Zlatan

Zlatan Interview: No one wants to go back to where they came from, that keeps me driven

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Since his explosion to limelight after the release of his viral song ‘Zanku’ in 2018, Omoniyi Temidayo Raphael, popularly known by his stage name Zlatan, has delivered consecutive hits, in spite of first being tagged as a one-hit-wonder. Zlatan is a nickname he got from his earlier days as a kid when he chased his dream to be a professional footballer, mirroring Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

His unique blend of rap, Afrobeats, and playful use of ‘street-slangs’ have made him one of the interesting names in the music scene. Zlatan’s ecstatic cadence established him as a dominant figure of Street-hop, he serves as a global ambassador for the genre, touring the world and performing at major venues like the 02 Arena.

With his latest project ‘Resan’, Zlatan, the founder of his own label ‘Zanku Records’ says he’s taking a more intentional approach with his music and the way he wants his sounds to be perceived. The project, which touches on subjects like love, his rise to success, club jams, and mellow bops, sees Zlatan explore a wider range of sounds.

We spoke with Zlatan, who’s currently having a blast with his feature on DJ Neptune’s hit song ‘Only Fan’ about his journey, the evolution of his sound, and how his latest project “Resan” came to be.

You were more active during the course of 2021, feeding your audience a lot more music. That must feel great, being able to release music at a constant pace.

Zlatan: Yes actually. Because in 2020 we weren’t able to do so much, but, we still managed to drop a body of work early in the year and also did one with the artists in my label to push them out there. In 2020, I took a pause for my guys to put them out there, did an EP with only them, and showed them to the world.

2021, felt like a year I wanted to do more for myself and be a bit more selfish. The project was ready in 2020 but due to the fact that we weren’t outside and couldn’t tour around the world so, I decided to keep the album till I was certain I could perform the songs on it when it was released.

Let’s get into your last album ‘Resan’, why the title and direction?

Zlatan: The album title ‘Resan’ is a Swedish word that means ’the journey in English. the album is basically about me, a new Zlatan that’s taking a new approach, a new dimension to my career. That’s where the title of the album came from its’ actually talking about where I came from, where I am today and where I’m going to.

The album has different sides to it, there are different parts to it. motivational songs, love songs, all sides of me.

‘Resan’ like you said, shows growth in Zlatan as a brand and in the music, why now, why this album?

Zlatan: Obviously the first album was kinda rushed like a “welcome to the industry.” I had songs but I didn’t take my time with them, I just picked the ones I felt were good to go. They were all nice songs but they were not well arranged.

I just felt like I needed to prove to the world or prove to everyone that loved Zlatan that it can get better. The new album is what I pictured in my head, an experiment I had to put out. I felt like I needed to raise the bar and not be placed in a certain limit and that’s why I had to make ‘Resan’.

How was headlining your own show in London last year?

Zlatan:  It felt so great. I was meant to do it earlier in 2020 but the show got cancelled due to the pandemic. I was really sad, it was long overdue. 2021 was the year I said it must happen. I’ve actually gone to the UK to do club tours but I’d not headlined my own show before.

As an indigenous rapper, a lot of people feel we can’t go beyond our environment but I got to London and the love was crazy. I used to feel I had more male fans & street guys that listen to my music but when I got to London I realized I actually have a lot of girls who love my music. 

The show was packed, it was fun, it was at the Indigo 02. I opened the show with a song from ‘Resan’ that was released 15 days before the show and everyone still went crazy. It was a dream come true for me.

What’s been your biggest accomplishment so far?

Zlatan: My biggest accomplishment has been leaving the hood to chase my dream and not allowing anything to hold me back from achieving that.

You’ve been independent most of your career and also run your own label – Zanku Records. How’s it been navigating the music business this way?

Zlatan: It’s made me strong physically and mentally, it’s made me feel like I’m not limited to anything. 

Zlatan
What keeps inspiring you to keep creating?

Zlatan: It’s the OGs in the game. I see no reason why I shouldn’t be hungry when people like Patoranking, Davido, Wizkid, Burna are still pushing. I see no reason why I should lay back. No one wants to go back to where they came from, that keeps me driven.

Who would you like to still create music with?

Zlatan: I’ll love to work with Asa.

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Adedayo Laketu

Adedayo Laketu is a creative inventor who's interested in curating a New Age for Africa across all mediums.

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