In 2018, Oluwatosin Ajibade, better known as Mr Eazi, made the FORBES AFRICA 30 Under 30 list. The journey to that began in 2016, when Ajibade took the world by storm with his Afrobeats hit single Leg Over.
Following his success as an artist, as a serial entrepreneur and founder of emPawa Africa (a talent incubator program that funds and mentors emerging African artists), Ajibade is back in South Africa. For this interview from his sun-sea-sand base in Cape Town, he talks about his business ventures and upcoming albums.
Q. What can fans expect from your forthcoming albums?
A. A lot of things changed since the last time [FORBES AFRICA] spoke to me [which was when I had just made the 30 Under 30 list]; things even changed for me musically. Part of it has been that I founded something known as Chop Life Ministries. I was tired of doing the same thing; I was bored of the routine, and needed a new challenge. So I went to spend more time working on my entrepreneurial activities… It was like Chop Life (which had a massive turnout in Rwanda and Sweden) is an African Tomorrowland (electronic dance music festival), you know, with me as host and MC. So this album, Chop Life Volume
One, which for the first time is dropping on March 31, is like that whole spirit [of Tomorrowland]…
Q. A lot of young people who enter the music industry do not realize they need to understand the business side of things. How important is it to be business-savvy in the entertainment industry?
A. I think in fairness to most artists, they know they need to be savvy, or they want to be savvy, but it’s not an easy job mixing, you know, the creativity and the business because both are actually creative endeavors. And both take a toll on the mind. You must write this record and you must focus on writing these beautiful melodies and focus on representing yourself as a creative, as an artist, and as a superstar. But at the same time, you still have to be thinking about some emails, being on some Zoom calls and all of those things. But I feel my talent really is creating stuff. Whether it’s in the boardroom, or on the Zoom call, it’s business, it’s music. I was just born to create.
Q. What does the future of music in Africa look like?
A. I think the future for African music is very great. It continues to be a growing market. We see more artists breaking globally, undiluted, which gives more power to the creatives. By power I mean for them to have more freedom to create what they want to create, and then be in a better position to not just take any deal. Because I think it’s just amazing how 90% of African artists are still independent in some form
or the other. So, I think it’s positive.