Crayon… Colourful Sounds Of Football Enthusiast
For someone whose professional moniker is Crayon, Charles Chibuezechukwu has seen a lot of ‘colourless’ days. The Mavin Records singer has grown from a young football enthusiast to becoming one of the most vibrant Afro-pop singers in the country. For Crayon, it was a blend of rejections, frustrations and ting of opportunity, before he became the colourful prince of Afro-pop.
From the crannies of Ojo, in Lagos, Crayon fended off more than just four failed attempts at getting into the university; he also struggled with the harsh realities of surviving amid a community filled with strife and tension. Despite the disappointments, especially with another failed attempt at clinching a lucrative international football deal, Crayon’s coincidental meeting with the sound whiz, Ozedikus, in 2016, became the catalyst that changed his life.
Fast-forward to May 2019, that fateful meeting had morphed into several solos, and a life-changing mentorship, alongside a music recording contract deal with Mavin Records.
In his constant attempts to shine as a unique individual and music maverick, Crayon has constantly created a subtle strain of Afro-pop that has not just endeared a wide fanbase but has also drawn him comparisons with the Grammy-winning singer Wizkid. And now, for his latest trick, the Mavins singer has another smash hit dubbed, “Excuse Me (Rock You)” featuring popular hype man, Toby Shang. The duet is not just another colourful Crayon exploit; it is also a landmark boost for the budding hype man-and-artiste synergy in the Nigerian music scene.
Catching up with Guardian Music, the singer, as well as Toby Shang, delve into an interesting conversation on the creative process behind their significant duet, Crayon’s come-up story, the future of hype in Nigeria’s music industry, among others.
Congratulations on the success of your new single. What inspired it?
WE didn’t even plan it. We were just vibing to it and our team made the best decision with the choice of the feature. I just like to be myself when I am making music, with no holds barred. I listened to a lot of Igbo gospel music while growing up. I was exposed to a lot of sounds that’s why I feel like I can make any type of music I want to make.
That’s why my music is really rooted, you know. That’s what inspired me and my day-to-day activities and my lifestyle. As a young boy trying to make it in life. Most of my experiences, I take with me and I just go back and tap into them. And most times, I’m in the moment.
How has Mavin Records influenced your personality?
Like any of the artistes, like myself- they’ll let you be yourself. Let everybody be themselves. But then, they help you refine what you already have to become something huge. Like when my first song was recorded, they played it on the radio even without me being there you know. So, I was like the first artiste to have my song played on the radio.
Me and Ozedikus, we’ve come a long way back. Like the first time I walked into the studio to record a song, it was Ozedikus that was there and pressed the record button. I recently posted a throwback picture of us together; we’ve known each other from way back at CMS, 2017- that was my first time. So, seeing me grow from that is amazing and a blessing to me and I’m really proud of that. I just want to keep moving, you know. Like, keep it going.
How did you meet Mavins?
I don’t know. I’m a Christian yeah, and I believe in God. I just believe mine was just extraordinary, because like I wasn’t on Instagram. Like I didn’t post any freestyle on Instagram or any video on Instagram. I was just literally dropping songs. I dropped like seven songs in the whole of 2016-2017. It was just me and Ozedikus and one of my friends dropping songs. I’ll go back and drop, I’ll record. He used to charge me like five thousand Naira. He was always like ‘bro, I believe in you, I believe in your dream.’
There’s one of my friends called KOB, he is one friend that reached out to me, though he’s dead now- RIP to him. He knew someone that knew someone that was working at Mavin. So, I don’t know how my song got there and my friends (Seun and Ebuka) were playing it at Mavin headquarters like normal Bluetooth to the speaker connection and just playing music. They just played the music so Baby Fresh heard it and was like who’s this guy? They were like it is Crayon and he DM me immediately, telling me to come with my producer and material the next day let’s see what we could do. So, that was when I called up Ozedikus.
I didn’t even believe it was Baby Fresh at that time, cos it was crazy. I had to see the verification tick before I believed and I was like this is the real Baby Fresh. The next day, we met Don Jazzy, we met everybody. So, the rest is history. I think they liked me enough to want to invest in my career. A big shout out to Don Jazzy for giving me a shot. A big shoutout to Baby Fresh for discovering my talent and helping me redefine myself.
You mentioned a hood. What neighbourhood was that?
Ojo. That’s why I had that in my verse “Ojo to the world.” That’s where I’m from, that’s where 2Face is from, that’s where Pocolee is from, that’s where Bella Shmurda is from, that’s where Ycee is from. The whole of Festac, Ojo barracks, Iyanoba, LASU – they are all Ojo. It’s crazy to make it out of there, so anybody that is coming out of that side, and is doing it and is winning, kudos to them, cos it’s not easy.
Why in the first place did you choose music?
To be honest, I’ve always had a talent for making music. Not going to lie, my first love was football. I remembered telling my dad that once I’m done with my primary school, he should take me to an academy. I was born in Orile and I used to train in a field with the kids. Then, the ball used to be bigger than my legs. I was so small and I used to follow them and I got really good at football. If at all, I wasn’t going to be a superstar in music, I was going to be a superstar in football. I knew I was going to be a superstar.
Now that you have come into the music scene, where are you projecting yourself at?
Before I answer that question, I didn’t even tell you how I switched from football to music. Like the moment I switched from football to music; it was a moment actually. So, I went for a screening in Surulere. I pulled up there, but I didn’t get to play the first day. The second day, I got to the field and was playing, because my dad got me the booths I used to play. Like my family members have always supported me from day1, whether it’s music or ball. Everything I’m doing, they are always in support of it. .
You know, my dad got me booths, my mum gave me transport fare, and my sister followed me there. So, I was just playing and someone was like ‘hey! you come.’ As I was walking close to him, he wanted to pick me and then someone else- like one of the coaches was like no, don’t pick this person. So, that was how I didn’t get to go to Manchester United at that time when I was really young. That was how I switched to music. I felt so down that day. You know how these things work- connections.
I came back home feeling depressed, feeling down and I just felt like maybe with football, it’s going to take a little bit longer, but with music, it’s gonna be faster. So, I just made a life decision.
How did your parents take it when you told them?
My parents were obviously tired. Even when I came back that day, my friend was like, ‘I thought it was you that won. Like it was just too obvious, but then, they felt bad. I felt bad too, but I just had to move on. No regrets at all, because I’m having fun making music. I don’t have to go for practice everyday. I can make music anywhere; in my studio, in my home, anywhere.
What are your top five songs for 2021?
Soundgasm by Rema; Bloody Samaritan by Ayra Starr; Essence by Wizkid and Tems; Stay by Justin Bieber and Kid Laroi.
What are your top hobbies?
I like to play video games; I only FIFA a lot. I love to party. I love to be around my friends.
Do you have any phobia?
Yeah. I have a phobia for driving, but I also conquered that. I also remembered having a phobia for swimming and I had to learn that. So, I believe that when I put my mind to it, I will conquer it.
What’s your memorable moment or experience so far?
It’s a lot actually; a lot of things have happened. The day I called my mum to quit her work at Ojo, Iyanoba and I sent her money to start a new business. That was like a memorable day for me. So, like I am the first star in my family, in my entire generation, both from my mom and dad’s sides. And I’m also the first child.
Summarise yourself in a phrase or sentence?
I will just say Crayon is Crayon. Even Crayon does not know what to expect from Crayon sometimes. Sometimes I do some things and I’m like, ‘oh, did I do that? Even broken Crayons still colour. So, that’s why I said Crayon is just Crayon.