Emerging from Nigeria’s ever-growing music scene; meet the new kids on the block, PsychoYP and Azanti. Their latest joint project YP & Azanti, Vol 1, has already surpassed one million streams on Spotify in just three weeks and is set to be a favourable album for the pair.
At 22 and 17 years old respectively, this project is Psycho YP’s seventh body of work and Azanti’s first project. The pair are insanely cool, composed, and infectiously determined, speaking to both of them separately via Zoom; PyschoYP (YP) in Nigeria, Azanti in Canada, it is clear to see why their music gels so well.
Asked to describe their new album, Azanti asserts that “I think, any type of music you are into, you will like the album. You will like at least one song. Everyone says this is an R&B album but it’s not. You can’t really say what it is because there are different things – afrofusion, R&B, rap, bashment…”
Since, the pair are yet to fix the album to a particular genre, their sound is even more singular in its own right, which makes it interesting to see where they draw inspiration from.
Speaking to Azanti, it is clear to see that he is an old soul, as shown in his taste of music, drawing inspiration from the likes of Bill Withers to Kurt Cobain to Gospel singer, Tope Alabi.
He is a “breath of fresh air”, as described by his collaborator YP. “I am more of a hip-hop head, but Azanti – it is kind of fascinating because he is so young and for him to listen to that type of music is crazy. He is taking inspiration from music that was made way before he was born”.
Even though he is only 22, PsychoYP has already established his sound with six other projects, and a numerous amount of collaborations and singles displaying his extensive and impressive portfolio, and it is clear why Azanti (at only 15 at the time) took it upon himself to email YP with his work.
“I was doing my GCSE’s and I sent him a few songs by email – back then, I used to record on my earphone mic, it was nonsense. I sent it to him not to get a feature, but to get feedback. He didn’t respond for like three months, then at the end of last year, he messaged me on Instagram, and we started working”, says Azanti.
YP explains that his reasoning for wanting to work with Azanti was completely selfless, “the project is introducing Azanti and his sound. I’m just there to give him the platform that he needs. It is just amazing music that we have been working on together, out of the hundreds of songs we made, this is just a little taster”.
It is uplifting to know that the duo, are not only on the same wavelength musically, but they are also good friends, “When we’re together we just laugh. At random things, anything… it is really fun” Azanti admits.
Amazingly, the album was not created while they were together, but via email during the start of the pandemic. For Azanti, this was something in-the-ordinary, as “that is how I usually work to be fair. I like being on my own, I don’t think I can work with people in the room. I write my music, but I can’t sit down and write”, he reveals.
He astonishingly started producing music at the mere age of nine, after downloading software and playing around with it, and then began singing at 14, “Everything I do is self-taught. I play the keyboard, guitar, drum, and bass guitar”. His signing to Apex Village, Abuja’s renowned hip-hop music label, was all thanks to YP, who he calls a “catalyst” to his career.
YP also has a few surprises that display the pair’s intellect and creativity. All while releasing multiple projects, YP has recently completed a master’s degree in Planning and Real Estate, “I’ve always wanted to do music; the planning and real estate was just a back-up plan. I’ve grown up around music, I just wanted to finish my studies before I was 100% committed to it, and now I am”.
This was also thanks to their label, as he describes the company to “always have your best interest at heart and try and achieve the goal you want to get to”.
Despite being signed to a hip-hop label and an artist of that genre, YP still experiments in a variety of categories, “I am dropping a few things at the end of this year/beginning of next, which are all different genres, so yeah stay tuned for that”.
Being a part of the young creatives emerging from Nigeria in the midst of the #EndSARS movement this year, we briefly spoke on which way he wanted his music to reflect the current situation in Nigeria, and speak against the police brutality its residents confront daily.
“Now is the time to speak about these issues but at the same time, you don’t want everyone to talk about it just because it is the topic of conversation now, or the videos you saw a few days ago, this has been going on for a long time so it can’t be cliché, and just like, doing it for the trend. It should be important all the time”, YP adds.
To witness Nigerian artists create music in all its glory is remarkable. From Wizkid to Burna Boy and Davido, it is exciting to see where YP and Azanti could progress to, and speaking on where they hope the music scene in Nigeria elevates to, it is clear that they want bigger and better things.
“I think because it’s still fresh, there aren’t really any boundaries to what we are doing, so it is always the aim to be international artists”, says YP.
Azanti builds on this by adding that “we need to get bigger. With all of us, we are very versatile, we do very different things. The other day I was making something with Zilla Oaks (fellow rapper signed to Apex Village), he was singing on the record and he’s a rapper”.
“We all do this thing where we divide, then we come back and conquer. So, we make our individual stuff then always come back to do our collabs”, he concludes.
With that being said, the pair are gearing up to release some more new music, with Azanti confirming that YP & Azanti, Vol. 2 is “already ready”, flaunting their passion for their craft. Not only are they celebrated together, but they are also just as prevailing separately.
YP has incredibly released an album every year over the past three years and about whether he can keep this kind of run going, he says, “I have projects ready with like, three different producers, and they all sound sick”.
On the other hand, while he is still only 17-years old, Azanti is not resting on his laurels, and will be rocketing into the new year, the emerging artist says we can expect, “Fire. More diverse things, like you’ll hear me on records and be like I didn’t expect that. They’ll be more album releases”.
Words by Hiba Hassan