“You must decide early, the kind of artist you want to be. Don’t write music you think people want to hear. You should please yourself first and always.”
These were the words of Agwu Obinna, an experienced music talent manager and it was clarity; clarity to my confusion with artists who switch their sounds for increased commercial success. I have seen talented artists abandon the core elements of their art and confuse it for evolution.
I know of an artist whose music used to have the essentials of rhyme and poetry until he made a dance-focused pop song which became big; he released another pop song and it did well. With this new sound, he spent the next three years searching for another big break song which has remained elusive and his occasional rap outputs were so sketchy that even his earliest fans weren’t buying it. It became clear that he got lost and like Ari Herstand said, he has forgotten which way is up. It is choosing to be the spice of the moment over being the flavour of a lifetime.
It was with this understanding that King Perryy shared his scripted plan to grow as an Afro-dance hall artist like his tutor, Timaya who signed him to DM Records. Choosing to stick to making Afro Dance Hall music is like signing to be an outlier because pop music is a more appealing option to artists as it commands a wider range of music audience. Just like it is in the pages of the history books, pop music has welcomed more artists than Dancehall music has in Nigeria but the likes of Timaya, Patoranking managed to rise, in their respective classes, to prominence and King Perryy is traveling that lane.
The budding singer named his sound “the continental sound,” because, according to him, his music appeals to people with different music interests. He said, “I was in the studio with an artiste and I shared my experience of playing my songs to a group of people with different interests in music – some liked Afro, other liked Reggae – but when my music plays they usually all like my songs. And then the artiste suggested “Continental Boy” and that is how my music was defined.”
The Continental Boy spoke of the influence his music-loving uncle and Father had on him; he grew up watching them delightfully listen to the likes of Jamaican Dancehall icon, Shabba Ranks and Afrobeat originator, Fela. He revealed that the experience exposed him to the beautiful essence of music which led him to pursue a dream as a dancer before finding his purpose as a singer. “I always love good music. I was a dancer but I figured out that I could sing.”
Knowing you can sing usually comes with a special feeling of pride, but part of making an art out of such gift requires you convincing people to see the talent deposit in you and appreciate your creations. King Perryy had a fair share of hustles and bustles before cracking the surface; he turned down an opportunity to become a priest, and he shuffled between Port-Harcourt and Lagos in other to get his music to the right hands; and a lot of the expenses were covered with his “school money.”
He put out a couple of records during his affiliation with Baron Entertainment, before his record deal. He recalled that he had started mapping out plans to switch careers if 2017 didn’t bring him good tidings. He said at that time he felt a swelling frustration and concluded that, “If I do music this year and it doesn’t work, I would go and learn Sound Engineering. “But Bilo, (his manager) and Osagie Osarenkhoe played different roles in ensuring that Timaya signed him.
King Perryy got on the DM records’ bus, hoping to learn the ropes from the icon. His first attempt came in the form of a music release titled Man On Duty; Caribbean music elements formed the song’s primary sound. The dance-hall qualities of the song has helped it become a favourite for DJs, OAPs and the general public. King Perryy expressed his surprise at how well Man On Duty was received because he had initial fears about the recording. He said, “I was so tensed, asking myself: do you think they would like it?”
The success of the first single has put King Perryy in the mood for a next; he was already talking about his archived songs and said that he has enough materials to fill up 2 albums. On his collaboration Wishlist, the likes of Kranium, Popcan, Burna Boy, Sauti Sol, Sean Paul and Wizkid were mentioned. It is obvious that the list collected dance-hall associated artists and King Perryy explained that, “I like their sound, I like their crowd.”
King Perryy seems to be clear on his chosen path and he is unlikely to end up like the rapper in the earlier narrative. King Perryy has found a niche in dance-hall music and he is only interested in growing in that place of purpose.
This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets