Adekunle Gold: The Transition
Months before “Sade”, a cover of the American boy band One Direction’s “Story of My Life”, hit the airwaves in December of 2014, Adekunle Gold was manipulating images on Photoshop.
The singer-songwriter who earned praise and virality from editing himself onto photos of celebrities such as Toolz, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Tiwa Savage became a household name for his music in less than a year.
But it wasn’t an easy transition from being a graphic artist to being a music artiste. “The hardest thing for me has always been the waiting, I am moderately impatient by nature, something I am strongly working on,” Adekunle Gold revealed to The Guardian Life in a chat.
“Sometimes, you just unshakably know who you are and you are eager to shout it from the mountain tops, shouting is one thing, being heard is another. So patience is the hardest thing.”
When faced with rejection on the way to your dreams, it takes a lot of patience and perseverance to keep on. Gold was rejected twice as a prospective participant at the MTN project fame. At his last audition in 2009, one of the judges said he liked his voice but it wasn’t what they wanted. Seven years later, with a number of awards to his name, MTN Project Fame would invite him to perform for the participants.
Adekunle Gold whose birth name is Adekunle Kosoko was born into the Kosoko royal family of Lagos State. He started his music career as a member of a boy band known as “The Bridge” before he went solo.
Gold, who won the ears of millions with his unique blend of highlife with pop infused with the right mixture of Yoruba, English and Pidgin English, is entering another phase of his transition embodied in the persona “AG Baby”.
AG Baby is “louder”.
Although he insists that AG Baby and Adekunle Gold are one and the same, he, however, says “I think I just got louder about the things I wanted to do and with that energy and confidence, a nickname was born.”
AG Baby is the energy force behind the 33-year-old singer. He revealed that his team would yell it to him after a dope live performance or after premiering a track he had been working on. “It just became a thing, energy of positivity, a reinforcement that I was doing my own thing,” he said.
AG Baby is pop-centric.
By the time you are reading this, Adekunle Gold would have released his third studio album which is titled “Afro Pop Vol. 1”.
It is nothing like his first two albums; “Gold” which he released under Olamide’s YBNL Nation and “About 30” released after his departure from the label. On his new album, AG Baby is trailblazing. “As I embarked on this journey to Afro Pop, it was trepidatious. It was challenging but I know in every fibre of my being that this is my calling, to never stay the same and to keep challenging myself,” he said in an open letter.
Afro Pop Vol. 1
With “Afro Pop Vol. 1” Adekunle Gold seeks a new form of expression, one that has vibes and fun.
“I really just wanted to have fun, I feel like even as human beings, we are multifaceted expressions of God. God is expressed in mountains, in oceans, in the sky or whatever you see God in. If I’m made in God’s image, why should I just be one thing?”
With his new album, AG Baby is challenging every notion or expectations you might have of him. “I felt I was being pigeonholed, and it was an opportunity for me to try something different, carve a new lane for myself and others behind me to fearlessly pursue their ambitions, so the real inspiration of Afro Pop is freedom.”
As Gold finds freedom in his new album, the singer puts to rest the fears of his fans who might be tempted to assume that his sound has changed.
“Sonically, there is a change in the production elements on somethings, but my sound is very much the same. I consider my voice the major instrument in my music. My voice has not changed so fundamentally, my sound shouldn’t.”
Explaining the inspiration behind naming the album after a genre, Gold says, “AfroPop is basically African and Popular music, the intention of the music is to insert my African roots into what is wordly popular.”
The album is two years in the making, at least to get people to accept the sound. “It really was fun. You can make something you love, but if no one is ready to receive it, no point. I’ve been hinting this project since the last one and now I think with the birth of ‘AG Baby’ people are ready.”
Making a shift like this, especially in music is quite risky as AG confirmed himself and said in an interview that “This is the one time I took all the risk in the world”. Thankfully, the shift was for the better as the album unlocks Adekunle Golds’ true potential through the tracks.
Although Gold can’t decide which track is favourite, “they are all my babies,” he says. However, he says that he can’t wait to perform “Sabina” live.
AG Baby’s Baby
And speaking about babies, Gold and his wife singer-songwriter and actress Simi welcomed the birth of a baby daughter Adejare on the 30th of May 2020.
The first-time dad speaks excitedly about his daughter, “My baby is chatty, and wants us to be around her all the time, so I guess it will take longer to record with her constantly interrupting with her own vocals. Honestly though, I think she has enhanced my life and I’m looking forward to all the beautiful ways she’s going to express herself.”
Gold says his home is now a full-fledged music household. He continues:
“It’s crazy, I’m obsessed with her, but the thing that gets me the most is I can feel that she knows and loves me. She has a very intense stare that pierces through your soul and then softens into a smile; and even though she’s a baby, I feel like she sees all that I am, needs me and loves me and I really want to give her the best life and make her proud of me being her dad.”
The Guardian Life noted that Gold’s transition is also evident in his fashion. “And it will change again and again and again,” he says. For his album art, the singer dons an open button red shirt with three gold necklaces and a number of rings on his fingers.
“Life is short. Why wear one thing or one style? Being creative is boundless but the core of my fashion is, ‘do I feel good in it?’ if I do, I’m wearing it. Sometimes I get the raised eyebrow from the people around me, but I’ve already hyped myself up, it’s not coming off, the same goes for the music, if I love it then that’s it.”
Gold is proud to be a Nigerian as he believes that being Nigerian naturally storifies your life and makes you interestingly multi-layered and complex. “I embrace my Nigerianness fully. It is the reason you care about me, it’s the sauce and the source of anyone’s interest truly and that’s why it’s a huge part of my creative expression. The country is hard but I have never in any day in my life wished to be anything else.”
In a country where creative works such as music are readily accessible on various music platforms and blogs and most without profit to the creators, Gold advocates that music lovers should obtain it the right way.
“Pay artists what they are worth, and that includes, listening and streaming legitimately. Making music is capital intensive, it’s valuable to you so why cheapen it?”
Adekunle Gold revealed that he is open to collaborations. “If I like it or I like you, it’s only a matter of time. I am creatively open.” His new album features Tekno, Patoranking, Nailah Blackman, and Olayinka Ehi.
When he is not busy making music, Gold says that he is “adventuring, exploring new places, and trying out new things.”
The erstwhile king of Photoshop turned king of urban high-life says that his favourite colour is Salmon Pink.
“It’s a specific shade of pink- Salmon. As a graphic artist, I see colours as emotions and I’ve always wondered if others see it the same. Salmon Pink makes me feel approachable and compassionate.”