The sun was out in its full glory the day I was to meet YKB. “I’m a New York boy”, YKB said, as he complimented my bespoke sliders. My first encounter with YKB was an exciting one. He was so full of energy and vigor.
There was a little stepping here and there as he bopped to the Chris Brown song blasting from the speakers of the restaurant we’d now stopped to eat at. The way he talked about how diverse and talented Chris Brown is, you could see the admiration in his eyes. He experimented with some word play as we had a little chit chat, stirring bursts of laughter from me.
“My name is Oluwo Yusuf Gbolaga Oluwaseyi Oluwasesan” Then proceeded to recite a long list of names.
He talks about school for a while before we moved back to his place. He had good grades and had enrolled into the University of Lagos, but nursed no real interest in stringent academic pursuits. His love laid in creating sounds, ideas, concepts, and he found deep, genuine happiness in making the most with his music, signaling to potential brands and sponsors via low-budget guerilla marketing.
He soon became a name to be reckoned with in the graphic design and photography scene back in his Unilag days due to his exceptional ability to learn new things easily. His name, formerly ‘yusufkanbai’, in one word, plainly translates into ‘one Yusuf boy’, grew into a house hold name for graphics and photography. Then he put out a freestyle, ‘Swaggu’.
The only place you can wear your gini in a Lambo – Lamborghini. – YKB
Born and bred in Lagos and only sibling to his younger sister, YKB is gradually becoming a sensation in the music industry. Merely listening to him sing, you get the impression that he has keenly refined his sound to give the listener a certain feel. Not only does he have a unique singing voice, YKB’s songwriting skill is witty, yet unmatched. He writes his songs in a way that is peculiar to him. His infusion of word play adds a special touch to his music.
Swaggu kicked in his necessary stylish persona and strikingly live appearances: In fact, what followed after a run of compelling and radical live sets at Lagos block raves playing the sultry fashionista song alongside his cheering friends explains his fast-paced industry milestones. His fashion seamlessly merges simplicity with outlandish aesthetics, and he markets his music in an extremely unique way that stems from an outside-in approach – he likes to think like a consumer of his own music and cater to that need optimally.
“When you feel like you’re missing out on something if you don’t watch it or listen, you’re bound to naturally follow up on that thing and Likely share it.” “When you feel like you’re missing out on something if you don’t watch it or listen, you’re bound to naturally follow up on that thing and Likely share it.”
“I know people are less likely to click the link if I just post it on the timeline, that’s why I make those videos of me dancing or the video of me playing my songs to strangers at the mall. It is stuff like that, that engages the audience and makes them feel like a part of the experience.” –
His unique marketing stance, solid and growing cult followership propelled him to win ‘The One’, a Music competition organized by Clout Africa (then Clout Nigeria), a licensing and distribution company, in 2019. I visited him to listen to some of his unreleased songs, then he informed me of his shoot for his entry into the Mr. Eazi pioneered Empawa Africa program.
The product of this shoot turned out to be one of his most streamed songs and sealed his fate as a member of the new set of Empawa 30, comprising selected emerging music artistes from different parts of Africa.
He went on to release “Do and Undo” as his first official music single. It is widely described as a Bop.
Although having lived and moved through multiple places across Nigeria, YKB’s strength lies in people and not the multiple places that have raised him. At his Aux live performance in February, YKB’s friends and followers tore the whole place down with their manic energy and ceaseless raging to his performance, posturing YKB as the superstar he is becoming.
That performance still remains YKB favorite performance till date and he does not undervalue the collective group that has spurred him on and the memories they are making on their journey to the apex of the music scene.
During the unavoidable lockdown, YKB put out a 5 track compilation titled Ftf (for the fans) for his rapidly growing fan base. He also featured on four tracks, the most by any artist, on the debut collective album from the music distribution company, Ejoya, alongside Buju, Jinmi Abduls and Mojo. Those four tracks are inarguably top tracks off that album.
YKB’s growth and brewing recognition does not come as a surprise, considering his consistent hard work and appearance in multiple featured projects including two songs (Accolades and Narcos) off Laycon’s debut EP ‘Who is Laycon?’. Accolades featuring YKB was a frequently played song and winner’s anthem during the recently concluded Big Brother Naija show (lockdown edition) which saw Laycon emerge as the winner.
In recent events after the release of his much anticipated EP ‘Hear me out’, YKB pens an emotional open letter to Nigerian music icon Wande Coal. This moved a huge number of his following to share his music, attracting new followers and fans, earmarking over 2 million tweet impressions in few hours.
It is safe to say that Wande Coal birthed this wave of Afrobeats sound that is gradually wading into Pan-Atlantic markets. YKB’s love for Wande Coal runs so deep that he was robbed of his phone during his secondary school days on his way home. He had powered up his dead phone just so he could listen to music off Wande Coal’s debut album, Mushin2Mohits, before he was swiftly stripped of his phone by thieves. Regardless of his loss, he was full of praise for Wande Coal.
“I want you to take some credit. Without you, there would be no YKB.”
Afrobeats is currently at an ‘all time high’ globally, with super stars Davido, Wizkid, Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Mr. Eazi, Yemi Alade at the frontlines. On the other hand, underground and rising acts are introducing new sounds and verve to the audience and YKB is moving at an organically incredible pace.
His delivered an outstanding performance at the recent partyboyscrib gig which had several music artistes present.
YKB’s versatility is a reflection of his diverse roots. With a burgeoning niche sound, a growing catalogue of music, and the support of some of the best emerging companies within the Nigerian music industry, YKB is on a rollercoaster to stardom and he is doing it on his own terms.
“Shivar, I’m going to show these people what a superstar should be. A whole new wave bro.”
As the year edged to an end, speculations about whether live shows will detty December or It’ll be quarantine and chill. Afrobeats super star Zlatan expressed his love and admiration for YKB through two Instagram posts on the 3rd of December, asking fans what they really thought of the talented artiste.
Few hours later, he made a second post of YKB.
There’s so much more coming from YKB in 2021.
The future may be now, and YKB is here to stay.