Audio

Odunsi Is the Producer Transforming Nigerian Music

With his unique blend of afro-fusion, Odunsi is creating a sound that expands what it means to be an African artist.

Lagos’ creative culture is booming and we're seeing a wave of young people throughout Nigeria who see the possibility of taking their creative talents to the next level.


Artists like Odunsi The Engine, also known as Odunsi, are using their globalized world as a way to explore different cultures and shape their own sound.

Odunsi's approach to music mixes genres like afrobeat, soul, R&B and electronica. His style, which has been coined 'afro-fusion,' creates an experience that many people in the world haven’t heard. With it, Odunsi's shaped a sound that's not only hard to replicate but that also expands what it means to be an African artist.

His music has been received so well around the world that his track “Situationship” recently made Spotify’s U.S. Viral 50 and was featured on Billboard.

He's worked with artists like Santi, whom he collaborated with on ‘Gangsta Fear,’ a track that made it on our best of 2016 song list. With no major label behind him and only one EP in, there's definitely a lot in store for Odunsi.

We got a chance to chat with Odunsi about the creative scene in Lagos, his inspirations and what is next for him in the New Year. Read on for our conversation with the artist.

Image courtesy of the artist.

At what moment did you decide that music is what you wanted to pursue full-time?

I decided to pursue music professionally on January 25, 2016. That was my “Yeah, let’s do this” moment. This was after I had recorded a song with GMK, I felt at that point that I wanted to do music for real.

If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t making music, I might have become a lawyer or a professional football referee.

How has growing up in Lagos fueled your passion for music and inspired your content?

Growing up in Lagos, has been my biggest influence musically, because I have been able to interact in a place that is so energetic and very competitive.

At a young age the city really instills in you the value of your personal hustle and work ethic. Lagos also teaches you to find a way to create something out the little you have and that’s one major thing I have got from growing up here. It has taught me balance and how to work with different people and approach different situations.

Talk a little bit about Nigeria’s creative scene and how it is shaping in the new generation?

Nigeria’s creative scene has been growing daily. There's always new content and new people creating and the amazing thing about it is a lot of the artists are really young. This is really new for Nigeria, to see a whole generation of young icons, people representing their culture in different ways through music, photography, music, movies and fashion.

What makes it even more beautiful is that there's a lot of collaboration and willingness to help. More young people now have mentors to look up to and are able to learn quicker than previous generations. It’s inspiring that more people are taking charge of their lives at a young age and more people are creating their own way to be successful.

You describe your sound as 'afro-fusion,' how would you explain this style?

Afro fusion as a style has been around for ages. I don’t know if the name has been around for as long but the style definitely has. We have had people like Angelique Kidjo and Wale Thompson that were afrofusion. They were creating music by blending direct influences from their roots and other places they experienced, which created a very unique sound. Over time, the genre has gotten bigger and now we have people like Burna Boy, Black Magic and newer artists who are still building a presence.

Your song “Situationship” recently made Spotify’s US Viral 50 and was featured on Billboard, did you expect the reaction for the song to be so big?

With "Situationship," I don’t think that anyone in my shoes would expect their song to get on Billboard. I don’t think anyone goes like "yeah, I am releasing a song on SoundCloud and it’s going to end up on Billboard."

The song was an intentional release because I wanted to put out a song that had a style that no one had heard before, but at the same time, any one in the world could listen to. That’s what I try to do with my music, I want anyone in the world to be able to pick something from it, something to hold on to. So, I am not surprised that a lot of people could relate to it outside of Nigeria and Africa, but getting featured on Billboard was a big surprise and I’m thankful.

What was the experience like working with Santi on the track "Gangsta Fear" and seeing the video on MTV?

Santi has been like a brother to me because I grew into my complete artistry with him and learned a lot while working on the last project he put out (Suzie’s Funeral). It helped build my confidence and I learned a lot of things technically and how to relate with people.

"Gangsta Fear" was just a record that was a bit impromptu, we were on Skype one day and GMK was making the beat. I wasn’t interested in the song at first but Santi sent me an email after he had finished his part and asked me to jump on it. The funny thing is the song almost didn’t make it on to the project, little did we know that it was going to be a favorite for everyone. I still haven’t seen the video on TV unfortunately but I still get calls from people that they saw the video and like it. It’s a good feeling knowing that something you did while having fun has gotten so big.

Who are some of the Nigerian artist (any art form) that OkayAfrica readers should look out for?

There are so many talented artists coming out of Nigeria. We have Santi, Nonso Amadi, Lady Donli, Aylo, GMK, Zamir, Tomi Thomas, Genio Bambino, Bridge, Mafeni, DJ Femo, Tonero, Le Mav, Higo, Tay Iwar, Funbi, Dami Oniru and Doz. Then we have photographers like TSE and directors like Demola and UA. I can’t even mention all names because there are so many people doing amazing things in Africa, it’s a big family of creatives and were all growing together.

You currently don’t have any music videos out; can we expect any personal visuals in 2017?

There are going to be a lot of visuals, from short films to videos, photos and documentaries soon. I was taking my time to learn more about visuals before putting anything out.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self on how to approach the music industry?

To just focus on my own sound, keep developing myself and making sure I am the best version of me and not trying to compete with anyone. Being the best version of yourself is more important at the end of the day.

If you could do a show in any city, where would it be?

Sao Paulo, Brazil would be a go-to location. I have an obsession with that city and I don’t know why. I like the way the place is set up and the architecture. I really like the whole vibe there and I think of it as a place that could one day be my home.

What’s next for Odunsi?

I have a project that’s very important to me dropping this year and a major single dropping just before the summer. The project is going to be very different from my last one because I have grown a lot more and I have a lot more to push in terms of groundbreaking sounds.

There’s a lot more fusion in this project and I just want to make a statement to the world. I want people to see that it’s possible to make any kind of music and blend anything together.

Image courtesy of the artist.

popular
(Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage via Getty)

Listen to Wizkid's Surprise New EP 'Soundman Vol. 1'

Wizkid treats fans to new songs featuring Chronixx, DJ Tunez and more—just ahead of 2020.

Wizkid is back. The Nigerian pop star surprised listeners early this morning with the unannounced release of a new EP, Soundman Vol. 1.

Though Wizkid has released a couple of singles this year, fans had been awaiting a new drop and more extensive project from the artist. With it being so close to the end of the year, it didn't look like we'd get a new body of work from the artist till 2020, but he proved otherwise when he took to Twitter at the wee hours of the morning to quietly share streaming links for the new project.

He also announced that a second EP, Soundman Vol. 2, would drop sometime before his highly-anticipated upcoming album Made In Lagos (MIL).

Keep reading... Show less
Audio
Fatoumata Diawara on A Colors Show (Youtube)

The 10 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring K.O, Fatoumata Diawara, Burna Boy, Harmonize, Darkovibes x Runtown, Shatta Wale and more

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's new playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Keep reading... Show less
Audio
GuiltyBeatz, Kwesi Arthur & Mr Eazi's "Pilolo" visualizer video (Youtube).

The 20 Best Ghanaian Songs of 2019

Featuring Pappy Kojo, Sarkodie, Amaarae, Kwesi Arthur, Shatta Wale, Efya GuiltyBeatz, Joey B, R2Bees and many more.

2019 was definitely an exciting year for Ghanaian music.

Right from the top of the year, we saw both new and established make their mark with songs that would soundtrack the nation's airwaves, functions, and nights for months to come. In 2019 we got to experience an E.L comeback, Shatta Wale and Beyoncé on the same song, numerous solid Ghana-Naija collaborations, and bop after bop by old and new artists alike.

We also saw the rise of brand new artists, starting from the likes of J.Derobie's wave making debut in January, to Kofi Mole's widespread trap anthem, to Fameye's declaration of brokeness, to the promising future superstar Sam Opoku. As far as projects go, 2019 was a good year for that in the Ghana music space as well. We were blessed with an EP from Sarkodie, an album by the superstar duo R2Bees, talented singer King Promise's debut album, Ko-Jo Cue's stellar debut, and M.anifest's 7-track feel-good EP, among several others.

Ghanaian music has been stepping its game up lately, and there's only one way to go from here. Below, we give you the rundown on the Ghanaian songs that stole ears and hearts and set the pace for the country's sound this year.

Check out the list below. Listen in no particular order.—Nnamdi Okirike

Follow our GHANA WAVE playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for AFI)

Cynthia Erivo Earns Golden Globe Nomination for 'Harriet'

Check out the full list of 2020 nominees (and the snubs).

Award-winning actress, Cynthia Erivo has earned a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman in Harriet. She's earned a nomination for Best Original Song for 'Stand Up."

She's nominated in the "Best Performance by an Actress In a Motion Picture—Drama" alongside Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johansson, Renée Zellwegger and Saoirse Ronan.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.