Interview

Ruger Is Afrobeats' New Swashbuckling Star

We talk to the Nigerian artist about his breakout year and "Bounce" reaching number one on Apple Music charts.

No breakout artist has been more assertive than Ruger in 2021. With his pink hair, left eye patch, alluring bravado, and lyrics such as "Ruger is the lockdown, Ruger is the pandemic", no other afrobeats artist has commanded attention and staked a claim to be heard like he has.

It's late in the afternoon when I meet Ruger at the Jonzing World headquarters, the Nigerian record label and talent management company. He steps into the room without any of the gusto he usually displays on TV. At this moment, he is Michael Adebayo Olayinka, a bright-eyed youngster who jokes about everything and watches an obscene amount of Instagram comedy. "I no sabi do anything o, just watch films and Instagram. Anyone that is funny and interesting", the Afro-dancehall artist says of his hobbies.

It was on Instagram that D'prince — the head honcho of Jonzing World — discovered Ruger. Two years before Ruger was unveiled, D'Prince had revealed Rema and has since turned him into the vanguard of new age afrobeats artists. With such precedence, Ruger's excitement undoubtedly shot through the roof the first time D'Prince messaged him. "I used to do freestyles on Instagram every Saturday. I was getting like 12 to 30 comments and I had four hundred followers — I was just enjoying it. It wasn't even up to a year before I'd started putting out freestyles when I saw a DM from D'Prince."

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