Harrysong recalls writing songs for ₦10,000 [Pulse Interview]
With a career that has endured for over 15 years, Harrysongz is a familiar name in Nigerian music.
He would, however, gain mainstream success in early 2010 with his single 'I'm In Love'. His stellar songwriting ability would see him offer his talent to several top acts including Seyi Shay and KCee with whom he delivered multiple hits.
In 2015, he delivered his biggest hit yet 'Raggae Blues' on which he featured rap legend Olamide Baddo, KCee, Iyanya, and Orezi.
11 years after releasing his debut album 'Testify', Harrysong released only his fourth album 'God Amongst Men' which is the proclamation of his status in the industry.
In this Pulse Interview, Nigerian singer-songwriter Harrysong talks about his new album 'God Amongst Men', his journey so far, and his impending entrance into politics.
Operating at the top of the Nigerian music industry is a demanding endeavor for any artist. It requires constant evolution to be able to churn out records that connect with mainstream listeners. For Harrysong who has spent 15 years in the ecosystem, this is indeed challenging because his profile attracts the biggest expectations.
"It feels good and great, but it's also challenging because I'm Harrysong and the expectations keep getting higher. When it comes to music there's a certain level I operate at. So thank God I have what it takes to keep it 100."
Harrysong calls his fourth album 'God's Amongst Men' which is a big proclamation of his status in the industry. Harrysong possesses a resounding talent and confidence that has led him to occasionally clash with former associates, and it's this confidence that inspires his name choice for his new album.
"I know the title is big and deep, but that's me," Harrysong admits about his album title.
"It's inspired by my wins from the battles that I have fought and won in my personal life and the industry. I discovered I am not ordinary and only strong men go through the things I have gone through and survive, win, and keep doing what I'm doing. So I believe I am a god amongst men."
Harrysong's new album is coming three years after the release of his last album 'Right About Now'. He shares that 'God Amongst Men' took him three years to make and during different points in the creation process, he had to stop and restart to achieve the quality he was after.
"It took three years to put together. The album needs to match up to the title so had to take my time to put in the work."
Harrysong is one of the early songwriters in Afrobeats and he has written hit records for artists like Seyi Shay and KCee. Today, songwriting is a major revenue stream for Nigerian artists and Harrysong feels delighted to have been one of the artists to pioneer songwriting in Nigeria.
"Back then, I wrote songs for ₦10,000, for the sake of friendship, and sometimes because you just believe in the talent of the artist," Harrysong recalls that during the early days, songwriting wasn't profitable and he mostly did it for the love of the art.
"I remember when I wrote 'Mandela' and it became the most downloaded callers tune that even took me to the Grammys. So if feels good that we now have publishing and people are getting money off songwriting, so it feels good to see that the younger ones are making money off songwriting."
On his new album, Harrysong featured a crop of stars from Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, and Jamaica in what is an effort to listeners across different markets. Harrysong reveals that he carefully selected artists whom he has been touched by their music.
"These are extraordinary musicians. They not only have talent but they understand where the music is and where it's going and they have put out inspiring hit songs. I am touched by their sound and I connect with them that's why they are on the album."
Nigerian superstar rapper Olamide is one of the artists on the album and Harrysong describes the YBNL as a god amongst men and an extraordinary person.
"Baddo and I have been on three collaborations from 'I'm In Love' remix to 'Reggae Blues' and now 'She Knows'. He's an amazing person with a beautiful heart so it's a relationship I'm going to keep for the rest of my life because he's a God amongst men."
After spending 15 years in the music industry, Harrysong has seen different sonic eras in Afrobeats with the latest being the South African import Amapiano which is currently defining the soundscape. Harrysong shares that he loves Amapiano, especially for its musicality.
"I think it's one of those sounds that won't go away easily because it's very musical and goes way beyond just the drums."
His latest album 'God Amongst Men' was the first time he would be exploring the sound and Harrysong choose to retain his identity even when exploring Amapiano.
"I have been here for a long time and I have been steadfast with my style so this is the first time I'm trying the Amapiano fusion. I don't like to bend my sound much so even in Amapiano, you can still hear Harrysong."
Harrysong prides himself on his ability to stay original and this extends to not just only his music but also his personality. Not long ago, his revelations on a podcast got him into trouble with a former associate Soso Soberekon.
Even during this interview, Harrysong doesn't hold back as he revealed that his song 'Madingo' was inspired by pornographic content he watched while bored in a London hotel room.
It's this honesty, originality, and confidence that's come together for his fourth album 'God Amongst Men' which he boldly claims captures his place in the industry.
Following his album release, Harrysong reveals he's taking a break from music as he would be turning his attention to politics.
"There are calls from my people to serve in some capacity. I have ignored these calls, but I think this is the right time to try something different."
Over a decade after rocking the mainstream with his breakout single, 'I'm In Love', Harrysong has continued to play to delight listeners with his talent, and now he stands tall as a god amongst men.
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