Featured
Nonso Amadi. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Nonso Amadi Is Making His Unique Blend of Afro-Fusion

We speak with the Toronto-based Nigerian artist about his new self-produced EP, Free, which includes features from Mr Eazi and Simi.

Nonso Amadi is a Toronto-based musician cooking up his own blend of afro-fusion by mixing influences from his Nigerian background with elements of RnB, soul, pop and much more.

His releases and production over recent years have made Nonso one of the standout acts from a new wave of young Nigerian artists experimenting and pushing boundaries on both sides of the Atlantic.

The 23-year-old artist just dropped his latest release, Free, a 6-song EP which features appearances from Mr Eazi on lead single "Go Outside" and Simi, who provides vocals on "Better." The EP was entirely produced by Nonso himself, with a little help from British-Ghanaian producer Juls and AoD.

We spoke with Nonso Amadi during a visit to NYC about his genre-bending EP below.


Nonso Amadi - Go Outside ft. Mr Eazi (Official Video) youtu.be

Where does the title of the Free EP come from?

So it started with me having this experience where I felt like, being in a relationship, there's times where you might feel like you need a little bit of space. Maybe your partner is always around or something. And I felt like, "Okay, let me do a tape where it revolves around the other side of love where it's a little too much for you. I need a breather sometimes." But then once I began creating the tape, the expression free started to broaden into being free to create different genres and being just free from boundaries because there are things I was involving in the songs that weren't my typical sound.

Has your sound changed in these songs?

Yeah, definitely. It's still afro-fusion, because afro-fusion is a really broad term. But it's elements of the fusion that I've never experimented with before that are interesting.

What elements are you adding?

[It's] more African. Because my fusion was leaning a bit more towards the Western sound—R&B, soul, and a little bit of percussion here and there to make it African. But now, it's like the terms I'm singing with, the instrumental itself, the chords and progressions are more African now.

Nonso Amadi. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Your parents are Nigerian and you currently live in Toronto. Tell me about your background.

So I lived in Nigeria for about 15 years and then I moved to the U.K. for my undergrad and then I moved to Toronto for my Master's. I did my undergrad in chemical engineering, my Bachelor's. And then my Master's in engineering design. So, I'm an engineer.

Tell me about some of these features on the Free EP. You have Mr Eazi and Simi on it.

With Simi, it was really organic. I really wanted Simi on the tape and I didn't know how to approach her because we've never spoken, we're not following each other. I didn't know any mutual friends, nothing. And one day I was in London, I was in one of the biggest malls in London and I just bumped into Simi. I thought that was so weird. I just bumped into Simi in a store, like randomly, and I was like, "Hey, what's good?" And she knew me, thank God she knew my face. And she was like, "Hey, so come by. Let's chat, whatever." And I played her my tape, what I was working on, and she said... first of all, she said she wanted to steal my beats to make her own songs. But then later on, we decided to do one of the tracks.

And then Mr Eazi has just been a mentor to me for a lot of reasons. So he was on board from the get go.

Tell me about the lead single "Go Outside," with Mr Eazi.

That song, it's the outlier in the entire tape. It's the only song that doesn't necessarily merge in with the "free" term. It's just more so a flex, it's more African. I've been listening to Mr. Eazi for quite some time and I identify with a particular thing about his sound, which is the beats and his flow. So I did something along those lines that didn't come to me as the "free" thing. It just came to me as like, "Yo, you're flexing your own, the girls are all over you" and stuff. And I did that and then I put him on the track and he killed me, as I say.

Nonso Amadi - No Crime (Official Video) youtu.be

You produced all of these songs yourself?

Yeah. All the songs are produced by me using Ableton. I've been producing for eight or nine years... most of my songs are produced by me. I started out as a producer. I basically came across an application called FL Studio. And I played around, made some ringtones, and then I made this beat and I'm like, "Oh, who's going to rap and sing them?" Then I decided to try it out. But I'll say it's been an obvious growth from when I started to now. Just even being here, having this interview is evidence of how much progress I've made.

What's the scene like in Toronto right now?

There's no scene in Toronto. There's an underground scene, but for Africans, there's barely any scene. The main players in the music industry in Toronto are the top three guys, Drake, The Weeknd, and who else? It's Daniel Caesar, I think. But everybody else is just ... It's still a growing scene. I don't mean to be too harsh on it, but right now, it's like a secondary market to the United States. Because most of the stuff up in here is what you hear on the radio there. So yeah, it's still growing.

Any last words about the new EP?

It's a refreshing, soulful, well put together body of work. And I feel like it's something that people enjoy listening to, whether you're taking a drive in the nighttime or your favorite song comes up in the club. It's a song for everybody on there. I put a lot of thought into it and I'm definitely proud of it.

'Free' is available now.

popular
(Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100)

Tiwa Savage, Sauti Sol, 2Baba, Toofan & More to Perform at AFRIMA Music Village Festival

The star-studded event will take place ahead of the award show and includes a host of artists from across the continent.

The 6th annual All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) celebrations, which recognize African talent from across the continent, are set to take place between November 20-23 in Lagos, Nigeria. Several events will take place ahead of the award show, including the star-studded AFRIMA Music Village Festival which will feature performances from some of the top artists in the industry.

The show's lineup has just been announced and it features over 30 acts from all regions of the continent.

The AFRIMAs once again are not to be confused with the AFRIMMAs (African Muzik Magazine Awards) which took place in Dallas, Texas in October.

Here Are the Nominees For the 2019 AFRIMA Awards

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Still from YouTube.

Watch 2Baba's Music Video for His New Single 'Important'

The Nigerian artist outdoes himself with striking visuals for the laid-back track.

Veteran Nigerian artist 2Baba has just dropped his much anticipated single entitled "Important". He's also released the striking visuals accompanying the laid-back track—and we're definitely impressed. Frankly, it's the perfect way to usher in the weekend.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Image courtesy of Riveriswild

#BuyBlack: The 8 Black-Owned Brands To Shop For On Black Friday

It's that time of year again, here is OkayAfrica's 2019 gift guide for you to #BuyBlack this Friday.

You know we're near the end of 2019 once the holiday season comes back around. Thanksgiving is upon us and the bargain shopping and gift-giving is set to commence thereafter. While this American "holiday" being questionable in of itself, Black Friday is a prime occasion to highlight, support and spend exclusively with black-owned businesses.

Just like we mentioned last year, let's keep the 'for us, by us' energy going. Even beyond the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, tap into the businesses that continue to contribute to wealth-building, development and employment in Black communities around the world.

Here is OkayAfrica's curated shortlist of black-owned brands to take note of this Black Friday, including some standout home decor, fashion, skincare and beauty brands you should know.

Take a look below.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
'Queen & Slim' soundtrack cover.

Burna Boy Samples Fela's 'Shakara' on New Track, 'My Money, My Baby' From 'Queen & Slim' Soundtrack

The film's official soundtrack also features tracks from Lauryn Hill, Blood Orange, Megan Thee Stallion and more.

The official soundtrack for Queen & Slim has arrived, and it features a standout solo track from none other than Burna Boy.

"My Money, My Baby" is a heavily Afrobeat-tinged track that features a prominent sample of Fela Kuti's 1972 song "Shakara." The pulsating track also sees the singer, channeling Fela's signature talk-style of singing and repetition. Check it out below.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.