CKay (also known as Chukwuka Ekweani) is a Nigerian-born Afrobeats star (from the Anambra State) with a unique take on the Afrobeats genre. Afrobeats (not to be confused with afrobeat), 'originated in West Africa during the early 2010s, including elements from Pop Rap, Contemporary R&B, and Dancehall. The genre has been especially popular in Nigeria and Ghana, but has also broken through in the United Kingdom with a local U.K. Afrobeats scene .'
Now Afrobeats is taking over. We have seen the global rise of K-pop, Reggaetón, and Afrobeats is already on the same trajectory, topping charts in North America and far beyond its West African roots. CKay's 2019 release titled, 'Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ahh)' was the first African song in history to surpass 1 billion streams on Spotify. Aside from that, the track topped the U.S. Billboard Afrobeats song charts, was number 1 on the Spotify viral 50, and the track garnered a billion combined views in a single day on TikTok.
Your track "Love Nwantiti (ah ah ah)" has garnered billions of streams internationally, reaching people across the globe.
How does it feel to have a track with such immense global appeal?
I mean I feel blessed. It's a privilege to be alive and doing what I love, and I think that is the best thing that millions of people are connecting with it.
I feel blessed.
You recently just dropped a full-length project titled 'Sad Romance.'
Tell us a bit about this project and your intention behind it.
Sad Romance is like a diary for me.
I like to make music about my personal experiences and stuff I have actually been through. The album is more like chapters of a story. Every single song is real and came from somewhere. It's a really special project to me.
Nigeria is an expansive country with several unique cultures/groups inhabiting the nation, with over 500 languages spoken in the country. Much of that is seen in the diversity of music from Afrobeats (non-traditional music) & other more traditional types of West African music. The culture of CKay's upbringing is thematically reflected in his music output.
Tell us a bit about growing up in Nigeria and how that influenced your sound.
Growing up in Nigeria was an interesting experience because it is so big with so many different vibes and states. Where I grew up versus where I live now, the vibes are different. Where I grew up was very calm. It was an Islamic area with lots of Islamic music & culture, even though I grew up in a Christian home.
I mean it was just like a melting pot of different elements—all of that stuff, even my native language, Igbo, which I speak in my music to Pidgin English which is a type of English we speak in West Africa.
All of those things show up in my music.
What's next? You just dropped an album you're on tour. What are your plans after this?
I am going to the European leg of the tour and I am all over the place until the end of the year.
Next year, definitely lots of new music. More shows. More festivals. More collaborations as well, got some big collaborations and projects coming very soon.
Next year will be a very interesting one.