For the Grand Master King, music is his escape, the result being something beautiful to behold and enjoy, even as he has his eyes set on bigger things.
Producer, sound engineer and artist Grand Master King (GMK), 25, of the Monster Boyz music group stopped by at Pulse to talk about his journey into the business and entertainment of music.
King is one of the many new age musicians pushing their art of music creation with the advantage of the internet, Soundcloud being the major medium.
These crop of artists, songwriters, producers and audio engineers are being looked at as alternative musicians whose music is not what the average Nigerian 'Joe' will be caught listening to.
The debate goes on and on about the probability of their music ever getting out and becoming the popular songs on the Nigerian music lover’s lips. Time is gradually beginning to answer these questions even as those artists like GMK are strategizing on how to strike that balance without losing their sound and originality.
GMK is a member of Monster Boyz, a group constituting four talented and skilled individuals in Santi/OzzyB, Bankyondbeatz, Genio Bambino and GMK himself. He recounts getting the inspiration for his stage name 'Grand Master King' while he used to DJ and being a fan of American veteran DJs Funk master Flex and Jam Master Jay.
King is the producer behind rising hits like Santi’s ‘Gangsta fear’ featuring Odunsi, and Santi’s ‘Jungle fever’ featuring Odunsi and Genio Bambino’.
He tells Pulse about starting off messing around with music production software at age 13. With the drive to get better at the craft, GMK proceeded to go study audio engineering in South Africa.
Since then, the chilled GMK has been about the music, working with a variety of new school artists as well as his own project right from the comfort of his home.
About the impact of his music thus far, King believes there is a gradual shift in the consumption and attention being paid to his likes, as he reveals his collaboration with rapper MI Abaga.
“I have worked with MI, we are working on his new tape, I produced some tracks for him, It’s like a bigstep from what it was like two years ago when we were just posting music for the fun of it,” GMK says.
He also adds that it’s about being strategic about their music.
“We know the music is good, it’s just being strategic about it, dropping the music at the right time, we already have the whole team.”
King doesn’t feel the Monster Boyz are ready for a group project, he is of the opinion that they are “not big enough” yet but feels it’s high time they staged a concert in a grand way.
On the quite controversial matter of whether his generation of like-minded music creatives are ‘’Alternative” artists, GMK responds saying it’s not his place really to say, rather the industry pundits are in a better position to judge. He is however of the opinion that their music is generally not alternative but could be seen as alternative in Nigeria.
GMK describes his music production side as Soulful, but his artist side likes to make Hip Hop. He cites R&B of the early 80s and 90s as major influences.
On the so-called “Pangolo” music that is believed to be the commercial music, GMK says he could do that but prefers not to, explaining that the music he really wants to make will always call him back to order. He does add that his own brand of music can make money likewise if pushed the right way.
“When I’m making music it’s like an escape, away from Nigeria, I want to feel like I’m the king of my world,” King says on what music does for him.
About having creative control when he works with artists, GMK tells Pulse he prefers it when he has the full control, but appreciates the challenge that comes with following the guidelines of what the artist is imagining, using MI Abaga as an example who wanted a type of beat that a rapper like Eminem would jump on.
Master King feels he is not yet at that place where he needs a record label, but given the circumstances if they are favourable, and depending on how they value the artist, he might take the offer.
“I want to get to the point where I am the one giving the criteria of what I want.”
‘Consistency’ and ‘Quality’ among other things are the factors GMK believes will get him and his team of “ Alternative” artists that levelling status with the established acts in the industry.
“We want it to sound different from what Nigerians like but we want the quality to be better” King notes.
On royalties payment to, producers and other creatives, the multi-skilled musician feels both one-off payment and continuous royalty payment ought to be the norm, and not just for artists alone so as to prevent bitterness on the part of the aggrieved creative if or when the song gets successful, and the artist and his label alone are reaping off it.
GMK asides his familiar collaborators such as fellow Monster Boyz, Odunsi, the LOS folks (Zamir, Bris, Bridge, Tomi Thomas), Lady Donli, AYLO among others.
Among his favourite producers he lists Timbaland, Dr Dre, Pharrell, LeMav, Swiss Beats, Odunsi the engine, Tekno.
Terry Apala, Gospelondbeatz, Spellz, MI, Lady Donli, Jesse Jagz, OzzyB, Sade Adu, Erykah Badu, Kendrick Lamar are his picks experimentally if he were to assemble 10 great musicians to work with on a project.
On being fulfilled, GMK says he is at the moment but is setting more goals for the year.
“I have exceeded what my goals were, so at this point I feel kind of accomplished, but as soon as you get to that point where you feel accomplished, you are setting new goals.”
On new projects, King reveals he has a new one coming through this year, a 12-track playlist tentatively titled “The Dusted Crown”, which he said would be a somewhat continuation of his “Long Live The King” 2016 EP but is not yet confident to tag it an album.
ThatBoyGMK is one creative talent the industry needs to really pay attention to. He makes it look easy even though it’s not.
For the Grand Master King, music is his escape, and lucky for the listeners, that also translates into something beautiful to behold and enjoy.