Music star and producer Maleek Berry, real name Maleek Shoyebi, is the cover star of the latest issue of The Guardian Life magazine and in the new issue he’s talking about the movement to transform the Nigerian music industry one song at a time, his headline concert and more.
See excerpts below.
On if he’s a Nigerian artist: I’m just an artist with roots from Nigeria. I don’t like to be boxed; referred to as a “Nigerian” or “UK artiste”. I’m just an artist who was born and raised in London, but I’m a Nigerian.
On his music appealing to Nigerians: I had the opportunity to connect with Davido and we had a conversation about our vision for the Nigerian music industry five to ten years from that time. I was making R&B and Hip-hop before; I wasn’t touching Afro-pop or anything like that. It was Davido who actually got me hype about delving into the genre. In all honesty, my beats were garbage in the beginning. Later on, I had a light bulb moment and realised my calling is to be the bridge that connects all these worlds, Afro-pop, grime, hip-hop, and everything else. Having grown up listening to all sorts of music, I pretty much had all of it in my system. This was how I started making music that appealed to Africans, Europeans, Americans, and really just everybody. There’s something for everyone in my music.
On being a producer and an artist: Around 2014 and 2015, I was with Wizkid. We were making moves and really influencing the culture and I felt I had something to bring to the table. With the R&B influence I had, I felt I had a different take on African music. When I first started, I met a lot of resistance. Many people were like “Ah, Maleek. You know how it is. Another producer trying to become an artist…” Today, when I check my Twitter, people are like “Why did Maleek Berry start singing so late?” Omo, I was scared! I kept wondering what people would say and how they would react until I got the confidence and just did it. A lot of older people in the industry like Naeto C, Banky W and Wande Coal spoke to me and motivated me and that was really how I just got into it.
On his upcoming concert: I’m excited because it’s my first concert in Lagos and I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time. I guess it’s just God’s timing. I’m really excited. We’ve got some crazy stuff planned for a live band and everything. I still need to prove to Lagos that I can do this thing live; I can put on my own show. I’m looking forward to it, and I know my Naija fans know how to turn up so no worries.