As the Nigerian mainstream embraces diverse indigenous sounds by the day, reggae and dancehall fusions continue to stay close to the centre. It’s forgivable to wrongly term King Perryy a reggae artist at first, but make no mistake, he’s cut from a crop of skilful genre-bending Nigerian artists.
Signed to DM records in 2018, he broke out with “Man on Duty” featuring label boss Timaya. Prominent releases such as “Murder” feat. Teni and “Work N Grind” have earned him an undoubted place in Lagos’ exploding music scene. On the 28th of April 2021, King Perryy released his debut album “Citizen Of The World” signalling the first step on his global journey.
“A citizen of the world is not just an album, it’s an identity, it’s a state of mind, this is me saying that there are certain people who the world speaks to, and who bring people from different parts of the world together through their craft.”King Perryy
Citizen of the World is an introduction to King Perryy’s “Continental Sound,” a fusion of afrobeats, pan-African pop, reggae and dancehall. Flexing his diversity, he also makes forays into drill — on the post-pandemic anthem “YKTFV” — and Nigerian street rap, on the Phyno collaboration, “Paulina.”
The LP features the previously released singles “Work ‘N’ Grind,” “My Darlina,” “Waist” (feat. Kizz Daniel) and “YKTFV” (feat. PsychoYP), along with 11 new tracks including music heavyweights Timaya, Oxlade, Phyno and Mayorkun. And the production was led by Grammy-winning Jamaican “Riddim God” Teflon Zincfence, Ghana’s GuiltyBeatz and Nigeria’s TMXO.
Following the album’s release, we spoke to King Perry about creating his debut album, working with stars at the highest level, and the definition of a citizen of the world.
When did you start making music? and how did that develop?
I started by making beats, I used to produce, and I used to rap, I would record on my laptop in school and then I started going to studios, hanging out with friends, people who make music too, and I noticed I had the passion for it to push forward, and today I’m here, I’ve been growing ever since.
What was the moment where you realized “I’m sure I’m good at this and I’m sure I can make a career out of this”?
Everything starts with growth, I’ll tell you that my first ever recordings were a bit tacky but the moment I started working on my craft—till today I’m still working on my craft—and making music I knew I was meant to do this, and right now I’m becoming more aware of myself, more aware of the world, my environment, and that’s making more sense to everything.
What were some of the defining moments that shaped the album?
Yeah, the very first time I got the name for the album, I’d say that was more like a message from God to me cause the moment I found myself was the moment I found that name “Citizen Of The World” and I create continents sounds, my music is continental which is no boundaries to my sound and whatever I do, and finding that name, then recording “Work and Grind” too was life-changing, having the “Citizen Of The World” track on the album was life-changing, “African Boy” produced by Teflon Zincfence and Eclectic, all the way from Jamaica, great song. Every song on the album has a message, and the moment I added every one it started to shape everything.
You’re an artist who dabbles in different forms, how do you decide which part of your artistry you want to drop on a track?
First, I like to make music when the sound speaks to me, I like to connect to people’s souls, and so whatever connects to my soul, I’m doing it, and every song on the album, the sound spoke to me when I first heard it, if it speaks to my soul then that’s the result. So I didn’t really say I’m going to do this or that, whatever speaks to my soul is what I will do.
I particularly liked YKTFV with Psycho YP, you guys came together well, it felt like you brought something completely different but equally great on that track. How did that song come to be?
Funny thing, that was my first time on a drill beat, and that’s a part of me the world hasn’t seen yet and I’m dropping an EP a while after the album and it’s comprised of like 4 or 5 drill jams, “YKTFV” was a song I made after the lockdown, I needed a new energy, I needed to ginger, so I was on Live with my people, my supporters, and I was like “I feel like making something today” and I went to YouTube, I played the beat then I just did the chorus, funny thing is, that song doesn’t have a second verse, it’s the chorus, YP’s verse, the chorus, and then it ends. So I just did the chorus and my friend Dotun was like YP needs to get on this, and I sent him a message and I went straight to my story to put fire emojis, and from there he recorded his verse and sent it back to me and boom, that’s how we got the jam.
You’re signed to DM Records which is Timaya’s label, how much of an impact would you say he’s had on your career?
A great impact, that’s my big brother, my boss, giving me the creative freedom to do whatever I want to do with my sound and be me is one of the greatest things that he’s done for me and he also has helped me on a mad journey of finding and being aware of myself, so yeah he’s done a lot.
Who is a citizen of the world in your own words?
A citizen of the world is not just an album, it’s an identity, it’s a state of mind, this is me saying that there are certain people who the world speaks to, and who bring people from different parts of the world together through their craft, and these people are called citizens of the world. And it’s not just musicians, artists, you could be a furniture maker and create a certain type of thing the world loves, so many things.
For me, through my craft, this is me telling the world that my music speaks to the world and is passing a strong message to the world, I wanna see my music change people’s lives, inspire people to be good, and also impart knowledge on different youths worldwide.
How does it feel to have worked with some of the biggest stars like Teni, Kizz Daniel, etc
It feels so good trust me, because everything since I started making music, has happened organically, it’s either been “I love your music, I love your sound, let’s work” everything on the album happened organically, from the features to the production, etc, I have close relationships with most of the producers on the album apart from the fact that we work together. It feels really great.
What do you find interesting about African music right now?
African music right now, we’re so talented, and Nigeria is beginning to love real music, I have my brothers and sisters doing good right now, Oxlade, Tems, Omah Lay, so many people, and it’s a thing of joy to understand that right now, you don’t have to make uptempo to be recognized as a good artist, as long as you make real music, you’ll be recognized for your good work, and it feels so good to be alive right now.
Who’re some contemporary artists you think more people should know about?
There are so many talents where I’m coming from in the south side, and right now my brothers are doing good. At my release party, I was sitting in front, looking at my guys who came through for me, and I must say, everybody is grinding but they still came out for me and it made me happy. You should check out Susss, great guy.
How’re You Feeling as a young Person in Nigeria right now?
I won’t lie to you, it’s crazy, the country is going left, cause of the politicians, the government and that whole situation, so it’s hard for the citizens to be able to achieve our dreams because the country is not helping. But regardless, we’re still pushing, still trying to keep it top-notch, regardless of whatever, and yeah, by the grace of God things are gonna get better.