Interview
Image courtesy of the artist.

Nigerian artist Mayorkun.

In Conversation with Mayorkun: 'I Want to Be Bigger Than Just Nigeria'

The artist speaks to us about his latest "Geng" remix EP and navigating life as an artist during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayorkun has come a long way since he dropped "Sade", the impromptu freestyle that turned into a massive hit. Since then, the rising Nigerian artist who's signed to Davido's record label, has churned out several hits including "MAMA," "On God," "Up to Something," and more recently, "Ginger You" and the wildly successful "Geng".

The latter dropped shortly before Mayorkun went on to release a 4-track Geng EP featuring three remixes of the original song. The "Naija Remix" features Ycee, M.I Abaga, Vector and Sinzu while the "Africa Remix" features Kwesi Arthur, Riky Rick, Rayvanny and Innoss'B. On the "UK Remix", Mayorkun features Ms Banks and Russ.

The EP drops during a time where musicians all over the world are learning to connect with their audiences in new and different ways amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and various lockdown measures.

OkayAfrica spoke with Mayorkun briefly to talk more about his latest EP, navigating life as an artist during the COVID-19 pandemic and whether or not he feels the Nigerian government is doing enough to curb the spread of the outbreak.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


Mayorkun - Geng (Official Video) youtu.be

Describe your latest EP briefly.

It's a conscious effort in reaching different continents at the same time. I feel like I wanted to break into the African market, be bigger than just Nigeria too, so I took big names from different continents.

What would you say defines your sound as an artist?

I don't stay too long on a particular sound. Aside from being an African artist, my sound is generally Afro-fusion. I make different types of music. I can make a hip-hop record today and make a Makossa song tomorrow––it's pretty cross-genre.

How long did the EP take and how would you best remix?

I made the original song before I dropped the EP, of course. It then took me about a month to drop the EP after that. I like the reception from fans for all the remixes but personally, I like the African remix. It touches on Congo, Kenya and really does what I intended to do with this song.

Are you working on any other musical projects at the moment?

I have loads of music right now. My management decides in terms of projects but if we had to say an album has ten songs, I have at least four songs ready right now.

You're currently in Nigeria right now. How have you been navigating the world of music amid the lockdown?

We're lucky to be in a generation where things travel quickly without you moving. I've seen the highest streams of my music in a 24-hour span during this time. People are on their phones a lot and so with the help of the internet, music is doing well.

Do you think your government is doing enough to contain the outbreak?

To be honest, this is a bad time for the government too because I don't think there's anything they can do that can be enough. Even the most sophisticated countries like Italy and the US still have the highest number of deaths even though they have what they need to fight it. I don't think the government can ever do enough. We just have to support whatever it is that they're doing at the moment.

What do you want to say to your fans during this time?

Hold tight because it'll end soon. I've read about how these kinds of things have happened in the past and the world eventually returned to normal. Just keep listening to Mayorkun's music of course but most importantly, stay safe, stay in your house and when it's gone, we can all come out.

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Kayode Kasum’s Quarantine Watchlist

From 'Wives on Strike' to 'Goodwill Hunting' here's what the Nigerian filmmaker is watching while stuck at home in Lagos.

Kayode Kasum, like most filmmakers, has been stagnated by the coronavirus pandemic. The director behind the blockbuster Sugar Rush and the critically acclaimed Oga Bolaji was working on the post-production of his upcoming movies, The Fate of Alakada: Party Planner and Kambili—a collaboration between FilmOne Entertainment and Chinese Huahua Media— when the Nigerian government announced the lockdown order.

While post-production on Alakada has concluded, the stay-at-home orders have delayed work on Kambili. "Since the team cannot meet at a single point, we are moving hard drives left and right," he says to me over the phone from his home in Lagos. "It is a challenge, but the beautiful thing about a challenge is, when you make it work, it is fulfilling."

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Kasum has turned to books and films for an escape from the unpleasant realities of the pandemic. "I have been reading Elnathan's books: Born on a Tuesday and Becoming Nigeria," he tells me. "I have also been reading film directing books, Directing Actors by Judith Weston." However, Kasum longs for the movies. "I miss going to the cinemas; I miss that experience," he says. "There are times during this pandemic that I'm like 'na wa o, I wish I can go to the cinema.'"

Below are five films he recommends you watch during this pandemic.

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