Following his burst onto the music scene a couple of years ago, Crayon has navigated his way into the hearts and minds of listeners across the continent and beyond. After all, being enlisted into the ranks of Mavin Records is no mean feat and the burden of performance that comes with it is enormous. Having acquitted himself so far with hit songs like “Too Correct“, “Jackpot” and most notably, his appearance on the viral single, “Overdose“, the Orile-native leads the charge of a bold and vibrant African generation of artistes. He sat down with Unorthodox Reviews via Zoom call to chit-chat about his musical journey and everything else in-between.
Spotted in dark shades in the comfort of his couch, Crayon told me about his day and gave me a brief introduction about himself. He tells me his real name is Charles Chibueze Chukwu.
He giggled with a calm but sure enthusiasm that can only emanate from an artiste already enjoying the success that began from being featured on the Mavins all-stars “All Is In Order” single, which also had DNA, Don Jazzy, Korede Bello and Rema. After listening to his two EPs, Cray Cray and Twelve A.M, it became apparent to me that there must be a host of backstories. Crayon’s appeal toward diverse African cultures and people is certainly there for all to see.
1. Don Jazzy recently made a post about how you’re currently having the time of your life and being overbooked. As an artiste, tell me how you felt not being able to perform during the lockdown?
To be honest, it was really frustrating because as a performing artiste, you make music for the people to vibe and have fun with, and then not being able to do that, really messed with my mental health… but at the same time, it helped me stay sane and it drew me back to reality. It made me realize that sometimes life can actually hit you. It also helped me become closer to family and it strengthened my relationship with God.
2. You already have 2 critically acclaimed EPs to your credit: 2019’s “Cray Cray” and 2021’s “Twelve A.M”. Could you describe your different mind states working on each one of these projects?
Cray Cray EP was more about an introduction of myself and my sound to the world. When I was making those songs in 2018, I had no idea I was gonna get signed to Mavin. Moving to the Mavin HQ, for like a year, we were just recording, being groomed. I learnt the ropes of the music business and personal branding. It was a nurturing period for me overall. With the Twelve A.M EP, I was just like, “Crayon is here now and here to stay”. It was simply a signal of a new dawn, a new beginning.
3. How do you think the kind of music you’re working on now has evolved from what we heard in your last EP?
I believe in growth and whilst developing your craft, you’re expected to grow and evolve. For me, I like to experiment with different sounds and create music without boxing myself in. Just like a pack of crayons, there are different colors in there – you never know what you’re gonna get. So in mixing up palettes, the possibilities are infinite. This would be more evident in my upcoming single produced by Sarz. The song is a melting pot of African culture where I make use of Ghanaian names and South African lingo. Kudos to Ghana. Overdose has been no.1 there for weeks. My next single was inspired by a shoulder dance move I did in the music video for Overdose. I went back to the studio and created a song for the dance which I titled Ijo(laba laba). Ijo is Yoruba for “dance” and laba laba means “butterfly”. The butterfly represents the shoulder movements and it also signifies happiness, bright colors, and forgetting about one’s sorrows.
4. You’ve been signed to Mavin Records since 2019, how would you describe your journey thus far?
When I wasn’t signed, it was a bit tough because you don’t really have a platform to express yourself and your talent. Having nobody to show you how things work and no manager, I still managed to drop seven songs between 2016 and 2017. It was one of those songs that caught the attention of Baby Fresh which led to an introduction to Don Jazzy. After a great initial discussion, I consistently had to travel from the mainland to the island – spending 2-3 days in the studio before heading back home. Out there, I met everyone – Tiwa Savage, Korede Bello, Reekado Banks, Iyanya, etc. Then in 2018, I moved permanently to the Mavin headquarters to study about the music business and find my own unique sound. In 2019, I got signed. The events after that were a journey on its own. My journey has been quite different, it hasn’t been so smooth.
It was actually a great feeling when Jazzy made that statement that you referenced in your first question because he really gets it.
5. “Overdose” is currently one of the biggest songs out of Nigeria if not the biggest. How has the response been for you? How exactly would you say this collaborative effort has impacted your fortunes as a solo artiste?
After going viral with the Cray Cray EP in 2019, I experienced a series of ups and downs. I dropped a couple of songs in 2020 but they didn’t have the desired impact. So Don Jazzy encouraged me to keep pushing and helped me deal with my identity as an artiste. I thank God for Overdose because after its release, things began to pick up again.
6. How is your sound different from all the other Nigerian pop music on the airwaves today?
I would say, my writing ability, delivery, and melodies set me apart from other Nigerian artistes. Having a distinct voice and my lamba (Nigerian pidgin meaning ‘lingo’) goes a long way.
7. Who are some of the artistes you have on constant rotation currently?
Right now, I’m listening to Rema, Joeboy, Fireboy, Asake, WizKid, Davido, Kelvyn Boy from Ghana (who I’ve worked with), Kwesi Arthur, Mr Eazi. I listen to a lot of trap songs as well so, Drake, Lil Baby, Gunna. Just a mixture of different sounds.
8. Your collaborative effort with Kelvyn Boy on “Tele” is a personal favorite. Are there any other Ghanaian artistes you have on your radar?
Definitely, I really want to work with Black Sherif and Gyakie as well.
9. Who is that one person who has had the biggest influence on you as an artiste?
WizKid is one of my biggest influences in music. His impact from back in 2010 as a young artiste, with a fresh sound and cadence appealed to me a lot. D’banj and P Square did that for me too. Back in the day, my dad sold music on CDs and that got me exposed to all types of music from Wizkid, Justin Beiber, Drake, 50 Cent, Tupac, Fela Kuti, P. Diddy, Usher, D’Banj, across diverse genres…but Wizkid really stood out, because at the time I was still in secondary school and he immediately became an idol.
10. What’s one thing on Crayon’s 2022 bucket?
To be honest, I just want to go with the flow. Despite having many plans, I just want to put out positive energy so the Universe can do its thing. As the saying goes, “the energy you give out is the energy you get back.” I’m really excited about what the future holds. I really don’t like to put myself under too much pressure. But I’m thankful for where I’m at and where I’m headed. I look forward to putting out more music.
11. What’s next for Crayon in terms of music?
My next single “Ijo(laba laba)” drops at midnight… it’s going to be crazy. More songs are in the pipeline. The music video for the single is also in the works. Colorful times ahead!