Talented Nigerian musician Maleek Berry is steadily making his way to the top of the charts in London, Nigeria and here in the U.S. Now, he’s teamed up with TIDAL and Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum to give fans a peak into his world through the eyes of an introspective new video appropriately titled, “Where I’m From.”
“It’s a little film short where I took TIDAL behind the scenes of where I grew up,” he told ESSENCE. “So many people don’t actually know that I grew up in South London; a lot of people think I grew up in Nigeria. I’ve spent bits of my childhood in Nigeria as well but, the majority of my early years growing up were spent in South London. So, just it’s just showing a different side of me that people haven’t seen before. It’s definitely going to be interesting and I’m excited to tell that part of my story.”
The video’s premiere comes on the heels of Maleek’s show-stopping debut at Jay-Z’s Budweiser Made In America Festival over Labor Day weekend —a performance he admits he was slightly nervous about, but ultimately pleasantly surprised with the warm welcome he received from the crowd.
“I mean, it’s Made In America! I do my own shows most of the time, so it’s usually my core fans that come to watch me,” he told us just after his show. “With festivals, you never really know how the crowd will be so, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was a little nervous before but, the fans definitely came out and it was amazing to see how responsive they were to all of the records that I performed. It was amazing.”
A balanced blend that draws inspiration from multiple genres, Maleek’s unique sound is one that attracts quite the diverse group music of lovers from around the globe. He credits his passion for intentionally creating eclectic music with his ability to reach fans from all over.
“I think being very conscious about making sure I add all of the different genres that I grew up listening to in my music has helped me create this unique sound,” he continues. “So, whether it’s Pop, R&B, Afrobeat, or UK Grime, I always try to create this whole mixture of sounds and I think that’s what draws people in. My fanbase is very diverse and people just want good vibes. There’s so much going on in the world today and sonically, I always try to add this vibe to my songs that just makes people feel good. Every time I make a record, I’m always dancing in the studio. So, if I’m dancing to it, I know 9 times out of 10, most of my fans will probably enjoy it too.”
Before he began building his fanbase as an artist, Maleek found success as a producer, which he says helped him to carefully define his own sound when the time came. With a production resume that includes crafting fan-favorites for the likes of fellow Nigerian trailblazers like Tiwa Savage and Wizkid, he certainly knows a thing or two about what it takes to create a record that crosses over to find international success.
“Everything starts with a song,” he says. “You have to make sure it’s well-written and the concepts are interesting. To take it back ot the roots, African music has always had this vibe and groove and instrumentation that makes you feel good and makes you want to move. Obviously, you have to be saying something on the record too. Everything has been done before so, my thing is to think of a new way to write a song about turning up, or find a new slang to say that’s going to catch on and stick in pop culture and make an impact to the point where you don’t even have to understand the language to enjoy the music.”
Proud to be a part of ushering in the new wave of the historic Afrobeat sound, Maleek says fans have much to look forward to with what’s next to come from his music vault.
“I want the fans to continue to support and promote the music. I’m definitely coming out with another EP before the end of the year. It will be like a sequel to my Last Days of Summer EP from last year. It’s going to be a whole different vibe though. It’s a different season so, the sound is going to be a little different as well so, people should look out for that.”