The Artist Is Present: Williams Chechet Utilizes Pop Art To Remind You To Know Your History

Meet the Nigerian multi-hyphenate creative whose work speaks for itself—check it out with OkayAfrica.

Williams Chechet is a multi-talented pop artist, graphic designer, illustrator and muralist who's one to watch. The Nigerian creative is influenced by his culture, history, afrofuturism, afrobeats and hip hop—and this screams at you when looking at his body of explosive work.

He seamlessly speaks through his vibrant visuals. Chechet's past work and due props include a series centered around leaders in Nigeria, a renowned celebration of heritage called We are the North on Northern Nigeria, a CNN Africa feature, a mural for Hard Rock Cafe Lagos, live art on MTV Base, album covers for M.I., Jesse Jagz, Ice Prince, clothing with Pop Caven and an American streetwear brand we can't disclose just yet. More recently, he's collaborated with Cameroonian pop artist Fred Ebami on an icon series.

"Disconnect" from Willams Chechet's "We Are The North" series. Image courtesy of artist.

Born in Kano, raised in Kaduna and schooled in the eastern part of Nigeria, Chechet has moved around quite a bit. One thing has remained true no matter where he's been: art has always been a major part of his life. His story is a testament to the importance of being lead by your passion—he's been drawing since he was a kid. After reluctantly studying building engineering for 3 years, he switched gears and started anew with industrial and graphic design. He recounts schooling for a total of 9 years. While in school, he received a call from M.I. to design an album cover and this would be the beginning of his relationship with Chocolate City Records as a resident freelance artist. The opportunity would open many doors.

Today, he excels in a Nigeria where he doesn't always have the right tools to print or art materials to use. He excels on a continent where people have only recently started revering the creative industry. He reminds his viewers the importance of knowing their history and introduces Africa to the world by shedding light on his home. He states it is important to, "Hold on to Africa while embracing the West."

His creative process is one rooted in not planning things out. Like many artists, Chechet is often triggered by images. He's studied the work of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kaus, Shepard Fairey, Ben Enwonwu and Lemi Ghariokwu. He intensely views the world around him. "Inspiration meets you when you are in the process of creating," he says.

The sky is truly the limit for this artist. He has desires to explore sculpture and photography and is set to exhibit in Marrakech and has a solo show in the works later this year.

His buoyant work is sure to draw you in as it has done for much of Nigeria—check it out below.

"Hadassah" from Williams Chechet's "We Are The North" series. Image courtesy of artist.

"Adamu's Weekend" from Williams Chechet's "We Are The North" series. Image courtesy of artist.

"BillioNaire" from Williams Chechet's "Royal Niger Company" series. Image courtesy of artist.

"Ham" from Williams Chechet's "We Are The North" series. Image courtesy of artist.

"16th" from Williams Chechet's "Royal Niger Company" series. Image courtesy of artist.

"Excellence" from Williams Chechet's "We Are The North" series. Image courtesy of artist.

"PoP from Williams Chechet's "We Are The North" series. Image courtesy of artist.

"Rouge" from Williams Chechet's "We Are The North" series. Image courtesy of artist.

Audrey Lang is an alumna of Northeastern University and a Boston-based site merchandiser. A surveyor of life who's enamored with all things fashion, art and Africa, keep up with her on Instagram and Tumblr.

Photo: Shaughn Cooper

Ras Nebyu Is Washington, D.C.'s 'Uptown Lion Walkin'

We talk to the Ethiopian-American rapper about his new album, his Washington Slizzards crew, and the impact of gentrification on D.C.'s music scene.

Ras Nebyu is caught up in the crowd at Howard University's homecoming tailgate, where he can barely walk a block without shaking hands with another person who he knows. Although he didn't attend Howard University, the campus and the surrounding neighborhood forms as much of a part of his narrative as any student.

The Ethiopian-American rapper hails from uptown Washington, D.C., a neighborhood he uses to inform his latest album, Uptown Lion Walkin, a project that pays homage to his ancestral upbringing, as well as his thoughts on making money, love, happiness, and the government.

There's a twoness to Nebyu's identity that allows him to create from a place of historical-cultural reverence while pushing forward new ideas. He was raised in a Rastafarian household by an Ethiopian dad and African-American mother.

Nebyu doesn't hold much back when he speaks, like his music. He preaches about belonging to his community, gentrification and the diaspora. His work serves as a strong soundboard, for not only his Ethiopian community but D.C. natives.

In 2011, Nebyu co-founded the Washington Slizzards, a collective of Ethiopian creatives in D.C. What started as a joke, tacking on "slizz" to everything, became a buzz-worthy crew. Around the same time as the group's inception, he began releasing music into the world.

Nebyu first ventured into making music as a producer, but soon found it frustrating getting artists to use his beats. He decided to begin experimenting with using his own voice and hasn't slowed down since. OkayAfrica caught up with Nebyu to discuss the new album and growing up uptown.

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Mr Eazi, Duncan Mighty, Afro B & Mayorkun Join DJ Neptune On 'Tear Rubber' Remix

Listen to the "All Star Remix" now.

"Tear Rubber," one of the standouts from DJ Neptune's latest album, Greatness, gets a big remix that'll jump start your week.

The track, which originally featured Mayorkun, now gets a massive revisit featuring Mr Eazi, Duncan Mighty and Afro B.

All three are potent additions to this laid-back and addictive Young John-produced track which was already getting a lot of spins.

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Listen to Sade's Beautiful New Song—'The Big Unknown'

Sade has graced us with her second single of the year—this time for Steve McQueen's highly anticipated film, "Widows."

We now have two new Sade songs to shed thug tears to before the end of 2018, y'all.

The queen herself released a lyric video for her new track, "The Big Unknown." This single will be played during the end credits of Steve McQueen's highly anticipated film, Widows, which is due to be released in theaters November 16, Highsnobiety reports.

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