Adekunle Gold Wants to Be Happy Ever After
In his recently released album, Tequila Ever After, Adekunle Gold lavishes in ecstasy. It’s all positive vibes coursing through, as Gold enriches the album with profound advice and current life realities.
Make no mistake,Adekunle Goldholds a special position in the rich history of Afrobeats as one of the most consistent artists in the last decade. Possessing a diverse catalog that spans five albums, a propensity to emerge yearly with continental hits and his knack for constantly tinkering on his fancied fashion style, Adekunle has forged a path ladled with reinvention.
That quality has siphoned into his music-making process, ensuring no two albums are the same and ensuring a rich thematic experience is crafted for a smooth listening pleasure. 2021’s Catch Me If You Can was a reflection of Adekunle Gold’s journey from being labeled a “traditional singer,” a result of his early local hits ("Sade," "Pick Up") purely sang in native Yoruba. An easygoing R&B experience thus sat at the heart of the album, as AG’s rich, smooth vocals came into communion with the league of renowned singers, Foushee, Steff London and TY Dolla Sign.
For his recently released album, Tequila Ever After, Adekunle Gold lavishes in ecstasy. The album has him whipping up moods of celebration, introspection and aspirations. It’s positive vibes coursing through, as Gold enriches the album with profound advice and current life realities.
Why did you call the album Tequila Ever After?
It's simple. It’s a reincarnation of that feeling I had the first time I drank tequila, which was last year in April. It made me feel good. Being the storyteller that I am, I decided I wanted to talk about this feeling. It’s me capturing my first moment of taking tequila on a video or in a picture. That's basically what this album is. I'm just basically sharing the story. It made me feel good, and that's how the album is... happy [and] lighthearted. It's conversations you have over shots of tequila with friends. That's what Tequila Ever After is.
You scored a massive hit song this year with "Party No Dey Stop." No one saw that collaboration with you and Zinoleesky happening. How was the record created?
Actually, the song was already done. I had finished the song in LA. Even in that form, it was a readymade banger. I already knew this was a sure one. When I played the song to a couple friends, they loved it, but also shared other ideas. Sess, my friend, said you know Zino (Zinoleesky) will do well on this song. I'm like ‘hmmm, I didn't even think about that.’ Then other people mentioned it as well. So I decided I was going to get into the studio with him and see what comes out of it. And then I got into the studio with him. And we basically went over words for the song, like he did his verse and then we wrote his verse together, the bridge and everything.
Adekunle Gold, Zinoleesky - Party No Dey Stop (Official Music Video)
Funny enough, there were rumours you removed his reference to Mohammed Salah because you’re a Manchester United fan and you hadn’t healed yet from the 7-0 annihilation. How true is that?
About the whole Salah thing, everything you read on the internet is bullshit. There is nothing like that. Because what is the beef against Salah? What's my own? But having a young prodigy like Zino in the studio, having him on the record definitely has its impact because first of all, like you said, no one saw that collaboration coming. And think about it, that's every Adekunle Gold collaboration, you don't just see it coming, you never do. And it goes to show that my collaborations have never been about gimmicks, they will not be about optics, it's always been about music. It’s the music first before any other thing.
Tequila Ever After is by far your most diverse album based on collaborations. You’ve recruited a much larger cast for this project and they’re all intriguing. What informed the decision and how was it like collaborating with Pharell Williams and Nile Rodgers?
It's like I said, it's the music I think about first. When I'm making a particular song, I think about who can elevate it. That's what collaboration is for me. Yes, I've done this great work, but who can take it to the next level? Who can my voice blend with?
For the collaborations, I pictured them, manifested them, and I got them to work with me. You know, Pharrell is somebody that I've looked up to since forever. A tweet of his from 2011, about ‘You’re already that person, just put yourself in that place’ is something that changed my life. I saw that tweet and I really stepped into being Adekunle Gold. And when I was making the album, I said, I wanted him to be on this album with me and a huge shout out to my team, they made it happen.
Getting into the studio with him, it was a crazy moment, same thing with Nile Rodgers, I tried to get Nile Rodgers on Catch Me If You Can and it didn't happen. But at the right time, it happened. It was another effect of manifestation. I said it four days before the session, when I was watching him play at the Grammys. I was just saying, I want this man on my album and he came through. Making a song like "Falling Up" with these people that I looked up to will never be normal to me. It's a moment that I think about, that I relive every time and I'm grateful that I'm able to do that coming from somebody that they called, Yoruba Singer. For a long time, for some reasons, people didn't give me a chance. Some people didn't think I was going to get here but then every time I've proven them wrong, and I'll keep proving them wrong. So it feels good to be in the light, to have this moment. And I'm grateful for every bit of it.
Adekunle Gold - Falling Up Feat. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers (Official Visualizer)
The intro to Catch Me If You Can featured a Malian singer, Fatoumata Diawara and on Tequila Ever After, veteran Malian artist, Habib Koite, features on the intro. Why have you gone the route of collaborating with legacy acts like that?
I'm an African man to the core and I'm grateful that my knowledge of music is really rich. The kind of songs I listen to you’ll probably just be like what the heck is this, like my range is crazy. And it's because I love music. Generally, language has never been a barrier for me. So I don't even need to understand what you're saying. Once the melodies get me, I'm good, like I'm stuck. How I discovered Habib Koite, for example, was through my first laptop.
My dad got me my first laptop around 2002, but if you ever had one of those Windows XP laptops, there were songs that came with the Windows Media Player. Habib Koite was one of them. I listened to his songs, "I Ka Barra" and "Din Din Wo." And that's when I first knew about Habib Koite. And I remember in school then, I always say when I grow up to become a superstar, I'll find this man and I’m going to make music with him. I listened to him so much that I know all his albums. I can sing the songs even though I don't even know what he's saying in some of the songs, because it's not my language. But I can sing them. Sometimes I'll just go look for the meaning. And that's not just Habib, that's also me when I discovered Fatoumata Diawara, they're from the same place. I love Malian music a lot. Omou Sangare is another person I'm a huge fan of.
I enjoy their music. I draw influences from them. And that's how I know all of these things. I really dig deep. Speaking about the collaboration, I knew I wanted him and Ami Faku, an amazing South African singer. And because like I said, I'm an African man to the core, I wanted to make a pan-African song so that's what gave birth to "Chasing Peace of Mind." I didn't even want Habib to sing on it. I just wanted his guitar because I know his guitar is out of his world. If you listen to any Malian musician, you listen to their guitar, it is incredible.
Basically, I just dig deep. I listen to all kinds of genre you can think of. I've been listening to Rap a lot. People say there are things to learn from different sounds. There are things to learn from different artists, there are things to learn from different cultures, so much more to learn. So imagine just listening to one thing all your life, you're doing yourself a disservice as a musician because there's so many things outside of your range that you can learn from. And that will always reflect through my album.
Producer Kel P is credited for eight songs on this project. How is the chemistry between you two?
I met Kel P for the first time last year April, but we'd been talking before then. We'd never just got to work. But I met him for the first time in the studio and our first session was an interesting one. Because my style is I pick my own melodies, so when I ran melodies for the first song that we made, I mean, I was so sure I had something and this guy told me ‘nah I'm not feeling it.' I gave him the puzzled look like who are you to tell me that you are not feeling it. But one thing that I'm grateful for, that I have is I listen and try things out. I decided to give him the chance. I thought to myself that he might be right.
Then I went again. And I discovered that he picked a melody and that turned out to be the best one. Now, imagine I didn't listen to this guy. And since then, I just knew I like this guy already, because I just want people that challenge me to be in my circle, people that open my mind, open my ears to something else. Something outside of what I already knew. So we have been working since then. For a week, we did up to ten songs. I was then certain that yes, this is my guy. Listen Kel P and I will change the world with this music. Just wait for it. Kel P has like eight songs on this album and you can tell, they're all incredible songs. And the next album we are working on already is going to be even fire. That's my boy, I love him for life.
Switching things up to a more personal level, how has fatherhood changed you?
The most important thing is, it has made me hustle more. It's a beautiful feeling to be responsible for a whole new human. Raising a child in this crazy world every now and then reminds me that I have a huge responsibility to raise a Queen and every day I'm stepping into it. So it's a beautiful feeling, I'm grateful and then I'm doing all of these things so that one day my child will see them and be like if daddy could do it, I can as well. So all of these things, breaking boundaries, putting yourself out there doing it and then just being a superstar that I am, showing up, all of this is not easy but I'm doing it everyday. I hope that she sees it as well and then show up as well.
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