track itself serves as Ayra’s self-empowerment anthem. Melding Yoruba and English in the lyrics, Starr carries her Nigerian heritage to the global platform that she has earned. In the lyrics, Starr compares herself to the legendary soccer player Shinji Kagawa, essentially saying that she is one of the best in her field. 

This begs the question, “what does sabi even mean?” Sabi, a word from Nigerian Pidgin, roughly translates to “to know.” Her tagline, “sabi girl,” essentially means “I know you, girl.” “Sability” can then mean knowledgeability. If there is one thing that Starr knows, it is making songs that will become staples like “Coupé Bibamba” for decades to come.