Photos: Newcomer Awol Erizku

Meet Awol Erizku--Ethiopian born, Bronx-raised photographer on the rise. Erizku specializes in a sort of new-age portraiture that is creating buzz throughout NYC’s art scene as well as the city’s young creative elite. The 24-year old Cooper Union grad has photographed the likes of Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def, Travis Gumbs, and Joshua Kissi of the style blog Street Etiquette, and white-hot newcomer A$AP Rocky and his A$AP Mob enclave.

Erizku had the opportunity to intern under famed photographer David LaChapelle, who inspired him to begin taking photography seriously. Since then, Awol’s work has fostered a huge following on his Tumblr page titled Thank you, Come Again and has also been picked up by the Chelsea Gallery. Erizku closed his first solo show July 20th at the Hasted Krautler Gallery that has been on view since June 14th. Awol’s second solo showing opened on July 19th downtown at Rivington Design House and will be on display until September 6th. The show consists of Erizku’s classical inspired portraits—vivid snapshots of young New Yorkers of color against a black background staring into the camera. His subjects can be seen donning Louis Vuitton scarves, bamboo earrings, Versace, and some even appear nude. Awol’s images immortalize a movement of young, black, stylish, beautiful creators in this city.

With two official showings under his belt and a host of cool kids in his corner, Awol Erizku seems to be well on his way to photography superstardom—however, that will have to wait as he will be packing his camera up this fall to head to Yale University where he as been accepted to study in their Visual Arts MFA program. We’re positive that this move to the Ivy League will only bring Erizku back to the city with an even cooler and more polished eye for the lens.






A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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