Dboi is crafting afropop bliss with a winning combo of tradition and modernity
The singer-songwriter catches up with HUNGER following the release of his latest single, ‘Bezos.’
Dboi, a Nigerian vocalist and lyricist, is yet another talented, rising name in the world of afropop and is quickly garnering notoriety for his unique stylistic blends. The artist experienced his childhood in Benin City, Nigeria, where African music was omnipresent. Ever since he was a child, the vibrant rhythms of afrobeat, highlife, and other African musical styles struck a chord with him. As he grew older, he began to experiment with his own music, incorporating the traditional sonics he was familiar with, and combining them with modern pop and R&B elements to create a sound that was completely his own.
Dboi’s singing and songwriting prowess was noticed early on after he began to draw the curiosity of nearby music producers. And In 2018, he released his first single, ‘Mula’ under the moniker NOME. Following that release, he got to work on his introductory project Genesis, offering up vitality and enthusiasm throughout the tracklist. Since then, he has evolved as a musician and gained a devoted following in Nigeria and South Africa (currently his home) and the rest of the globe.
As a fast-rising artist in the competitive world of music, Dboi is no stranger to hard work and perseverance, which is most apparent on his latest single ‘Bezos.’ The track holds all the hallmarks of his sound: vivacious rhythm, catchy choruses and inspiring outlook. HUNGER had the chance to sit down with Dboi and uncover his musical journey, highs and lows and time in Benin City.
Can you tell me when you first discovered your talent for songwriting and singing?
It’s been a while back. I’d say like 2008 because I was part of the youth team in my stepmother’s church. We handled the creative aspect when it came to drama, choreography and all sorts of things like that. Then I got a chance to be in the choir, which was cool. I didn’t take it seriously then; it was just something I enjoyed doing. Then along the line, I realised that music was something I wanted to do.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Benin City. At the time, I lived in my mother’s hometown of Igarra, somewhere in Edo State, too and then in Ekpoma, Ambrose Alli University, where I had my university education. I was often in Lagos State because we used to live in Ajah too. I didn’t want to spend that much time in school, to be honest, so I just left.
How did growing up in Benin City inspire you?
It did a lot because Benin City is a very cultural place. I feel like a lot of people there are creative, even if they don’t realise it. But musically, it did help a lot because there’s barely anything you can do in Benin without music. I am not talking about music where you have DJs coming to play but people actually performing with cultural instruments like the Conga drums, the tambourine, etc., so growing up amidst all that inspired me.
How would you describe your music to someone just hearing it for the first time?
I’d say, “love.” When I make music, I want people to be able to relate to it with a soft heart. Even when studying at uni, I was always asked what I thought my brand would be about, and I’d always say love because that’s what I want to spread and share. I try to incorporate that into my music. For someone listening to my tune for the first time, I want them to feel like the music can calm them down while being groovy at the same time. It’s a song that actually comforts, makes you feel better and puts you in a better state of mind.
What artists were instrumental in developing your sound?
There’s this guy called Osadebe. I used to listen to him a lot. But then again, I’d mention Wizkid because when I heard his Superstar album, I became extra motivated and inspired to want to make music. If Wizkid could, then I knew I could too. I kept looking up to him; he was influential in shaping me and my music. I take a lot of lessons from the way he moves, the kind of music he wants to make and the kind of people he works with. He’s very lyrical, and that’s why he’s loved internationally. I admire that, and I try to incorporate that with my Afro sounds. So it is not just going to be deep African lyrics; I try to mix things up.
Tell me the story behind your latest single, ‘Bezos.’
Well, it is straight from a story. It was inspired by a crush.
Take me through the creative process of this song.
So KDDO had a beat, and I loved it. He sent it to me, and I had it for like two weeks. I didn’t want to mess it up, so I just kept on playing it. So this fateful day, I was going through my phone and saw a picture of my crush. That’s where the first line of the wordings came from (chuckles), and that’s where the whole inspiration of the song came from, and I just kept building on that. That’s basically the whole idea of the song. Just like a young rich nigga trying to get the attention of a beautiful lady, and that’s even where the idea to title the song came from.
You’ve been in South Africa for some time now. What influenced your move from Nigeria to South Africa?
I love Nigeria a lot, but sometimes it feels like the country slows down one’s dreams. So the first reason for me was to find convenience, and I also wanted to study music. I intentionally came from Nigeria to South Africa to study, and on getting here, I realised there could be life there. When I was studying, I also dropped a few singles and thought of starting over again instead of returning to Nigeria, and it’s been greener pastures for me. Nigeria is a beautiful country, no doubt, but like they say, sometimes you need to go out of your comfort zone to make things happen. That’s basically how I would describe my coming here.
How would you describe the South African music scene in comparison to the Nigerian music scene?
That’s a tricky one, but I’m just going, to be honest. When it comes to creativity and how people are dedicated to their craft, Nigerians would always have it. When Nigerians do this music thing, they do it with everything they have. For South Africans, it’s very different because the system is already arranged, so you can easily take off. South African artists do make really good music, though. As a South African artist, you can easily top your chart compared to being in Nigeria, where you’d have to hustle your way through. That’s a major difference, but generally, everything is the same. They make really good music, especially now that their sound, Amapiano, has gone global. They have other sounds, like their signature house beats and all of that.
What have been those highs and lows that have shaped you today as a person and an artist?
Most of the time, I avoid that emotional angle because I’m an emotional person (chuckles). The highs and lows are always going to be there. In 2018 which was when I started, it was on a very high note. As a human, you sway off and get distracted, probably not focusing on the right things. For me, that was the only bad part where I lost concentration, and then I had to rebuild. Right now I am still in the rebuilding phase and trying to keep it extra consistent this time. I am trying to achieve certain things this time, and it’s cool that I can take it a bit further. I was actually self-criticising myself when I said that I swayed off a little bit, but I have had very supportive friends throughout it. For me, it’s very important to have that because these are the only people that can keep you in check.
How much has your life changed since your emergence into the scene, and how does it feel to be looking back from where you are now?
A lot has changed in a positive way. Just like the previous question, there have been ups and downs but comparing myself to where I was two years ago, a lot has changed. I am really happy at this very moment because I’m releasing music again and I’m in my most joyful state of mind. It is one thing that I’m really grateful for, and I’m just going to use that momentum to build up from here. All thanks to God
What is next for Dboi? Any projects on the way or music videos?
As we speak now, there are already plans ongoing for the music video. So yes, there’s a music video coming out for this particular song. There’s also a single and other projects in line already. So, definitely more to come; watch out.