Award-winning Nigerian artiste Oluwatosin Oluwole Ajibade aka Mr Eazi is in the country for the launch of emPawa artiste mentorship programme. Cynthia Mukanzi caught up with him
How would you describe your music journey since your first mixtape, About to Blow, in 2013 and where you are today?
I would say the journey has been smooth, full of grace and you can tell a lot has gone into who I have become. What I like is the consistency I’ve maintained in every project with the support of my team. Every project tells where I am at the time of its release.
About to Blow debuted at the time of Azonto music and borrowed heavily from my experiences in Ghana and Nigeria my home country. To pay tribute to Ghana’s kindness to me, I acknowledged it in my second mixtape, Life Is Eazi, Vol. 1 – Accra To Lagos.
How was your experience in Ghana while there as an upcoming Nigerian artiste?
I think Ghana calmed me down and helped me focus on the things I wanted to attain. Before that, I was a hot head in Nigeria.
Now, I would like to think I’m the best of both worlds. I’m neither too hot nor cold. I thank God for how these spaces shaped me and helped me balance and make something out of myself.
Did you invent Banku music with your first mixtape?
I think so because I was already mixing different sound influences at the time. What people don’t know is that I wasn’t even an artiste then. My friend dragged me to the studio to record the mixtape.
I was in school doing my masters and had no plans of doing music. So, looking back, I realise that this was how it was meant to be and sometimes it seems so surreal when I look at where I am now.
So, what exactly is Banku music?
Banku music is a fusion of Ghanain and Nigerian chord progressions and pattern of sounds. My environment is what created the sound.
When you listen to my latest mixtape, Life Is Eazy: Lagos to London, you can tell that this vibe is different, but it’s still a Mr Eazi Banku identity.
So, all I have to do to make this music is to be in the right environment. I’m sure if I came to Kenya to make music, I would be mixing up some great vibes, which would fall into this sound.
What happened to your enterprise Swagger Entertainment?
Swagger Entertainment had to stop when I opted to study my masters. But in a way, I can say it has diversified into Banku music, because we are still entertaining through shows. We are doing everything that the company was doing, but only that this time it has evolved.
What reception has Life Is Eazy: Lagos to London received?
It’s been a couple of days since its release and I thank God it’s being embraced on charts. To me, it’s not even about the charts, but the fans who are responding with heartfelt messages.
It feels so special and beautiful. It’s giving me the push I need to go beyond the expectations. My colleagues have also been supportive in its success.
What went into the making of this release?
The making of this mixtape involved a lot of travelling, soul searching and asking myself what kind of music I wanted to put out. I want to thank my producers and everybody that helped me to bring this beat to life. It took a lot of dedication and commitment to have a complete project.
What are you offering at the emPawa mentorship project?
I will be sharing all that I have learned all these years, even from working on my recent mixtape. I would like the artistes that we will be mentoring to thrive and know that there is room for them on the global music frequencies.
I was supposed to be touring in February to March 2019, but I’m putting that on hold for the emPawa Accelerator Artistes Programme.
That’s how important it is. I’m going to be in South Africa to make sure the top 10 African artistes picked will benefit from my music experiences.
How has it been working with artistes such as Maleek Berry?
It’s been beautiful. There’s something powerful about people respecting you and wanting to share their creative space and experience with you. I’m not going to lie; I’ve had a smooth flow when working with every artiste I have encountered. I hope to do more of this.