[L]agos is the capital of pop culture right now. From afrobeats artists owning the charts, to Naomi Campbell flying in for Arise Fashion Week, the sound and style credentials of this vibrant city can no longer be ignored.
The first Nigerian artist to top the charts in 20 countries, Runtown first came to our attention via ‘Gallardo’ – his 2014 collaboration with Davido. His extraordinary drive has seen him work with the likes of DJ Khaled, Wizkid and Major Lazer over the past few years. Defying easy categorisation, the Lagos-born musician created a sound that’s truly global– blending afrobeats, soca and hip-hop influences.
Equally at home on stage at Barbados’ Cropover Festival as he is collaborating with US hip-hop artists, Runtown is part of a new generation of artists breaking down borders in music and culture. He also has one foot in the fashion world – having started his own brand and studied fashion management in NYC.
We caught up with him to talk dreaming big, living in America and the importance of remembering where you came from.
Hi Runtown, what are you working on right now?
A really dope documentary, a world tour, a few new fashion projects, launching WANA (We Are New Africa) and a bunch of epic new music for the beautiful people of the world.
You've embraced many different styles in your music since you first came out - how would you say your sound has evolved over the years?
It has definitely evolved as I continue to experience new cultures and hear new sounds. I’m always looking to test new sounds however not lose my original African vibe. The plan has always been to share our African sound/vibes with the world.
Afrobeats artists are taking over right now - do you feel like you are a part of that? Is the rest of the world waking up to what Africa has to offer musically?
Oh yes, Soundgod is definitely a part of that. The world has tasted a little bit of what we have to offer, but the full wave is coming and I’m excited.
Is there solidarity within the scene in terms of supporting each other as artists?
With the dope artists, we learn from each other when we have to, it’s always love; Especially with the current atmosphere, humans of the world need to be more unified than ever.
Who are some of the artists you listened to growing up?
Fela Kuti, Kanye, Bob Marley, WuTang.
You studied fashion management in NYC - how does fashion influence you as an artist? and who are some of your favourite designers right now?
It’s a really key element as I believe visuals are quite as important as sound. And I also just like to look fly. Favorite designers right now are Raf Simons, I.N Official, Balenciaga and Rick Owens.
How was the experience of living in the US for you? Did that shape your music in any way?
Living in US has inspired me to dream bigger, sharpen my craft, and improve my business. It has made me realize that I’m doing this for more than myself. I’m representing Africa. I’ve been musically inspired by the artists and producers I’ve collaborated with in US and love crossing my sound with other genres.
Who are some under the radar artists from Nigeria we should be listening to?
Check out Tomi Thomas, Dice Ailes and Odunsi the Engine .
You have used your platform as an artist so speak out on poverty and under privilege - how do you stay connected to your roots? How do you think music can uplift the youth?
I never forget where I came from. And I always recognize the Universe blessed me to bless the world around me. Good music is good energy and vibrations. It will inspire the youth to either stay positive or create their version of good energy.
If we have 24 hours in Lagos - where should we hang out? -Go with friends to the Ilashe beach resort and get dinner at Nok By Alara afterwards
Go with friends to the Ilashe beach resort and get dinner at Nok By Alara afterwards.
What advice do you have for other emerging artists and creatives?
Stay true to God, yourself and your craft. Nothing is impossible.
Follow Runtown on Instagram @runtown