Off the back of a controversial 2021, Barry Jhay returns to tell his story the only way he knows how to.
“I will always speak my truth, that’s why God gave me this voice”, Barry Jhay says, as he details why he sees his voice as the only tool to express his passion, journey, and destination. Now recognized as a sensational music artist from Africa, Barry leaped into the limelight and took off in 2018 with his hit record Aiye. A series of music releases followed, including collaborations with Davido, Ckay, Zlatan, and others.
It all began in Ibadan, Nigeria’s largest city, where Oluwakayode Junior Balogun, popularly known as Barry Jhay, was born into the lineage of the legendary music icon, Late Dr. Sikiru Ayinde Barrister and Late Prophet Isiah Kehinde Diaro. Barry Jhay watched his late father perform at several music shows and public events. Since he uncovered his passion for music, he has never looked back. Owing to his roots, he describes his style of music as Afro-Fuji Pop, successfully serving his listeners a perfect blend of unlikely genres that only a few have managed to hack.
What began as an exciting musical journey in 2018 and saw Barry score several successful songs soon dealt a blow to the singer. Upon his debut, he won the Best New Act of the Year at the City People Music Awards in 2018 and was a nominee for Most Promising Act of the Year at the City People Music Awards in 2019. He then went ahead to win The Rookie of the Year award at The 2019 Headies Awards and released a successful Debut EP in 2020 with over 32 million streams. Soon after these achievements and subsequent music releases, the talented singer found himself in a series of tragic events that sparked controversy in the Nigerian music scene. The passing of his beloved friend Kashy Godson struck a blow in the hearts of many, Barry Jhay included. He was devastated.
Barry Jhay took some time off social media to focus on therapy and rebuild his brand. He released a throbbing Amapiano record ‘Ayewada’ to reiterate his musical prowess and further prove his indomitability. A couple more singles were released, including ‘Shako’ and ‘Kabiyesi’, and he decided it was time to tell his story the way he knows how to – through a music project.
The ‘Son Of God’ EP is Barry Jhay’s sophomore EP and also a lyrical representation of what has been going on with the prolific Afro Fuji Pop Star. The 7-track EP is poised to reclaim his position as one of the most talented musicians from Africa.
Slightly deviating from his usual Afro Fuji sound, Barry Jhay opens up the EP with ‘Level Up’, a trap joint on which he acknowledges the never-dying hustle spirit of every youth in our current dispensation. In a diaristic narrative, he reels us in with proverbial lyrics on the focus track ‘Story’, as he recalls his life’s trajectory from a typical struggling Nigerian background. He also enlists Nigerian rapper Zlatan on the remix of his 2021 Amapian single ‘Aiyewada’, a celebratory song about being free from negativity and setbacks. Barry asserts that he is backed by a higher power and therefore is moving according to plan in ‘Whine My God?’. Threading his trademark lush chords on the project from start to finish, Barry touches on love and reassurance with Kuami Eugene on ‘Right By You’ and commits his heart’s desires into God’s hands on the closing track ‘Bless Me’.
Speaking about the EP, Barry Jhay says, This EP means a lot to me, and that’s why it is dedicated to my late brother and friend Kashy. It is also to mark the beginning of a new phase of my life and career.
In a bid to further understand Barry Jhay and the timing of this project, we dive into an illuminating chat where he discloses more information regarding his current state of mind, the essence of the EP, and plans.
So, you’ve had your ‘Barry Back’ EP that had Davido in it, several singles and features released, why the need to put out a project with the title ‘Son of God’ at this time?
Barry: Yeah, this project was supposed to be released on the 18th of February, but apart from this project marking a turning point in my life and career, it means so much to me in a deeply personal way. I took the title ‘Son Of God’ off Kashy’s name ‘Godson’. He means the world to me, and this project is dedicated to him and all the loved ones I’ve lost. I know he’s looking down and watching over his loved ones.
The songs on the ‘Son of God’ EP seem to come from a personal storytelling perspective. How did you select the artistes for the featured tracks to key into your goals, and what was the process?
Barry: Uh, to be honest, I just make music, that’s all I do. So, my entire life can be described when you listen to my songs. The artistes on the S.O.G project (Kuami Eugene and Zlatan) are my friends. We just came together to do what we know how to do. It wasn’t stressful at all, that’s how we work.
Fan favorites from the ‘Son Of God’ EP so far include ‘Story’ and ‘Aiyewada’. What song(s) on your new project means the most to you and why?
Barry: All of the songs on the EP are special to me, but if I’m to pick one, that will be ‘Whine my God?’ cos you cannot question my God, and you cannot play games with my God. He doesn’t play games with anyone. He is the reason I’m here today.
As a Nigerian music artist, what is most challenging for you when it comes to creating and putting out music?
Barry: That would be the fact that my team and I always have to disagree to agree, you know. We can’t always have the same ideas or direction, so we sometimes have to argue about the workings and all that, but in the end, we figure it out, get on the same page and make things work.
What do you look for when approached for music collaborations? And who in & outside the continent will you like to work with?
Barry: The truth is all I care about is good music. I don’t look at names or previous discography and all that. As long as we can make good music together, we are good. On artiste collaborations, I’d love to work with Justin Bieber, Wizkid, Asa, Damian Marley, and a host of others.
If there’s one thing you wish you could do differently as Barry Jhay, what would that be?
Barry: Uh, I have been asked this question before, and truthfully, I don’t know how to do anything else. All I know how to do is make music. Music gives me life man, and that’s my beginning and end. That’s what makes Barry Jhay. I think if I tried something else, it might just be a waste of time.
What will be next for Barry Jhay after his new project Son of God has been released? Any new videos, deals, collaborations, what should we expect from you?
Barry: Firstly, there’s a video for Story out with the EP, and there is another one dropping soon. For now, it’s going to be back-to-back singles, a couple of international collaborations, ‘Barry Back’ the Album, and more Barry Jhay.
As we wrap up our conversation, Barry Jhay confirms that his musical background influenced his love for music at a young age. However, the choice to stir away from the Fuji sound his late father is known for and create music on his terms is entirely his decision as he’s on a different path. The diverse yet sonic juxtaposition in the Son Of God EP is ear-budding and one to add to the music library.
We can conclude that Barry inherited the drive for good quality and the proverbial lyrical style from his father. However, the sonic quality he brings to the music industry is unparalleled.
Listen to ‘Son Of God’ the EP here.