When Crayon stepped into the music scene in 2019, his main impetus was to create Afrobeats beyond the limits of what had been done. It’s been two years now since this journey began for the 21-year-old musician christened Charles Chibuezechukwu but one would agree he is coming on strong.
On his 2019 debut EP titled Cray Cray, the young musician offered a colorful slice of six Afro-pop tracks with production credits of Mavin Records’ in-house producer, Baby Fresh. The Cray Cray project was Crayons’ first release after he was officially welcomed into the Mavin HQ, home to stars like Rema, Tiwa Savage, to name a few. Crayons’ first solo track off the EP was So Fine a beautiful and bubbly love song which further placed him in the spotlight as some music critics thought it had a lot in common to something Wizkid would make. The singer admits to being inspired by Wizkid and other great artists like Fela, Davido, Drake, and Justin Bieber.
This year, Crayon released his sophomore EP Twelve A.M, a four-track EP seamlessly encapsulating the strength of youth culture and feel-good vibes. Speaking on the production and creative direction of Twelve A.M, the singer says: “This project represents a new dawn for me as an artist and the journey that I have been on so far. This is for my family, and the fans that have patiently stuck with me from day one.” The project has given Crayon the ability to fully show off his versatility in how he fuses Afrobeats, Pop, and Caribbean sounds while preserving authenticity to his roots. With artists like Bella Shmurda, Rema, and One Acen being featured on the EP, they were able to successfully bring the project to life with their empowering vocal offerings.
We sat down with Crayon to talk about his EP and the inspiration behind the project.
Where did the name Crayon come from?
It just came on a really random day. I was chilled at home, and my mum’s sister used to make these bead bags that are really colorful and African. They were hanging on the wall, and I saw it and the first thing that came to my mind was Crayon. After that, I just started evolving with stuff like cray cray, cray way, it was just stuck with me. I had to switch it up to Crayon because I wanted something that everybody could relate to.
Tell me about your upbringing in Ojo, Iba, Lagos state.
It was a whole different experience, the good, the bad, and the ugly. There were also fun times and hustle too. Ojo is full of young people hustling and chasing their big dreams and passion. Whenever I see anybody coming from there, I take it really personally because I know it’s a slum, but we manage to make it out of there. I had a lot of friends, my mum used to complain that I had too many friends because I was popular in the hood.
You started making music at the tender age of 16, did you have any support system?
Not really, but I received so much support from my family. My parents were always supporting me from day one. Sometimes, it was just me going to my mum’s shop to help her make sales, and then get some money to pay for my studio sessions. Then I went by myself to dropping CDs at different radio stations so they could play my songs. I was the first artist in my hood to have my song played on radio stations, so I was popping.
And how has the experience been so far?
The experience has been good, it has been a blessing and a lesson at the same time. But it’s still a sweet relationship between my record label and me. That is why I feel like this Twelve A.M EP is really important to me and my fans.
How does it feel like being signed to the most prestigious label in Nigeria, MAVIN Records?
For me, it’s a dream come true. It’s like every young talent out there aspiring to be given a platform to do whatever they want to do. It also feels great and amazing to be working with legends like Don Jazzy and all other great artists.
You recently unveiled your sophomore EP, Twelve A.M. What is the inspiration behind the title of this project?
When I was making the songs in the EP, I made them during the craziest times of my life. Sometimes I go to the studio to record, and like, nothing is happening. I felt down, I felt like I wasn’t good enough. But I never stopped working because my fans kept me going. They’re always sending me tweets, messages, tagging me to their videos. That stood as a backbone for me. Twelve A.M stands for a new dawn, a new era, a new beginning, and a new wave.
How would you describe your Twelve A.M EP?
New Dawn. The EP is dedicated to my fans who have been with me since 2016, I just want them to take this EP and run with it.
You have been in the music scene for quite some time now. Tell me, what do you think of the music scene in Nigeria?
To be honest, I’m really happy and blessed to be in this stage right now because it’s perfect timing for me. I feel like the world is paying more attention to Afrobeats, and that feels good. Right now, it’s easy for anybody to take Nigeria’s music industry by storm, as long as you have the sound.
How would you define your sound?
I would just say I’m an artist, a musician, and an entertainer. I never liked to limit my sound to just one genre. From the EP, you can tell that the four songs are all different sounds. I love to tap into different cultures and genres with my music. I did a collaboration with Kelvyn Boy from Ghana and Tessellated from Jamaica, so I see myself as a global artist. But afrobeat is my foundation.