The talented Mr Eazi
Mr Eazi, a young musician, producer and style icon, is helping to bring a one-day festival of West African culture to the Roundhouse
27 July, 2017 — By Róisín Gadelrab
Mr Eazi is set to perform at Life Is Eazi: Culture Fest 2017
IF the relentless Mr Eazi continues at his current pace, not only will he be responsible for helping bring West African culture to the UK mainstream, but he may well be close to world domination.
Having just passed his mid-20s (Mr Eazi calls us from Miami on day three of his birthday celebrations – we’re unsure if the lazy morning speech is a result of partying or his trademark chilled out drawl), Mr Eazi, whose real name is Oluwatosin Ajibade, has done more than most have in a lifetime.
Now, he is bringing a one-day festival of West African culture to Camden with Life is Easi:Culturefest 2017 – a celebration of Nigerian, Ghanaian and UK culture, art, music, dance and fashion, culminating in a two-hour set from Mr Eazi himself to the Roundhouse on September 23.
Born in Nigeria, the young musician, producer, style icon and more left half his heart in Ghana where he studied mechanical engineering. Not one to focus on just one thing, he embarked on various enterprises, running a food distribution service, dabbling in oil and more.
Where does he get the energy?
“To be honest, I don’t know,” says Mr Easi.
“It’s passion. When you’re passionate about something it’s like a drug, like you’re on steroids, man, passion just drives you sometimes. I’m very tired, exhausted, but I just sleep for two hours and once I wake up I’m charged.
“I’ve always juggled things. I get bored easily, so the fact that there’s multiple layers of what I’m doing keeps me going.
“I’ve always been like that – from the earliest I can remember when I was in high school, I was in a sports club, joined the movie club, action, comedy club, try and buy stuff and sell it to my mates. Even at university I was doing mechanical engineering, but at the same time had a taxi business, a food chain.]
“Now I’m doing a lot of things, but with music at the core, so this is the first time I’m focusing, doing a lot of things that are connected so the output has been good because everything is connected.”
While promoting parties at uni, Mr Eazi began to experiment with music. Soon he was performing in public, his promoter profile bringing him many fans. He began to do shows in Ghana and Nigeria, gathering an underground fanbase and earning a little money. By this time he had realised that the chilled Ghanaian life had a taming influence on him.
He said: “My music is an expression of my personality and how I feel at the time. I moved to Ghana when I was 15 to go and study at uni. I used to be a naughty boy, I just loved breaking the rules, I was very fast, full of action. Nigeria is very high energy, everybody is moving fast, Ghana is very chilled, every Ghanaian is chilled, it’s like we’re on holiday compared to Nigeria. The culture got into me. The next thing you know Ghana calmed me down and I became exposed to all that music from Ghana, it influenced my rhythms, the rhythms I come up with, the defining factor for my career.”
Working with producer Juuls, Mr Eazi honed his laid-back sound, named after favourite Ghanaian food Banku. Working with Juuls, he said: “We go back and forth with himself and myself with the sound, tempo, arrangement, it’s about sounding fresh to Nigeria and Ghana, it sounds very familiar. Almost every artist is playing on that tempo. I call it Banku music because it’s a mix of two different influences, like saying West African fusion, but I love Banku, staple Ghanaian music, a mixture of influences on a record, it’s Ghana and Nigerian vibes, production, drums, lyrics, language. That’s what everyone is doing now.”
Mr Eazi may sound super laid-back but he is ambitious. On his first UK shows he attracted such crowds that he knew he was on to something special. He said: “I made £12,498. I remember going back to Nigeria with just £20. I was just so gassed at the way people came to watch me that I said, ‘maybe I’m on to something’, so I used all the money to shoot videos.”
The reception was immense and soon he was playing bigger UK venues, drawing big crowds.
Now, he is bringing his show to the Roundhouse in Camden. But a one-off gig is not enough.
“I told my mum, we can’t just do a random concert because everyone’s doing that, so we have to find a very good venue, it has to be a festival,” he said.
• Life Is Eazi: Culture Fest 2017, a one-day festival of West African dance, art, music and fashion, bringing Nigerian, Ghanaian and UK influences together, will culminate in a two-hour set from Mr Eazi and take place at the Roundhouse on September 23.