From trying to salvage the birthday party of a friend by accepting to DJ the event without any prior experience or preparation, DJ Kraizee has over the years been confronted by impossible situations and it has taken much more than a steady hand and a brave heart to become the man he is today.
Three things are the hallmark of a legendary DJ; a music-ravaged mind, an eclectic personality and that elusive factor that is intricately lodged between the music choice and the way it is shared with an audience. Very few DJs hold all three. It is a carefully cultured skill, groomed overtime with the precision of a sous chef and the tenacity of a spare part dealer.
Music storyteller, DJ Kraizee has been known to play in that creative space more often than not. Born Elliot Ekunwe, the self-acclaimed ‘King of EDM’ commands a flavour that is so niche, it was basically invented by him. The music maker cut his teeth as a local DJ and music producer many years ago and has steadily courted his love for music since then.
A stubborn streak, an unbeatable battle rap record and a desire to establish himself as different, helped create the nickname ‘KRAIZEE’. When his passion for music started showing promise, he went a step further and officially adopted the name DJ Kraizee.
Electronic Dance Music, EDM, is DJ Kriazee’s known territory and he takes pride in pioneering the ethereal genre.
“My ‘relationship’ with EDM is symbiotic. It is my favourite genre of music, plus it’s always a beautiful feeling when I’m jamming at a concert or any gig and I throw in an EDM banger and the crowd goes wild with emotions. It’s always something to remember,” he explained.
‘King of EDM’ is a title he has summarily grown to accept; a fan-driven love tribute to his craft. The genre which he claims to have created, was initially called AFTECH (AfroTechno) but he confessed that it didn’t sound catchy enough, hence the change to the more catchily-coined AfroEDM.
Inspired by his love for both Afrobeat and EDM, it was easy to craft a hybrid of both genres that became an acceptable genre of its own. At least by his growing fanbase, owing to their fierce support for the brand over the years.
“I usually make a fine blend or live remixes of EDM and Afrobeat songs. I then went on to make mashups and taught myself how to produce music so I could make music in that genre,” he added.
His quirky path to DJing started when he jokingly promised a friend that he would gift her a DJ for her birthday party. Things went south when the promised DJ announced last minute that he wouldn’t be able to show up.
“The person I had in mind wasn’t available that day and I didn’t know anybody else, so I decided to hop on a bike while simultaneously downloading virtual dj on my laptop and reading the manual on a moving bike. As soon as I arrived at the party she was like “where is her DJ?” And I said “It’s me, ta-da!!” while crippled with fear on the inside. I begged for songs from people that day by lying that my laptop crashed so I lost all my songs. Fortunately for me, it was an amazing gig,” he concluded.
On whether he practises any special pre-performance routine, his answer was surprisingly different.
“I pray! I always pray. I’m a “put-God-first” kind of person and I don’t hide it. Some of my posts on my social media literally have “The Prayer before the gig” or something close to that. I always feel much better when I pray. It’s like God just takes all the anxiety away and uses me to show off his glory. Such a great feeling.”
DJs and music producers in Nigeria have often gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to endorsements and brand ambassadorship, and this disparity is not entirely lost on DJ kraizee.
“Well, in earlier years the disparity used to range from huge to nonexistent, until brands started to realise that DJs can literally sell their brands just as much as artistes. Though the pay gap or number of endorsements isn’t so close for DJs when compared with artistes but there’s finally progress,” he reasoned.
DJ Kraizee explains the art of song selection, easily the biggest challenge any DJ faces, with an apt analogy.
“Music selection can either be your best friend or worst nightmare and I say this from the bottom of my heart. My choice of selection is usually determined by the crowd’s reaction and energy on the dance floor. Then I go on with what connects with me while throwing in what’s trending as a plus.”
DJ Kraizee is known for his eponymously-named annual event ‘One KRAIZEE night’; an AfroEDM glow-in-the-dark party. The goal, he explains, is to bring people together to experience and celebrate love, life and great music. He explains that this year’s concept might lean towards a throwback theme but promises to unveil the rest of this year’s event after the lockdown directive is lifted.
From DJing for the Queen of African house music, Niniola to sharing the stage with love crooner, Johnny Drille, DJ Kraizee has scored notable points with his strategic collaborations with industry giants. His original music project, which he plans to unveil sometime this year, will undoubtedly shoot the fast-rising DJ to a whole new level in his career.
When he walks into a room, DJ Kraizee has a way of standing out from the crowd, with his unique branding. This deliberate, eclectic brand identity is one of the many qualities that help magnet people to him.
“I love to have an identity, the KRAIZEE identity. I love to stand out,” he confides.
So If you ever see a DJ on stage with a customised tee, a full head of hair and a perfect blend of AfroEDM, amongst other things, you are either in the presence of the indefatigable DJ Kraizee or an outstanding replica.
This article was written by Henri ‘Yire; connect on Instagram with him here