Without a doubt, African music has no boundary when it comes to where and whom it provides rhythmical satisfaction, and Nigerian musicians are not ready to leave the frontlines.
Towards the end of 2020, while scrolling through my favorite social media app (Twitter), I came across a tweet that read “How to make an Oxlade song”. I was curious, and what I watched that day put me on a quest that uncovered a powerhouse of hidden music gems in one young mans’ soul.
Several clips of listeners from across the shores of the African continent have repeatedly circulated social media, often expressing interest and pleasure while listening and vibing to music from the continent. A recently released body of work by a young Nigerian producer who doubles as a singer and songwriter unlocked an interesting pool of sleeper hits. Mizzle is creating a world of his own and wants you in it.
Mizzle, born Anifowoshe Temitayo Michael is a Lagos-based producer who quietly gained recognition in the Nigerian music industry through his viral TikTok videos and Tweets. Long before the primitive action to ban Twitter by the presidency of Nigeria, Mizzle via his Twitter account — @mizzleverse (coined from Mizzle’s Universe) utilized the platform to showcase his prolific singing and production skills by posting mind-blowing videos of how to remake songs of popular music artists across the continent. He tagged them “how-to” video series.
He would begin his videos by revealing the process behind the production of the beat, the kind of vocal strength required, and the type of adlibs to add to create a song that sounds exactly like your favorite musician, and boy did he do wonders. What made Mizzles’ videos intriguing to watch was the fact that he would do all these and use his skillfully written, original lyrics to create these amazing one-minute videos, which if you listened with your eyes closed, would barely be able to tell that it wasn’t a song by the original artist. In a very short time, his videos began to gain the interest of music enthusiasts and the artists themselves. Take a look at this clip;
When he posted that clip, Twitter went wild. How could someone recreate such an amazing sound? It was almost unbelievable. Little did he know that this was going to be one of his biggest songs ever. Mizzle didn’t stop, he went further to attempt a “how to make a Wizkid” and “How to make a Wande Coal song.” Two of Nigeria’s wonder singers. Take a look at this:
Check out this Wande coal remake:
In a series of intriguing threads, He kept on releasing these videos and then he did something magical with a “how to make a Mr. Eazi type song”. It is worthy of note that he made and released these amazing videos every week, sometimes, just a few days apart. What a work rate.
Mizzle made it clear that making these amazing videos was just the beginning of his pursuit to display his musical talent to the world. Some people knew he could produce good beats, Of course, that’s part of the reasons he got a spot in Mr. Eazi’s #Empawaclassof30 in February of 2020. But he wasn’t going to bask in that win and wait for anyone to hand him success, he was going to earn it himself.
A few months later, Mizzle hit the internet with an official Empawa powered music release titled, “Hands on you”. This showed his newly found audience what he could do with the pen and a mic when he wasn’t trying to sound like one of his favorite artists.
Contrary to what many people might have assumed, Mizzle was not going to wait for any label to push him. He stayed true to his long-sought dream, to earn his flowers himself. So, in a relentless effort to transcend from a social media singer and producer, he leaped to put out his sophomore EP— In the dark.
Let’s Talk “in the dark”
A mid-tempo contemporary body of work built on sonically suited rhythms that convey a collection of sounds to make the listener feel a lot RnB. This Afro-pop tape is a collection of sweet melodies and collaborative congruent vocals from some of Nigeria’s finest musical talents; Wande Coal, Oxlade, Niniola, and Sarz.
Mizzle’s In the dark EP reflects a chronicle of happy and soft romance, juxtaposed with throbs of submission and dominance in what pans out to become a plethora of sweet love. This body of work begins with an introductory expression of true love and all that comes with accepting Mizzle’s kind of love. He describes in detail the kind of love his woman would enjoy if she turns down faux lovers and embraces ‘Mizzle love’.
In a follow-up track to further convince this mysterious lover of his, ‘smile for you ft. Oxlade’, which was borne out of his “how-to” video series, sits perfectly as an ultimate fan favorite. Mizzle professes his unending zeal to hold the fort as he waits for his newfound love. As expected, Oxlade furnishes this sweet record with his melodic vocals and adlibs. What a beauty to behold indeed.
Niniola aides Mizzles drive on ‘BDSM’ with her detailed sultry pseudo-explicit lyrics which compliments his sizzling intentions. He proceeds to reiterate his obsessive desire in ‘Confident’ ft. Sarz. In this loved-themed project, a balance is struck with “Sweet escape”, a relatable song to every young individual in Lagos city. As the EP comes to a closure, Mizzle highlights his difficulty in understanding the vibe he gets from his lover in ‘Mixed signals’ while recapitulating his longing desire for her in‘Angelica’ft. Wande Coal.
In a zoom conversation, We discuss his background, work ethics and all about his EP where he displays his musical dexterity and shares more about his hidden music gems.
This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
Your performance name is “Mizzle” why Mizzle? What’s the background story?
Well, I am a very calm and cool person, as reflected in my music as well. And just as the term is defined (drizzle, light rain, or rain lightly) light showers can also become a storm you know. So, I wanted to use a name that would portray my persona in the best way possible. I come in peace, but I could also do wonders with my music.
I, like most of your initial audience, first discovered you through your “how-to” video series, what inspired that and when did you first decide to venture into that aspect of video content?
The “How to” video series was borne out of a need to stand out as an artist in a very creative industry. So I decided to maximize the use of my social media platforms to attract more people to my sound and craft. I felt if I could do that, it would ease bringing in new audiences to discover my skills.
You sing, produce, mix and master, that’s exciting. What was it at first though, production before you started singing or how did it all begin?
For me, producing has always been purely out of passion. I was home a lot and I developed a love for production which made me love creating sounds and I did that way before I even knew I could sing or write songs.
You made a lot of those videos during the lockdown, as a creative, what was it like being productive during the lockdown?
I had a lot of time just like a lot of other people, so it was mainly a need to utilize my social media to create content and attract as many people as I could to my page. For me, it wasn’t really difficult because there was time, all I needed to do was just create, and I had a goal so I had to do something to look forward to achieving.
Now on this project “in the dark”, can you shed some light on why you chose those words for your latest project?
The reason for that title is basically because before the “how-to” videos, even with the few releases I had out, I was still relatively unknown. So, with the new addition to my audience from the videos I made, it was quite obvious to me that my next project would make me more visible than how I previously was. With this project, it’s more like I’m transitioning from a place of darkness into light. A lot more people are getting to know me and listen to my music, and most of the music I made was from when I was not visible at all. But going forward, my releases would be from a more visible point as more people discover me.
Interestingly, Your EP “in the dark” is saturated with love-themed songs, although a mixture of soft romance and rough sex as insinuated in BDSM and Confident, is that who you are, or is there any specific reason why the EP is themed that way?
Oh, yeah. This project is intentionally love-themed. I wanted to communicate with the female crowd more with this project, especially because most of the songs were influenced by time spent with women in the past couple of years and my experiences with women at the time. Although there’s a song that generally depicts a woman or a place titled “Sweet Escape”, with that one, I wanted to let the listeners know that I can also make songs that are not about love or sex. This project just needed to show this specific side of me which was majorly inspired by women, so I wanted it to appeal to more beautiful women across the world.
What was it like building up a project like this and working with the superstars you featured on your EP?
Honestly, it was an amazing experience. Initially, it was meant to be a project without collaborations because as a producer, singer and songwriter, I normally knew I should be able to put out a project that doesn’t require features. But as I put out more of the “how-to” videos, it became clear that there’s a lot more one can achieve with collaborations and the way each one of them came through for the project was seamless. Sarz didn’t give us any hassle and when we reached out to Niniola as well, she was very forthcoming. I never even thought “Smile for you” with Oxlade or “Angelica” with Wande Coal would lead to a proper song, but I did what I love to do, they both loved it and we made magic. For me, having all these amazing superstars on my second official project is something I’m grateful for and will always cherish.
You’ve done a good job with this project, asides from the video with Oxlade, are there any future projects or collaborations we should anticipate? What’s next for Mizzle?
There’s a lot I have to share with the world. I don’t want to be one of those producers who make it big with a song and then push their production side away (which I understand because it’s very tasking being a performer and working these songs in terms of production). So, as a producer who loves to sing and write as well, I do not intend to push production to the curb. The goals I have set for myself and see myself attaining are such that will command respect for having strong songs produced by me and also sung by me.
For Mizzle, his journey has just begun.
“There are several unheard songs I’ve written, produced, mixed, and mastered that I can’t wait for the world to hear and enjoy”. “There’s a lot of magic I’ll be creating and I will share it all with the world.”
“But there’s time you know, you don’t rush greatness and that is why I am grateful for my growth and process, as well as the time it took for me to get heard.” “I know it is just the beginning of everything for me and I won’t stop now, I can’t stop now.”
As we conclude our conversation, he hints that this is barely a slice of the pie in Mizzle’s kitchen. There are incoming collaborations we should expect in his subsequent releases which are momentous to him and his music career, and we should keep an eye for what’s coming next from Mizzleverse.