Carterson …melodies like Diamonds in Grove
“Right from when I was a kid, I have always loved music,” Carterson tells me one Wednesday afternoon, in Lagos, his face brimming with excitement. He is planning the roll-out for his debut album dubbed, Diamonds in the Groove. Unlike most artistes, he seems unperturbed, refusing to be caught in the web of pressure that lurks around. Instead, his mien flushes with zeal, and childlike-anticipation. “On my debut album, I’m unleashing versatility on diverse sounds, from Hip Hop to Afrobeat, to Amapiano!” his voice rings with determination.
Carterson’s tale is no stranger from the regular grass-to-grace ascent. However, for the young musician it is quite interesting to see an artiste display such levels of intentionality into building their sonic signatures. For Carterson, it is neither a drive for fame or a lust for cash that gets his vocals in studio booths; it’s a relentless, sheer love for the music that drives the Afro-fusion enigma into the hallways of fame.
Born Gbubemi Ogholaja, Carterson started gaining cult popularity with the release of his single, Yur Luv, in 2020, which has its accompanying visuals directed by TG Omori. His earlier works including 2019’s Ubo Meji and Like Rihanna, respectively, have also constellated to create a striking portrait of his potential. In a chat with Guardian, the intriguing act peels back layers on his childhood and getting into music, his creative process, as well as his vision for his career.
You have been very active in the Hip-hop scene in Nigeria. What inspires you towards that direction?
Right from when I was a kid, I’ve always loved hip-hop and rap music, I remember having a phone then and all the music in it was rap music and I’ll always rap along to my favorite rap songs when they come up on the radio, TV, or anywhere. There are rap songs that are highly philosophical and contain punchlines and wordplays that are meant to make you recognize how illuminated the artist is, there are rap songs that touch on issues within your surroundings that are highly relatable and there are some with good storytelling amongst others that paint a the picture you will understand.
You have got an upcoming debut album. Can you tell us about it?
On my debut album, I’m unleashing versatility on different sounds from Afrobeats, Amapiano, Hip-hop, and Dancehall. I titled this album “DIAMONDS IN GROOVE” cause all songs on it are everlasting gems like diamonds and the groove stands for jolly and merry. I want listeners to be happy when playing this album. I’m a very versatile artist, and I don’t like being put in a box, today I make afrobeat music, tomorrow I will be making hip-hop or dancehall and I’m always open to trying out new sounds cause I’ve been making music right from when I was a child.
You also have songs in pop, like “Yur Luv”. Tell us about this versatility and the strategy behind it.
“Yur Luv” came after I released my song “Like Rihanna”, and I saw the way fans and music lovers received it, and the song talks about a girl I was admiring years ago in my teenage years and wanted her to give me her love, so I just went creative with the whole thing and made it a song for my fans and good music listeners. And like I said earlier, I’m a musician and that means I make music, I’m not in a box of a rapper or singer, I make music so that means I try different sounds.
What is your typical creative process like?
I get most of my musical ideas when I’m in the bathroom, when something happens to me, when I witness a scenario, my surroundings, and movies.
Your music also thrives with some sort of indigenous flavour. You have songs like “Ubo Meji.” Tell us how culture influences your music.
The title of the song is a punchline, firstly it means double in itsekiri which is my native language, and it’s a song I made manifesting all the blessings I want God to give me and my guys should be double. Secondly, it means a mad person so from my point of view with the song it means crazy rapper. I also have another song called “Itsekiri” that’s an ode to my native language Itsekiri too.
How did you get into music?
I started writing songs with my neighbor’s kids of my age at about 8, then I was in the children’s choir too in my church, afterward, I went to a boarding school, I had friends with who we write lyrics together and we made a band, during my SS3 I recorded my first song and I kept going till this day.
Can you tell us some of your major influences in music.
My stage name “Carterson” is not an english name, it was craved because of my love for international music star Lil Wayne, back in school i used to rap most of his songs so well that i was nicked Weezy. I also love J Cole, 21 Savage, Pusha T, The Game, Drake, Kid Cudi & Kanye West and they influence my music one way or the other.
Who are some of the current Nigerian acts you intend to collaborate with?
I don’t think I have a specific one in mind, and by the way, I just keep working and if there’s a song I have that would need me to feature another artist, I’ll reach out to him or her. I just make music and don’t put specific acts in my mind when creating them.
What is the vision for Carterson?
More music and more music and more music. Bigger and better than he is today, and to always make music that will live forever.