Maleek Berry: From production to performance
From his break into the Nigerian spotlight in 2012 with Wizkid on the track The Matter, music producer turned performing artiste, Maleek Soyebi, popularly known as Maleek Berry has continued to warm his way into the hearts of music lovers in Nigeria, particularly with the beats he creates in music production.
Born on August 11 in the heart of South London, the beat maker grew up listening to classics from some of the biggest names in the music world such as the king of pop, Michael Jackson to Tevin Campell, Boyz II Men, and Jodeci among others.
Although he had always loved and practiced music, he took it a notch higher by creating a rap group in his local church with two close friends. With his hand on a little pre-production setup, Fruity Loops, the group began writing, producing and performing their own songs at the ages of 14 and 15, only to be disbanded at 16.
Rather than being disillusioned and deterred by the disbandment, his experience sparked his ever-growing love of the music industry, hence his introduction into music production, as he was the brain behind the group’s many records.
“I started teaching myself how to produce and I was the one producing the music for the group, writing the hooks and that’s how I just fell in love with production,” he said.
According to him, everyone in his family always knew he would go into music one day, although they insisted he must conclude his university education, before going ahead to pursue a music career.
Asked some artistes he has worked with, the Computer Science graduate said he spent years working on his craft in between formal education and earning to play the piano by ear, which has played a major part in the maturity of his sound.
Upon meeting IKES, a rapper from North London, their chemistry worked and they began to work on records together. IKES later became Berry’s long-term partner. From that time till now, Berry has produced records for some of UK hottest acts including S.A.S, Bigz, Scocher, and Jermaine Riley (formerly FDM), among others.
As a creative soul, Berry was not satisfied with only working on his home turf, but wanted to spread his wings to the motherland. Hence, in the summer of 2011, he flew in from London to Nigeria for a family holiday.
Whilst on the holiday, he took advantage of the trip and make great connections that would later change his status to an international producer. As a good friend to the ‘30 Billion’ artiste, Davido, Berry also spark a relationship with MOBO 2017 Best International Act, Wizkid, Sauce Kid, Naeto C, Wande Coal and there were records to show for the relationship.
His imprint was felt on Sauce Kid’s Carolina featuring Davido, and this help ushered back Yebariba master back into the Nigerian music scene after a brief hiatus. With his 2013 hit single, The Matter featuring Akerele-Shitta, Surulere bread act, Wizkid, Maleek Berry has gone on to produce other critically acclaimed hits such as Baby Hello by Wande Coal, Lagos To Kampala by Runtown and Wizkid.
The last quarter of 2015 was another big one for Maleek Berry as he went on to executive produced Nigerian star Wande Coal’s highly anticipated sophomore album Wanted, which earned him respect in the music industry across the Africa continent. Not only did he produce nine songs on the album but also managed to nab a feature on track 11 Weekend, which became a favourite with the ladies.
After building a solid production catalog and name for himself in the industry, October 2015 marked a major shift in Berry’s career as he took center stage with his first official solo release as an artiste entitled For My People featuring UK rapper Sneakbo.
With positive reviews, an official video was released in January 2016 and play-listed on MTV Base UK, MTV Base Africa, and among stations in Nigeria. The video of the song reached a hundred thousand views online within four weeks of its release, giving him a massive introduction.
In April same year, he released the self-produced smash hit Control, which was not only widely accepted but became viral on the internet, gathering millions of streams online across different platforms. The official video was released on his birthday in August and managed get over hundred thousand views in less than a week.
Later on in the year, he released an extended play (EP) titled The Last Days of Summer, clearly introducing himself as a performing artiste. The EP puts together some of his impressive singles including Control and Eko Maima.
Speaking on his relationship with Davido, he said they met in 2010 when the pop singer was still up and coming. “That was the early stage of me attempting to make afrobeats.”
On his art in music production, the 29 year old explained that he knows how to take off his artiste hat. “When I’m producing a song, I like to see myself as a servant. I take away the pride because it’s all about the artiste and it’s all about helping the artiste become a bigger star than they already are,” he stated
For his tenacity, he was nominated in the ‘Music Producer of the Year’ category at the 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. In 2017 he was nominated in the Best Male and Best Africa Act categories at the annual MOBO Awards.
With a name that is now a household, the Star Boy Entertainment recording act plans to create timeless music that will hopefully last longer than his generation.
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