Adekunle Gold’s music evolution is worthy of analysis. From being just Adekunle Gold with a contemporary traditional music sound to AG baby, a versatile afrobeat sound. This changed the dynamics of his ability, not just as an artist, but as a producer and songwriter.
Adekunle Kosoko, known professionally as Adekunle Gold, is a Nigerian contemporary and traditional singer, songwriter, and graphic designer. He gained widespread attention after releasing the 2015 hit single “Sade”, a highlife cover of One Direction’s “Story of My Life”. While the artist was already a household name across Africa, and a popular headliner in his native Lagos, Gold garnered him global recognition, debuting at No.7 on the Billboard World Album chart, and featuring such singles as “Orente” and “Pick Up.”
Adekunle Gold received nominations for Album of the Year at New York’s Nigerian Entertainment Awards, as well as at The Headies, which recognizes outstanding achievements in the Nigerian music industry. The album also allowed the artiste to play to packed audiences in London, New York, Dublin, and beyond. This was the beginning of his evolution as not just a music artiste but as an entertainer. Gold followed with his sophomore LP, 2018’s About 30. The album garnered praise from a variety of outlets, including OkayAfrica, which wrote that it “sees the artist flexing immense versatility and range as he delivers emotional ballads, folk-inspired cuts sung in Yoruba, and a few highlife-tinged summer jams.”
At the end of last year, Adekunle Gold who has evolved into AG baby collaborated with British producer TroiBoy on the seductive “Tranquilizer.” Billboard praised the song as “perfect for slow grinding on the dance floor. It’s subtle, with booming drum hits in all the right places, and [Gold] lets his words hang loosely like he’s caught under a spell.” In April, meanwhile, Gold joined the likes of Alessia Cara, The Vamps, and Twin Atlantic for “Lockdown Live,” Virgin EMI’s star-studded, three-day live-streamed music festival, featuring remote performances from 32 artists.
On his third album, Adekunle Gold shows off his growing versatility in a unique and experimental addition to his discography. Weaving threads of Afropop through a multitude of genres, the Nigerian artist avails himself of the joys of exploration. “Afro Pop, Vol. 1 is my freedom,” he tells with Apple Music. “I wanted to make sounds that have come out of Africa, but in my own voice. This is the one time I took all the risk in the world.” He talks us through his inventive sonic choices on the album’s 10 tracks below. According to Adekunle, “I’m feeling more like AG these days, and on this album, it’s a different me entirely. I thought I should start with a song that talks about a new me, and the new energy that surrounds me. There’s this producer who’s been trying to work with me for a while, his name is TMXO. I was done with this album and then he sent me this beat. When I heard the beat, the melody just came to me, and when I recorded it I thought the best person to feature was my friend Nailah. I just knew she was the one! We’d worked together on a song by Washy Fire that isn’t out yet. I think it’s such a strong opener for the album, especially now that people call me AG Baby.”
Adekunle Gold is hailed for making one of the most exciting evolutions in contemporary Nigerian music. The past four years have marked the singer’s discreet progression from highlife predilection to a now chiseled, long-haired pop sensation, with millions more streams and sold-out international venues to match.
I personally attribute most part of his distinct change in sound, personality, and style to his wife, Simisola Gold, who has had such an impact on his career. The impact albeit subtle earlier on could now be seen quite clearly in her adlibs, production, songwriting, and creative influence on his musical works.
Which side of the artist do you prefer? Adekunle Gold or AG Baby?