An Interview with Malobi: Afrobeats’ Next Big Thing
Interviewed & transcribed by Jessica Sakyi
Malobi was born and raised in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Growing up in Abuja was an amazing and fun experience for him because of the people and culture. He says the city on the other hand is incredibly pleasant and tranquil, and the vibe there is top-notch.
If you are on the hunt for new kids on the block trying to make waves musically in the press and on social media, look no further than Malobi, a rising Afrobeats star. Afrobeats has expanded globally into the Western mainstream, and Malobi aspires to be at the vanguard of Nigeria’s youth music revolution. Malobi has the potential to become the next big thing among Gen Z listeners. His voice is melodious, and his singing is easy on the ear. He can firmly express his vocals and deliver equally impressive performances.
When asked about the languages in which he is fluent and whether he expresses himself musically in these languages, Malobi says that he is only fluent in English and expresses himself musically in English but barely in Igbo. He deeply appreciates the Igbo language and believes it is important to know his culture. “I add Igbo words to my music occasionally, but not frequently”, he revealed. When asked what inspires him to mingle these languages into his music, he says he believes it is refreshing to incorporate Igbo into his music to express his culture. He asserts that he is trying to meld more Igbo language into his songs, but he hopes to perfect it over time.
I chatted more with Malobi, a promising Nigerian singer/songwriter and final-year student at Lancaster University Ghana on WhatsApp about the inception of his music career, his musical style, and his future aspirations.
Jessica: When did you start making music?
Malobi: I began composing music in 2019, so it has been a while. That was the year I released my debut single, “Link Up,” but I was previously featured on my first publicized song, which I recorded with a friend.
Jessica: What is the name of your debut EP? And could you tell us a little bit about it?
Malobi: My debut EP was titled “GANGSTA LUV.” I valued that EP because it felt like a combination of a lot of sounds that were put together from when I was discovering my sound and trying to develop my sound, so that EP was somewhat of a beginning to the rest of the musical work that I am doing right now, hence why I respect it greatly.
Jessica: No pressure, but when do you intend to release your debut album?
Malobi: My thoughts are not currently focused on releasing my debut album because I feel like I still have a lot of work to do and that releasing an album takes time. I am more concerned about developing myself musically first. I believe that creating an out-of-this-world album demands a lot of effort and should not be rushed, so I have to take my time.
Jessica: You released a snippet of your debut track “TOO COLD” on Instagram on July 30th, 2020, could tell us a bit more about how the lyrics sprang into your mind and how you were able to connect words to create something meaningful? Also, what drew you to this musical genre?
Malobi: My song “TOO COLD” is about a cold-hearted girl and was inspired by alté music. The title, “Too Cold,” reflects her heartless attitude. The cover artwork depicts a girl holding a frozen heart, emphasizing the importance of caution in love. The genre is similar to alternative music, and the production of the song was influenced by my love for alternative and Afrobeats music.
Jessica: How often do you integrate new African sounds into your music alongside Afrobeats?
Malobi: I blend new African sounds into my music as often as possible; the entire African sound and culture are evolving and improving. I incorporate various African sounds into my music, such as Amapiano, because I see the recognition it is receiving in the world of music; it is gaining a lot of fame, and I have been working on Amapiano songs, but they have not yet been released.
Jessica: Which culture most accurately represents your musical style as a member of this new generation of young people? Which genres influence you and your work?
Malobi: West African culture mostly represents my musical style because things have changed over time, culture has developed, and the entire Afrobeats sound is becoming more global and recognized. The sound is changing and developing. The genres that influence me and my work are Afrobeats as well as R’n’B; I enjoy R’n’B and listen to it frequently, and I
even include it in my music. Hip-hop and dancehall are two other genres that have influenced my work, but that is about it for now.
Jessica: Which Afrobeats subgenres are you considering integrating into your future music projects?
Malobi: Most of the time, when I’m making music, I don’t even think about genres; I just go with whatever strikes me, but I can say that I blend afro trap and afro R’n’B into my music. I am particular about Afro-R’n’B, so I usually incorporate it into my music. Other ones will emerge in the future, but for the time being, I am not someone who pays much attention to genre when composing music. I just like to develop my musical style and do things my way.
I inquired with Malobi about whether he has a strong support system that motivates him to keep making music even when he is feeling discouraged in his quest for stardom. Do your parents understand your desire to pursue an unconventional career? or do you intend to pursue a traditional profession as well? I included.
“I do not have a large support system, but I do have friends who encourage and support me by telling me to keep going when I am feeling down. They express words like “You know you are good; you are talented; just keep going
he clarified. He emphasized that he has people who at least share such positive words with him, and it is wonderful to have such people around because they remind him that he is not alone, he appreciates having people who motivate him because it helps him build confidence in his work.
“My parents are aware that I am interested in music, and they encourage me and tell me that it is a wonderful thing that I am pursuing music. It is not something I take for granted because not every parent will encourage their child to pursue a music career; some parents would not even want to hear that their son is interested in music, so I am thankful for the kind of parents I have”, he added. He declared that music is his passion, and he envisions himself pursuing it professionally, but if that does not work out, he has something to fall back on, which is why he is actively trying to finish school and get a job at the same time. He does not want to rely on just one thing in case his music career does not thrive.
Jessica: How often do you portray the Afrobeats sound in your songs to contribute to its evolution? Do you believe the popularity of the Afrobeats genre and culture will persist for decades? This new epoch appears to be promising.
Malobi: As an Afrobeats artiste, Nigerian and African, I feel a strong connection to the African sound and culture. I specialize in infusing the Afrobeat sound into my songs, showcasing the genre’s uniqueness. I believe Afrobeats will reign for a long time, as it took time for the sound to gain renown, showing its continued presence in the music industry.
Jessica: Which globally renowned and recognized Afrobeats artistes do you idolize and would like to collaborate with or feature on their music?
Malobi: This is a great question. One of my favorite Afrobeats artists is Burna Boy. I would say Burna in particular because he inspires me so much; even if you listen to my music, you can certainly tell I am influenced by Burna. I would like to collaborate with him in the future. There are not many people I idolize, but for the time being, I will say Burna; however, there are others I admire, most notably Davido.
Jessica: Have you attained any significant milestones that you would like to share with us?
Malobi: I have been making music over the years, and I have noticed significant improvements in my sound, which may not be immediately noticeable to certain people, but other people have started noticing it. Although not everyone will notice these changes, I consider them personal milestones.
Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for his upcoming releases and follow him on Instagram
About the Writer
Jessica Sakyi is a creative and culture writer, sustainable fashion stylist, and budding lawyer. She is a versatile individual who wears many hats. She gets the buzz from entertainment such as movies and TV series, music, and fashion, and she intends to chronicle these as well as events that promote tourism such as music & arts festivals, concerts, and food festivals that take place in Ghana and beyond. Follow her on social media