The heavy African sound ‘Afrobeats‘ have been gaining global recognition over time. The sound which is said to be an offshoot of the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s music, has been a point of pride in Nigeria and across Africa.
The genre from the 70s, still survives, and Nigerian artist have been relentless in developing this sound and making it better. Afrobeats is characterized by groovy percussion and auto-tuned vocals, basically echoing, ‘come dance’, ‘lets party’ ‘lets have fun’.
Afrobeats music now comes with fame and recognition, which is why a lot of upcoming artist do not intend to relent on there dreams of being heard.
In an interview with Inland Town Media, a promising sensational Artist Eblaze popularly known as Paperboy, shared his passion, journey and struggles in the Nigerian music industry.
He spoke about his love for the African Sound, specifically afro-fusion a sub-genre of Afrobeats; he also shared his style of music but noted that he is spontaneous and would not want to be put in a box.
Eblaze was born in Ajegunle and raised in Ojo. He started to pursue music at a very young age of ten (10) and has been doing music professionally for four years. The artist became popular while schooling in Anambra state university for his unique music. He has been pushing hard and building his audience ever since.
When did you discover your passion for music?
At the age of 10, I discovered I could sing. Whenever I sang people always loved to listen. It first started with writing poems and then I made music. I could put any sound together and turn it into music.
I enjoyed it, so I felt I should take my new found passion seriously. At age eleven (11), I recorded my first song, which was dedicated to my mum. She was my first fan and sponsor. I remember asking her to use the money intended to get me a charismas cloth to record my sound, which she gladly agreed to and eventually still got me the cloth.
Which artists inspires you to keep pushing for your dreams?
When I started music, I fell in love with Wizkid, I could relate well to his music. He was young when he started and I was like if someone this young could do it, why should I slack on my dreams. I would also say Burnaboy because I sound a lot like him, he is a natural talent.
I’m surprised you didn’t mention any female artist, are they not doing well?
Why not, I have my favorites too in the female category. I admire artists like Teni, Simi and Tems most especially. For me it’s not all about the fame, but its about making good music. I’m a collector of good music, before Tems even became popular, I loved her music.
How about international artist?
Yeah, I would say Eminem and Kanye West, I was inspired by their energy. Asides Afrobeats I have also done rap music, they were one of my first songs.
Do you have a label?
No, I don’t for now. I have had a couple previously, but they couldn’t do much for me. I left because the contract was practically slavery. I know my music is promising so I didn’t want to stay with a label that would do me more harm than good.
For now, I’m independent. But I’m open to better opportunities.
I have my small fan base; I just keep making music whenever a sound pops up in my head. I have learnt to remove my mind from solely getting rich through music. I honestly just want to be heard and get better at doing what I love.
Wow, that must be a lot of work; How about a manager?
No for now. I did have a manager once but he fell in love with Jazz and focused on that. For now I manage myself.
How many songs do you have now?
Currently I have two EPs I’m working on. Previously I released two eps with five songs each. My songs are on all digital stores like spotify.
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What channels do you utilize for publicity?
I use tiktok and other social media outlets, but most of the time you need influencers to help make your songs go viral. If you don’t want to use the traditional media. It is the fastest way now for publicity but it still involves money.
I have organic followers on my social media, and I’m stressing that ‘organic’ because I want to be sure people are following me because they like my music. Lately Don Jazzy started following me and that was a huge encouragement.
What do you have to say about artists that are not famous but are making good money in the Nigerian music industry?
I would say its all about your connection, ‘who you know’. As much as it looks like they are not popular they are excelling because they have made some connections that have positioned them to be successful through music.
No man is a island, you need someone to put you out there.
Speaking of connection, have you been to any talent hunt?
Yes, I have been to Nigerian idol, although I can’t remember the season because I didn’t make it through. I have also been to peak talent show. I was in school when for the audition in Enugu. It was a memorable experience for me because I would have sworn, I’d get into the show, I did an afro music then. But for some reason, I think afro music is underrated in these talent shows. i did well but to my greatest surprise I wasn’t picked, even my fellow contestants were surprised because they ratted me already as a talented artist already.
After that experience I got discouraged about going for Talent shows.
You mentioned schooling in Anambra, what is the difference between making music there and now in Lagos?
Lagos is the center of Afro music and entertainment in Africa. With the popularity I had back then in school, I’m certain if it were in Lagos I would have been more known. When it comes to music the opportunities in the east is a bit limited, except for places like Enugu, which birthed popular artist like Phyno, Jaywillz and the likes.
What are your challenges so far?
This industry is challenging as an upcoming artist. Most artist would say only grace can make you successful in this country. The system here in Nigeria is corrupt just like the way if affects other aspects. Usually, one should be able to go to the radio or TV with an album that is promising and get the support of a media house if its good. But in Nigeria its not so easy, most times what they are interested in is the brown envelop. The size of the envelop determines how often they play your song.
This came to me as a shock considering how young I was when I started music. Then we didn’t have money as kids, so it was hard to be heard.
Notwithstanding, there are still good people in the industry. A man I meet one time helped my journey; he always dropped my songs on MTN yellow top ten fresh sound without me giving a penny.
In conclusion, the journey has been filled with so much ups and downs, learning, unlearning and relearning but I would choose this part over and over again. I’m proud of the African sound and I always want to be identified with it.