Writer: Ayomide Oriowo
Photograohy: Dunsin Bankole
Art Direction: Dunsin Bankole
Creative Direction: McQueen Pius, Femi Adeniran
Styling: Bamidele Oyindamola
Make Up: Amina Abdulaziz

December 18th, 2020

Chike-Ezekpeazu Osebuka first gave Nigerian audiences a glimpse of his talent when he featured in the first season of the Music TV Show, The Voice Nigeria, and mesmerized the judges with his voice. His rise to stardom came with his debut studio album, “The Boo of the Booless,” a 14-track RnB album that captures the intricacies of romance and love in a rich blend of Igbo, English, and Pidgin delivered breathtakingly. Chike graciously highlighted the delicate matters of the heart using his captivating voice and thoughtful lyrics to bring hope to the emotionally downtrodden. Unknowingly to us all, we were all going to face a lockdown that left us all booless and isolated, and Chike’s heartfelt project became the perfect soundtrack to our new realities.   The self-acclaimed Boo of the Booless declared himself the lover of the loveless when many were struggling with the travails of love, and he was received with open arms. The album became an instant hit and launched him into mainstream fame. The album ranks high in the circles of lovers and singles, all of whom found some solace in the album.   The 14-track project is a piece of art curated by a super talented artiste and a team that is on the same wavelength with an artiste, who is skilled in deploying music in the expression of emotions in a way that penetrates the heart. For many artistes, the art is not only an artistic outlet; it is also a personification of the artiste. This may not be true of Chike, whose personality is beautifully separated from the art.  The album presents Chike as the protagonist romantic whose desperate yearning for love ends in futility. Many who listened to the album are tempted to believe that this was a piece of art inspired by true events. Chike, however, says otherwise. For Chike, The Boo of the Booless was only a part of Chike, the artiste.  There are many sides to Chike. There’s Chike the Boo of the Booless, who captured the hearts of many with his music and left them in a euphoric state. There’s also Chike, the actor who can deliver a scintillating on-screen performance that is completely separated from the warm-hearted romantic who bared it all in the Boo of the Booless. Chike is not only an artiste. He is also a performing artiste, and he takes the performing aspect of his craft as seriously as the music. Chike is an artiste built for the stage, and he commands the stage with an impeccable performance that highlights his vocal prowess and stage presence. Chike cherishes the originality of his sound, and he brings this originality to the stage by using a live band to deliver a clean sound that typifies his music. There is also the Chike that enjoys playing video games. Since the release of his debut album, Chike has gone on to become a popular name in the Nigerian music scene. He is among the biggest RnB artiste in Nigeria, and the indigenous touch he adds to his music sets him aside. The beauty of his sound and his performing prowess ranks him high on the list of Event planners and Show promoters. The Boo of the Booless has earned him several nominations, including four nominations at the 14th Headies Award.  Turntable Charts had a sit down with Chike to get an insight into the man behind the album of the year nominated The Boo of the Booless. This interview captures the art and the man behind the art. Welcome to Chike VS Boo Of the Booless.  ![]( Hello Chike, How are you doing? I’m doing okay. How would you describe a typical day in the life of Chike? Normal morning routine. Wake up, do all the normal things...bath, brush know now? Go right down to business, having conversations around the music and advertising music. So that's just basically it right now. So you do the normal things that those who aren't Chike do, then you do your music business too? Yes now. I still play video games too, don't know if other people play video games too {chuckles} The Boo of the Booless! Yeah... That's you. You’re the Boo of the Booless. Your album is one of the most popular albums of 2020, one of the most successful, and one of the most critically acclaimed. How does it feel to be the artiste behind that?  That's not bad. Feels like everything is adding up gradually. So, this has been a long process and the results are just starting to show? Yeah, something like that. That’s how to put it. How about we start with the creative process behind the album? When did you start recording? I will take you back to the oldest song in the album. The oldest song is about 3 years old. Which track is that? You released 'Beautiful People' first, is that the first song to be recorded? Yeah....pretty much. Yes. So, you recorded the track started 3 years ago? Yes, it did. Songs like 'Insecure' and 'Out of Love' feel somewhat personal. Are there stories behind these songs? Perhaps some personal experience?  It’s a mixture of both. Oh, so you mean it’s a mixture of personal experience and some imagination. Yeah, a mixture of both. Your album lasted for several months on the Charts. It was in the top 5 for about 6 months on the apple music album chart. Your album stuck around for quite a while. Did you anticipate this level of reception for the album? I was expecting a good level of reception but to be honest, I think I got more than I anticipated. ![]( Do you feel artistes like yourself are missing out on recognitions like that comes with the performance of their music, say sales based awards and certifications like their international counterparts?   Whatever you are able to achieve depends on what you sought out to achieve and how far you can do that. If there is a body that comes along to recognize us, because I feel it’s something we can do amongst ourselves, then that’d be great. Until then, we just keep on putting one foot in front of the other. Your music is a blend of English and your native language- Igbo. Do you think this is something that gives you an edge by being able to appeal to both the Igbo audience and the non-Igbo audience within the Nigerian music scene?  Here's the thing; from anyway anyone chooses to look at it, the main thing for me when I write music is this; “do they understand me?” Sometimes I tend to oversimplify things to make sure the target audience understands them. But the main thing is as far as I’m communicating. Whether in my native language or English, so far I’m able to get the message across that's a win-win for me. You also released 'Dance of the Booless'. Many would agree that it is a bold move by a mainstream act like you to release a work an EDM album in an industry where such music is particularly appreciated. What was the idea behind that? What inspired you to make an EDM version of your songs? Think we were about a month into the lockdown if you recall the time it was released. The intention was to keep people going. We wanted them (the fans) to keep experiencing the music. Do you plan to keep on creating an EDM version of your music? You have the Vol. 1, so does that mean there will be a vol2? When there is we will let you know {laughs} I would go as far as to say that your success in music seemed to have been set in stone. You won an award for vocalist of the year while you were still in high school.  Yeah...that was a long time ago Did you always know that you were going to be a musician? You hold a degree in computer engineering. The contention for me was always; 'did I want to' or 'did I not want to' but I enjoyed it anyway. So I guess after school I had no reason not to, so I decided to go after it. So what would you say was the turning point where you realized that music was what you wanted to do? Well, it was after I did the reality shows (Project Fame & The Voice) I realized that I could actually go into 'this' (music), it's possible... This realization came after the first reality show or the second one? After I was done with the second one [the voice], I knew there were no more reality shows to be done, so I decided to go on and start my own thing. You mentioned the lockdown as the reason behind 'Dance of the Booless'. How was the lockdown for you? How did it change things for you in terms of live appearances, shows, and festivals? You know, the things that usually were a part of your music before the pandemic? It did. Everything was canceled but I think they are all coming back gradually, that's what matters. Did the lockdown had any effect on your creative process? Did anything change? I mean, aside from having more time, nothing really. The lockdown has been over for some time now, and things are gradually going back to normal. So, what have you been up to lately? Well, still creating, the country is opening up gradually. Now we can have a few events, we are just shuffling between both. First, it was ‘The Boo of the Booless’ later you released ‘The Dance of the Booless’ so are we going to see more ‘booless’ themed albums? *chuckles* let’s see how that goes. To be honest, I haven't decided on that, I don’t want to give information that may eventually turn out to be false. So, at the time your album dropped, sonically and lyrically it wasn’t what the Nigerian audience considered to be in vogue. Before releasing your album, did you ever feel pressure to tweak your sound to what was popular at that time? Well, in life we all feel pressure to do what some other person is doing, I believe, at some point. I make music based on how I feel at a particular time. If how I feel happens to align with what is in vogue, then that works. If it’s different, that works too. For me it’s a decision between me and myself, if I decide this is what I want to put out and sell, then I sell it. You have mentioned that things are finally opening up. Is there any confirmed show, performance, festival, headlining that you have coming up soon? None of them is my show, so I may not be able to give you the details. But they are opening up, let’s see how it ends. Out of these shows is there any possible international performance? You really want to get so much out of me, but I'm sure You know the borders are still very shaky right now?   Probably a virtual performance. Maybe YouTube? We would have to wait for the organizers to announce first, we wouldn’t want to get ahead of ourselves. OK. Do you see yourself crossing over as part of the “Afrobeats to the world movement”? I may find myself meeting as many people as possible during the viability of my music. Either by crossing over to the international audience or by connecting to the home audience. It’s just about reaching more people that connect to what we do. However, it comes it will be much appreciated. And would you ever consider tweaking your sound in case of an international crossover like the ones we are currently witnessing? Like I already said, I just make music according to how I feel and it’s gonna remain that way. So you left universal republic in Nov 2017 and you became an independent artiste. How has the journey as an independent artiste been so far? It has not been easy and there have been many challenges, but I mean we are here now so. I just want to keep learning and putting everything into practice. There will be ups and downs and we might make some mistakes but we would pick ourselves up and learn from these mistakes. So what's next for Chike? The music business. Anything coming out soon? Some videos should be coming out soon. So watch out. We would surely be on the lookout. So going forward would you be collaborating more with other artistes?  Yeah, totally. I mean one of the big ways to grow in the industry is through collaborations so, that hasn't stopped.  So, is there something people don't know about you that you would like them to? Ah! Anything you don't know is something I don't want to be known *laughs* Perhaps a misconception that you would like to correct? I think for me, one thing people should know is I’m mostly reserved except prompted not to be but I enjoy being reserved. So you are known to keep a close circle in your camp and maintain a small team. How does that exactly work with the creative aspect and the business end of your music?  To produce music, you need me, the producer, and the inspiration. So as far as the business goes, you only need those who will put out the music, who will promote it, who will arrange the interviews, who create the perception that you need to sell to people and with all that I mentioned it probably just the management that will handle that, so having in mind that everybody on the team has a designated duty to keep things running.  So keeping a small circle gives you more control over your music and everything that surrounds the music?  It definitely puts me in a good place, that is one thing it does, it allows me to know what’s going on, it allows me know what’s to be done and it also allows me to learn in places where I need to learn. And when you started, how did you choose your team? Well, I just used my instinct and my doubt because sometimes you get it wrong and you need to let go, correct and replace. So it was pretty much about trusting your gut and learning your experience. You were previously under a major label, so what were the notable changes you had to deal with after you transitioned from being with a record label to being independent?  This time you have to search for everything yourself and that could be a problem. But at the same time, that's a good thing because if you can do that you can get your job done. So in short, what I,m saying is when you transition there is no more anybody to blame, it sucks when your failure is in your hands. It's nobody’s fault when some things don’t get done or some things get done the wrong way. So yeah, it’s more control, but that comes with more responsibility and that’s fine by me because I’m willing to go through such responsibilities to achieve what I want to achieve. What are your thoughts on getting signed and being independent? Because you have explored both so you will have some experience? At this point, being independent is going well for me and that can change tomorrow so you never know. What I’ll tell you is that some people work better when they are in control and some people are not just the type to take on responsibility. it depends because an artiste who is not able to take on the kind of responsibility that comes with being independent should be in a record label, but if you are sure that you can handle such then go ahead and control take your future in your hands. ![](   So what unique challenges did you face in your journey from being an upcoming artiste to be one of the biggest artistes in Nigeria? I mean like I said handling all the responsibilities at the same time because now it’s you and you alone though I had help at first, but it was primarily my responsibility, so that’s a lot of challenges. No matter how good a song is, you need to put it out there, and putting out there is marketing, and marketing is money and that is one of the challenges but I found a system that works to keep me afloat. And now you are here. And I want to go further. Are you the type to have a favorite song?    I don’t have a favorite song, they are like a different and unique experiences for me, which are both fictional and non-fictional. So I think it will be unfair to have to pick between my songs. Okay, but is there any song, in particular, you enjoyed either recording the most or writing the most? It’s still the same answer, they are different experiences for me. ‘Running’, ‘Beautiful People’, and ‘Roju’ were fast to make so if you were asking which one was the fastest to create, then I can name those three. Some artistes like to record on a beat while others like to write a song from the scratch. So which category do you fit in? I can do both. Can you give an example of where you’ve done in both?   ‘Running’ for example, I wrote it first before recording, and ‘Roju’ I got the beat first. When creating the music do you take a hands-on approach or you just allow the producers to do whatever they have to do like you don’t take part in the post-recording process? It’s all hands on deck at all stages. Okay. What’s your approach to making a song? First of all, it’s starts with the production and writing. When I’m making a song, I’ll think and I always try to emphasize and imagine situations that I’ve either been in, or other people have been in. this makes the writing easier. I always try to have an instrument around me most preferably the Guitar or second choice, the piano, and whatever comes out we tell the story. How would you describe RnB in Nigeria?  There are different types of music lovers and they listen to what they want to listen to because music is readily available now so as far as the music is good, whatever genre it is, people listen and they have their preferences. Are we seeing a rejuvenation of that genre in the country especially with the success of BOTB?   Honestly, I can’t say. I don’t know. All I can say is that music is readily available and there are platforms everywhere and easily assessable and what happens is that there are more types of music to choose from. I just feel like the artiste in certain genres can reach their audience better because of the availability of music platforms and that’s why it looks as if there is a surge because I think people have always listened to want they want to but making it available is hard but that’s changing now.   How would you describe the effect of your acting career on your music career?  For me, I try to do both alongside each other as much as possible and it’s not easy but it’s possible. And do you have plans to continue acting?   Of course, I do but as I said, it’s all about being able to work the schedule out to know what’s possible and what’s not possible at the time. You mentioned that you enjoyed playing video games. So which is your favorite? Soccer. FIFA or PES? FIFA. What’s your favorite team to play with? Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. Are you are a fan of either club?  No, I am actually an Arsenal. What’s your favorite movie ever? And you can’t mention the ones you starred in Fentis or Saving Private Ryan  The End SARS protests sparked something in all of us and you captured the whole movement brilliantly on “20 10 20 (Wahala Dey)” what inspired the track? For me it was to make sure the truth of what happens stays out there, so the song was pretty much like an awareness song to tell the version that the government wouldn’t want to tell. Do you think artistes have a responsibility to use their platforms for activism in the wake of everything that has happened in 2020?  I don’t think it’s a responsibility. I think people sympathize and empathize in different ways and not everybody is an activist. It’s just what it is. but for those who sympathize which most artistes are made to believe they do because everybody wants to do what’s best for Nigeria and as far as you have the energy to carry such, that’s fine, but I don’t think anyone should be put under pressure or be forced to. How would you describe this year in one word?  Long. It’s been a long year.  

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