Events

Recap: United Sounds Of Africa


One often loses themselves in the vastness of Nigerian music. The dialects, the Pidgin, and the culture can be a bit overwhelming for non-Nigerians and some Nigerians alike. Perhaps the best way to venture into this new globally-embraced aesthetic is to sample of some of their best, or just most popular, music. The United Sounds of Africa (USA) tour was that opportunity to test out the flavors of the Afro Beat, Pop, and Hip Hop sounds of Nigeria.

The USA tour hit New York’s Irving Plaza on August 7, 2012 and was a great look into what so many Nigerians have invested so much pride in, and why they dominate in the African music movement at the moment. Despite some disorganization and a half-baked attempt to rival mainstream American hip hop's misogyny (two women were brought on stage and acted provacatively during Ice Prince’s set), the show pretty much delivered.

The variety of music from Afrobeat, to Afro Soul, to a strong influence of traditional African instruments encompassed by the opening acts was refreshing. The big names of the night, Jesse Jagz, Ice Prince, and of course Tuface (2Face), also delivered. Jesse Jagz’s incredible, raw energy married with this well-blended African and House-heavy production was a salty sweet treat. Ice Prince followed with a more polished, crowd interactive experience, shelling out the hits so many of his audience have sweated to in various African parties around the world.

Tuface, however, took the night. His live band, numerous hits, energy and sincerity came together to make a world class performance regardless of the thinning crowd that remained by the time he hit the stage so late into the night.

Above all, the evening was a wonderful excuse to network with like-minded young African people. Between each set, what could have been an annoyingly long break actually turned into that awesome moment when you realize the guy next to you is also a writer, designer, musician, or your next boyfriend. These types of events are the future of Afropolitan art, culture and community.

Interview

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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