At a time the Nigerian music industry was saturated with fast tempo tunes and party beats, a certain Adekunle Kosoko, otherwise known as Adekunle Gold, summoned courage to step out with his urban highlife sound.
A graduate of Art & Design from the Lagos State Polytechnic, he first tested the waters with a cover song Sade, and surprisingly, the response was impressive; it won Best Alternative Song at the 2015 Headies.
To many, the song was something fresh and different from the usual ‘gbam gbam, dim, dim.’
In what seems like a deliberate attempt to prove he’s not a flash in the pan, the talented singer returned with yet another single, Orente, then followed up with Pick Up, a Pheelz-produced song, which combined a little of contemporary fuji and Afropop.
He eventually sealed a recording deal with Olamide’s YBNL Nation in 2015, which paved way for the release of his debut album, Gold, on July 28, 2016.
Just recently, Adekunle, who hosted a special live concert on December 26, 2017, at the Balmoral Hall, Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos, dropped his second album, About 30.
And to herald the release of the work, the artiste treated fans to an exclusive album listening exhibition; it was a free show.
The session, which kicked off on Tuesday, May 22, at the Upbeat Recreational Centre, Lekki, was well received by music critics and fans, who described the move as a paradigm shift for artiste-to-fan relationship in this part of the world.
The exhibition room was specially orchestrated in a manner that vividly gives the ambience a presence of Adekunle’s artistry and the album’s theme.
The room has in it; fourteen booths, with each dedicated to a track from the album. He had released the album’s tracklist a few weeks before the listening session, revealing fourteen songs and two bonus tracks.
Songs in each booth include Mr. Foolish featuring the enigmatic and phenomenal Seun Kuti, There is A God featuring popular choir LCGC of This Present House Church, Yoyo featuring Flavour, Pablo Alakori, and others.
Each booth also had headphones, along with the lyrics to the track in which it is designated to, giving listeners a serene listening pleasure.
“I’m overwhelm by the support I got and the love I was shown while working on each song; hardwork, God and my team made everything possible and perfect.
My team is small, but we are doing great. I found everything easy because music is natural to me.
My life story has always inspired my songs and my late sister inspired Ire,” he said at a listening session with showbiz reporters.
Now available in music stores and online, About 30 opened with Ire, a personal song that reflects on Adekunle’s life’s journey with a message that will inspire his fans for a long time to come.
“Ire’ is a symbolic summary of my life experiences and my journey to becoming Adekunle Gold,” he noted.
Produced by Seyikeyz, the video for the track was directed by Aje and shot in various locations around Lagos, including Ajah, Ajegunle, Ikorodu and Ikoyi.
The scenes in the video are beautifully played in reverse, alluding to Adekunle’s self-reflection.
Scenes where he prepares dinner on firewood, sings in church and paddles a canoe are some of the visuals that contribute to the video’s captivating aesthetic making it a video worth watching.
“About 30 is basically my experiences in 30 years; everything I’ve had to go through, all the lessons I’ve learned.
It talks about the things I’ve seen; the things I’ve had to do to get to where I am now.
This album is a summary of my life,” the talented singer revealed in an interview with Guardian Music.
No doubt, engaging the industry with alternative sound at a time many wear soaking up in hip-hop tunes was a huge.
However, for the artiste, it was a risk worth taking.
“My brother, I didn’t know how to do any other thing; that’s the only thing I know how to do. It’s just like you want to start out and you want to start with something you don’t know; you are going to fail.
Even if you get it once or twice, you might not be able to get it for the third time.
So, the sound I started with is always the one I’ve been comfortable with; it only makes sense to be you and that’s what I did,” he said.
Though fully aware he was treading on an unfamiliar terrain, Adekunle remained persistent, hoping to someday convince the audience that his music is worth playing.
“Whether people were going to take it, I didn’t know. But I was ready to be me because I’ve always believed that difference sells.
If I’m coming into a saturated market, what difference am I bringing? How do I want to get attention; how do I want people to notice me if I’m doing the same thing others are doing; and I’m probably not as good as them,” he quizzed.
Obviously, there were discouragements, but Adekunle held his ground.
“I had a lot of discouragements, a lot! But I thank God for people like Dotun of Cool FM that played my first song back to back; he believes in me.
I tried convincing a lot of people, but it didn’t work.
That always happens; people love to jump on something that is moving rather than supporting the one that needs help.
Today, I’m what I am because I’ve been dedicated to just seeing that my dreams come true and I thank God for people around me that supports.”
Actually, Adekunle’s breakthroughs as a solo artiste came with the release of his cover single Sade, which was a sort experiment.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect the song to do well. I’ve been releasing covers before Sade, so, I said, ‘let me release this cover like every other ones I had done in the past.’
Then, in two weeks, the song was everywhere. I said to myself, ‘wait, this song is not even my original song.
If people love this one, maybe I’m not doing badly. Let me give them more sounds like this; maybe they are ready for my sound.’
Then I released Orente and the story changed,” he enthused.
Forget the time he came to limelight, Adekunle Gold has been around for years, praying for a place in the sun.
“Hmmmm, my brother, I’ve been doing this for the longest time. I mean, we released the first song in 2007 when I was in a band; we featured Scales and GT D Guitarman.
We had been trying constantly to get our music out there; along the line, I decided to do it by myself without the band.
I’m barely three years in the game as a solo artiste and I have done a lot. It feels good to know that in three years, I’ve sold out different venues within and outside the country.
It’s been an amazing feat, so, anytime I look back and I see the struggle, I remember all the things I had to go through to get here.
I honestly say, ‘I’ve done well for myself.’ I’m not saying I’m accomplished now, but I’ve done something,” he boasted.
To Adekunle, waiting for breakthrough is always a tough period for any talent; it’s a time of impatience.
“My brother, nobody has the patience; let’s not lie,” he noted, adding, “even me, when I was struggling and trying to get someone’s attention, it wasn’t easy to wait.
If you have a dream and you feel like you have something running inside of you, to be honest, it’s not easy to just chill and wait for when it’s right; you want to do almost everything to prove that you can do it.”
Notwithstanding the snag, young Adekunle knew his day would come.
“I knew people were going to know me eventually; I just didn’t know at what capacity and I didn’t know when.
So, I was just doing my thing. I’m not going to blame anybody that is trying to be heard; it’s not easy to have something big inside of you and then the world doesn’t know about you.
They will eventually get it and I hope that when they get the big break, they will use it to the best of their knowledge,” he admonished.
For the talented singer, who has endeared himself to music fans for his originality, events in the industry show that Nigeria as a country is ready for live music, urging his colleagues to step up their game.
“We are ready now because, I’ve seen people complain of not getting live concerts.
And to be honest, it’s not fair that I have a song on my phone, I’ve listened to it and you are playing the same CD at a concert.
People are beginning to ask for more; I think people are ready for live music.”
Though maintaining a live bad comes with its challenges, for Adekunle Gold, it’s a venture that would pay off someday.
“Imagine flying a seven-piece band to London and you had to do their visa twice?
Flying the same band to Dublin and paying them for a show you were not even getting paid for a lot? Paying your own band for a show you will only get honourarium?
It’s not easy, but I have my eyes on the prize. I’m preparing for the days where I will be performing in all the festivals around the world.
I’m waiting for the days where people will appreciate the fact that live music is the way to go and they show us the love that we deserve.
It’s not easy putting a band together, it’s not easy managing a band, but I’m doing it; God is helping me.
Thank God I have an understanding band; they know when it’s rosy, they know when it’s not,” he said.
Though he’s sticking to his original sound, don’t be surprise to hear something entirely different from Adekunle someday.
“I get creative everyday. I mean, I can come up with any kind of sound, but just know that, whatever I put out, I can 100 per cent put out my mouth and my back on it and say, ‘yes, this is my sound and I did it how I want to do it.’
I will always give people great music because I can’t make any bad one; any sound I come up with, know that I have a hand in it 100 per cent,” he assured.