From 'Wurld' to Nigeria with 'Afro Soul' [Interview]
Earlier today, he released his third EP in two years, 'Afro-Soul.'
ALSO READ: Pulse speaks with Wurld in 2018
While Wurld has always been close to his Nigerian roots and he speaks fluent pidgin and Yoruba, he laid down markers for his music in Atlanta, Georgia, US and worked with acts like B.o.B, Mario and more. 'Follow You,' his song with DJ Groome was certified gold in Poland. In fact, it was on B.O.B's song, 'I Know' that this writer first knew Wurld.
In the short time that he's been back, he's released another critically-acclaimed collaborative EP titled, I Like Girls With Trobul with Sarz, garnered a very niche but loyal fan base and continues to make waves with his increasingly popular stage presence and all-round ability.
Arise O' Compatriots and Love Songs
When Wurld came to Nigeria, it took a while to settle in. But by the time he held a listening party for Love Is Contagious at Landmark Event Centre, it was certain that he had people's attention. Before Wurld met Shizzi and made 'Show You Off', he was making music for his debut album.
Speaking on coming back to Nigeria, Wurld says, "'Show You Off' brought me back to Nigeria, bro. I was in the Hip-Hop world. I felt I had a calling... The love was too much from 'Show You Off.' People were sharing it, sending me hundreds of messages everyday.
"I was working with B.o.B's label No Genre at the time. I created about 15 songs with B.o.B and 'I Know' is just one of them. I met B.o.B through Scotty ATL and I was doing hooks for No Genre. I also had about three songs with Scotty and Trinidad James. I made 'Show You Off' in 2016 and it was my first time making anything Afrobeats. At the time, I was working on my album that's still not been released (laughs)."
Wurld couldn't tell me the title of the album he was working on prior to 'Show You Off,' but I found out that a significant part of it could be part of his upcoming album.
"The album is ready, it comes after Afro-soul. I've been working on it... I've pushed back a lot of things for my time in Nigeria. I have an alternative side that you heard a little on 'Wishes and Butterflies,' but it was necessary that I honour the calling I had [For Nigeria]." Wurld says.
Nigeria's Call Obey In Trobul
When Wurld got to Nigeria, he was working hard on a number of projects and getting media love. Love Is Contagious spurned other amazing songs like 'Wishes and Butterflies,' 'Contagious' and more.
However, Wurld felt underwhelmed and frustrated by Love Is Contagious. He says, "It fell under... The marketing fell under as well. The feasibility also fell under and a lot of people doubted me - even people I was working with. They didn't just believe in me anymore - I was down for a time and I responded with 'I Like Girls Wit Trobul.'"
Before that EP with Sarz, Wurld found a pocket. He wrote and had recorded two songs with his collaborator, Shizzi. He was in the process of finding a feature for one of them when a Nigerian superstar came along and got those songs for his album. That artist was Davido and the songs became 'Blow My Mind' featuring Chris Brown and 'Sweet In The Middle.'
Wurld narrates, "I created 'Blow My Mind' in 2017. I sent the song to Mr. Eazi and Wande Coal to do a second verse. Runtown also had a verse. In 2019, Shizzi then told me that Davido wanted the record. I was promoting Love Is Contagious at the time and after we went back and forth a bit, we agreed. I mean, he had Chris Brown on it (laughs)."
Somewhere in the middle of this, he met Sarz and they started making music together on the day they met. That led to the well-received EP, I Like Girls With Trobul. It documents trouble in love.
Describing what led to his healing, Wurld says, “I feel like I’m making what I should make and I’ve only shared a small part of my music and artistry. I’m also getting to know my fans more and more. I’ve also been more relaxing and more receptive of my place as an Afro-Soul act.”
Back to the world with afrobeats
By the end of 2019, Wurld was blown away by the reception he had at his first headline show which was held at Hard Rock Cafe, Victoria Island, Lagos. But then, amidst that story, something funny feels orchestrated by providence - his journey.
Wurld grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, US - the ‘world’ after ‘afrobeats to…’ and - the ultimate goal of the reasonably popping Nigerian artist. WurldB's story is the reverse. He left the ‘world’ to come pick up the ‘afrobeats’ before heading back to the world.
Wurld says, “I find it very funny and weird. I find God amazing in the way he does things. Even in America, people I used to work with see me differently now. The respect is even more. In America, I was hustling and grinding, writing songs for people, trying to get my way.
“It took me making the transition to Africa before special things started happening. Interestingly though, I’d always wanted Africa to be behind me on my way to success, even while working in America. I felt like I was very disconnected from Africa back. I was watching an interview then and I noticed that all the big American artists had their cities behind them.
“So I thought, ‘What’s success without my city behind me?’ I felt like that’s not the success I wanted. I understand both Nigeria and America - if you take the afro-sounds away, you’d get R&B and soul besides the lingo. So, it was also about balance as much as anything.”
With Love and Strength and Afro-Soul
Like we skipped a line for this heading, Wurld skipped several steps of struggle for a Nigerian artist to be where he is. While he might be niche, he is unique enough to make money for the rest of his life with his brand of music. He occupies a unique position that only a few Nigerians have been able to get into.
In 2018, he used to split his time between Atlanta and Lagos. These days, he says he spends his time on a 60-40 basis. Lagos and the rest of African gets 60% while Atlanta gets the rest.
Speaking on that, Wurld says, "I feel like I occupy a unique position in African music. It's not pressure because I constantly share what I know how to do - I'm not sharing a gimmick. I could wake up and just do it."
In the earlier days, Wurld was getting categorized as alte due to his niche sound, his occasional style and hair color. Wurld does take offence to that, instead he feels like he’s the perfect bridge between alternative and mainstream.
Wurld says, “I like to be self-aware. That’s why I named this project Afro-Soul - merging the African elements with the soul music. I love songs that are nostalgic - that’s why I made a song like ‘National Anthem’ which is like a mixture of ‘Paranoid’ and ‘Contagious.’
“I call it ‘National Anthem’ because it documents our story - the kind of song everyone would want to soundtrack their lives.”
The 7-track EP which dropped on May 15, 2020 was supported with three singles, ‘Love Nobody,’ ‘Ghost Town’ and ‘Wayo.’ ‘Ghost Town’ premiered with a performance on Colors TV and ‘Wayo’ is an amazing Afro-Soul song produced by Kel P. These two songs are more R&B than Afro. As Wurld said earlier, it’s about balance for him.
He says, “I put ‘Love Nobody’ and ‘Ghost Town’ because I wanted something diverse. I don’t just want to be one thing. Why be one thing when you can be much more, right? However, everything still has to be tied up by what people can identify me with. It shouldn’t be all over the place and we are on track for that.
“I don’t think Afro-Soul can sufficiently describe my sound. I have given up on myself (laughs), but most importantly, it’s Wurld Music, bro. Everything else; all the fine lines and vibes… They’re just interesting. I am Nigerian, I understand what that means and how we move and what makes us tick.
“It’s about relatability and how people understand what I’m making. They have to be able to relate with me and my music. There’s a reason Angelique Kidjo won that Grammy award - they could relate with her more and she was more familiar with those people.”
Wurld is proud of all the songs on Afro-Soul, but he jokes that he would have been made had someone else made ‘Birthday Song.’
In the earlier days, Wurld was managed by Usher’s mom and he rejected deals because he needed freedom. In Nigeria, he had a brief distribution deal with Universal Music Group Nigeria. Now, he’s back on his own with WEAREGVDS/Immensum and things are looking up. The future looks bright.
Wurld would still not sign a record deal, but he jokes that if he ever signs a deal, it must solve all his money problems.
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