On a journey that has seen several uncertainties, Chiké Osebuka Ezekpeazu has become Nigeria’s buzzing heartthrob whose craft and talent have seen him go from being the kid on the block to becoming an addiction to an ingenuous fanbase.
For some, it is a tale of talent, timing and strategy but with the 27-year-old singer and songwriter; sheer talent, endurance and consistency have propelled his art. Centred on imprinting a mark and living free on expression, Chiké’s career strides earned him a spot as “Ladies’ man”.
When asked about the birth of the moniker “Boo of the Booless”, Chiké’ describes himself as the harbinger of love, present like day, catering to starved hopeless romantics through his music.
From the staggering days of auditioning to be heard, Chiké firmly moved from talent hunt show MTN Project Fame West Africa in 2015 to emerging the first runner up on talent competition TV show, The Voice Nigeria Season 1. In April 2017, the singer made his acting debut as “Mayowa Badmus” on the Africa Magic Showcase telenovela – Battleground.
Stealing hearts one song at a time, he gained international recognition with a heartfelt rendition of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” from The Proclaimers and furthered his artistic sojourn to claiming centre stage.
An indie artiste, Chiké has shown in many ways that talent is not enough but a combination of character, vision and teamwork makes the dream work. Earlier in the year, he released his debut album titled “Boo of the Booless”, a body of work containing 14 tracks. The project drew unprecedented attention from music enthusiasts and critics, welcomed overwhelming reviews and a stamp on charts for months.
Riding on the waves of the success of the album, Chiké follows up with a 6-track EP, “Dance of the Booless” Volume 1 which he released on June 19.
As the self-acclaimed “Boo of the Booless” continues to release more body of work, Chioma Nmor and Jennifer Nwosu chat with “Cupid” to explore his life, his music and everything in-between for the July-Sept. 2020 issue of MC! Magazine.
MC: Tell us about yourself; besides being the boo of the booless, who is Chiké?
I am a Computer Engineer. I was born and brought up in Abuja. I also have three brothers and a sister.
MC: What’s one thing that people don’t know about Chiké?
The one thing people don’t know about me is that I am a very reserved person. A lot of people may find this hard to believe but I love my personal space a lot and I enjoy being by myself.
MC: What is your favorite song ever?
I have quite a number of favourites but I’d safely say my favourite song is “Obianuju” by Duncan Mighty.
MC: How best would you describe your style and how does that translate to your music and personality?
My style is basically a part of me. Primarily, my music is based on storytelling which translates to personal stories. So, a part of me is incorporated into my music.
MC: What is your typical process like?
I start by imagining stories I have heard and also experiences I have had. I then call in an instrumentalist( guitarist) and we try to turn these stories with tunes to make music.
MC: How has COVID-19 affected your creative process?
It has been dejecting I must say. Though, it has slowed down a lot of things around me, but in terms of my creativity as a person, it hasn’t really affected me.
MC: You speak a lot about the influence on your music, having had family at your centre, was it definitive of your sounds?
Yes, sure! But, it’s not just my family. Everyone around me has been a source of influence and I’ve learnt a lot from them.
MC: Your songwriting is top-notch and it’s definitely not from around here. What do you attribute that skill to?
Well, it has to do with people; content I listen to and research. These things go into my subconscious and as I process them, they come out with all those influence touching on them. Although, listening to Duncan Mighty and Dolly Parton influenced my songwriting skills.
MC: You dropped your debut album “Boo of the Booless” on Valentine’s day this year after what your fans consider a long wait. Why? Was it premeditated?
No. I had to wait till I was ready. So, I just put it out when I felt I was truly ready.
MC: The reception was amazing. We have seen great reviews splash the internet. Let’s talk about the reception.
It was a good thing to see a lot of appreciation for the album. I mean a lot of people shared and connected to this without my prompt. I felt grateful and appreciative.
MC: Your music in Nigeria is getting all the love and acceptance. Would you say the “Boo of the Booless” was a tipping point in your career or it is too soon to say?
I recognize the progress and acceptance. I still wish for growth though.
MC: You have an impressive relationship with your producers looking at your projects and one evidence of this was from the album. Tell us about this.
Yes, it’s about sharing common interests and having it in mind that we are building something that will last.
MC: Throughout the album, Deeyaso maintained a grip on the production. What was the chemistry like?
Both of us had our heads and hearts together. He also played the guitar and piano. He’s not hard. We both built the sounds from scratch. There was some difficulty tweaking sounds to the level required but we worked together and so, it’s been a good experience.
MC: Did you know him prior to the project and what was your working experience with him like?
No, I did not know him. We share the same enthusiasm. This works especially because we put in our best. I was happy working with him.
MC: The project is currently top-of-shelf on everyone’s list and is arguably one of the best to come out of 2020 so far. Did you see it coming? How does all of it make you feel? Accomplished?
No, I didn’t see it coming honestly. When you put in your best, yes it has a feel-good to it, so yes I feel accomplished but I know I’m still moving ahead.
MC: You have been identified as very different in terms of sound and delivery,was this intentional?
I was just being me. It’s my self-expression.
MC: “Boo of the Booless” has been classified as an embodiment of values. What was the inspiration behind its birth? What was it like creating the songs on Boo of the Booless?
C: I found inspiration through songs, business and personal experiences. It was a whole creative process. It was full of storytelling, though partly fictional. Also, with the producer and I being ourselves, I can say it was a rich experience.
MC: You recently released a new EP, ‘ Dance of the Booless’. Tell us about it.
Yes. I just released it following the album itself. As the name suggests, “Dance of the Booless” is really about Dance and conveying happy feelings to the Booless. We want everyone to go listen and have a good time dancing to the songs.
MC: From the Voice Nigeria to being one of the stars of the moment, how has the journey been?
It’s been quite a ride. I have made that decision for originality in my work. It used to be about doing someone else’s song but I have established my own original sounds and voice.
There has also been a lot of lessons on discipline, I’m happy to make original content. It has also been a process of learning and building my strengths. I’m still not sure I’m up there but I’m definitely in a better place than the days of reality shows.
MC: You’ve also had a few acting stints worthy of note. You played ‘Mayowa’ on AM battleground. Was that you experimenting?
I simply took a chance I got. I am not sure I’ll say I was experimenting but as a job, it had to be done. I learnt from able hands and took the opportunity to learn and work. You can say I do have a thing for acting.
MC: Structure is a big issue in Africa. Do you reckon it as part of your challenges with the industry thus far?
I think in regards to structure, people have it hard everywhere not just Africa. It is not at its best now but it can be and will be improved over time.
MC: What collaborations are you looking towards having in the future? We sincerely need you on more features.
For now, I can’t mention any but they will be collaborations between myself and other artists. You just anticipate.
MC: There is this surge of conversations around songwriting. Songwriters and other “creatives” being undervalued and not getting props for their efforts. What is your take on this?
For what I do, there has to be a line between relationships and contracts. There has to be a written agreement in black and white. It should go beyond oral agreements. Creatives should get due credit for anything agreed upon. Basically, ensure your intellectual properties are legally protected. Do everything you think you need to do to ensure you get your credit and that is by outlining it in the contract.
MC: Do you think Africa is getting ahead in terms of these conversations especially with the recent scramble for Afrobeat?
Truth is we’re making progress but we are not particularly ahead. We are being given our due in terms of recognition, originality and efforts.
MC: Afrobeat is getting all the attention it deserves. How does this make you feel?
It’s a good feeling. When you’re from a region that birthed the sounds, it’s a good feeling.
MC: You seem to be very grounded on your identity with your brand – Chiké, How is that working for you? Any criticisms?
It’s challenging. I’ve learnt that you’ll be alright where you make your stand.
MC: Do you have any regrets as with your venture?
No, I don’t.
MC: If you were offered the chance, would you do things differently?
Yes, I’d do things faster. The knowledge I have now will aid me to do and achieve things faster.
MC: What song/ artiste are you currently feeling?
“If you want” love by N.F.
MC: What’s the one advice you would give to upcoming talents trying to find their feet in the industry?
It’s almost cliché but I’d say don’t give up. Strive and give it your best shot.
MC: Describe your life as Chiké in one word.
I’d give you two. Happy! Exploring!