Editors Pick

Projects Still Expected To Drop In 2020

Despite the drastic Coronavirus pandemic and the impending lockdown, 2020 has been a good year for Nigerian music. Even though the ways in which we engage and interact with the music was reduced to down to strictly earphones and speakers, Nigerian acts continued to serve us some of the best music we’ve had in a while, exploring several palettes of sounds and themes. We have been blessed with so much music from new and familiar acts, even registering a massive breakout with Omah Lay’s “Bad Influence”. Other high profile releases Burna Boy’s “Twice as Tall”, Patoranking’s “Three”, Adekunle Gold’s “Afropop”, as well as Fireboy and Tiwa Savage’s “Apollo” and “Celia” respectively.

But even though we just have just over three months left in this gruelling year, we still have loads of amazing music to look up to. Some of these are projects we’ve have been anticipating for a long time like Wizkid’s Made In Lagos.  Others are those we never knew were even in the works until their creators sparked up our interest with recent announcements. 

Wizkid – Made In Lagos

This project is one that fans and general music lovers have been looking in the sky and stretching their hands out for. Since its initial announcement on  February 18, 2020, Wizkid has been dangling this carrot in front of us for over two years now. A move which has left many frustrated. Some have even given up on the arrival of the project, adopting the ‘if it comes it comes’ model of anticipation. 

But right now, it appears “Made In Lagos” will be on our music players very soon, with Wizkid revamping interest with juicy teasers. The much-teased project is expected to feature guest contributions from Skepta, Ella Mai, Tems, Damian Marley as well as Burna Boy with whom he has been publicly handing around these days.

Davido – A Better Time

Following the immense commercial success that “A Good Time” recorded, amassing over a billion streams, Davido has promised a worthy sequel rightly titled “A Better Time”. And according to the initial announcement, we are supposed to have had the album as far back as July, but … we understand. 

With the release of his latest single ‘Fem’ which was loaded with a heavy statement for detractors, it appears the journey to Davido’s third studio album has already begun. Word also has it that the project would feature appearances from Tiwa Savage and Nicki Minaj. But knowing Davido and his affinity for collaborations, we perceive that we’d be getting an update on the guest list in the coming days.

Tems – Yet To Be Announced

Tems has been of the best gifts 2019 gave to us. Many were (re)introduced to her amazing talents with her stunning debut ‘Mr Rebel’ which served a breath of fresh air to the pacy percussive sound that dominated the music space at the time. She brilliantly followed this up with ‘Looku Looku’ which was reaffirmed what people had come to know from its predecessor. By the time she released her liberating and empowering anthem, ‘Try Me’ Tems had won the elites and streets over. She even made appearances on the biggest shows in the year-ending series of concerts off the back of this culturally and commercially triumphant record. 

And although this year appears to be relatively silent from the singer save for her surprise single ‘These Days’ and teams up with Khalid, Davido, Odunsi and more, it appears we are still in for a treat. A few days ago, she announced on her live session on Instagram that she has her debut and introductory EP coming before the end of the month.  

Simi – Restless II EP 

Simi appears to be having the best of times. Over the past year, she has gotten married to her sweetheart, released her third studio album “Omo Charlie Champagne”, gotten independent, released one of the biggest 2020 records, and also welcomed her new child. Just a few hours ago also, she announced her new deal with United Kingdom-based A&R company, Platoon alongside her coming project “Restless II”. This announcement has thrown the fans of the singer into an orgy of celebration, highly anticipating the release of this coming project with it first single ‘No Longer Beneficial’ dropping this Friday, Septemeber 18.

Patoranking: King Of The Abule

Patoranking has been one of Nigeria’s biggest musical exports for the past few years. Blending the widely travelled dancehall sound with our local pop elements and maintaining enviable stagecraft has placed him as one of the most sought after performers across the continent. And just a few days ago, Patoranking was live at the studio PGM Radio Show with Douglas Jekan  to discuss his new album “Three” which he revealed stands as a celebration of three albums he has out there into the world.

However, before getting right into dissecting the album, he touched on his message-driven record ‘Heal D World’ which was released back in 2018. This is a record that alongside its highly cinematic video, provided insightful social commentary and called on humanity to put sentiments and biases aside and work together to get the world moving to a postion of peace. When discussing the drive behind that record, he expressed that “We need to sanitize the land with love… if I can speak for the people musically, why won’t I?”

He then discusses the juice behind the lead single for the new album ‘Abule’ which also happens to be a fan-favourite cut, already topping several charts across several DSPs. This is a record that finds Patoranking going back to where he began, celebrating his roots and humble beginnings. “I’m proud to be from my abule, because to have made it coming from there it’s only by God’s grace. It’s made me who I am today and it’s part of my story. So I waste no opportunity to let people know about my ghetto,” he told Ebro Darden in an interview on Beats1 Radio.

On the PGM Radio, he revealed the exact reason why he had that tune recorded and released.  ‘Abule’ which directly translates to village or hood was Patoranking basically documenting the party life and the rave in the ghetto. 

It’s a known fact that he has never been one to shy away from his humble beginnings, as he has taken every opportunity to let people know where he comes fro. Patoranking’s grace-to-grace story is one of defiance, and he has also used his music as a major tool for documenting this come-up story, a linear but progressive one he has told from the Timaya-assisted ‘Alubarika’.  When quizzed about the mentality that got him out of the trenches to the limelight, he credited it to his ability to dream beyond his present circumstances as well as his mind which is always open to learning. 

He also touched on ‘Brrr’ which is a high-octane dancehall riddim which is inspired by hypemen, MCs, DJs as well as the energy and vibes they bring to the dancefloor. He also did the record justice, giving us a mini live performance at the studio. On ‘Black Girl Magic’, Patoranking does his best to celebrate black women across the continent and all over the world, shedding light on their struggles.

The discuss was wrapped up with Patornaking expressing how grateful he is to be tapped by the Marley family for the remix of one of Bob Marley’s classics ‘One Love’, a record he loves dearly and has performed severally on his sets. 

You can check out the video of the interview above.  

In Times Like This, The Voice Of The Entertainment Industry Is Needed

Even as the world is taking a stand against systemic racism and racial violence, Nigeria is also fighting its own battles. Right about the time Americans hit the streets to protest the murder of George Floyd, we heard the rape and murder of 22-year-old undergraduate, Vera Uwalia Omozuwa in a church. About a day before, Tina Ezekwe, a 16-year-old girl, was shot dead by the police. Another report surfaced of a 12-year-old being raped by 11 men. All this was swiftly followed by droves of cases of rape and sexual violence against women which immediately sparked an uprising on social media, calling for justice for these women. This also brought to the fore nuanced conversations around the grim realities of being a woman in a country like Nigeria.  

A country where women are raped, assaulted, harassed on the daily, even in spaces presumed to be safe. And worst of all, our laws don’t even protect them. For years now, women have taken their security into their own hands. It wouldn’t be particularly odd to find pepper spray, taser or even pocket knives and other defensive tools in a woman’s bag. 

There have also been cases of high-powered persons using their influence to bully victims into silence. Over the last couple of weeks, we witnessed the unsuccessful attempt by D’Banj and his team to intimidate Seyitan Babatayo who had earlier accused him of rape. Right after declaring his innocence via a statement, the veteran singer then went on to bully her with the police forcing her to recount her statement; a move which eventually backfired. And it has been a very messy road from there.  

Thanks to the outrage on and off social media, the Inspector General of Police has called for a probe into the case. And although justice has not been achieved yet, we can be sure that the process is closely monitored. 

And it is at this point we need practitioners in the entertainment industry to join in this uprising and lend their voices to the cause. The entertainment industry needs to stand up for women in our society and amplify the calls for a legislative reform that provides more protection for our women.  

We cannot unlook, deflect and act like nothing is going on. We need more than just performative, half-ass, careless and near-empty statements, tweets, and hashtags. We can do more than just “say NO to Rape”.

The reason people look up to celebrities in times like this is that they have a louder voice. They possess a wider reach that can help shed light and call more attention to these issues. You can help take the conversations right out of social media and straight into homes. 

This is one of the things Preye had in mind when she recorded and released her latest single ‘Man In The Wind’. Inspired by the ongoing uproar against oppression and injustice across the world, she calls on us to get off our screens and take to the streets to let our grievances be known by those in power. “As an artist, the purest way for me to express myself and to raise awareness is through music… Man in The Wind is different from my usual sound but this is how I feel at the moment,” she says.

In the wake of his joint EP with Masterkraft, Vector also lent his voice to the cause with his 4-track EP titled “The African Mind”.  Over soft violin riffs, he vocalized his thoughts on ‘Rape’ through spoken-word, condemning our culture of silence and victim-blaming where the victims of abuse are expected to keep quiet and “sit still”.

Art is supposed to imitate society.  Over time, many have used it as a tool to provide insightful social commentary, holding up the mirror for all to see. And despite being a major tool for entertainment, art has also been a potent tool for sparking conversations. One of Nigeria’s most revered music legends, Fela Kuti is often quoted, “I want to move people to dance, but also to think. Music wants to dictate a better life, against a bad life.”

But before you can do this, you first have to learn. Open yourself up to information. Read books, reflect,  have honest conversations. And while at this, keep an open mind.  Be ready to unlearn lots of what society has taught you up until now, and relearn even more progressive ideals. 

We need to take responsibility and cut back on lyrics and whole songs that embody men’s entitlement to women’s bodies. You might think what can just one line or one song do, but you should know that a lot of fans feed on these things and internalize these layered meanings in many ways. Learn what consent really is and how it works. Then let your fans and listeners learn with you. Let these lessons be embedded in your works. Let it reflect in your lyrics, songs, visuals, interviews. 

And even though fingers are often quickly pointed at our music superstars, it goes beyond just the music space. Even in performing jokes or skits as comedians or through movies, we have to ensure we are passing the right message. We have to be responsible.  Isn’t it admirable how Dave Chapelle cut back on the jokes to address issues of racial violence in his heartrending show, “8:46”? And for what it’s worth, the video is raking in really impressive numbers on Youtube, recording over 20 million views in just six days. 

Yes, the entertainment space isn’t solely responsible for the change(s) we seek. But in times like these, the sector can play a huge role in educating the public about these issues and creating awareness until we can get our voices to the right ears. It might not seem like much, but that one line, one scene, one joke can go a long way.  

With “Cult!” Paybac Iboro Is Leading A Return To National Pride

The first time I ever heard a Paybac song was in 2018. I had stumbled on ‘The Mami Wata Song’ early that year while exploring my newly found SoundCloud world littered with hidden gems. Just that one song with its refreshing originality and Paybac had me completely.  I might have have been late to the Nigerian SoundCloud party but I was right on time for Paybac’s debut album, “The Biggest Tree”.

With “The Biggest Tree”, Paybac walked me through the dark corridors of his genius mind, offering a firsthand experience of what it feels to have grown up as Caleb Hanson Iboro.  A personal favourite on the tape was the Bella-assisted closer, ‘Best Day of my Life’, a soul-baring victory lap where Paybac Iboro openly celebrates his wins, no matter how small. It came as a fitting end to a very personal album that featured some deep-seated storytelling of the gritty life he’s had to endure and his inflamed scuffle with depression.  

Paybac Iboro

Paybac Iboro (Instagram/lookatpaybac)

Quite a lot has happened since “The Biggest Tree”. Between his 12-track debut and his sophomore, “Cult!” released earlier this year, Paybac held our gaze with two collaborative projects. In November 2018, he joined forces with frequent collaborator Charlie X to release “Autopilot”. Barely six months after, Paybac reunited with longtime friend and associate, Boogey, to release their critically acclaimed “Alternate Ending”. 

From these releases, you can simply just tell that Paybac is building an impressive catalogue. With eight projects under his belt, Paybac has been putting in the work, and it’s paying dividends already. 

In October 2019, he got tapped by East-Coast American rapper Juelz Santana for an appearance on his tape. Also last year, he secured his first Headies nomination in the lyricist on the roll category alongside Boogey, AQ, Ycee and SDC. Paybac didn’t go home with the award that night but got the reassurance that his work isn’t going unnoticed. People are out there listening. The industry is watching and keeping tabs on his progress.

Cult! (Instagram/lookatpaybac)

Cult! (Instagram/lookatpaybac)

And on his latest album “Cult”, Paybac is patriotic more than ever. He had grown up like many of us, trying to shy away from his Nigerian identity. It seemed cool at the time to distance oneself from the Nigerian culture. People even used this resentment to gain cool points. It was such a common thing to hear people say “I don’t watch Nigerian movies” or “I don’t do Nigerian music.”  

But things have turned around. It’s so cool to be Nigerian now. The past few years have given us so much to be proud of, particularly in the entertainment sector. Afrobeats is doing so well across the world now. Nollywood is also doing its bits, shedding itself off its old skin. And with “Cult”, Paybac stands as that maverick leading that U-turn back to national pride. 

This album showcases Paybac as more than just a rapper. All through its 15 tracks, he comes across as an artist who doesn’t pander to expectations. 

Everyone has this idea of what ‘rap’ should sound like. But “Cult” is different. “Cult” is free. “Cult” is ambitious.  Sonically, it doesn’t walk in the exact footsteps of his previous releases. Thematically, Iboro presents “Cult” as a national pride hymnal for this generation of Nigerians. In the opening seconds of ‘Boy Band’ one of the album’s standout cuts, he references a popular Chinua Achebe quote, “being a Nigerian is abysmally frustrating and unbelievably exciting.” And it is this paradox that the album wraps itself around. 

Paybac sweeps nothing under the carpet. He brings it all to bear on the album. He wraps up the myriad of emotions you feel as a Nigerian, balls it up and goes off on the tape. “Cult” almost plays as a soundtrack to your experiences as a Nigerian. You can connect to his pride on ‘Activ8’, relate to his loath on ‘Nigeria Suk My Dik’. And when he yells, “Fuck a politician” you flip your middle finger in the air in disgust and scream right along because that’s exactly what you feel.

You can relieve the whimsical pride as well as the profound anger, confusion and helplessness that comes with being a citizen of the continent’s biggest economy, which also happens to be the poverty capital of the world.

Another interesting thing about this album is that even though he raps mainly in English, he sounds very Nigerian in every way. Many rappers in these parts try so hard to sound like they aren’t from here. But not Paybac. With him, there are no phoney accents. Neither will you find those imported rap mannerisms present on the album.

“Cult!” inspires an unprecedented level of reverence in Paybac’s career. Some already call it his best. Others swear it’s one of the best 2020 projects in these parts. But one thing we can all agree on is that with “Cult”, Paybac solidifies his foothold as one of Nigeria’s most gifted rappers. It sets him right apart from his peers and also flaunts the depth of his artistic creativity.

With each release, the ever-evolving Paybac proves himself as an artist to grow with. We almost have no idea what the next Paybac album would sound like right now, we’d just have to wait and find out. And if you ask me, that’s already pretty exciting. 

 

From Davido To Adekunle Gold: Lessons On Adaptability

We’d never forget Davido. Not just because of his decade-long dominance in the Afropop space, but because he’s that superstar whose hands are always stretched. “We rise by lifting others,” he’s often quoted; and for the longest, he has tried to live by this maxim. Davido is the guy who doles out money to fans on social media, hands out millions of Naira to fans on stage, helps strangers fund their schooling, projects young acts into the limelight, and pulls stranded artists out of bad deals. He’s always been one to reach out.

“I think it’s something I learned from my father. That’s just how he was growing up. From everybody in the family to his friends. I don’t know man, it’s just a natural thing for me. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t help everybody.  But I won’t lie to you, God has blessed me that I’m able to take care of my friends, my family, and also spoil myself, spoil my woman, etcetera. We are not complaining, but I do what I can for the community, I do the most I can,” he reveals in an interview with Joey Akan. 

Davido often seems like the best ally new-gen acts have in the Nigerian Afropop space. Interestingly, it is this self-imposed Santa-duty that has led him into new musical worlds. Despite being an Afrobeats giant, Davido doesn’t seem scared to leave his comfort zone when hopping on some of these tracks with new acts. Just last year, he pushed Lady Donli to new eyes and ears when he hopped on the remix to ‘Cash’ and invited her to join him on stage at his December concert.  The year before, he joined the alté frontman Odunsi (The Engine) on ‘Divine’, one of the highlights off the latter’s debut album, “rare.” 

These are not Davido’s natural sonic choices. At his core he is an Afrobeats act, playing as one of the genre’s biggest flag-bearers across the world. But he also isn’t scared to test new waters, and it shows in his willingness to work with these young acts on their turf. Davido has also served several international collaborations that have seen him stretching out of his comfort zone. ‘Dun Rich’ with Popcaan found Davido riding the Caribbean wave like a pro while blessing Quavo’s ‘Swing’ with a scene-stealing feature. 

In many of these fish-out-of-water situations, Davido doesn’t sound out of place. He meets these artists halfway, retaining his style while stepping into their world.  At the end of the day, you have a solid verse, a brilliant song. 

Most recently, the DMW boss featured on Khalid’s ‘Know Your Worth’ alongside one of Nigeria’s most promising singers, Tems. Meshed in a song with two intimidating vocalists, Davido’s vocal talents appear very limited.  Many insecure acts would shy away from such ‘set-ups’. But not Davido. He isn’t scared to try. When he wraps his pidgin-laced verse with the daring question “shey him dey treat you right, are you happy?” You search your soul, barely remembering it was delivered in a near-faint husky voice. 

Therein lies the makings of a great artist. You know you can always be better, so you step out of your comfort zone and push boundaries in your craft. And asides helping you explore new musical complexities, working with acts who create a different sound from yours also exposes you to a new fanbase.

Times are changing fast. Genre lines are getting blurred. Sounds are evolving and you can’t be caught slipping; not if you want to last long in the music space. The trick is to move with the times, while holding on to your core elements and unique style. 

The music game is so brutal and unforgiving. When people know what to expect from your new project, they lose a bit of the excitement. And once they ‘see you finish’ musically, they run off to where they can get their next thrill. Natural selection starts to take place. And before you know it, the world has left you behind. Forgotten.

Another Nigerian artist who has been open to the new generation of artists and music is M.I. While many of his peers are stuck in the boom-bap era, M.I’s recent releases have been sonically ambitious. While many are crying at how the world has moved on from “true” hip-hop, M.I appears to have found the fountain of youth.  

For his 2018 projects “Rendezvous” and “Yung Denzel”, the hip-hop elder sought the assists of the likes of Odunsi, Lady Donli, Tay Iwar, Nonso Amadi to help keep his sound up to date.  He tapped into their talents, sound, and raw energy while in turn helping to shed the spotlight on them.  True, the former Chocolate City boss might not be rocking the clubs with bangers anymore but he’s ageing even better. M.I is still mutating. We are still excited to hear his music. He’s sounding as refreshing as ever. 

Look around. How many of his peers are still playing at his level?

Over the past year, Adekunle Gold has been shedding off his signature traditional sound for something more synth-led and poppy. All the sonic and aesthetic shifts we’ve been spotting from ‘Before You Wake Up’ down to ‘Something Different’ is building up to the next album aptly titled “Afropop”. Yet, he still retains his highly relatable pen, soothing vocals, and genuine personality that made many fall in love with him in the first place. 

It won’t be so shocking to realize that for Adekunle Gold, “Afropop” isn’t even the destination. In a recent interview with Afrobeats Intelligence, he revealed plans to even redefine his sound further right after this album.  Right now, I’m making Afropop’ because that’s where my mind is. That’s where I’m in my head and that’s where I am, sonically. In 2021, it’s going to be different again. With Adekunle Gold, you don’t know what to expect really. I guess that’s how it is with me.”

The international serial-hitmaker Drake is on a never-ending quest to find new sounds to tap into. No two Kendrick Lamar albums sound alike sonically. There are even rumours that his next album leans heavily towards Rock, and we won’t be surprised if that turned out to be true. J.Cole has recently been crossing generational lines with his sound and that earned him his first Grammy. Take a look at Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Prince, Snoop Dogg; the list is endless.

Truth be told; there are no guarantees. Nothing is promised. You might step into new frontiers and it might not just work for you. You might even lose fans in the process. But you can’t play it safe all the time. Self-development and the drive to evolve is at the core of every great artist. And even when it’s rooted in survival, the willingness to explore new sonic worlds and take on new challenges rings better than sulking at how the world has moved on from your one ‘true’ sound. Want to be a good artist? Play in your little safe box. But if you want to be more, study the greats and learn to evolve your sound with the times. 

Push your boundaries. Take that risk and succeed!

Now Let’s Talk About Sampling In The Nigerian Music Space

By March 2016, half the world was furiously dabbing to Desiigner’s monster hit ‘Panda’. But just about a month before, no one even knew he existed. Not until Kanye stumbled upon the hard-hitting jam, initially released in December 2015, and chopped it on ‘Father Stretch My Hands pt 2’ off his seventh studio album, “The Life Of Pablo.” People fished out this scene-stealing sample track in no time and started spinning it across clubs and dance floors.

In just a couple of weeks, the song was number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making Desiigner the first rapper since Iggy Azalea to secure the coveted spot with a debut single. ‘Panda’ spent a total of seventeen weeks in the top-tens and even went on to score a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance. Kanye had unwittingly ushered the young star to the world just by sampling his music.

In recent times, however, Nigeria’s globetrotting star Burna Boy has gotten the stick from his countrymen for sampling Fela and Angelique Kidjo’s music. Many have used his recurrent interpolation of their lyrics to quibble about his artistry and originality. But a quick look at the credits of your favourite songs would reveal that this is a “crime” most musicians are guilty of. In fact, it’s no crime at all as long as permission is sought and due credits are given.

The process simply includes reworking the elements of older songs in the creation of new ones. Old songs and sounds are sometimes blended with new ones, thereby giving them new lives and sparking nostalgia. And just like in the case of Desiigner’s ‘Panda’, songs containing samples have helped introduce lesser-known songs and acts to a new and wider audience.

From 2pac’s ‘California love’ to Biggie’s ‘Juice’ down to Watch The Throne’s ‘Otis’, some of hip-hop classics are built off samples. Even ‘Mortal Man’, the closing track off Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed album “To Pimp A Butterfly” features a Fela sample.

Now that we’ve established sampling as a standard practice, here is a list of some of your favourite Nigerian songs and the records they sampled or interpolated.

  1. Odunsi – Desire [Baba Dee – Gum Body]
  2. Mut4y x Wizkid – Manya [V.I.P – Ahomka Womu]
  3. Odunsi – Wetin Dey [Ruff Rugged and Raw – Wetin Dey]
  4. Wizkid – Sweet Love [Fela Anikulapo Kuti – Shakara]
  5. Olamide – 100 to Million [Rick Ross x Drake x French Montana – Stay Schemin]
  6. DMW x Davido x Dremo x Mayorkun x Peruzzi – Mind [Usher – Caught Up]
  7. Simi – Joromi [Sir Victor Uwaifo – Joromi]
  8. Santi x Bridge x Nonso Amadi – Freak [Ikechukwu – Shobedobedoo]
  9. T Classic x Mayorkun x Peruzzi – Where You Dey [Bruno Mars – Just The Way You Are]
  10. Lady Donli – Suffer Suffer (Mama G – National Cake]
  11. Dami Oniru – See [Adewale Ayuba – Bubble]
  12. Remedies – Shakomo [MC Lyte – Keep On]
  13. 9ice – Photocopy [Craig David – Walking Away]
  14. Falz – Johnny [Fela – JJD]
  15. Dremo Nobody [M.I Abaga x 2baba]
  16. Wizkid – Holla At Your Boy [7even x Lil Kim – Girls]
  17. Burna Boy – Ye [Fela Kuti – Shuffering And Shmiling]
  18. Paybac Iboro – Boy Band [The Funkees – Acid Rock]
  19. Simi – Aimasiko [Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey – Aimasiko]
  20. Santi x Amaarae x Shane Eagle – Rapid Fire [Lyn Collins – Think About It]

Muyiwa Akhigbe is on an unending artistic journey

In an oversaturated music industry teeming with young and vibrant acts, Muyiwa Akhigbe is among a cadre of acts bent on standing out. He appears to be playing the long game, constantly exploring the road less travelled sonically, rather than hopping on radio-friendly and club-ready formulas.

After years of experimenting with several other genres, Muyiwa now seems to have found an anchor in what he calls the Afro-futurist sound. This is a fresh genre he stumbled upon while working in the studio with friend and frequent collaborator, BankyOnDBeatz. The Afro-futurist sound is a refreshing potpourri of Afrocentric and western futurist sounds spiced with elements of funk, afro-jazz and EDM.

In his words, it “is a blend of Western Futuristic sound and also Afrocentric sound. When I mean Western, we are taking elements from EDM, House, and a little bit of their contemporary Pop and fusing it with the Afrocentric theme music that we have.”

Muyiwa and BankyOnDBeatz have now gone on to release four successive joint records that have been received with open arms. And what started as just an exploration of new musical complexities is now slowly building up into a project expected to drop anytime soon. Muyiwa even promises it could morph into something way bigger.

For their last 2019 release, ‘Better’, they caught many off-guard with their promo run. The pair made customized cover arts for fans, industry go-to-guys as well as music influencers which were used as Twitter avatars and headers.  This simple but brilliant promo move sent ripples around Nigeria’s Music-Twitter community. Everyone was trying to make sense of what was going on, thereby spiking anticipation for the coming single.

For ‘Better’ things were different. That song is already one of my best-performing songs of all time. The whole album art thing reduced the stress for me. It made people want to listen to the song,” Muiywa tells me over the phone. 

The 25-year-old singer is also a strong believer in the power of collaborations. Just before the string of releases with BankyOnDBeatz, he released a joint project in the opening months of 2019. This was a thematic rap mixtape titled “Conversations” with rising lyricist, Rhye Ali which found Muyiwa exploring a dose of Afro hip-hop. 

We discuss this and more in this interview that has been slightly edited for length and clarity. 

PGM:  Why are you big on collaborations?

Muyiwa: Art is a form of expression and I like the idea of shared expressions. The whole concept of ‘let’s bring our expressions together and see what comes out of it’. Just because it’s art and it’s supposed to be unique. Art is just a journey that we pass through every day of our lives and we don’t know where it would end. So it is me just wanting to experiment with things and the idea of collaborations is one of them. 

PGM:  So how do you choose the people that you work with? Is there a process or method to it?

Muyiwa: I trust my instincts a lot. I don’t put too much thought into it. If I wake up tomorrow and tell myself I want to do a joint project with someone, shortly after that time the person would just come to my mind and I’d know that yes, this is the person.

PGM: Over your past few releases, you’ve been working solely on your new Afro-futurist sound with BankyOnDBeatz. Why did you decide to get involved with that?

Muyiwa: I am a non-conformist. I like to travel the road less used. In most cases, I’m just unconventional in my approach. I just thought to myself that the way sounds have evolved over the years, I want to be part of the people who have contributed to the advancement of sound as a whole. So threading a new part, trying to mix different sounds to create a new one is also part of that journey. Afro-Futurist music is something that in a couple of years, people would see why there is a need for it. It’s just good for someone to start so that others can continue.

PGM: How did this sound come together?

Muyiwa: At first it was like a coincidence. And then it happened again and I was like, there is a pattern here and this cannot just be some coincidence. So we went back and started doing stuff. Afro-Futurist is a blend of Western Futuristic sound and also Afrocentric sound. When I mean Western, we are taking elements from EDM, House, and a little bit of their contemporary Pop and fusing it with the Afrocentric theme music that we have. The percussion and everything it represents. The Africanness and the chords, the progressions are not normal. Everything that we have laid down has tried to bring this sound out as very intentional.

PGM: Is this all building up to a project?

Muyiwa:  This is building up to so many things if I’m being honest. As I said, art is a journey and you just have to keep going through it, experiencing it. Whatever it throws at you, you just see it as a challenge or as a good thing and just keep going. So in this case also, it is not only going to lead to a project. It’s going to lead to other projects and as long as we keep creating and as long as we keep staying true to what we are here for then the sky is the starting point. 

PGM: So given this climate whereby streaming has affected the way we consume music. Albums are slowly losing their relevance and sanctity. Do you believe in the sanctity of albums?

Muyiwa: As an artist, you don’t just wake up, or say you just started singing a year before and say you want to release an album. An album for me is that you’ve fully understood your sound. You’ve also understood your audience and you’ve found a way of making your sound and your audience meet at a middle ground. So that when it’s being released, they catch it the way you want them to catch it. If you’ve been able to figure out these three things then you can now say you are ready to work on an album. So it’s a thing of going through the process. That’s why we have stuff like EPs and mixtapes to see what works for you and what does not work for you. 

Like I told you it’s just a journey. And even when you do the album, it might not be efficient in those three areas. But then it’s just part of the journey so that the next one can be greater. So yes, I think albums are very necessary. Even mixtapes and EPs are winning “Album of the Year” at the Grammys. It’s part of your digital resume as an artist. It’s your legacy. You’d be known by those things that you put out.

PGM: On your imminent project do you have any persons you’re working with?

Muyiwa – The project is very dynamic. In terms of artists, we only featured one person and she’s a spoken word artist. But there are other features from artists but not like singing and all of that. We kind of picked off some of the elements on “Conversations” into this one that we are working on. 

PGM: What and who are your biggest influences? 

Muyiwa:  I’d start with what. I’m influenced by life itself. Life experiences, the things we see every day, that’s like my first source of inspiration. Abstract phenomenon also. I could sing about clouds just because I feel good looking at them. I’m also inspired by moods. When it comes to what, it’s daily happenings, abstract happenings and my mood. 

But when it comes to who, I try to consume a lot. I could get inspired by anyone and any type of music. It could just be the way the drums go on this and I’d be like this is mad, I need to adopt this. But without any argument, everybody knows that Brymo is the one whose music has been influential to my kind of music. There are two songs in my first project “Dear Music” that sounded like Brymo. Basically, alternative music in Nigeria. It’s from the alternative sound and also the alte sound. I try to listen to many of these people and they influence me even sometimes without knowing. Just because I have been exposed to their content, the influence could just pop up. 

PGM: So what is Muyiwa doing when he’s not doing music?

Muyiwa:  I’m doing 9 to 5 (laughs). I am an art director at an advertising agency so that’s what I’m on when I’m not doing music. 

PGM: Are you independent? How has it been navigating this industry as an independent act?

Muyiwa – Yes, I am independent. I am not signed to any imprint but I have mine which I started two years back – OLMA Records. And for navigating, na as the gbas gbos dey come daily na so we dey fight am. Every day, you’d just experience one new challenge that you didn’t expect. But because we love what we do, we’d find a to colter. And once we are done with that, we move to the next challenge. As we keep meeting them, we continue giving them gbas gbos with God on our side and hard work. It has been an adventurous journey and it will still be. 

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PGM LIVE with BUJU, GiGi Atlantis & Solis

Friday, 31st January was our first edition of PGM Live in 2020 and it took place at the newly reopened BLD by Play on Admiralty Way.
Pushing Good Music Live intimate session featured the sassy Gigi Atlantis, the soulful Solis and the salient rising vocalist BUJU.
We also had surprise performances from Evelle, Willifmore (The Poet) and the DJs on the night were DJ Ibbie & DJ Honeeay.
The amazing performances electrified the audience and soon had everyone on their feet singing and dancing while sipping on Jameson Irish Whiskey.
In its usual fashion, before the performances kicked off, Douglas Jekan (PGM – Founder), welcomed fellow music lovers and spoke about the recent displacement of Tarkwa Bay residents and the PGM Club’s intention to raise funds for the affected victims. He also urged attendees to contribute whatever they can and to keep the conversation alive.
Thanks to all the donors, so far, we have raised N485, 000 (Naira).
If you wanna donate, please click this link
THE NEXT PGM LIVE ON FEB 22, 2020 (ABUJA)
About The PGM Club
The PGM Club is a leading platform for unearthing and showcasing genuinely talented musicians with good music. Our believe is that good music should be embraced as an art that not only promotes freedom of expression and stimulates the mind, but also promotes self-awareness and consciousness.
For more information email admin@thepgmclub.com
And, follow the club on all social – @thepgmclub

Crayon Is Bound To Win Over Unbelievers With ‘Kpano’

When Mavin newbie Crayon released his debut and introductory “Cray Cray” EP, a lot of people didn’t know what to make of it. Undoubtedly, the boy had talent but many just couldn’t help seeing him in the shadow of Mavin’s golden boy, Rema.

In May 2019, Crayon was officially unveiled on the Mavins’ Don Jazzy-led posse cut, ‘All is in Order’ that got people asking questions.  Just a couple of weeks after, he also laid down a solid hook for Ladipoe’s fling with Afropop, ‘Based on Kpa’. 

But with ‘So Fine’ a standout cut off his EP, Crayon laid every doubt to rest about his talent, delivering a soothing yet body-moving love number that radiates a level of confidence rarely found in burgeoning acts. And with a label with far-reaching tentacles like Mavin, Crayon’s name was everywhere although the project recorded a middling success. 

Now, the singer has regrouped and is bent on winning over unbelievers with his first post-“Cray Cray” single, ‘Kpano’. 

Like most releases in this streaming-led climate, ‘Kpano’ is a very short but sweet affair, running just over two minutes of magic. On this stunner, the young singer needs no assists as he sounds super-charged crooning about his love interest over a heavily packed Ozedikus beat headed straight for the clubs.

Steaming with overwhelming crossover potential, this might just be the spark Crayon needs to propel him to mainstream consciousness and perhaps dominance.

Enjoy the record above.

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