Adekunle Gold: “How AG Baby Finally Became Your Baby” – Joey

“I’ve not really done a lot of creating,” Adekunle Gold tells me over the phone. He’s holed up in the USA riding out the Covid-19 pandemic in the company of his wife and co-creator Simi.

Although the official numbers in America of confirmed infected cases are over a million, with over 60,00 recorded deaths, Gold isn’t losing sleep. Not about the virus. Not about work. Not even about recording more music for his forthcoming album. “That’s because for the past six, seven months, I did a lot of writing and creating. My project is done, except I want to overdo, that’s when I’d be adding stuff to it,” he says, confidence soaring through the roof.

It’s really hard to catch Adekunle Gold out or pick holes in his work. The 33-year-old has always possessed the air of a man whose house and life are in order. His music leaves nothing on the table. His branding is distinct but always in flux, and his communication rings clear and deliberate. One moment, Gold presents himself as the guy next door; your lovable elder sibling or caring neighbour with an omnipresent smile. Other times, he’s the full-fledged pop-star package, with a familiar voice that soothes, and a live performance skill-set that ensures sold out shows. More often than not—as his photos and colourful outfits show—he’s a vain ‘bad bitch,’ flaunting his increasing good looks while taunting ladies with the sincere admission of affection: “AG Baby is your baby.”

On Twitter, he’s no different from the rest of us, shooting football banter, carrying conversations and clapping back with topnotch reciprocal energy. “If you abuse me, I’d give you back. If I’m in the mood, I’d give you back. If I’m not, I’d just let you be…but these days, I don’t even fucking care about backlashes anymore especially when I’m saying my truth. If you like to nack your head, that’s your problem,” he says.

In many ways, Adekunle Gold is the blueprint of what sustainable growth and success ought to look like in the African music industry. You can track his career, and point out all the astute decisions that have kept his bread buttered for so long. A graphic artist and branding specialist, Gold first found music fame by reworking One Direction’s ‘Story of my life’ into a highly successful record called ‘Sade’. He carried that spark through a deal with Nigerian rapper Olamide’s record label, YBNL, before going indie and building a career that is jointly powered by good music, effective marketing and sincerity. While moving his music, he ticks all the promo boxes from radio, TV and digital spaces. But where he gets his most flowers are in his newsletters.

Gold’s letters carry a personal touch to them. Distributed to his core fanbase who consider themselves privileged recipients, they hold a potent mix of personal marketing and motivational messaging. During my research for this story, I got fans to send in some of their favourite letters. One edition from December 2019, kept coming up. In it, Gold talked about his album delay, before addressing his changing hairdo and how it represents his strategy of ceaseless self-improvement. “I want my past to be silver and my future to be gold,” the newsletter reads. “I never want to be stagnant, I always want to do better than I have before. I always have to outdo myself no matter how familiar you are with the outdone version of me.” One fan tells me “I feel like he is my person, someone I can reach out and touch, and he’ll smile back at me.”

Gold’s letters carry a personal touch to them. Distributed to his core fanbase who consider themselves privileged recipients, they hold a potent mix of personal marketing and motivational messaging. During my research for this story, I got fans to send in some of their favourite letters. One edition from December 2019, kept coming up. In it, Gold talked about his album delay, before addressing his changing hairdo and how it represents his strategy of ceaseless self-improvement. “I want my past to be silver and my future to be gold,” the newsletter reads. “I never want to be stagnant, I always want to do better than I have before. I always have to outdo myself no matter how familiar you are with the outdone version of me.” One fan tells me “I feel like he is my person, someone I can reach out and touch, and he’ll smile back at me.”

Over the past 2 years, Adekunle Gold has been revamping his project. He’s completely overhauled himself and his music, slowly taking away elements from his initial look and sound, and replacing them with upgrades. He’s hit the gym, grown his muscles, hair and beard, and moved his styling up. The result is a more handsome man who’s moved from ‘boy-next-door’ to ‘charismatic star’. On the sound end, he’s been making successful experimental music with global ambitions and penetration. From the surprise of ‘Call on me’, to the beauty within ‘Before you wake up’, and the joyous exhilaration of ‘Jore’, there’s a renewed fusion of creativity to his offerings. His latest release, ‘Something different,’ explores loving and losing, with a highlife bent blending into a sweet sappy story. He speaks from his heart, offering an expansive invitation into his life, music, business, and his personal decision to constantly bet on himself.

How have you been coping with the Rona?

Very good, man. Like I told you the other day, I’ve been working out, thinking of new ways to entertain myself daily, listening to new sounds basically. And I’m bonding with my babe a lot more.

I’m very interested in how COVID-19 has affected your creative process.

Interestingly, I’ve not really done a lot of creating. And that’s because for the past six, seven months, I did a lot of writing and creating. My project is done, except I want to overdo that’s when I’d be adding stuff to it. My project is done, my 2012 project is almost done as well, as far as writing. I’ve worked a lot before now. So this time, I’m just really chilling, trying to do other things outside music. Like I said, I’ve been reading a lot, and I can say for a fact that it’s opening my mind to a lot of new ideas. New things to talk about in my music. Especially for my 2021 music because that’s a whole different one entirely. I’ve been working out because I want to stay very healthy. I want to be very fit in addition to feeling good about myself generally. So I’ve not done a lot of creating. I’ve been writing for other artists though. I’ve been pitching to other artists, I’ve been sending songs to them and some of them are liking it, so that’s one thing I’m really enjoying this time.

How do you create?

I don’t necessarily feel like I have a method, right? But what I know is, I get inspired really quickly. I could just be driving by the road and then I see a word on an advertising board and that’s a song for me. Or maybe I’m watching a movie, and they say something in dialogue. And I’d be like ‘that’s actually really profound and I could write about that.’ Every time I’m on Twitter, I’m seeing bants, I’m seeing people talk about something and it just inspires something. And I’d be like ‘I should talk about this one because this is a new thing entirely that I’ve not heard before.’ Sometimes I just sit down and I have melodies in my head. I just record the melodies on my phone with some yada yada yada and then I send to my producers because we are not in the studio all the time. They play a few chords, we get together, we vibe and make music. How I made “Gold” for example: I made Gold for like two years. It almost felt like I waited to feel something before I talked about it. And everything I went through I decided to talk about it. I was in the studio most of the time with Seyifunmi and Pheelz and Oscar then we were vibing. “About 30” was the same thing. I had to travel to Ghana to write that up. I was in the middle of fun with my friends and something might just come and I’d talk about it.

At other times, I’m on the plane. That’s where I do a lot of self-reflection. That’s the only time I don’t get to press my phone and check Twitter. If I have a beat on my laptop, I’d plug my ears and then just do some yadi yadi dah on my phone again. The second verse of ‘There is a God’ in the “Gold” album came from when we took off and the pilot said we were 24,000 feet above the ground. You know that their language.

I don’t know how to say it again. But 24,000 feet above the ground and I was looking down literally at everything and I saw how very tiny everything was and that birthed the “I’m looking down at the world 24,000 feet and the beauty makes me wonder why anyone would ever doubt.”

So, my creative process is just an everyday thing for me. And I’m grateful that I don’t need anything to create. I’ve seen other artists creating, I see that’s always tedious for them. They probably need to be under some influence, it’s how it works for them. But my own way, I’m grateful that I don’t necessarily need anything extra. It just comes naturally to me. Everything I need to write about is around me. I just need to open my eyes sometimes or I need to open my ears or I just need to open my mind. Before now, I didn’t think I was a studio artist where you have to be in the studio and then you start the song afresh and finish it then and there. But recently, I’ve discovered that I’m also that. How I wrote ‘Young Love’ for example; I was in the studio with Seyifunmi, Moelogo and then my manager, Niyi. This guy was just messing around with the beat, they were just messing about with the beat and I literally wrote the chorus, and finished the song in two, three hours in the studio. That was the first time I’ve done anything like where I was in the studio and I needed to do something. Other times I’d be in the studio and it would happen just because I’m just vibing. But for the first time I did something because I was in the studio to make a song.

I feel like it changes over time. With me, as my ear grows for new sounds, so does my mind, so does my pen. It’s been interesting for me.

READ COMPLETE INTERVIEW HERE

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