Bubugaga mastermind Mr 2Kay features alongside UK based Nigerian performers May7ven [pronounced May Seven] and Moelogo on the Afrobeats track’s official remix, which will see release on January 19th. In anticipation of the big day, SB.TV were thrilled to get the trio together to talk about Bubugaga‘s birth and the current state of Afrobeats…
So…for those who don’t know Bubugaga basically means ‘arse’ right?
Moelogo: Ask Mr 2kay…
Mr 2kay: We’re all in this together [laughs]
Moelogo: [To Mr 2Kay] I know, but it’s your idea! [Laughs]
Mr 2kay: It’s about a beautiful lady that has a nice ass and nice shape – that’s it – a curvy lady.
Moelogo: I feel it’s like you’re appreciating a lady, not just because she’s got a nice body but you’re just appreciative of what she is. People can make up their own interpretations…
Bubugaga (Remix) was the first UK Afrobeats song to feature on VEVO, but Fuse ODG hitting the UK Singles Chart Top 5 with Million Pound Girl (Badder Than Bad)the other week must’ve really validated you guys, what you do and the movement as a whole…
May7ven: Yeah, it’s the second or third Afrobeats track to hit the UK Top Ten, but it’s the first to get into the Top 5. People are crying out for Afrobeats, there is a market for it in the UK and around the world so we’re hopeful that our song will do well with all the push behind it.
They say that a lot of the time with these big records, they come about from spur-of-the-moment, simple ideas almost by accident in the studio, for example. Mr 2kay, did the idea for Bubugaga come about that way at all?
Mr 2kay: I don’t know how it came, but the word just came to me. I was walking the streets in Nigeria and I just heard the word Bubugaga in my head, maybe someone somewhere was saying it and I heard it, but I said ‘Bubugaga…that’s nice.’ [Laughs] I told my boss about it, and told him I wanted to make a song about this word that just came into my mind. He said ‘ok, fine just try it out,’ I spoke to someone else about it and they discouraged me and said that the word doesn’t sound nice and that it sounded stupid – but I tried it and it came out good.
I’ve seen footage online of people busting all kinds of moves to the track – do you ever look at stuff like that and think, ‘what have I done? This is all my fault?’
How does it feel to have your own little phenomenon?
Mr 2kay: I feel happy to see everyone accepting Afrobeats in the UK, I feel glad that Bubugaga is doing that.
May7ven, do you think that some of the appeal of this Afrobeats movement – and you can witness this in the video for Bubugaga (Remix) almost immediately – is that a lot of the content flies in the face of the subtext buried in most chart music which seems to celebrate, promote and prefer women with a slimmer, super skinny body shape?
May7ven: It’s definitely the appeal because obviously with African women, we are not known to be skinny, most of us are shapely and Afrobeats is for all, it’s for everybody. All the female singers that represent Afrobeats we all come in different shapes and sizes – none of us look the same. In the videos we try to make sure that we use people that are real. Not necessarily models or people that we’ve hand-picked.
A large portion of the first world media coverage over the years concerning Africa has had something to do with the poverty there. From what I understand, the Afrobeats movement is attempting to bring a younger, sexier and more vibrant side of Africa to the limelight. How do you guys feel about bringing that aspect of the continent to a larger audience?
May7ven: It’s long overdue, Africa has always been perceived has somewhere that is poor, lacking in resources, lacking beautiful people, lacking beautiful cars and things like that. The only way to get this message across, if that’s not the case is through our music, our music videos and how we portray ourselves. For me it’s really important because now it’s about putting Africa on the map. People are now thinking that being African is cool, that we have nice things, that we are resourceful and wealthy as well.
Moelogo: May7ven is right, but it’s always been cool to be African. I just feel like certain people were not strong enough to get up and say, ‘yo, we need that respect let’s go get it.’ “If you want something you have to go and take it” – it’s not my quote, it’s from [US football player/activist] Eric Thomas but that’s what he said. I feel like they are respecting us now because we’re standing up and saying, ‘yo, we’ve got beautiful music, we have beautiful dances and we’re gonna show the world that we can do this.’
You’re not denying Africa has poverty –
Moelogo: You have to look away from that and dwell on good things.
May7ven: There is poverty around the world, there is poverty right here in the UK, there is poverty in the States. It’s just that the numbers in Africa are far greater, but there is poverty everywhere.
I’ve gotta say Moelogo, you tweet some interesting stuff.
Moelogo: You watch my tweets?
I have a Masters in Watching Tweets. I found out that at some point recently you were asked to bring some other Afrobeats artists onto a tune you were making and you were having a problem finding acts that were ‘on your level’ and so I wanted to ask about what you think about the Afrobeats scene in the UK? Any favourite acts, where do you think there could be improvements?
Moelogo: I didn’t know you were watching my tweets…on that tweet, Ozzie is a producer – and he hollered at me and said, ‘Mo, I’ve got this song, I need you to find other people for the track.’ I told him that I’d get it done but there wasn’t a particular person that I could call down and say ‘yo, let’s do this together’. I just felt like no-one was pushing themselves that hard. I understand people are different, maybe they are satisfied with what they have but for us to grow the levels need to be higher and pushed. Writing skills, performing skills…people just need to be hungrier. Afrobeats was going well in 2013 but 2014 has to be stronger and better than what it is, and I feel like a lot of people are just laid back and see it as a thing for their family and friends, it’s a business at the end of the day and you have to be ready to work hard.
So who are your favourite UK Afrobeats acts right now?
Moelogo: If I was to keep it real with you, right now I’m still waiting on someone to show me something. Don’t get me wrong, I congratulate everyone doing their thing, but I still need that thing that makes me think an act is different and I haven’t seen that yet. That’s my honest opinion.
May7ven: Worldwide? I’d certainly say P-Square, 2face and D’banj because they’ve been in the game for ten years and have been very consistent. In the UK we still have a very long way to go, without a doubt Fuse has worked harder than most because he’s always in the studio and he’s been pushing and flying the flag for a good two/three years now – he is one person that I would say is an incredible artist. As far as his writing, that is his style – not necessarily my style, but he is writing songs and they’re doing well. Another favourite is Moelogo –
Moelogo: She’s only saying that because I’m here!
May7ven: Trust me, I’ve been saying it from day one. I saw Moelogo perform at One Mic UK – I knew of him before that – but when I saw him doing his thing he was infusing R’n’B into what he was doing. I’m an R’n’B singer and love R’n’B, so when I saw him I noticed that it opened the doors for the other R’n’B fans in the room to enjoy the music. In my opinion everyone else in the UK is kinda following the bandwagon, other females are coming through doing what we’ve been doing for many years now. No one has really been unique.
Moelogo: I feel like every one is saying, ‘the single’s doing well, let me go to the studio and start calling myself an Afrobeats artist.’ I feel like that’s where the likes of myself, Fuse, Mista Silvaand Dizzy come in. I feel like we need to raise the bar and show that before you can call yourself an Afrobeats artist you have to be able to show that you can do certain things and showcase yourself a certain way.
In order to show how far the genre has come in only a few short years, I wanted to ask if you guys have ever encountered anyone in the industry who told you that Afrobeats can’t work in the UK?
Moelogo: Yes, definitely.
Can you tell us a little bit about those encounters?
May7ven: [Sighs] Seven years ago for instance when I was doing Bo Aso Lara Mi, it wasn’t even called Afrobeats, the term Afrobeats no one was using it. I coined my own term for it, ‘AFRnB’ and approached MTV Base UK and Channel AKA to try and submit the video and all the TV and radio stations rejected the song. They said, ‘we don’t even understand, why have you got language on the track?’ It was the same with the bloggers, it was just rejection after rejection. So I took the track to Nigeria and they accepted it there, MTV Base played it over there. Because the track was accepted over there, I used the PR spin to re-present it to the UK and then they playlisted the song and the whole thing started to go from there – but back then nobody believed in what we were trying to do, they didn’t think it would ever go far.
Moelogo: We need to show people Afrobeats is going to work, not ask people to ‘please support Afrobeats.’ We need to show them that we are here, we’re gonna stay and keep creating new, good music.
So Mr 2kay, having been in the game for a few years, coming from Nigeria and visiting the UK what do you think of the crop of Afrobeats artists based over here? Do you have any advice for aspiring acts?
All they need is a good hook, good writing and great beats from the producers – and to keep pushing, that is what I’d say to them. The issue is that they need to be united, they can’t fight themselves, if they are scattered they can’t make it. When they’re united, then we can fight the fight of Afrobeats together.
I want all of you to finish this sentence; 2014 will be the year that I…?
Mr 2kay: 2014 will be the year that Afrobeats will be very big and I’m gonna make many hits.
May7ven: 2014 will be the year that I finally unleash my groundbreaking, much anticipated, world-class album…and takeover.
Moelogo: For me 2014 will be the year that I will make a change – and I am a change.