EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW | Talking Afropop With Olakira

Meet Olakira, who just dropped his debut EP, Wakanda Jollof, a seven-track collection of dazzling, creamy Afropop.

Olakira burst onto the Afropop scene with his hit singles “Hey Lover” and “Flirty Signal,” amassing millions of views on YouTube, as well as beau coup streams on Spotify and SoundCloud.

Prior to releasing his own music, Olakira co-wrote and co-produced mega-hits such as Dotman’s “Akube” and “My Woman.” Regarded as an emerging superstar by most of Africa’s cognoscenti, including The Native Magazine, MTV Base Africa, Cool FM, The Beat Lagos, Not Just OK, Bella Naija, Pulse NG, and Chop Daily, Olakira establishes his bona fides as an incredible songwriter and gifted vocalist on Wakanda Jollof.

CelebMix sat down with Olakira to discover more about his background and remarkable creativity.

How would you describe yourself?

I am Olakira, an Afropop act, singer-songwriter, multi-talented instrumentalist and also a music producer signed to U&I Music.

What’s your favorite song to belt out in the car or the shower?

That would be Boys 2 Men – “End of the road.”

Who is your favorite music artist?

On the international level, I would say, R Kelly and in Nigeria: Style Plus.

How did you get started in music?  What’s the backstory there?

I started out as an instrumentalist in a local church as a teenager, then later on in my journey I started music production. After working with some artists as a music producer, I started writing songs for other artists then at a point I thought about recording songs for myself because singing has always been a part of me, especially when I produce a beat and like how it appeals to me, it definitely inspires me to drop some melodies and after a while I was motivated to explore more of my singing talent and here we are.

What musicians influenced you the most?

Boys 2 Men, R Kelly,  Fela, Joe, Tu Face Idibia, Style Plus.

Your new EP, Wakanda Jollof, is excellent. What inspired the EP?

Wakanda Jollof is music styles and genres from the entire continent spiced up for the international market. ‘Wakanda’ is a unifying word, recognized worldwide as a good symbol for Africa, while ‘Jollof’ is Africa’s favourite spicy rice dish, so I’m basically serving up a spicy dish from the continent to the rest of the world.

What’s the significance of the EP’s title – Wakanda Jollof?

Wakanda is a symbol for what the African continent aspires to be; what it could actually be and how diverse but intimately united we could be as African people, matched with the incomparable sweet satisfaction derived from the most popular dish in the continent – Jollof.

Afropop is exploding across the world. To what do you attribute this explosion? 

It’s the rhythm and melodies, very captivating. Also I believe the drive, passion and steadfastness of the new African artists to embrace the originality of African culture and sound, and uphold the legacy of the African music legends like Fela, Sunny Ade and other great African music icons who have influenced the world with the originality of African sound.

What’s the music scene in Nigeria like?

The Nigerian music industry is vibrant, very competitive, and capital intensive. The Nigerian artistss are young, creative and very much hungry for success and fame.

You co-wrote and co-produced big hits like “Akube” and “My Woman.” What motivated you to step out into the limelight as a performer?

As a producer, I always have melodies in my head even when not producing, so I would basically sell my beats then with melodies and sometimes write to the beat and sell the song.

The urge to explore my performance career was encouraged by the Executive Producer of U&I Music label (Ra). He would always ask me to do back-ups on all label projects; in fact he insisted no song should be released without my input and back up voice. So sometimes the label would get calls from people asking to know the backup singer, this peaked when I produced “My Woman” and backed it up. This was the motivation I needed.

What’s next for you musically?

A few more hot singles and follow up with an album because I have got a lot of songs that I can’t wait to share with my fans and lovers of good music across the world. A radio tour while hoping the Wakanda Jollof EP will get me on the big stage for international shows and appearances.

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Written by Randy

Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.