Adekunle Gold has been taking Nigeria to the world for years now, and now, has something special in store for his stateside fans.
The Nigerian-born and bred singer-songwriter splits his time between Lagos and Los Angeles, cultivating a worldly sound rooted in the beats and rhythms of the continent with the smooth sounds of American-bred R&B.
“I cannot, absolutely, wait for people to listen to the madness I’ve been working on for two years,” he said, speaking with ESSENCE ahead of his album release. “It’s my fourth studio album and I’ve described it as level four of my career. Level four of my adventure game. Just think of my albums so far as levels in an arcade or adventure game.”
“The first album was Gold, that’s level one. The second album was About 30, that’s level two. It gets interesting with each level. And then level three was Afro Pop Vol I and now Catch Me If You Can, level four. And, literally…catch me if you can.”
Released in February, Catch Me if You Can features appearances from R&B heavy hitters like Lucky Daye, Fousheé, and Ty Dolla $ign to name just a few. His melodic blend of Afrobeats and soul over uptempo beats has made him a favorite with fans all over the globe, even if his name may be a new one in your rotation.
Gold, who goes by AG in conversation, says he’s excited that the U.S. has finally caught the afrobeat wave that’s been sailing across the Atlantic for years.
“It feels good to make music in the corner of your room and then the minute you drop it, people from everywhere else in the world already know the song,” AG said of performing live after the pandemic has steadied. “And then they’re singing it back to you while you’re on stage. I think it’s the best feeling ever.”
AG will be basking in even more of that feeling this summer when his Catch Me If You Can Tour kicks off. Hitting 19 cities across the US (with one stop in Canada) AG will be bringing his Nigerian-bred brand of Afrobeat soul to theaters packed with American audiences looking for more of the global sound we’ve been getting an earful of for the past few years.
Though Afrobeats has been around (in its current iteration) for the better part of the last decade, it’s only really caught on in the states over the last few summers – as interest in the continent has risen since 2019’s big Year of Return festivities in Ghana, in particular.
“It’s never too late to recognize the beauty that is African music. I’m happy that it’s blowing up there,” AG said. “It’s good. For us, it feels normal because we’ve been making great music for a time. It feels good to be recognized because most importantly the idea of being called “word music” has totally become extinct now.”
“I feel like, for a long time, everything that came out of Africa and certain other parts of the world would just always be boxed into the world music category. It never truly did justice to the kind of music that we make because there are diverse sounds from Africa. People make R&B, people make Highlife, people make Afro Pop, and people make Amapiano. There’s so much.”
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With added popularity inevitably comes crossover – most evidenced by remixes and additional verses added onto already popular Afrobeats tracks. By now, everyone has surely heard the likes of Wizkid’s Essence featuring Justin Bieber, or Fireboy DML’s Peru featuring Ed Sheeran. While each of those are direct collaborations, there is naturally fervor among artists from American cultures to use the most popular sound of the moment to place themselves higher upon the charts.
“That’s a conversation that we need to have. You listen to some songs coming out of America now and then you hear Afrobeats, like groove and I’m like, ‘it’s happening,'” AG said. However, he says that the intermingling of sounds naturally goes both ways. “But it’s okay. I mean, music is influenced. Like African music, I’m sure at some point Nigerian artists or African artists have been influenced by some Hip Hop artists from America as well. I guess it work both ways, that’s fine. The right credit just needs to be given. If you’re making something that’s Afrobeat, talk about it. Say you’re influenced by so and so artist from Nigeria, from Ghana, from Kenya. It would be nice.”
In the meantime, AG has a brand new stage show to prepare, to not only deliver his fans with the shows they’ve been missing all pandemic, but to introduce himself to a new audience discovering his sound for the first time. To them, he only has one message:
“Check out my music. I like to say that my music is second to none. The sincerity – I put my whole heart into it,” he says. Even his star-studded list of U.S. born collaborators are hand-selected for the strength of what they can create together.
And I’m happy that they took out the time to work on this project with me. So it feels good. I can’t wait for people to listen to these songs. For me, collaborations are very important. It’s not gimmicks. It’s never been for numbers. It’s always been for the music.”
But with an undeniable sound and the help of some familiar faces, expect to hear more from Adekunle Gold very soon. Confidently, He certainly expects you to as well.
“You’ll be hearing my name more, very soon, in the US. In the world generally. So be on the lookout.”