With «Love Nwantiti», CKay had a world hit in 2021. How the new single sounds and why the Nigerian newcomer is being treated as a pop star.
Chukwuka Ekweani (26) is currently making international headlines as CKay. However, not with classic pop or chart-ready EDM, but with Emo-Afrobeat, as the musician describes his sound.
CKay's song “Love Nwantiti” has had an unexpected career: since it was first released in 2019, several remixes have appeared, including a version by the Ghanaian-Swiss rapper Pronto and the Hamburg rapper Eunique, who also has roots in Ghana, the USA and Trinidad.
The newcomer has been doing well since the first global hit: The new single “Emiliana” also entered the charts internationally, with placements “in 56 countries on five continents”, as CKay shared in a screenshot on Instagram.
«Brand New» is the 20-minute radio section for new music.
Recently «Supreme Show» host Moe presented the song «Emiliana» des Nigerian high-flyer CKay (26).
Here we explain why the newcomer has star potential.
You can listen to 20 minutes of radio here.
The beginnings: From Fruity Loops to Warner Music
Chukwuka Ekweani, he's like that real name CKays, was born in the Nigerian city of Kaduna. He learned to play the piano from his father, who worked as a choir director in the local parish, and taught himself how to produce using the music software FL Studio (formerly Fruity Loops).
CKay landed his first local hit in 2018 with the song «Container», which now has over 400,000 streams on Spotify. The newcomer has been under contract with Warner Music since 2021.
The first world hit: Tiktok helped
When a remix of “Love Nwantiti” became the soundtrack of a Tiktok challenge in September 2021, CKay was initially unimpressed. “The song was already a big hit in Nigeria and other countries, so I didn't think it would be a hit again,” he told Rolling Stone. The song went viral just days later.
“Love Nwantiti” topped the YouTube and Shazam Global Music Charts, beating out mega hits like Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber's “Stay” or Elton John's “Cold Heart (feat. Dua Lipa)”. In Switzerland, too, the song was number one for a month. Ckay even set a record in the Spotify Global Weekly Charts: he was the first African act to reach the top 20 with two tracks at the same time.
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His sound: Cross-cultural and cross-generational
CKay himself calls his style Emo-Afrobeat and that sounds like the term suggests; after a mix of Afrobeat, i.e. West African rhythms with a proximity to funk and soul and emotional pop melodies. The former is his cultural heritage, says CKay, while the latter bridges the gap to the global mainstream.
The current single “Emiliana”, which was released on December 3rd, follows CKay's development from the experimental genre mix of earlier songs to a radio-compatible sound. According to an Insta post by the musician, the song reached 56 country charts.
The Future: A New Era Afrobeat
Ckay is not the first and hardly the last name to bring Afrobeat onto the international stage. The 20-Minute Radio moderators have already revealed themselves to be big fans of CKay's compatriot Burna Boy, with “Brand New” “Supreme Show” host Moe makes the direct comparison: “Both musicians integrate unmistakably African rhythms and beats. This vibe is flowing more and more into contemporary music and it definitely has potential.”
In the USA, for example, «ABC News» reported on the rise of the genre. In an interview, CKay explains: «I think Afrobeat is the new pop. Because pop music is simply music that is very popular, right?»
CKay and his sound are undoubtedly in demand: even EDM megastar David Guetta (54) has taken the bait. If you believe social media, this collaboration should already be sealed.
“Brand New” is available Monday to Friday on the “Supreme Show”, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. live on 20 Minuten Radio.
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