KØKØ’s debut EP Akira may have slipped through the cracks when it was released back in January, but it’s still an impressive project from the young, Lagos-based Afrobeat artiste. It’s also worth returning to, especially the replay worthiness of tracks like Monalisa with its majestic Yoruba interludes and sprightly, sublime production.
Akira draws cohesion from the themes of desire, attraction and romantic conflict. At nineteen, KØKØ is well into the age of navigating the landscape of romance and roped into teenage misadventures, and music becomes the canvas to convey these experiences. KØKØ explains the making of the EP, ”Akira took about 8 months in total. It’s a combination of old songs I had already recorded and some new songs too that all connected. Akira is like an illumination, it is the effect this stunning female I refer to throughout the project has. I didn’t think I was going to drop anything like Akira until the period where I waited for the verse from Buju on the lead single.”
KØKØ worked with producers like Deftouch, Hyphen, and Trobulsome for Akira. ”Big shout to them” he says, and on why he decided to go into music, he adds, ”I feel like music chose me. I didn’t want to do music initially. Shout out to Wanawys for putting me on this path. I did music for fun in high school but everything has become so much clearer since then. Music is really spiritual for me now. I think I have so much to say through music and I can’t wait to do it.”
Before Akira, KØKØ released his debut single Dragun last year and produced by Tobi Fads, introducing listeners to his sonic sensibilities. Born Israel Olawole Shoyoye, KØKØ grew up in a big family and listened to Michael Jackson, Dagrin, Terry G, Olamide, 2Face. Wizkid’s Superstar was the first album he ever bought. Developing a sonic identity as an emerging artiste can be difficult in the current climate, but KØKØ’s sound is something is presently working towards. ”I wouldn’t really call Akira my sound, it’s just something I’m capable of. Ultimately, I want my sound to be something that people can relate to. The people I surround myself with and the space I try to create for myself mentally is all to help me get to that place where I can make the kind of music I want.”
Be that as it may, listeners are bound to find a trafficking of lyrical Yoruba in his songs. Take Cona Cona!, for example, off the Akira EP still. KØKØ maintains this is part of his sound, an artistic expression in itself. Signed to the Ambush label in early 2020, KØKØ isn’t bothered about the smallness of the label. Presently, he’s happy that he’s backed by a team that can relate with his vision.
Although he’s a new artiste, KØKØ doesn’t have all the luxury to rest his music oars. He talks about what’s planning for the future, ”I’m working on something really crazy. It feels more like my sound than anything I have ever worked on aside Dragun. It might not be something people are expecting but it’s what they need to listen to and what I believe they would resonate with. People are going through so much shit and they think they are alone. I feel like my music is a platform to tell them they are not. I’m big on staying connected, I’m big on staying connected and I’m trying to give people something to connect to. That’s what I’m on right now.”
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.