Published on May 7th, 2020 | by Tomiwa Andrew0
LCR Emerging Artist Review: A Conversation With Yusufkanbai.
Yusuf Oluwo, also known as Yusufkanbai is at the centre of YKB’s music as his creative presentation and online brand exudes confidence, fun and laughter. You should watch his Instagram videos in case you haven’t, to see what I mean. He knows how to behave in front and at the back of a camera.
Seeing the name ‘kanbai’ at the back of Yusuf for the first time left a big question mark in mind. Kanbai as in Japanese anime or kanbai as in ‘he can actually buy anything’. I was wrong even though Kanbai in Japanese means ‘sold out’.
Artistry in this decade expects artists to bring more than their musical talent to the table. Call it Longevity, Unique Selling Point, Branding! It’s the reason why we have stars like Kanye, Wizzy, etc.
YKB is not just a recording artist, he’s a good dancer, performer, photographer, graphic designer and fashion aficionado who dresses with deluxe simplicity.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is taking out major parts of the industry with some of its profitable functions from live performances to touring. Professional artists have to adapt to unconventional ways of commercializing their music digitally.
On a call, We had the chance to talk to the rising star from his manager, best friend and neighbour’s residence at Gbagada, Lagos on his musical journey now, thus far and where he’s headed.
When I asked how this past week was, he said ” I’ve just been recording and working. I want to release an ep soon.”
Good news for the organic fans on social media, after he just released a fan-centric project #ftf ‘for the fans’. If you’ve listened to Ejoya class of 20 ep; a quality project composed of various range of talents including YKB who stood out amongst others for his catchy intro into the hooks, lines and melody off at least 3 tracks. Listen to Ejoya Here.
A conversation ensued; here’s how it went.
So YKB What’s your full name? How did you form your name and Is it in any way related to anime or manga?
Lol no my name is Yusuf Oluwo And it’s not related to anime. People have asked this a lot of times they think it is related to bleach anime or the likes but it’s actually Yoruba for ‘one Yusuf like that’ ‘Yusuf kàn bàí’ you get? Pronounced and written together in lowercase ‘yusufkanbai’ because its more aesthetic that way.
At which point of your life did you start taking your music seriously?
It was from June last year, I was with my best friends when I made the decision. One of them spoke about me taking it seriously and we all just agreed. They are my management now. *laughs*
Did you grow up in Lagos? Where, who and how has it influenced your style?
Yeah I grew up in Lagos I was born in Ketu Lagos afterwards I lived with different family members around Lagos. I’ve lived in the ghetto of Lagos and I’ve also lived on the posh side so I won’t say there’s a particular place that has really influenced my style rather it’s the people I’ve met along the way. I’m based in Gbagada now.
Post FTF release what impression did you hope to make on new and existing fans?
Okay, so FTF is just as it sounds it’s for my fans that are always asking me to drop my freestyles as full songs because they want to listen at their convenience, if you follow me on IG regularly, you would see I post a lot of freestyles visuals, the comments are always blowing up with a lot of people asking for links to the full songs or mp3 download links and from IG insights a lot of people save the videos. It was after I released the ‘bad’ freestyle, my team and I decided to compile all my freestyles into an ep for the fans that have always asked. We put it up on Audiomack & other platforms and that’s how it went.
Let me bust your head FTF might become a series where there’ll be FTF 2,3 and so on.
Listen to FTF here
You are a multi-talented artiste YKB, asides music composition, dance choreographies and digital performances what else do you like to do?
Okay, I’m a professional photographer and graphics designer also but because I want my music to stand out I don’t like relating it to my photography skill. I even have different socials for them. Apart from the fact that I believe I’m funny One thing that’s worth mentioning is my exquisite taste for simple fashion. People who know me know I like to comfortably dress well and look good. Let’s say I have to go out by 4 pm my guys will tell me it’s by 2 because they know I can take time with my dressing, like if I’m not wearing what I feel is right I may not go out. Weirdly I’m comfortable in a suit.
I thank God but Na because money never too dey na why I never open my merch line, I hope to express more of myself in my own simple but outlandish fashion statement way soon through a fashion line
Can you give a glimpse into navigating the industry financially as an emerging artiste? What makes and takes all the money?
You know how it is now, we just keep spending till we pop enough to make that money back which I feel is a challenge for emerging artists here. No one really makes enough to sustain themselves when we obviously spend more. The calculation is not balanced. You get.
Any challenges faced relating to the Lagos/Nigeria market as a whole?
The challenge we face basically is with music distribution and how it can reach more people organically. we have to spend more but we’re making way less.
Are You Signed?
No, I’m independent and I have a management/team made up of my 4 best friends -Bridges Ent.
What can you tell us about your team/management? How do you all balance creativity with commerciality?
Yunno, I started this with my close friends so I didn’t have to make independent decisions, we make it together and in sync. There’s no room to lag behind tho because we put each other in check.
Tbh, they are my driving force and the number 1 reason I’m here. We root for each other and we are each other’s fan first before anyone else.
Any milestone achieved thus far with your team?
Well yeah, there’s this competition we won last year organized by clout; the one. We won a million naira and other recording perks and You saw our aux live performance rave. Honestly, we didn’t plan for that rave. Like I knew my guys were coming to rep but that energy was divine. You saw the video right?
Lmao Yeah I did
And Empawa also. We got an Empawa ticket and I’m grateful to platforms like Empawa because they exist to teach independent artiste that you can actually sustain yourself if you put in the work which is something we need. That and every other thing we’ve done together is an achievement for me.
Any major plans post COVID-19?
Yeah after the Ep drops we have to keep working and going for Empawa also.
What important message would you like to share with budding artists out there like yourself, looking to be self-sufficient through music?
I feel every one of us should be true to ourselves and stop trying to fit into another person’s box just because they’re rich or famous. I mean Those guys have those things because they’re true to themselves. I’m trying to be the best of myself and nobody fit drag am with me. Make you Dey your lane, Validate yourself and stop trying to seek unstrategic validations.
I learnt this four years ago from Ojah’B when I was still learning the basics of music from him.
Well said YKB
*How can new and existing fans reach you on socials?
I’m On twitter @yusufkanbai, Instagram @ yusufkanbai and youtube as yusufkanbai
Lagos, bobo Yusufkanbai is everything he has said and more. He’s focused on putting more of himself in his music and building his brand around it. He’s not just a good musician he’s also a good performer with a likeable character looking to entertain any crowd that gathers around his music.
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