Very few artists go from being unknown in their country to the top of charts worldwide with just one song. For Goya Menor, a remix to a song saw him go from obscurity to an internet sensation with a phrase that’s instantly recognised worldwide.
Coming across the Nektunez produced beat, which was already popular across clubs in Nigeria, Goya Menor reached out to the US-based Ghanian producer to work on the song, which was initially released in June 2020. It wasn’t until the later part of 2021 that the high-tempo amapiano song started going viral on TikTok, going on to become the most Shazamed Afrobeats song in the world.
Taking to MoreBranches as he prepares to go on his first UK tour, Goya Menor shares what having a global hit song has been like for him, his initial fears about acceptance and his plans for the future.
How’s success been like for you, witnessing your song blow up not just in Nigeria but globally?
Goya Menor: It has been the beginning of a new chapter for me because we’ve been making music before now, but after Ameno blew up, we’ve taken the music to another level. Since the song blew up, I’ve been busy travelling from one point to another; the demand has been crazy. Like through December, we were in Nigeria doing it locally here. January – February, we’re extending it out of Africa. We’ve been travelling, trying to touch the world. We’re working and recording, trying to come up with something better and bigger.
How did the song come about?
Goya Menor: The song, Ameno amapiano, was an existing song online before I made an existing version. I felt there was some space I could feel as an artist, so I contacted the producer; let’s work together and come up with something nice. We both had an agreement, and that’s how the song came about, he produced the beat, and I did the singing. That’s why the song is a combination of Goya Menor and singing. Nektunez did a master’s work by making the beat great, while I did the finishing by putting my vocals on it. In the beginning, we never knew it’d get this big. I just did all I had to do; constructed the lines, wrote the lyrics and dropped it, and by the grace of God, it’s where it is today. By the grace of God, we thank God, and we thank all of our fans worldwide for the support and everything.
How is the success of Ameno Amapiano shaping how you approach music creatively?
It has not actually affected me. It’s only pushing me to do better and come up with something stronger. The way I make my music, I don’t put so much thought into making a hit. I like to let it flow naturally. When I’m in the mood to sing when the inspiration comes in, I allow it to flow naturally based on how the rhythm is playing, or I meet up with the producer and ask for this type of beat that would suit this idea in my head. Put the beat and the vocals down and see how it could come out as something good. Before Ameno, we’ve been making music and trying to make it superb and standard, trying to do this, do that. I just released Ameno as let me do it as something not too serious, and it ended up being the biggest and the ones we’ve been trying to do; let’s make it seriously didn’t end up big. To me, grace has a great role to play in music. Ameno now is in everyone’s ear and their favourite, but I don’t think I’m the best artist in the world or the best rapper or singer, but my song is the best song at the moment. That’s grace and God’s work. I don’t try to take it too seriously cause when you do, you might miss it, so just do what you have to do and leave the rest for God.
How did you get into music, what would you say your influences, and how has your sound been shaped as an artist?
We’ve been making music for a very long time, before we got into school, while I was in school, but not as big or as professional as we’re doing it now. Then we’d just do what we had to do in our own way, put what we had to put together, cause no record label, just you, an individual sponsoring yourself. It wasn’t really easy, but we’ve been able to add some professionalism to the work. I never thought Ameno Amapiano would get this big because it was made of local craft; let’s just do this to make it work. That’s why I’ve said there’s no strict way for music, it’s good to pay attention to some basics that are important in making it big or perfect, but you don’t have to pay so much attention it loses part of it.
When should we expect your project, and what should we expect?
We’re still working on the project, trying to put a work of art together. I think we’d drop a single before the project, but the actual day has not been decided yet. When it’s time, my management and team would announce it to the general public because expectations are really high. Everybody has been asking Goya, what’s up? When I announced the video, everyone was excited, and that’s the same with the project. We’re still calculating the best time to drop because music is not just about dropping but dropping at the right time and making sure it hits the right audience.
Ameno Amapiano is a social commentary on cultism in Nigeria. How has the reception to talking about a topic that’s often avoided?
It has been a lot of positive because my state Edo state has the highest rate of cultism in Nigeria. Me taking that bold step to come up with a song addressing it; so many people thought I would have a lot of problems with cultists. When I was dropping the song, I had some advice about why I was talking about this topic no one had talked about? I told them it was nothing to worry about, this is the inspiration, this is what came to my head, and the song had already been produced, so I went on to drop it against all odds. Going back to my state, everyone danced to the song, both cultists and non-cultists. It promotes peace, and they’re happy I came up with something that addresses this because no one else has. Everything has been fine.
Is the social commentary of Ameno Amapiano something we’d see more of?
Yes, this song talked about cultism, while my next one would talk about world peace, preaching peace to the world. Anywhere we go as we travel from country to country, that’s all we’d be preaching; say no to cultism, the basis of Ameno and the second one is about being at peace with your brother, man, kicking against racial discrimination. You shouldn’t hate on your brother because he’s white and you’re black. I’m using my music as a tool to tackle some social vices and try to advise people to be of good conduct. That’s what I’m going to do as I tour the world, especially as I’m doing a UK tour, after that an American tour, then a European tour. The UK tour starts on the 25th and will last for three weeks. We’ve gotten calls from various countries asking when I’ll be available. We received a call yesterday asking to book for 2023. My team and I laughed, like, are you serious?
This song is more than it seems. In the beginning, it was just a song, but right now, it’s a social campaign pushing against the ills of cultism and gang activities.
What are you excited about for the future?
I’m most excited about my fanbase increasing daily and all of them loving my voice. I get messages in my DM about people loving my voice. In the beginning, I thought the voice would be a disadvantage because we’re used to the regular singing voices, but I came up with something else, and people accepted it.
Who would you like to work with in the near future?
People always argue about which artists are better, but I’d love to work with the big artists in Nigeria; Davido, Wizkid, Burna Boy would be a bad one, and if possible Wande Coal. Internationally I’d love to work with Jay-z and Beyonce, but I know it’s step by step, and I know we’d get there.