Chuka Obi: The Music Rebel
Chuka Obi is the advertising genius behind MTN Saka Ports ad…, the MTN Blind Bride Ad, the MTN Pulse Takeover ad featuring Falz, the Pepsi Naija All The Way ad, the Keystone “Junior” ad and Burna Boy’s “Twice As Tall” comic book. But this is not all behind the creative genius. A known and appreciated music critic and artiste, Chuka, known in the music industry as DaSuKi, speaks to The Guardian Life about courage, influence and his new album “Coat of Arms.”
How did you get the name DaSuKi?
Dasuki is my moniker, and it came about when I used to draw with my friends. We loved rap so we started discovering our rap skills one by one and then we said, “let’s form a group.” And we choose the name the Kalifate. We chose the name that resonates with the public, and I chose DaSuKi because of the Sokoto Caliphate.
As a music critic, you must have felt some sort of pressure while creating your album. Did that influence the creation of the album in any way?
Not really, and I will state why. I think that if you make music for others, you are always going to be in danger of making music that doesn’t mean anything to you. I’ve made music for 20 years for the fun of it. I have had music that was on the chart, and that was nominated. I’ve done all that. So at this point in my life, I’m not doing it because I’m trying to impress anybody. I’m doing it because I feel like I have something to say that people are not really saying.
Why “Coat of Arms”?
In 2014, I dropped a project called “The Biafran Tape”. Biafran is an acronym *in my album* for Because I Advocate For Reorientation Among Nigerians. It got rave reviews. It had weird features Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ken Saro-wiwa and Abiola, IBB. When I did that album, I promised that I was going to do a follow-up because it was called “On Civil Wars 1.” The Biafran Tape was “On Civil Wars 1” and Coat of Arms is “On Civil Wars 2.”
What was the biggest challenge you had while creating the album?
I think the biggest challenge was finishing because I’ve had it for three years and I was wondering, “Is it good enough to put out anymore? Has its time passed?” Then COVID hit. And COVID actually made things a bit better, and I just had to finish it and before we knew it we were done. Every track except 1 was recorded in 2017.
On the Nigerian/African scene, there are very few politically relevant musicians. Do you think the presence of more politically relevant musicians would play a huge role in amplifying our voices in holding the government accountable?
Absolutely. EndSARS happened because people decided to hold the government accountable. We need constant reminders to keep them accountable, the same way we remember to tell yourself “chop life, make life no chop you,” it is absolutely important.
In your opinion, do you think songs from these musicians would have a long-lasting impact in the hearts of Nigerians in terms of informing and motivating us to prevail or these songs would be fleeting?
I think it depends on the quality of the song. When Wizkid was speaking about EndSARS, the response was huge because everyone knows and adores him. Now imagine if he had a song. “Monsters You Made” caught fire. We literally need artistes to speak about these things. I don’t need them to become political artistes, I need them to speak about reality. Don’t become the artiste who is afraid to speak about truth. If you can speak about it, you can sing about it.
Are there any artistes outside hip-hop that influence your sound?
In the Nigerian space, Fela, Sir Rex Lawson, Burna Boy, Tuface Idibia, Wande Coal, Tiwa Savage, Patoranking, and Timaya.
Your ability to write makes it easier to create music because you can creatively write lyrics…
I used to be a battle rapper, and it made you always think on your feet. I never lost a battle. It also made working as a creative very easy because you are always finding ways to say the message for the client. When It comes to music, some people might suffer from cognitive dissonance when all they do is the music, but when your job in the corporate world forces you to study the everyday life of the everyday Nigerian, you will find it easier to translate it more to what you are writing, which is why songwriters are important.
What project should we look forward to?
This album was released on November 11, my dad’s birthday. My next album will be released on my mum’s birthday, 10 April 2021 and it is called “Black Godzilla.”