TORONTO — Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Nonso Amadi has become a fan favourite for lovers of Afrobeats and R&B. With hits like Tonight, Different, and Foreigner, Amadi has been dropping tracks and making waves for years. This week he joined Brandon to discuss his new album, favourite artists, and early beginnings.
Amadi shared that as a child, his father was extremely strict, leaving him and his brothers to find ways to entertain themselves. One of their pastimes was writing their own songs, but the musician says that it wasn’t easy for him to pursue a career in music, describing himself as introverted by nature.
“You can’t imagine an academic jumping into the entertainment industry and they’re like ‘Meet this person, meet that person,’ and you’re like oh my God and you’re so shy and you don’t know how to express yourself.”
Amadi explained that he had to step outside of his shell in order to pursue his career. But what motivated him to create music?
“At first it was girls, girls played a huge factor,” he shared, adding that he would send his music to various girls, who all thought he wrote the songs about them.
“I later learned how to actually tell true stories because a lot of the songs I made at the start were all lies. I didn’t have any cars of money or anything.”
So the girl with a gun in her hand mentioned in Tonight? She doesn’t exist.
Amadi shared that he grew up listening to R&B music and some of his favourite artists includes Ashanti, Craig David, and Aaliyah.
“There were also some Nigerian acts creating R&B at the time… I listened to that type of music and I fell in love with it. So what I try to do now is make those songs that have those lyrics and melodies but put them on an Afro kind of sound, so it has a bounce,” he explained.
Alongside heavy hitters like Ice Spice and Glorilla, Amadi was recently featured on Vevo’s DSCVR Artists To Watch 2023 list. He shared that the accomplishment was a massive honour.
“As one of the few African artists on that list, it’s super special. More of that to come. A Grammy soon.”
Nonso Amadi: When it Blooms
Amadi’s been making music for years, and soon releases his debut album When it Blooms. The star explained the meaning behind the title.
“It was actually me and my manager at the time, we were talking about how a flower grows and it opens up with time, and with sunlight, and water, and all of the things that it needs. And it finally blooms into this beautiful plant,” Amadi explained, adding that this was a great symbol of his journey.
“You started off pretty shy, you started off quiet, you know? [But] now you’re at a point where you’ve accepted where you are. You’re more open, you’ve literally opened up. We wanted to use that metaphor for the project title.”
Amadi shared that we can expect some exciting features on the upcoming album, which is set to drop May 26.
Nonso also shared some details about the songs on his upcoming album, he gave travel advice for those deciding between vacationing in Nigeria or Ghana, and he told us which Afrobeats greats he would like to collaborate with on this episode of The Brandon Gonez Show.