Tapping into both his Nigerian and Ghana roots, Banku music pioneer Mr. Eazi has fused an infectious sound that is successfully moving across the world and into mainstream music. He initially emerged on the scene as a student pursuing his engineering degree at Kwame Nkrumah University. At the time, music was only a hobby, however, his natural talent could not be ignored. During his tenure at school, he contributed to the track “My Life” which became one of the most popular songs at the university and eventually resulted in the launch of Eazi’s own promotion company, Swagger Entertainment.
Mr. Eazi’s entrepreneurial spirit continued to build in 2013 when he released his debut mixtape, About To Blow. The mixtape features the hit track “Bankulize” which blew up in both the African and U.K. markets. With an international fanbase well established, Mr Eazi released his second mixtape, Life Is Eazi- Vol. 1 – Accra To Lagos, that debuted at number 4 on Billboard’s World Album charts and featured African powerhouses Masterkraft, WizKid, Maleek Berry, and more. Less than a year later, Eazi unveiled the highly-anticipated sequel, Life Is Eazi- Vol. 2 – Lagos To London, which landed the title of the most-streamed Nigerian Album in 2018 and led to a performance on Late Late Show with James Corden.
Now, Mr. Eazi is taking 2019 by storm. This spring he will make history as one of the only Nigerian performers performing at the iconic desert festival, Coachella. Prior to the festival, you can find Eazi performing at an official SXSW Music Festival and headlining Vydia’s ‘Music Is Culture’ Official SXSW Showcase. In addition to his upcoming performances, Eazi has made it his mission to use his influence to help catapult Africa’s next generation of independent artists. In a recent interview with Vydia, Mr. Eazi dives into his 2019 initiatives, African music’s rising popularity and more. Here’s what he had to say:
What motivated you to pursue a career in music?
I never wanted to do music as a career, it was just a hobby; a way of escaping the pressures of life as a young engineering student and later a young graduate entrepreneur. When it started getting big it was obvious it had become more than a hobby. I think when I got an invite from Lauryn Hill to headline the Ghana Festival at the O2 in Kentish Town, that was the moment I realized I could actually pursue music as a career.
In July 2016, you made the decision to leave your job selling pre-owned phones in Lagos and move to London to pursue music. What made you choose London as your home base?
London is not entirely my home base, it’s more like the center of everything for me especially because it was where I decided to pursue music as a career.
You refer to your sound as Banku Music. How would you describe this genre?
It’s a fusion of music from West Africa.
The success of your second project, Life Is Eazi, Vol. 1 – Accra to Lagos, in 2017 landed you a spot on Apple Music’s inaugural Up Next artist program (which included a live performance on Late Late Show with James Corden). What was the biggest takeaway you got from this experience?
There are no limits for me! I keep telling myself Eazi keep going, don’t stop!
Nigeria’s Afrobeats music scene is booming as African artists like Wizkid, Davido, Tekno, and yourself have become household names. What do you think has spurred this surge in African music globally over the last year?
The music has always been great. I think the Internet has made the world a smaller place. If you can make Africa dance, you can make the world dance.
In an interview with Red Bull, you were described as not just a star, but an ambassador for African music. What impact has your success in the industry had on African music as a whole?
Loads of emerging artists walk up to me and say things like “Oh Eazi you give me hope that I can make it big without a label, without millions in funding.”
In what ways are you looking to expand this success for other African artists?
Sharing knowledge and building platforms through initiatives like emPawa Africa.
Can you tell us more about your emPawa Africa initiative?
emPawa will empower the next generation of African artists, equipping them with the tools, knowledge, network, and investment so they subsequently become independent music entrepreneurs.
Last year you released the second installment of your Life Is Eazi project, Life Is Eazi, Vol. 2 – Lagos to London. What sets this project apart from your previous work?
With each project, I evolve sonically and as an artist. With this project, I’ve managed to do that with the production and with the collaborations.
You’ve collaborated with Diplo on ‘Open & Close’ and shared the stage with J. Balvin. Who would you like to work or perform with next?
BTS, Black Pink, Kelvinno, Anita
Most recently, you released a video for ‘Miss You Bad’ that features another Nigerian powerhouse, Burna Boy. In addition to collaborating on this music video together, you will also be the only two artists proudly representing Nigeria and Banku music at this year’s Coachella festival. What are you most excited about for this iconic event?
I’m excited you know, but you never really deep this until you are off.
You will also be performing at this year’s SXSW conference in a few weeks. What can fans expect to see?
Lots and lots of energy! I like my fans to have a good time and have an experience that will last with them for a lifetime.
Through all of your success, you have maintained your independence as an artist. What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an independent artist and how were you able to overcome it?
It’s continuous learning. You have to learn while you are growing and pleasing your immediate fanbase. It’s challenging but it keeps things interesting.
What other advice would you give to aspiring independent artists?
Know what you are trying to achieve
How has Vydia empowered you as an independent artist?
Vydia helps fuel your independence. It keeps the lights on by helping you properly distribute and monetize your music. It makes business calm so you don’t feel under pressure.
What is a fun fact no one knows about you?
I’m scared of insects.
There are no limits to where Mr. Eazi can take his thriving career! Be sure to follow him on social media to see what’s next for this international superstar. Check back next week to see who will be featured on our next Vydia Spotlight.