Interview By Joey Akan; multi-award winning writer and music journalist based in Lagos, Nigeria.
Over the past 2 years, Adekunle Gold has been upgrading himself and his music. Buff Daddy, pop star, master performer, hit-maker and it’s all coming together for the Lagos native.
“I’ve not really done a lot of creating,” Adekunle Gold tells me over the phone. He’s holed up in the USA riding out the Covid-19 pandemic in the company of his wife and co-creator Simi. Although the official numbers in America of confirmed infected cases are over a million, with over 60,00 recorded deaths, Gold isn’t losing sleep. Not about the virus. Not about work. Not even about recording more music for his forthcoming album. “That’s because for the past six, seven months, I did a lot of writing and creating. My project is done, except I want to overdo, that’s when I’d be adding stuff to it,” he says, confidence soaring through the roof.
It’s really hard to catch Adekunle Gold out or pick holes in his work. The 33-year-old has always possessed the air of a man whose house and life are in order. His music leaves nothing on the table. His branding is distinct but always in flux, and his communication rings clear and deliberate. One moment, Gold presents himself as the guy next door; your lovable elder sibling or caring neighbour with an omnipresent smile. Other times, he’s the full-fledged pop-star package, with a familiar voice that soothes, and a live performance skill-set that ensures sold out shows. More often than not—as his photos and colourful outfits show—he’s a vain ‘bad bitch,’ flaunting his increasing good looks while taunting ladies with the sincere admission of affection: “AG Baby is your baby.”
On Twitter, he’s no different from the rest of us, shooting football banter, carrying conversations and clapping back with topnotch reciprocal energy. “If you abuse me, I’d give you back. If I’m in the mood, I’d give you back. If I’m not, I’d just let you be…but these days, I don’t even fucking care about backlashes anymore especially when I’m saying my truth. If you like to nack your head, that’s your problem,” he says.
In many ways, Adekunle Gold is the blueprint of what sustainable growth and success ought to look like in the African music industry. You can track his career, and point out all the astute decisions that have kept his bread buttered for so long. A graphic artist and branding specialist, Gold first found music fame by reworking One Direction’s ‘Story of my life’ into a highly successful record called ‘Sade’. He carried that spark through a deal with Nigerian rapper Olamide’s record label, YBNL, before going indie and building a career that is jointly powered by good music, effective marketing and sincerity. While moving his music, he ticks all the promo boxes from radio, TV and digital spaces. But where he gets his most flowers are in his newsletters.
Gold’s letters carry a personal touch to them. Distributed to his core fanbase who consider themselves privileged recipients, they hold a potent mix of personal marketing and motivational messaging. During my research for this story, I got fans to send in some of their favourite letters. One edition from December 2019, kept coming up. In it, Gold talked about his album delay, before addressing his changing hairdo and how it represents his strategy of ceaseless self-improvement. “I want my past to be silver and my future to be gold,” the newsletter reads. “I never want to be stagnant, I always want to do better than I have before. I always have to outdo myself no matter how familiar you are with the outdone version of me.” One fan tells me “I feel like he is my person, someone I can reach out and touch, and he’ll smile back at me.”
Over the past 2 years, Adekunle Gold has been revamping his project. He’s completely overhauled himself and his music, slowly taking away elements from his initial look and sound, and replacing them with upgrades. He’s hit the gym, grown his muscles, hair and beard, and moved his styling up. The result is a more handsome man who’s moved from ‘boy-next-door’ to ‘charismatic star’. On the sound end, he’s been making successful experimental music with global ambitions and penetration. From the surprise of ‘Call on me’, to the beauty within ‘Before you wake up’, and the joyous exhilaration of ‘Jore’, there’s a renewed fusion of creativity to his offerings. His latest release, ‘Something different,’ explores loving and losing, with a highlife bent blending into a sweet sappy story. He speaks from his heart, offering an expansive invitation into his life, music, business, and his personal decision to constantly bet on himself.
Check Out: Adekunle Gold –Something Different
How have you been coping with the Rona?
Very good, man. Like I told you the other day, I’ve been working out, thinking of new ways to entertain myself daily, listening to new sounds basically. And I’m bonding with my babe a lot more.
I’m very interested in how COVID-19 has affected your creative process.
Interestingly, I’ve not really done a lot of creating. And that’s because for the past six, seven months, I did a lot of writing and creating. My project is done, except I want to overdo that’s when I’d be adding stuff to it. My project is done, my 2012 project is almost done as well, as far as writing. I’ve worked a lot before now. So this time, I’m just really chilling, trying to do other things outside music. Like I said, I’ve been reading a lot, and I can say for a fact that it’s opening my mind to a lot of new ideas. New things to talk about in my music. Especially for my 2021 music because that’s a whole different one entirely. I’ve been working out because I want to stay very healthy. I want to be very fit in addition to feeling good about myself generally. So I’ve not done a lot of creating. I’ve been writing for other artists though. I’ve been pitching to other artists, I’ve been sending songs to them and some of them are liking it, so that’s one thing I’m really enjoying this time. It’s not really been about me. As far as the creation is concerned, it’s been about other people and I’m just learning. Like I said, learning, understanding my relationship even more.
How do you create?
I don’t necessarily feel like I have a method, right? But what I know is, I get inspired really quickly. I could just be driving by the road and then I see a word on an advertising board and that’s a song for me. Or maybe I’m watching a movie, and they say something in dialogue. And I’d be like ‘that’s actually really profound and I could write about that.’ Every time I’m on Twitter, I’m seeing bants, I’m seeing people talk about something and it just inspires something. And I’d be like ‘I should talk about this one because this is a new thing entirely that I’ve not heard before.’ Sometimes I just sit down and I have melodies in my head. I just record the melodies on my phone with some yada yada yada and then I send to my producers because we are not in the studio all the time. They play a few chords, we get together, we vibe and make music. How I made “Gold” for example: I made Gold for like two years. It almost felt like I waited to feel something before I talked about it. And everything I went through I decided to talk about it. I was in the studio most of the time with Seyifunmi and Pheelz and Oscar then we were vibing. “About 30” was the same thing. I had to travel to Ghana to write that up. I was in the middle of fun with my friends and something might just come and I’d talk about it.
At other times, I’m on the plane. That’s where I do a lot of self-reflection. That’s the only time I don’t get to press my phone and check Twitter. If I have a beat on my laptop, I’d plug my ears and then just do some yadi yadi dah on my phone again. The second verse of ‘There is a God’ in the “Gold” album came from when we took off and the pilot said we were 24,000 feet above the ground. You know that their language. I don’t know how to say it again. But 24,000 feet above the ground and I was looking down literally at everything and I saw how very tiny everything was and that birthed the “I’m looking down at the world 24,000 feet and the beauty makes me wonder why anyone would ever doubt.”
So, my creative process is just an everyday thing for me. And I’m grateful that I don’t need anything to create. I’ve seen other artists creating, I see that’s always tedious for them. They probably need to be under some influence, it’s how it works for them. But my own way, I’m grateful that I don’t necessarily need anything extra. It just comes naturally to me. Everything I need to write about is around me. I just need to open my eyes sometimes or I need to open my ears or I just need to open my mind. Before now, I didn’t think I was a studio artist where you have to be in the studio and then you start the song afresh and finish it then and there. But recently, I’ve discovered that I’m also that. How I wrote ‘Young Love’ for example; I was in the studio with Seyifunmi, Moelogo and then my manager, Niyi. This guy was just messing around with the beat, they were just messing about with the beat and I literally wrote the chorus, and finished the song in two, three hours in the studio. That was the first time I’ve done anything like where I was in the studio and I needed to do something. Other times I’d be in the studio and it would happen just because I’m just vibing. But for the first time I did something because I was in the studio to make a song.
I feel like it changes over time. With me, as my ear grows for new sounds, so does my mind, so does my pen. It’s been interesting for me.
Some people said you became monotonous after About 30 album. Did you hear those voices?
Oh, I heard it. And you know what’s interesting, I heard that even on the Gold album. Imagine saying that the Gold album sounded one-way. I thought that was very funny because what is the reason for a project? It’s a body of work, not a mixtape where you put different kinds of sounds together just to make a whole playlist. I made Gold exactly where my mind was. It was more highlife and that was what I was feeling at that time. The day I released it, I said About 30 was going to be a little different. I wanted it to have a bit more pop inside and that’s how I was feeling that time. I made About 30, I wrote some songs like ‘Call On Me’, which you’d agree that it was entirely different from everything I did on Gold. I made ‘Ire’, I made ‘Surrender.’ I totally disagree that About 30 and Gold sounded alike. And a lot of people will agree with me. Think about it. There’s ‘Call On Me’, there’s ‘There Is a God’, there’s ‘Ire’ that doesn’t sound like anything I did on Gold. But I guess people would say stuff and that’s okay. I took that well. Because at the end of the day, I’m a creative and I expect feedback. But if it is not profound, I don’t take it and that’s fine. I made those projects based on what sound I was feeling, how I was feeling in my mind.
Now I’ve decided to do Afropop because that’s how I am feeling. I’m feeling different sounds, I’m listening to a lot of genres now and my ears are tuned a different way this time. I just thought you know what? Let me do something different. See the pun there (laughs). And the first song I released after About 30 was ‘Before You Wake Up’ and I’m thankful for that song. That song trumped every other song that I’ve done in my entire life. Like the streams, the reach, it was amazing. And that really encouraged me to say this is the time for Afropop. Everything I wanted to do with this project is what is happening right now. And I’m really grateful. Right now, I’m making Afropop’ because that’s where my mind is. That’s where I’m in my head and that’s where I am, sonically. In 2021, it’s going to be different again. With Adekunle Gold, you don’t know what to expect really. I guess that’s how it is with me.
What’s more challenging for you? Choosing songs for an album or choosing a single?
I think it’s the single. That’s the one I and my team have a lot of back and forth. I’m grateful that I have that kind of problem you know, knowing what to release. And that’s because if I play another song on the project you’d think ‘and this one bang too o. Which one should I now drop?’ For the most part, I just go with how I’m feeling and it works for me, surprisingly. And that’s because I don’t necessarily chase releasing hit records. That might sound funny for an artist but I really don’t. How I’m feeling is how I just release my music. If it works out, it works out. If it doesn’t, glory be to God, we’d move on to the next thing. Because I think it’s too much pressure to be chasing such things when you can just enjoy creating and whatever comes with it. I’m grateful I have such.
About picking songs for the project, it’s not really hard for me because I write based on the theme. For Afropop, I’m writing based on Afropop, based on how I’m feeling. What I also didn’t mention in the last question is that trying to grow my songwriting. I’m trying to be diverse with my songwriting. Trying to write for other artists is one of the things that even informed “Afropop”. I’m honoured to have done ‘One Milli’ for Davido. And there are other artists I’ve written for that are not out yet. So it also informed why I’m doing Afropop, because I can actually write these other songs. These songs that make it into the mainstream every day, I can write them too. So why don’t I just put myself in the place where I can also release them? At least, even if not all the time, just this one time. Let me even feel my songwriting prowess. That’s really what informed Afropop. I just wanted to try something new to prove to myself that I can actually do this thing. And I’m happy that it’s worked that way. ‘Before You Wake Up’, ‘Kelegbe Megbe’ which is my absolute fave, ‘Young Love’, ‘Jore’ and now, ‘Something Different’ that’s actually something different. I’m really grateful.
How do you manage industry relationships as you progress and grow?
I have to say thank you to everybody that actually supported me live from the jump. I was just a graphic artist in three different companies, moving from Jumia to Konga to Mobilzer, and I was making music alongside. Since the days that I was designing for Industry Nite, I made some important relationships. I knew the organizer Matthew Ohio, who allowed me and my band The Bridge, perform a couple of times. Some people kinda knew about me then. At least, I already knew DJ Spinall, Jimmy, and many other people. I also knew people from radio even before people knew I was going to sing properly. Then I became King of Photoshop and people were exposed to the idea of me then. I felt it was strategic to release ‘Sade’ at the time I released it because I was already gaining popularity from being the King of photoshop. And when I released ‘Sade’, a lot of people didn’t really take me seriously. They thought the song was great but they were like ‘this guy that sings like this, this is actually really good’. And that’s when I got signed and I carried all that relationship from being a nobody to getting on a bigger platform like YBNL which already has that relationship established.
Right now, I’m thankful for Olamide who didn’t hold anything back. He gave us the freedom to reach out to people. Olamide would already speak to a Dotun (Cool FM) for example and then say ‘take his number, go and meet him on the radio.’ And that’s how I built relationships with people. I mean, I knew you when you were with Pulse and we started talking ever since then. I don’t know what it is about me but people always just want to help me. I can’t really explain it. Maybe I’m doing something right, I don’t know. But it’s been like that since the beginning of my career. And I guess it’s because I am also sincere. I think I have to say that one myself. I don’t believe in gimmicks. There’s no make-believe. You know things about my life I want you to know. If I’m friends with you, you’d know me. You can say this much about me. You can probably vouch for me if somebody says something bad about me. I also believe that helps me with the fanbase. People know me. They know what I’m capable of. For example, I reach out to my fans with my AG letters every now and then. If I feel the need to share anything with them, I send to them via email. And I have that community of AG letters where we share stuff, and it’s always just me talking to my friends. I guess it’s because I pride myself in being human first, before anything. It’s really made me grounded and I’m very sure that that’s one of the things that has helped my relationship with people so far. And If I have a fallout with anybody, I’m not too proud to apologise immediately.
I have to say that Olamide really helped me build that relationship and that is why when I left the label, I continued the relationships with people. And now with my success, I can’t talk about my success without talking about Nigerian media for example. Every TV, radio station, every OAP, every writer, journalist, bloggers that have helped me. I’m grateful and I have access to them.
How’s your relationship with Olamide?
That’s my guy for life, man. That’s my guy for life. I just spoke to him a few days ago because I wanted to try something and I needed his expertise. SI reached out to him and then he gave me advice that’s very valuable. So yeah, that’s my guy for life.
What do you do differently?
I can’t exactly say this is why people fuck with me this hard. I reach out to people via email, and then they feel that connection. My letters are like my opportunities to just say my mind to my friends without having to go online. Like if I was with them one on one, that’s what I’d tell them. And I’m guessing they really like that. As far as marketing, you know me and my team are small. What we do is that when we have new material, we send it to my friends that have been supporting me since day one and they never fail me. And that’s it. It’s not just in Nigeria. Other places, East Africa, the rest of Africa, the UK, America. It’s been a really great ride for me and I’m thankful. I’m really thankful.
Why did you begin to transform yourself in the past 2 years?
I’m a very restless person. As a creative, you know how it is. I’m a graphics artist and a brand developer. It comes with it. You don’t necessarily sit in one place, so it’s an interesting trade that we have. For me, I don’t believe in doing the same thing over and over again. I’d get tired. Again, my life story, everything I’ve done has been in phases. Things I’ve done up till now has been a build-up of how I’ve been feeling. It’s just a transition of how I’ve been feeling through that. Like when I was wearing Adire, that’s what I liked. That’s what I was feeling. That’s what I wanted to be wearing and I enjoyed it. Like when I had my punk and I always went about with my comb to make sure it was sharp. It was always me. Then I just woke up one morning and my hair was rough. I looked into the mirror and I was like ‘wait o, maybe this hair doesn’t need to be sharp all the time, maybe it can be a bit rough.’ And I left it rough. So that’s when I started to open my button small small, starting to do like Flavour (laughs).
So I’m like ‘okay this feels good you know? I don’t want to be cute anymore, I want to be a hot man.’ And then I moved with that. Now, I’m growing my hair. I have no reason to grow my hair but I just want to see what my hair would look like very long. At least once in my lifetime. So when my children and their children see that, they’d know that their dad and grandad was a bop daddy (laughs). Basically, it’s just what I’m feeling. I don’t want anybody to hold me back in life. I just want to do whatever the fuck I want to do when I like it. Just a few days ago, Simi made cornrows for me, and that’s what I’m feeling right now. That’s probably what’s going to be on my press picture and I love it. I’m just growing with time and it’s reflecting on everything that I do down to my music. It’s just been a transition of how I’ve been feeling every day as I grow. When I came in 2015, I was younger. Now I’m older and I feel more confident in myself. I feel very good, I feel sexy. Everyday I workout and I check myself in the mirror, I’m like yeah, this is what I’ve always wanted to be. I’m just growing with time. That’s it.
Why do you choose to focus on how you’re feeling rather than market intelligence?
First, my music is my story. It’s my baby. It’s my creation. And what I’m giving to people is what they are enjoying. Imagine thinking about what is trending and that’s how you make your music. I don’t even know how I feel about that. It just feels like I’m selling a product and that’s not what my music is. My music is like my baby. My music is my story. My music is my entirety. So let me tell it to you how I like it. If you like it, that’s great. If you don’t, that’s okay. But what I learn from trends is ideals. Like how to market differently. How to move differently. How to reach out differently. I mean, the way you reach out now is not how it’d be like five years ago. I tell you for a fact Joey, that’s the only thing that I take in the industry. The moves, the marketing, the ideals, the technology, the right apps, the right platform, not my music. My music would always remain with me. It’d always be a reflection of me and I’d never want that to change. Classics will always be classics. Even if I go back to making a song like ‘Orente’ right now, that’s because I choose to do it and that’s it. Not because I’m expecting everybody to like it.
Do you ever shake or worry that you might be wrong?
Yeah. That happens to anybody. You put out something and the first things is that you want people to like it right? But if it doesn’t go the way you planned it, you also just move on. There’s no pressure. What I’ve learned over time is that it’s not in your power for people to like what you’re putting out. At the end of the day, people like what they like and that’s it. You can only hope that they enjoy it. Just do you and let it go. Everything that I’ve done based on self, that I’ve done based on conviction, based on this is how I’m feeling, it’s worked out for me. I’m not the same artist that I was five years ago. Like you said, I’m not just a local artist now. I’m international and I’m grateful for that. I didn’t get here by trying to copy or by trying to do gimmicks. I got here by just being myself and working with the best of teams. I think everybody should just stick to what you know, stick to your guns. If you believe in it, fuck with it hard and that’s it. It’ll work out.
‘Before You Wake Up’ was a game-changing record for you.
How did you create it?
I was in the studio with Sess. Sess literally changed my life. I mean he helped my ears in a direction that I didn’t know I had inside of me. I was in the studio with Sess and we were just vibing, then he was just playing these keys. And the first line that I wrote was “before you wake up, my mind is made up.” With Sess, what we do is we’d vibe in the studio even if it’s just like one chorus or few lines. We’d do it, go home or stay in the studio at my house while I’m playing a game or something. Then he’d come up with something, and then I’d just enter the studio like ‘fucking hell, this is mad!’ That’s how we made that song. We went to Ghana and finished the song. I was thinking about a holiday. I’m actually tired, let me just chill somewhere for a while and just rest. And that’s why I said that line, “I know you need a holiday, let’s go away for six months, twice in a year.” Even though I want to take that line back, bro, I’m tired (laughs). I want to take that line back. I don’t need a six months holiday again. E don do.
But that was what you wished for.
Bro, you know love would make you say nonsense. Love will make you say rubbish. But that’s how the song came up and we finished the song in Ghana. I’m grateful for the day Sess and I made that song. It’s really a game-changer for me. The numbers ran so fast like bro, this is huge. I didn’t even see that coming at all. That’s why I keep saying that I’m just grateful for the leap of faith that I take all the time. At that time, it would have seemed like a risky move for anybody to try something different. I just don’t like to hold myself back. If I’m going to regret it, let me regret it. But let it be that it was by myself, not that somebody told me to make such a song and I did it and it flopped. We released that song and then it became a game-changer. My fans increased, my numbers increased. People that didn’t really fuck with my music before, started to love me. So it’s been good. And I’m happy that I took such a step and it’s paying off for me right now.
How is it different when you leave the shores of Nigeria to work in Western markets?
The first time I ever travelled out of the country in my entire life was after I released ‘Orente’ and it was through YBNL. It was the OLIC concert in London. It was Olamide, me, Lil Kesh and Viktoh that time. I was very excited to be leaving the country for the first time. We went and I was really nervous. I can remember that day. I was really nervous backstage. It was a crowd of 5,000 people. Olamide and Kesh were bigger and I had only one song. ‘Orente’ was new and it was not a popular song at that time. I just told myself that you know what, this is what I always wanted to do. I’d go on that stage and just do my bit. Even if they don’t know it, it’d introduce me to the UK market, London to be precise. When they mentioned my name, I wanted to die. Bro, you would think I was the headliner of that show. The way they screamed for me. It just gave me this joy that yeah, everything I hoped for in my life is about to happen. I did that show and I was so happy that it happened.
The following year, people wanted me to come back and that’s when I went on to do my headline show in London. My first headline show in London was an 800-capacity O2 Academy. I was really terrified like was I going to sell out? Because it’s different from just doing a show in Nigeria where people know you every day. London is a different market. Yes, I’ve performed for 5000 people. I’ve performed for 4,000. I’ve gone on Basketmouth’s show, that’s another 5,000 in London. This is my own headline show and everyone is coming out for me. I had all these doubts. But three days before the show, it was sold-out. That’s my first headline show anywhere in the world. It was in London and that changed my life. It gave me so much confidence to go to any country and want to do it. I played that show, took my band and it was my money. I flew the whole band. I had support with some friends but it was my money. I and my management went and we did it. And that’s when my international moves started really.
When I was about to release “About 30”, I went to Ghana, I did a listening party that became a concert. I toured America in 2016 as well. Different states that I didn’t know people even knew my music, and we sold out all the shows. I did my first Island show in Lagos as well and it sold out. I did a residency in Lagos, three nights back to back, sold out. I did Lincoln Centre last year July, it was sold out. It even started to rain before I got on stage bro. I was shitting in my pants that some people were going to leave. Guess what people did? They ran for cover and came back out. I was like ‘what is this thing I’m enjoying? What is this favour from God I’m enjoying?’ It’s so beautiful to watch how every move that I’ve made has been a fulfilment of some sort. I went to my first festival ever in 2019 as well, and that was huge bro. I played in Dublin for the second time though, but for an entirely new crowd. I played Longitude, I played Latitude where I had only white people and the vibe was different. It just feels good for every milestone. Now I’m not the same Adekunle Gold that came out with a cover. I’m like a global—I don’t like to say that—but I’m a global star now. I’m a fulfilled man now. I’ve always wanted to do it differently. I’m thankful for the people I have around me that constantly motivate. People see my ideas, and scream ‘let’s do it’. It’s been an interesting journey. The whole international journey has been great and it’s even about to be greater.
How do you prepare for your headline show? And how do you ensure that you always kill it?
My headline shows are months of preparations. On the music side, a huge shoutout to my band and my best friend Seyifunmi Michael (Seyikeyz). Micheal will sit down with the band and compose new ways to perform those songs differently. The same way we performed ‘Orente’ for example in the last headline concert isn’t the same way we’d be performing it in a new concert. Never, so people can get their money’s worth. Our core thing is: let people get the best out of their money, so let’s give them a mad show. For the music, it’s always months of planning where we rehearse thrice a week. I’m not joking. Thrice a week with my band. And then I have Niyi (my manager) with the master plan. Niyi is the one that comes up with how to merge the songs together, what story to tell with each song while I’m performing it. I have my fashion theme with the costume.
For the choreography, there was a time we got Kaffy involved. Kaffy came to teach my band our move; what to do when we perform what. And all of these happen before these shows happen. It’s months and money that we spend on making sure everything goes well because my shows are very important to me. I don’t want anybody coming to my show and say ‘nah, I’m never coming back.’ The reason we’ve been having success with my shows is that we keep stepping up every time. At my residency in Lagos, some people came for three nights straight. And guess what? They didn’t even get the same repeated feeling. I knew that some people would buy three nights, so I and the team decided to change it for them. What they saw yesterday is not the same thing they’d see today. It’s as simple as how I’m entering. I don’t want to enter the same way I entered yesterday. I want it to be different. And then that intro, let’s change it. the artists coming on stage, let’s change it. These lights I want them changed. It’s all of these details that people don’t see.
While rehearsing, me and my band, we listen to King Sunny Ade a lot. We listen to Fela just for the composition. We watch King Sunny Ade perform, we watch Bruno Mars, we watch a lot of these performers. I travel to different countries to watch my favourite artists. I went to Coachella for just Beyonce. I paid my own money, booked the flight just to learn how people kill their shows. And that was my money well spent. I’m happy I went to the Beyonce concert because we had a plan for my own concert that year. But after watching Beyonce, I went back home and I said to my band, ‘you know what? fuck that shit. Scrap that. We are doing it differently.’ And they thought that I was mad. I took videos from the concert and shared with them and they got it. Because I went to watch Beyonce, I changed a lot of things. And I’m happy I did because it turned out really well.
I’ve travelled to the UK to watch The Script, that’s my best boy band by the way. The Script played their show when they were releasing “Freedom Child”, an album that came out like a day before. They played the day after and it was mad. I learned from that. I go to watch Jacob Banks, and people that I admire so much, just to improve my performances. Improve the stage ethic. Down to the simple things that don’t even concern me like lighting. I basically go all out just to do all of this training. It’s telling in my performances and I’m really happy that I’m doing this. Because I remember when I was a shit performer. One of the criticisms that have blessed my life was that one time at AFRIMA when ‘Sade’ won an award. I’m grateful that I took it, I wasn’t bitter about it. Because when I saw the news that Adekunle Gold was a shit performer, I’m like ‘were they right? Yeah. Can I improve? Hell fucking yeah.’ I mean, if you’re counting top five performers in the country, you’d be doing me a disservice not to mention my name.
How has getting married affected your career?
Do you see that scripture about when you find a woman, you find a good thing? That scripture is about my life. Bro, every day of my life since I met Simi has been a miracle. I’m grateful that I have a babe that’s very supportive that doesn’t shut me down. She just gets it. I think it’s also helpful that she’s in the trade as well. She understands what it’s like to be out at night, clubbing, trying to promote the song, hanging out with industry friends and everything. Because things like that would frustrate an artist if they have a spouse that doesn’t get it. As simple as being out almost every night, clubbing. I have a babe that’s very supportive. And I have a babe that has the best ears. Simi’s songwriting, I don’t even know how to classify it. Top-notch. That’s my number one mentor. That’s one person that I look up to when it comes to this thing. So imagine having that around me. I won’t lie, it was a bit worrisome when I was about to get married. There’s always that doubt that ‘omo, will people like me less?’ Or, you know how we say if girls can’t access you anymore, it might affect your craft. Bro, that has not been my case. Everyone has been saying since Adekunle Gold got married, he’s been finer.
I won’t lie, I’ve said the same thing too.
Really bro, I found a good thing. And at this rate that I’m going, my career is going to a point where you’d be wondering: “What happened in the last two years to Adekunle Gold?” In summary, I have the best wife. That’s it.
Will you advise artists to pursue marriage in the thick of their careers?
Ha! I don’t know o. The way it’s working for me, it might not work for everybody o. But bro, I know say if you’re up for it, why not? By all means, do it. When I did it, I was ready. I didn’t need any conviction, I was ready. And I’m happy I made the right decision and to be with the person I’m with now.
You are a Twitter rat.
Yes, I am (laughs).
I’ve been on Twitter since 2009. So I’ve been through it all. That’s why when people troll me now, it doesn’t bother me because I’ve done it to people too. When I became popular, I had to go delete some of my tweets so that nemesis wouldn’t catch up with me. So that somebody doesn’t do “This you?” (laughs). The only thing I didn’t do in my Twitter life is send account numbers to people bro. But every other thing, I’ve been through it. I love Twitter. Twitter is the place that you can find me. And you don’t have to say ‘so you cannot reply to my message and you’re on Twitter,’ that’s me. I love the bants. It’s a crazy platform and I enjoy it. And you would think that I’m not busy.
You get a lot of criticism there. You also catch stray shots.
Like I said, I’ve been there long enough. I mean, some of my friends hate Twitter because of the backlash that they get sometimes. I’m like bro, it is what it is man. It’s the vibes. If you abuse me I’d give you back. If I’m in the mood, I’d give you back. If I’m not, I’d just let you be. There was a time it got to me, when I recently got to the industry. I’ve not really gotten plenty backlashes sha. The ones that I’ve gotten, there were some that hit me. But these days, I don’t even fucking care about it anymore especially when I’m saying my truth. If you like to knack your head, that’s your problem. But as far as just saying my mind and living like a normal person on Twitter, nothing can change it. Nothing can stop me, that’s me.
Thoughts on cancel culture?
I think it’s bullshit.
I mean if you’re cancelling someone for doing the wrong thing, that’s okay. Hmm…I won’t even say it like that, I feel like people mix it up with the wrong information. You just hear something based off of someone that tweeted something, and everyone is going at the person. I think it’s pretty lame. So I don’t really subscribe to that. I just look away when most of these things are happening. I don’t really have much to say on that, to be honest.
At the end of it all, how does it all make sense for you?
I think my fulfillment will be when I know for a fact I’ve made a great name for myself. Knowing that my music has gone out to heal people. My music has gone out to be people’s companions when they needed help. When I know for a fact that my music has helped you get through things; because I shared my story and you could relate with it and it made an impact in your life. When you think about your perfect moments in life, you think about how my music has gotten you through time. When I go down in history as one of the best. If I made the music I want to make, say the things I want to say fearlessly. Just live my life how I want it, not because of how people want to see it. I think that’s when the real fulfilment would come for me. I just want to look back and say I had a dream, and I lived it.