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Mr Eazi: 'True recognition is found in fans. Not awards'

LIFE IS EAZI: Afrobeats newcomer Mr Eazi

FROM THE streets of Kumasi in Ghana to a sold out performance at the O2 in London's Kentish Town, the rise of Starboy Entertainment’s latest signing, Mr Eazi is both impressive and unprecedented.

In the increasingly competitive Afrobeats landscape, characterised by a dominance of west African acts, the Lagos-born, Ghana-raised, musician would appear to be operating his musical machinery in reverse to the traditional routes manoeuvred by the giants we’re familiar with today.

“The diaspora kind of caught the wave first," Mr Eazi shares. "The normal routes like Nigerian radio stations are only just catching it right now."

His moniker is a direct reflection of his persona and his life philosophy of 'Life is Eazi'.

“I’m truly laid back, I’m just chilled," he confirms. "That’s why Mr Eazi really does connect except sometimes when I’m on stage and I get really hyped up but on a normal day I’m just chilled.”

The 25-year-old, real name Oluwatosin Ajibade, is a resounding declaration of his Nigerian roots, which is levelled out by the husky dual accent he’s adopted as a result of his Ghanaian upbringing.

His cross-cultural experience dispels all notions of any historic rivalry between the two west African nations, but instead forms the basis of a harmonious musical experience he has labelled as 'Banku' music.

“I call it Banku music because I feel like it’s a mixture of different influences. I stayed in Ghana so I’ve lived through Ghanaian culture and there’s my Nigerian roots and then my reggae influences from the kind of music I listen to so in general I see it as world music.”

Shuttling back and forth between Nigerian and Ghana, the politics of his identity appeared to rear its head at the beginning of the year when the young performer was controversially excluded from the annual Vodafone Ghana Music Awards when he was ruled not to be Ghanaian by blood.

“My manager told me he was going to be putting in our songs for nomination and I actually told him there was no need. He put it anyway but all I remember was my mentions [on Twitter] were buzzing. Everyone had picked it up that I wasn’t nominated. I’m appreciative of the support and for me, awards always have their issues. For me the recognition is not in the awards – it’s in the fans.”

The mechanical engineering graduate, who describes himself as a “worldwide citizen", can often be found sporting his trademark woven hat.

He explains: “The hat is worn by Fulani herdsmen, they are nomads and I feel it kind of represents my music which is nomadic.”

Eazi’s background as a promoter and business acumen is evident from his knowledge of the industry and explaining his drive towards Britain’s flourishing diaspora.


SOLD OUT CROWD: Mr Eazi performs at London's Kentish Town

Whether it’s studying the metrics or identifying where his fan base exists, the vocalist has a clear idea of who his audience is.

“I started looking into the music scene and Afrobeats in the UK and I found out because of the dance scene and the amount of African’s and people of African descent, not just permanently residing in the UK but coming back and forth every year – I felt like there was a lot of scope there.”

From the diaspora back to the motherland, the musician admits that he didn’t initially see music as a path that would be financially rewarding hence his commitment to education, but as it would happen, even as a student at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Eazi had his hands in the music industry.

“Back in my BSc days I used to be a promoter in Kumasi and I used to bring artists like Sarkodie, R2Bees to play gigs at my school. Every time they came they would want to get into the studio to record and there would be students who also wanted to record with the artists.

"I would be the one bridging the gap between the locals, school artists and mainstream artists so I always found myself in the studio and then one day I recorded and I kept at it.”

The tipping point for the then novice was triggered by an online connection with Ghanaian - UK based DJ and producer Juls, who contacted the performer on Twitter in 2014.

The synergy between the pair has spurred a number of hit tracks such as Bankulize, Dance For Me and Skin Tight - all essential requirements in a credible Afrobeat DJ’s catalogue.

“If I went into the studio with the mentality that I had to make a hit, I probably would have never made Skin Tight or any of my songs and I feel like I am not about to change that,” he says when discussing his music making process.

He adds: “I just make music based on how I feel at the time and I guess everybody can relate to that feeling but at the end of the day it’s just a blessing to be able to put music out there and see people react the way they do.”

Though only at the beginning of his career, the performer recently enjoyed a string of sold out shows in the UK, notably selling out the O2 Forum in Kentish Town.

Supported by the Viva band, the Hollup performer summons energy from his audience to deliver a show like a veteran of the music scene, constantly vibing back and forth with his electric audience comprised of the young beautiful women he serenades in his music.

To witness as a sold out auditorium erupts word-for-word his growing body of work is “truly a blessing,” Eazi says.

“I just watch sometimes and I think ‘ok, this is happening,’ it just pushes you to want to want to get in a studio and do more.”

For more information, visit: www.mreazi.com or follow him on Twitter @MrEazi

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