King Perryy is creating a paradigm shift in Afro Dancehall music

today03/03/2023 12

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King Perryy is challenging musical boundaries, experimenting with styles such as drill and R&B within an Afro Dancehall framework to create his ‘continental sound’

  • Words: Robert Solomon | Photos: Jolaoso Wasiu Adebayo.
  • 3 March 2023

It’s been nearly two years since King Perryy‘s full-length debut album, ‘Citizen of the World,’ dropped, and the hitmaker is still riding high. During his five-year stint, King Perryy has used Afro Dancehall to discover the range of his talent and he is now getting ready to expand his career further. He has adopted the same approach of experimenting with numerous sounds to captivate his new audience, while at the same time, staying true to the music that got him to this point.

In 2018, King Perryy’s first release ‘Man On Duty’ was met with an overwhelmingly positive response. But it was succeeding tracks such as ‘Work ‘N’ Grind’, and ‘Murder’ featuring Teni, that made his followers enthusiastic and confirmed him as a powerful competitor in the Afro Dancehall and reggae genre. The next few years under the guidance of former label boss Timaya would see King Perryy (born Anthony Offiah) releasing a plethora of records which not only showed his ability to be a master in dancehall through songs like ‘My Darlina’, ‘Eastern Baby’, and ‘Jigga’, but also his bravery to explore new sounds with both interest and assurance.

Prior to his emergence, the Jamaican-originated genre had already started to gain popularity in the early 2000s in African nations like Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, and by the 2010s, renowned African artists like Buffalo Souljah, Patoranking, Cindy Sanyu, Stonebwoy, Orezi, Kaakie, and Shatta Wale were at the forefront of its propagation. These artists took the genre to a whole new level, advocating for the rights of citizens and addressing political as well as social issues through the lyrics of their songs.

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King Perryy’s accomplishments, along with the ‘Citizen of The World’ album, demonstrate two important realities. Firstly, he’s continuing the legacy of artists before him who brought Afro Dancehall into the limelight. Secondly, he is challenging the boundaries that were placed on what Afro Dancehall musicians could create. It is this same attitude King Perryy has brought into his latest project, ‘Continental Playlist,’ an oeuvre of seven songs that affirms his ability to turn on a dime, going wherever inspiration and life lead. With ‘Continental Playlist’ King Perryy keeps experimenting, but he also makes it clear that he has not forgotten the music that made him successful.

We caught up with the Nigerian superstar to talk about his new project, his sonic growth since he broke into the scene, his influences spanning across his entire discography, and more.

Can you break down what your journey as a singer-songwriter has been like?

I would say that it’s been a journey of discovery for me. It has also been full of ups and downs, learning and unlearning. I discovered things that I thought I was not capable of doing, and I ended up finding out that I can actually do them. Basically, it’s been a continuous process for me, and my journey has been a great one.

You came from an era when everything had to be a hit in the music industry. How did you come to the point of making music that you were passionate about?

Like I said earlier, my journey has been discovery. I just keep finding out new stuff. I have been making mistakes with my music and I must say that I’m proud to grow from them. I must also say that I’m still the same when it comes to music, whether it is a single or a project. I stand on my understanding of how I create and that hasn’t changed anything. I released my debut project and it had 17 songs. The reason I’m releasing an EP right now is because I do not want to be releasing 17 songs, but the songs on the EP are still solid songs. So, I have learned a lot in music and there’s so much to still learn.

Two years ago, you put out singles like ‘My Darlina’. And then there’s also ‘Yawa’ which was taken from your debut album. Take me through the sonic journey leading up to this new EP, because these songs have slightly different sounds than what’s on this new EP.

Honestly, I just know that this year for me is all about authenticity. The past years have also been authentic for me, but it’s like now I can fully create music with my continental sound, which basically is a fusion of different genres of music through lifestyle and culture. With the sounds you have been listening to, it’s literally me taking you on a journey and making you feel King Perryy, from the highlife and even to drill. I don’t like to be boxed and there are no boundaries to my music. However, my voice is original. King Perryy on a drill beat is the same King Perryy on dancehall beat. But the basis of my sound remains reggae and Afro Dancehall.

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Speaking of sounds, a lot of your fans have always known you to be an Afro Aancehall artist. And for most of its existence, Afro Dancehall music is always viewed with this one-size-fits-all approach. But you’re bringing in a fresh perspective to the game and you call it ‘continental sound’. Where did this mindset come from?

So this mindset has always been a part of me. I have been observing and also taking good notes of my part in the things I choose to do, and this has even been vivid since my formative years. I have always been that person who wants to stand out, do things differently, and won’t let my environment or anything box me. I have always wanted to explore with my sound, and even with my fashion. All these different ideas and experiences I combine to create the continental sound. I love to fuse and when I do, I create something new because it’s far from the norm.

Given that dancehall music has its roots in Jamaica. What was the song or artist that really sparked your love for it?

Chronixx inspires me so I listen to him a lot. The likes of Christopher Martin, Sean Paul, and Popcaan, these were the people I listened to when I was growing up in Port-Harcourt. We still listen to them everyday in the hood. ‘Til now, when you walk on the road, you’ll still hear these sounds. I must also say that growing up in Port-Harcourt alone has played a huge role in my craft. The fact that I’m here today, having all the knowledge that I have, it’s all from my roots. Even going to seminary school and having my orientation there, the people I met, all these things have played huge parts in my career today.

Do you ever see yourself as an artist championing the Afro Dancehall genre or movement in Nigeria?

When it comes to that, I don’t like to think of myself as ,‘oh, I’m championing this sound or that sound’. I mean, I always like to let the people feel what they feel with my music, and so if they feel like I’m championing the Afro Dancehall sound in Nigeria, then that’s fine. I never want to say that I was championing the sound. But one thing I know for sure is that in Nigeria, when it comes to reggae and Afro Dancehall, I am in the top three. My two favourite people in the world that I respect when you talk about this remains Bob Marley and Chronixx

When your debut album ‘Citizen of The World’ came out in 2021, it didn’t do the numbers you were probably hoping for. I want you to reflect on that album, and how that experience shaped you into the artist and person you are today?

That project changed my life. The project’s title, the tracks, the features, and everything, set the tone of my entire career. This is because I love to create from a part of me. The ‘Citizen of the World’ project is me. I am a citizen of the world. Just putting out that project affected me in a good way and in the way I move now. That project literally changed my perspective on a lot of things and I am glad that I planted a seed. I didn’t see it like I released a project rather like I planted a seed.

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You’ve just released a new project. Can you tell us about it?

This new project is titled ‘Continental Playlist’ and it is simply a playlist for my listeners. Over the years, since I last released ‘Citizens of the world’, I’ve been exploring other sounds and vibes. Everything I am putting out this year is original, and so I put out this project for the fans to absorb. Literally, there’s no storyline. It’s continental playlist created by me, the continental boy.

Were there any fears in putting out this new project?

Not at all. There’s another project coming up and that one too is solid. I’m not saying the one I just released is not solid. The way I decided to put out this ‘Continental Playlist’ was a very funny one. I’ve always wanted to put out a playlist and there’s going to be continuity. You know the way the playlist works, where people come to listen to music and they expect that the sound should be created in some type of way because this is what the creator is giving to the listeners. It’s the same way for me, there are going to be different playlist that I’d be putting out. But the ‘Continental Playlist’ is the very first one.

In the process of creating the first song on this project, what emotional space were you in or going through?

‘On God’, which is the first song on the project, is a song for gratitude. I’d say that it’s like a drug I take and listen to whenever I feel down, thankful and blessed; literally in any type of mood. This is me thanking God for everything. My journey so far has been one where sometimes it’s not clear and all of a sudden, it becomes very clear. There were situations where I’d feel like, ‘oh, how am I going to do this or that’. Life is a puzzle but with God, everything is possible.

How did the track ‘Turkey Nla’ with Tekno come about?

So, I was in South Africa and as the continental boy and the king of the continental sound, this is one thing I stand for — the continental lifestyle. It’s me taking my people on a journey with me through my sound. I was in South Africa for a moment and I was anticipating taking part in the amapiano conversation. It was one thing that I wanted to do for the fans to also hear me on this sound. It was my first time on that type of beat and you can still hear the fusion in it. So it’s not just the amapiano, there’s actually a serious Makossa beat also going on in the beat. When I made ‘Turkey Nla’, just around that environment or space, listening to the music there and just absorbing everything. I’d always been saying that I want Tekno on this and it’s because I knew Tekno would go crazy on this. We sent the song to Tekno and the next morning, Tekno sent his verse [laughs]. He didn’t even want to send the song to me, he had to come to the house to play the verse for me and I went crazy hearing it. You know the way Tekno moves and everything. He does his things with ease, and that’s what I stand for literally.

Do you have any dream collabs that you would love to manifest?

A lot. But in all I want to work with someone who I connect to as an artist and as a human being. I want to do collaborations with people I connect with because I feel this is how great records are created. There are so many people I want to work with; the likes of Burna Boy, Jorja Smith, Chronixx, and a K-pop group.

Finally, you have done so much in your career. What’s next for you? What are some of the future goals?

My future goal remains growth to the limelight. I want to take my music to the world and to the main stage. I want to be on all the biggest stages. I want to introduce my brand to people that do not even speak or understand English. I want to take my music to the corners of this world and introduce it to people. I feel like that is the next phase for me.

King Perryy’s ‘Contintental Playlist‘ is out now

Robert Solomon is a freelance writer based in Lagos Nigeria, follow him on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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