Both Solomon and myself on behalf of Bespoke sat down with the pioneer of ‘Banku Music’, Mr Eazi, to talk childhood aspirations, his relationship with Wiz Kid, and a potential new album. Having entered the music scene as a promoter whilst studying Mechanical Engineering, Mr Eazi soon realized that there was money to be made in music. Releasing his debut mixtape, About To Blow, in July 2013 (whilst still at university) Mr Eazi instantly became one of the hottest names in Africa. Since then he has released another mixtape, Accra To Lagos, performed on The Late Show with James Corden, and sold out venues all other the world. Check out the interview below or listen to the full podcast:
Noha: So Mr Eazi, in the UK. I saw you were at Notting Hill Carnival performing. You’ve also been taking over Radar, taking over 1Xtra, and you’ve also got your Life Is Eazi festival on the 23rd September. I’m assuming you’ve heard a couple of UK slang terms, so I want to play a game with you. I’m going to give you a slang term and then give you two definitions. You just have to tell me which definition is correct.
Mr Eazi: [laughs] Ok cool!
Noha: First slang term is… ‘peng’
Mr Eazi: Beautiful [laughs]. Yeah, I used that in a song.
Noha: I don’t even need to give you my definitions- you smashed it! Second one… ‘judi dence’. Does it mean when someone is over 60, or is it when someone is super muscly?
Mr Eazi: The latter. Cuz dench like [laughs]
Noha: This one is a bit harder… ‘blower’. Does it mean the word rubbish, or does it mean a phone?
Mr Eazi: I think it’s the first
Noha: Ahhh you were doing so well!
Mr Eazi: Why would you call your phone a ‘blower’? [Laughs]. Two out of three is not bad
Solomon: So you’re one of the hottest artists in Africa at the minute. Tell us a bit about you in your own words.
Mr Eazi: I’m an entrepreneur. I make music. I make vibes really.
Solomon: Can you play any instruments?
Mr Eazi: A little bit on the piano and the keys.
Noha: So you started off as a mechanical engineer, and then you became West Africa’s hottest artist. How was it when you spoke to your family and were like ‘look, I’m going to stop education and I’m going to pursue music’?
Mr Eazi: The funny thing is there was never the moment where I stopped education. I recorded my first mixtape when I was doing my masters and I just had some free time. The only time I had let my parents know that this is what it is was July 22nd last year. I had just done Ghana Party In The Park and then I had done my own show at 02 Kentish Town. Seeing everybody come out and sing my songs, and I made some good money, so I called my mum and I was like ‘mum I think I am a musician’ and she said ‘musician from where’, and then I told her and she was like ‘wow, ok cool’. I never wanted to be a musician- it just happened.
Noha: If you never wanted to be a musician, what was your dream goal as a kid?
Mr Eazi: I wanted to have money. All my uncles who had money were engineers so I became an engineer. And when I was studying engineering I became a promoter and I was like ‘wow, there are other ways of making money’. So I wanted to be a billionaire, so I started a couple of companies- including a tech company. Somewhere in between that music found me and it was a good business with good money and I was having fun. So I thought maybe some day I could have enough capital and enough influence to do whatever I want to do. And that’s the point I am at now.
Solomon: Could you tell us a little bit more about your relationship with Wiz Kid?
Mr Eazi: Wiz kid is like a senior colleague obviously. He’s like a brother as well. When I was a promoter I tried to book Wiz Kid. Just about when I was deciding to do music fulltime I met him and he has always been there when I need some advice. I remember this one time a label wanted to take one of my records. What he told me was like ‘yo, do you really want to do the deal?’ He told me the upsides and the downsides, and then I made the decision that no I am not going to do the deal. That was good advice from him.
Noha: Some bloggers online are saying you’re signed, and some are saying you’re not signed, so now I want to ask the man himself…
Mr Eazi: Last year I decided to do a collaborative deal with Wiz Kid- which is more like an affiliation, and then a collective push with not just myself where we work together as Starboy Worldwide to put out products; such as a Starboy album, a Starboy tour. Just imagine dates across the world with myself, Wiz Kid, R2Bees… that’s enough to fill any serious venue. If the business came to me through Starboy they take a percentage of that. Asides that, I have stayed independent since day zero and I’ve stayed independent.
Noha: Tell us what ‘Banku Music’ is…
Mr Eazi: ‘Banku Music’ is vibes and fusion of Ghana and Nigerian sounds. I dare to say it’s the sound of West Africa now. If you have not done a record that has something to say about Ghana then you haven’t even started. That’s what ‘Banku Music’ is but moving on it is just going to be African fusion music. So today I can make a record and mix African vibes with dance music and it is still ‘Banku Music’ because of the African element
Noha: Picking on the dance vibe that you said, apparently you have 12 songs with Diplo. How did that union come about?
Mr Eazi: That happened via social media. Someone saw Diplo playing one of my records on his snapchat. We started talking and then when I was in LA I went through and we just had a chat. Now every time I am in LA we record. When he was in Nigeria I linked him with my producer and they have been back and forth working on records. I have learned a lot just by being around him. The last time he was in London he played at Cirque and he called me to come. I was standing there watching his set. He’s teaching me everything. Right now between some of my sets I have a DJ set where I play music and just hype the crowd. By watching him play I have seen that there is, even more, I could do, so if you pay me that extra dollar I’ll have a three-hour set. [Laughs]. I feel like ultimately what will happen is at big festivals you will see Mr Eazi and when I come on I am going to take everybody to Africa; play both my songs and other songs, and have dancers, and have lights and fire and tricks- like a small circus of African Music.
Noha: Speaking of African music, what does ‘zagadat’ mean?
Mr Eazi: Zagadat means correct. Spiritual. Anything positive. I made it up. I was about to record Bankulize and then the beat started and I was like ‘Zagadat!’ I was feeling the instrumental so much and I couldn’t find any words to express it so I was like ‘zagadat’.
Noha: So you’ve absolutely smashed 2017 with your performance on The Late Show with James Corden, you’ve got girls on Instagram doing makeup tutorials, you’ve got your own cultural festival. What do you want to do in 2018 that you haven’t already done before?
Mr Eazi: Maybe I might put out an album [laughs]. But beyond that getting on big festivals and doing the African sets. And then doing records that make it worldwide. Opening doors for other artists coming out of Africa through my label which I will launch July next year- Banku Music.
Noha: Any one you would want to collaborate with?
Mr Eazi: Daddy Yankee to Justin Bieber. Maybe one day I may even get Adele [laughs].
Solomon: You’re dating Temi Otedola. Do you find it stressful that she is the daughter of one of the most well-known billionaires?
Mr Eazi: No, in fact she is the most normal girl I have ever dated. I have loved all my other girlfriends but she has been the most normal girl.
Noha: Well has been an absolute pleasure meeting you, and I can’t wait to see you on the 23rd September, and yeah ‘zagadat’.
Mr Eazi: [Laughs].
By Noha Omnya.