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Reekado Banks… Heartfelt Melodies Off The Record

By Chinonso Ihekire    
11 December 2021   |   3:14 am
Just behind where he sat, a huge Michelangelo-esque painting rested on the wall. It was one of those ‘Last Supper’ type of paintings that lit up the room with a vintage artsy feel.

Reekado Banks

Just behind where he sat, a huge Michelangelo-esque painting rested on the wall. It was one of those ‘Last Supper’ type of paintings that lit up the room with a vintage artsy feel.

His sleeveless lumber jacket displayed his tattoos radiantly. His name, his mother’s, as well as some music symbols, stretched across his arm in black ink.

“Some random excuse to get a tattoo,” he laughs.

For the past seven years, Samuel Ayoleyi, professionally known as Reekado Banks, has always shone as a maverick in the Nigerian music space. Since his five-year stint at the Mavins Record where he made his breakout, to his just-released soundpiece – the second offering from his Off The Record extended playlist (EP) series, Reeky Baby, as he is fondly called, has flaunted his internationalist and passion within his craft.

Staring away from the PlayStation console controller laying on his TV shelf, one begins to imagine just how deliberate a person must be to remain relevant in the Afro music scene, otherwise called ‘the game.’ For Reekado, it is a blueprint of consistent honesty, first to self and then to his art. And these have become solid bedrock for his musical evolution, as seen in his on-going Off The Record series.

From Mavin Records to his self-owned Banks Music, Reeky has somehow found a way to remain on the frontlines of versatile artistes who control the dance floor with bangers, and still find a way to make music that’s emotive, introspective and, until recently, political.

Chatting with Guardian Music, the 28-year-old singer turned Music Executive, talks about his inspirations and journey behind the OTR series, his hiatus from the music scene, his creative process, as well as plans for a new album.

Coming out with Off The Record 2, how does it feel for you?
IT feels really fulfilling that everything is coming full circle. With the quick success, I feel like it’s magical.

You came off very emotive in this EP. Was that deliberate?
Very deliberate; it stems from the realisation of the weapon that I carry that is music. It is my ability to make music and my platform as Reekado Banks. Our music informs society; I just wanted to play my part.
When did you write the lead single, Ozumba Mbadiwe?

It wasn’t a particular day; it was over a period of time. I feel like being a part of the protest inspired the song.

On this project, you went solo. What made you decide to not feature anyone?
There was going to be collaboration with Zlatan; we had to take it out last minute and replace it with another song called Lupita Nyong’o. I am all for collaboration; I feel they are the way to go.

On the song Self Esteem, you poured out a lot of emotion. How did you make that song?
Shout out to Parker Ighile; we wrote that one together. We were talking about self-confidence, self-esteem. The bare minimum is not so much to ask for. Get people around you that respect you and care about how you feel. These are the things I said generally on the album.

From OTR 1 to this project, you have been more introspective. When did this shift start?
It just started and that was definitely informed by my new management. I started to see things a bit differently; I became more enlightened.

What’s your creative process typically as Reekado?
I just get to work. Anything comes on and I like it. With the music, I like to like what I am listening to. I like to enjoy it. So, that’s why I already listen to a lot of genres; I broaden my horizon.

When a producer comes around and plays a beat, it just strikes me. I listen to everything and anything that feels like music and has something of substance. I like Jazz music a lot too.

What is your favourite song from OTR 2?
Right now, I am feeling Lupita Nyong’o.

She is already becoming a billboard for black femininity. Everyone is singing about her now…

And that is beautiful. I feel blessed to be able to represent her in such light in our music, and generally promote black culture.

So, it has been seven years in the industry. Most people feel they don’t hear from you often?
I wasn’t around for a while. Even when I dropped OTR 1, it still felt like they hadn’t heard from me for a long time.

What was going through your life at that point?
I was working and improving myself. I was trying to improve the structure of my label. I felt the pressure sometimes; people got aggressive too, with the way they requested for the music. But I decided to keep going, because that is what would make everybody happy.

Are you working on anything new?
There is OTR 3, there is Daddy To Many the album… those would be out by 2022.

Speaking of OTR, why did you give it that title?
We started it as just compiling songs, little projects for the fans. So, that was the idea. The idea was to make everyone know that it is a thing. There is probably going to be a fourth one.

What’s your secret to longevity?
I’d say honesty. I know that beneath all of everything we are supposed to be, we are human beings and we have the same issues. I am trying to talk about those same issues.

Is there any specific ritual you have when you make music?
When I am in the studio, I like to be comfortable enough and surrounded with familiar faces. Not just familiar faces, but people who have something to contribute to the music. I think with that, I am fine.

Going back to the start, how was the vibe like with your parents when you decided to do music fully?
My dad built me my first studio; they have been supporting me from the start. So, my dad is a pastor. There was a man that had a studio and was moving out of our area. He had to dispose of the studio. I had previously told my parents that I wanted to do music and they didn’t have a problem with it. When the opportunity came to do music, he didn’t mind to get it for my brother and me; my brother used to produce music too.

Did you see yourself going into the corporate world?
Yeah, I did. I still feel like I am going to venture into many other things that involve the corporate world. That is the way to go.

How would you describe your fashion style?
Comfortable. Nice. Superstar.

Any funny stories with fame?
The craziest things happen on the internet. In real life, it is calmer.

Looking into the future, what is the vision for Reekado?
I would like to keep it between me and God, so they can come to pass. But as we go, you would see them happen. However, like I said, the new album is coming. There are tours coming.

This one you are having a daddy to many album. What’s your take on raising kids now?
I don’t think having kids out of wedlock is a good idea. I would like to be married; I would like to take my time with it.

Finally, tell us three things most people don’t know about you.

I don’t like to feel like I have any fear. I could be scared of heights, but I am always doing a lot of things that involve heights. However, there are things I like. I like to read; I like to read stuff that has to do with health, self-improvement and money. I like to exercise and play a lot of FIFA.