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Oluwatosin Oluwole Ajibade (born 19 July 1991), better known by his stage name Mr Eazi, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. He is the pioneer of Banku Music, a fusion sound he describes as the mixture of "Ghanaian bounces, Ghanaian highlife, Nigerian chord progressions, and Nigerian patterns". Mr Eazi relocated to Kumasi in 2008 and enrolled at KNUST, where he began booking artists to perform at college parties. He showed interest in music after recording a guest verse on "My Life", a song that gained traction and became a popular record at KNUST. Mr Eazi released his debut mixtape, About to Blow, in July 2013. He gained an international audience following the release of the 2015 single "Skin Tight". He inked a record deal with Wizkid's Starboy Entertainment in May 2016. His second mixtape, Accra to Lagos, was released on 10 February 2017.
Early life and career beginnings
Mr Eazi was born in Port Harcourt, the capital and largest city in Rivers State, Nigeria. He grew up in an entrepreneurial home. His mother owned a small business and his father is a pilot. The latter parent established his own private aviation consulting practice. While attending primary school in Lagos, Mr Eazi had a brief stint in the school's choir. During his upbringing, he used to listen to records his dad would play for the family while they ate breakfast. At age 16, Mr Eazi relocated to Kumasi from Port Harcourt to further his educational endeavors. He enrolled at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and studied mechanical engineering. Mr Eazi started recording music during his time at KNUST. He contributed guest vocals to the track "My Life", a song that gained traction and became a popular record at KNUST. Prior to that, he established a party and promotion company called Swagger Entertainment. He used this platform to book shows and promote events on the campus of KNUST. When he was 23 years old, he returned to Nigeria and opened his own e-commerce platform. Mr Eazi told The Guardian newspaper that he briefly worked for Schlumberger when he returned to Nigeria. He also told the aforementioned newspaper that his business ventures included soft drinks import, gold mining, and food distribution. Moreover, he told Highsnobiety that he started about six business ventures. In 2014, Mr Eazi quit being a club promoter after an artist failed to show up for the largest party he attempted to throw.
2013–2015:About to Blow and other releases
Mr Eazi released his 13-track debut mixtape, About to Blow, in July 2013. It produced two singles: "Pipi Dance" and "Bankulize". The former was released in mid-2012, while the latter was released in 2013. Mr Eazi recorded the mixtape with producer Klu and released it within a week. The Fader magazine described the mixtape as a "heavily dancehall-leaning SoundCloud playlist". Prior to releasing the mixtape, Mr Eazi worked with producers such as Magnom, Peeweezle, Nshona, Klumonsta, D'Tunes, and E-Kelly. Moreover, he was featured on Stay Jay's "Baby Lace" and Lousika's "Knockout". In 2014, Mr Eazi relocated to Nigeria. Within two months of returning to his native country, he was contacted by DJ Juls, a UK-based Ghanaian producer and disc jockey. Juls reached out to him after managing to get a hold of some of his recordings. Due to not being able to locate the audio files of his old recordings, Mr Eazi's attempt at working with Juls stalled for a long time. Mr Eazi eventually found his audio files and emailed them to Juls, who made a new beat and created the artwork for the mixtape's second single "Bankulize". The song features vocals from Ghanaian hiplife artist Pappy Kojo and was released in November 2014. The official remix features Burna Boy and was released in September 2016. Mr Eazi first premiered the remix on Ebro Darden's Beats 1 radio show a month earlier.
In August 2015, Mr Eazi released the dancehall-influenced track "Skin Tight". It features guest vocals from Ghanaian singer Efya and was produced by DJ Juls. In an interview with Complex magazine, Mr Eazi described the song as a "fusion". He said he spoke Ghanaian pidgin on the delivery and used Nigerian melodies. In August 2016, Nigerian record producer Cobhams Asuquo released his rendition of the song. DJ Caise released a house remix of the song in September 2016, while Terry G collaborated with Mr Eazi to release a remix of the song. In April 2017, "Skin Tight" was featured in an ad for the vodka brand Ciroc. Mr Eazi was featured on Eugy's 2016 hit single "Dance for Me". The Guardian newspaper included the song on its list of the 10 of the biggest African tracks of 2016. The music video for "Dance for Me" was directed by Vertex and Gabriella Kingsely. Robin Murray of Clash magazine described the song as a "salute to their joint Ghanaian heritage". On 17 June 2016, Mr Eazi released the R&B-inspired "Anointing", a song that features rap vocals from Ghanaian rapper Sarkodie. Mr Eazi first announced plans for the song in May 2016.
2016–present:GMA snub, Twitter backlash, Accra to Lagos, and record deal
In February 2016, organizers of the Vodafone-sponsored Ghana Music Awards made a decision not to nominate Mr Eazi in any of its Ghanaian-only categories. According to George Quaye, a spokesperson for Charterhouse, Mr Eazi was disqualified because of his nationality. Quaye also stated that Mr Eazi was only eligible to compete in the African Artiste of the Year category. However, he failed to pick up a nomination in the aforementioned category because the organizers felt that he isn't as big as the other nominees. On 11 January 2017, Mr Eazi tweeted that Ghanaian music has a great influence over present-day Nigerian music. He received heavy backlash after posting the tweet and trended nationwide in both Ghana and Nigeria. On 12 January 2017, Mr Eazi apologized to Nigerians for the comments that he made.
Mr Eazi currently has a record deal with Wizkid's Starboy Entertainment. The deal was announced by Wizkid following his performance at the 2016 Ghana Music Awards. He described his record deal with Starboy Entertainment as a catalyst that will speed up his chemical reaction. Mr Eazi's second mixtape, Accra to Lagos, was released on 10 February 2017. Stylised as Life Is Eazi, Vol. 1 – Accra To Lagos, the mixtape was initially scheduled for release on 11 February 2017. It debuted at number 4 on the Billboard World Album chart. The mixtape comprises 11 tracks as well as three bonus tracks. Guest artists featured on the mixtape include Tekno, Olamide, Phyno, Mugeez, Medikal, DJ Cuppy, Falz, and Big Lean. Its production was handled by Maleek Berry, Masterkraft, Legendury Beatz, and Young John. Mr Eazi annonnced via his Instagram account that the mixtape sold 200,000 copies in pre-orders. While speaking to Julie Adenuga on her Beats 1 radio show, Mr Eazi said that the mixtape is a tribute to the two cities that influenced the evolution of his sound.
The mixtape's lead single, "Leg Over", was produced by E-Kelly and released on 2 December 2016. The music video for "Leg Over" features cameo appearances from comedian Eddie Kadi, Maleek Berry, and Wizkid. Mr Eazi told Lawrence Burney from Noisey.com that the song is about being taken advantage of in a relationship. He also told Burney that the song was leaked and wasn't meant to be a single. Upon its release in December 2016, "Leg Over" inspired numerous dance videos. Gabriel Myers Hansen, a critic and editor whose review was posted on the Music In Africa website, described the song as "gentle and minimalist". He also said that it is "freshened by delicate string and percussion placements reminiscent of highlife from decades ago". On 1 February 2017, Mr Eazi released "Tilapia" as the mixtape's second single. It features vocals from Ghanaian hip hop artist Medikal. On 1 March 2017, Mr Eazi released the Sesan-directed music video for "In The Morning". The song features vocals from Toronto rapper Big Lean. On 1 April 2017, Mr Eazi released the Teekay-directed music video for "Flight", a song that features additional vocals from DJ Cuppy. On 7 April 2017, Mr Eazi released the music video for "Business", a song that features vocals from Mugeez of R2Bees.
Mr Eazi is known for pioneering Banku music, a sound "characterized by percolating rhythms and laid-back vocal delivered in Ghanaian Pidgin English". Mr Eazi's music largely fits into the category of Afrobeats, a contemporary West African pop genre that marries global pop, highlife, and hip-hop. Mr Eazi's music has been described as having an R&B-like quality reminiscent of artists such as Beres Hammond and Gregory Isaacs. Lawrence Burney from Noisey.com stated that Mr Eazi uses his deep voice to "give ballad-like qualities to dance-forward production".