This month’s feature guest artist is a man renowned for his highly indispensable and quality sound.
Efemena Mukoro popularly known as ‘Blackmagic’ or ‘Ejay’ is a Nigerian-based artist, singer-songwriter and rapper, who has collaborated with several other high profile artists in the industry, and is the mastermind behind many classic hit singles including ‘Rainbow’, ‘Tomorrow’, ‘Repete’ and his latest new track ‘No Need’.
Ejay is a passionate and well grounded artist in his own right, having experimented and developed his sound from a very young age. His music is largely influenced by his wide interests and culture, and is highly rated for being charged with lyrical depth, great vibes and his well known special ‘magic’.
Prior to the release of his latest single, Ejay has kept a low profile by keeping busy and working on a number of exciting new projects, that are yet to be disclosed to the public. Blackmagic fans should definitely keep their eyes and ears out, as they are bound to receive a huge treat from their favourite.
I hope you guys enjoy meeting this talented soul and get to learn a few things from him as I did.
What’s a typical day like in Blackmagic’s life?
I wake up in the morning and spend the first two hours doing absolutely nothing, saying nothing…just swimming in my own mind. I get up and do a little bit of a workout; just stroll around. If I have somewhere to go I’m off, but usually its starts of with me getting a phone call from OJ (Blackmagic’s Manager) with the work I have to do for the rest of the day. If not, then I’m heading straight to the studio to finish up some songs or a project I’m perpetually working on…it’s kind of a curse.
What are three things you can’t live without?
Music, a voice recorder and a very good beer.
You are one of the top few Nigerian-based artists that have helped revolutionise the music industry. You invented a smooth and magical sound that is more or less a fusion of soul, afro-beat, funk and rap. What does it take to create and stay devoted to your own sound in a climate that is not keen or susceptible to change?
I think I grew up in a different era. The era I grew up in it was a thing to be different. Everyone had their own sound even if you like rap music; there’s for example DMX who is different from Jay Z and BIG and they all had different sounds even though they were all in the same space competing each other. So it was always a thing to be different. I am just being myself and the fusion of all the things that I love, has come to be what Blackmagic is…afro beats, hip-hop, soul and funk every now and then. So I just stay me, I don’t know how to be any other way. I don’t really watch what people are doing, I mean I appreciate what people are doing and the changes they make but I only know how to be me.
You are a brilliant artist and I must commend the great work and creativity behind your latest single ‘No Need’. What would you say is the special recipe to creating a standard Blackmagic music?
I wish I could tell you that. If I should tell you then it wouldn’t be magic you know? I don’t know if magicians put out notes for their tricks. I can’t really explain it and that’s why the name is Blackmagic…it’s kind of like how you go to a priest or some spiritual person who wants to give you an advice or wants to do a charm, or help you with a prayer or whatever it is you are trying to do. They could tell you things to do but they don’t tell you exactly how the things they tell you is going to work. Some of them might say, oh say this prayer and do this and fast for 2 days or 3 days but there’s no real explanation as to how that fasting and the prayer is going to turn into what you want exactly. It’s just one of those things that is magic and looking for the magic is what I spend most of my time doing. I don’t know if that answers your question (laughs).
It’s hard to keep track of the number of new artists that are coming out these days. For someone who stays clear of the path of controversies and scandals and does a great job in keeping his relationship private, what are the things you do to stay relevant in today’s massive music industry?
I think its just stay true to your art form; you can’t get bigger than the art. The art brought you to the limelight and the art will keep you in the limelight. As long as your art remains true, and keeps evolving and you keep bringing the magic, then you’ll always be relevant. I just make sure I’m giving the magic at every point in time. It’s almost like a Mercedes Benz, they just need to be Mercedes Benz in the changing climate (not necessarily change). It’s like you can make the little cars that’s selling now or you can make a car and it’s still Mercedes Benz. The core of it is that it doesn’t ever have to change, just keep your fan base. People always get reminded. They might forget you for a while…an artist may go away for like 5-6 years but when they come back you’ll hear them again and they are like ‘Oh my God!’ The people that were young when they first heard you, have gotten older and they hear you again and they still love you and think you are still amazing. That’s how I just stay relevant you know.
Can you mention a few artists or creatives you would love to collaborate with in the near future?
Ahh, of the top of my head right now…uhm…let me see Ducan Mighty, Wiz Kid. Who else will I say? Creatives, they don’t necessarily have to be a musician right? I can’t really think of any off the top of my head right now, but Kanye West and Jay Z, I’d kill for it yeah.
As a gifted songwriter what has been your most difficult song to compose till date and why?
Hmm I don’t know if I can find the most difficult one right now but ‘no need’ was quite hard, especially because the thing that makes people feel a certain way, when they hear a certain type of song, it’s cause of how true it is and how honest the message is. I think the most difficult thing is being 100% honest in the song; that’s the hardest part of the composition. When I want to say something I’m like ‘Ah do I really want to say that, you know? That’s why if you listen to no need…I even said it….’to say what’s on my mind is just so difficult, that’s why I’m spitting cold, so you wouldn’t really get it, unless you really know’. That’s the way I could say it and still protect myself because you know people. As much as I want to make that music and let you hear what I really feel, I also don’t want you to judge. So I want to be able to put the message out without necessarily giving the space for judgement of oh this person this…I mean if you figure it out in some certain way, no problem but for someone to be able to say ‘oh this person did this, this person did that’ and they start to build their own assumptions, I like to be as vague as possible. Being honest is the hardest part of composing a song. If I’m lying about something, that’s easy.
This is not really a question but more of a comment on your album Blackmagic Version 2.0. You are the only artist I know who’s longest track on an album (8 mins long if I might add) was spent expressing your gratitude to the long list of people in your life that were instrumental in making the album a success, including your fans that have shown support to you one way or the other. I just want to say it’s a commendable effort of yours, and I hope people get to see and appreciate a lot more the humble man that Blackmagic truly is.
Thank you so much. I am humbled and I appreciate that so much.
Can you tell us about the craziest experience you’ve had with a fan?
Ah…you know that thing I said about being honest? So let me try and find a very crazy one. So I met this guy who wanted to play some stuff for me (I don’t know where I was then I think I was in Akure or Abuja) and I was like oya, bring it over now. Before you know it, the next week (I gave him my number) he travelled. This guy travelled and he didn’t know anybody, and he just kept buzzing me that he came to see me and he wanted to play the stuff for me. I was like wow and he ended up staying at mine. It was crazy, I didn’t even remember or think he’ll take it that serious, but I think that was crazy.
The music industry is rumoured and reported to be a soul selling one. It’s quite ironic that your stage name is Blackmagic, but what are your personal opinions on things like the illuminati and black magic? (There’s no smoke without fire they say).
Yeah regardless of what it’s called, selling your souls is not something that is peculiar to the music industry or even entertainment. I mean selling your soul is just putting everything (by any means necessary), however and whatever it takes to get what I want. It depends on how far you are willing to go, Some people could you know…anything from changing your sexuality just to fit a particular criteria for a movie. Somebody says ‘oh there’s an opening, you’ll get this deal only that you aren’t homosexual’. So maybe cause that’s what the market is you’re like oh okay I can do that. I can kiss a guy on TV or even talk to someone or say things you don’t really mean, accept things you don’t believe in just to get what you want. I mean the minute you can do anything to get what you want, then that’s typically selling your soul. You don’t even need to join anything. People are their owns illuminaties. They would kill to be somewhere. Somebody finds competition and they would just to offstage competition…I mean would you kill someone to get what you want? Steal something to get what you want? Would you pardon my French fuck somebody over just to get what you want? I just think the only difference between selling your soul and not selling your soul is just rules and principles. Once rules and principles are out the door then your soul has been sold.
What is it about being a pubic figure that you dislike the most?
Uhm not being private anymore. You lose your anonymity really quickly. You know sometimes you can go somewhere and you can just say ‘look at what that girl is wearing’ or ‘oh look at this person’ or ‘I don’t like what they are saying’. But when you are a public figure, everybody hears what you are saying. When you go out, you cant really speak in public without thinking about who you are around. People just kind of expect so much from you, and I’m just a human being like everybody else. I think it’s a gift and a curse cause also you get this so called VIP treatment. Somebody knows you so there is always an advantage in every conversation.
Is there a certain bias in the entertainment industry that not many people are aware of and as an artist, how easy or difficult is it to establish relationships with other artists and producers?
For me I don’t want to do everything. I only do the things that feed my soul and feed the music, that’s what makes me happy. If it’s not real there’s really no point. It’s either there is a real connection or a business connection. If it’s real then you can come to the studio if I really feel like we can make music (like I said about Duncan Mighty) I really respect his music and will love to make music with him. But if he doesn’t want to make music with me and I really want to do it, then it will just turn into a business transaction. You know like I want to do this song with you, what will it take? Whether he likes it or not he’ll say what he wants and we get it done. So I really feel like it’s about what your principles are. For me I only go with what is real. If I don’t really like your music, I don’t really want to make music with you and I won’t lie about it. That’s just me and I’m speaking about myself.
What advice would you give to young and up-coming artists?
Find yourself and find your truth. That’s the only thing you can do better than anyone else. You may not appeal to everyone but the people you do appeal to, will love what you do till the end; for me that’s what really matters. I don’t want everyone to love your music and then tomorrow everybody is gone. I’d rather 20,000 people love my music for life.
You have one of the richest voices I’ve ever heard. Is this a unique trait that’s common with the men in your family?
Uhm I had no idea until I started; I mean I just like to try things out. I never knew it was a thing; it wasn’t like okay this is why I’m going to do music because my voice is like this. I just knew I loved it and (it’s hilarious), I tried the song one time and I was like oh I can sing like this and then people were like ‘oh my God! Your voice!’ But I don’t hear myself like that. I’m not sure I really thought about it that much because I’m really the only one that does music in my family. I know that most people in my family appreciate my music a lot.
What happened to the Threewisemen? The band’s hit single ‘bastard’ was one of my favourite jams back in the days.
The album is ready to go, we are just in the process of putting all the marketing together but the album is ready (after a long while). I’m sure the fans are going to love it.
If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing right now?
Maybe a photographer. I like to take pictures; I take pictures of women.
Take pictures of women?
Yes, I think women are amazing. There’s nothing that happens without a woman, or a woman making sure it happens. Just going through life, apart from being born (my mum), you have a girlfriend who likes you and she helps you out with some stuff and then you meet someone that likes your music and then she puts you on a certain..(things that men would need some other kind of incentive to do). A woman can just say, “oh I really like what you do” and they will push you and see it through till the end and make sure it happens just because they feel like it’s the real deal. I feel like anybody who earns the love of a woman has a great thing. You know what they say…behind every great man is a woman. I think behind every success story, there are women.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Video games. I’m a big video games fan. I won’t say I’m addicted to it because I have control over it. I love video games because (to me) they teach a lot. I learn a lot from them because they are very immersive in their experiences and it kind of teaches you about life and failure. You know how you’re playing a game and you die and it’s game over and then you start again…and again. If you don’t do what you need to do, if you don’t get it right, you won’t progress. So it’s kind of a life game. Some people fail three times and they are like ‘mehn I’m not doing again’ or maybe this is not the kind of game I should be playing. Meanwhile, there are challenges that some people fail ten times in life. I’m like okay why haven’t I tried? It teaches you about life and failure; how to fail. I really think it’s something we don’t teach in this part of the world; like how to fail. People don’t know how to fail and you find that every great success comes from failure. Success doesn’t teach you shit, pardon my French.
Can you tell us something not many people know about you?
Apart from the fact that I like video games?
Uhm I’m very emotional and I’m very personal with everything that I do. If I’m doing businesses, I only do things I personally know I can invest in and not just because it can make me money. If I’m not personally attached to it then I’m not going to do it. Yeah everyone can do what they like do but if I’m not personally invested in it, I’m not doing it.
If the whole world had your attention right now, what would you tell them?
I’ll tell them I’ll like to have a conversation about belief. I think it’s a currency or the power that human beings have; the power to believe in something. Belief makes something real. Something that doesn’t exist the minute you believe it, it becomes real. That’s what religion and all these other things harness. You know like a friend of mine (just to digress a little) sometimes we have this conversation. It was like oh I’m Christian and you’re Muslim but the Quran doesn’t say or give account for the rest of the world apart from where the stories about [Prophet] Muhammad and other things that happened. Just like in Christianity, the bible doesn’t give account of the rest of the world apart from Jerusalem cause that’s where Jesus was. I’m like where was the rest of the world? Again if you say God created the world, then that means He acknowledges the rest of the world. The only difference between Christian and Muslim or whatever it is, is how we create our belief. It’s like you have a Mac and I have a Windows, they are both computers with just different operating systems. It’s the same concept. We both believe in God and we pray, there’s laws (there’s a way you worship and there’s a way I worship and there are times for it). It’s all just about belief. You can believe in Allah and it works. I believe in Jesus Christ and it works or I believe in Buddha and it works, or I believe in juju and it works or I believe in a ghost and it works. I mean in every religion they tell you don’t worship any other God except the Almighty; God. All other goods that are created by man, they are like ‘I created this thing’ and the moment you start to channel believe towards the thing it starts to work. They tell you not to worship any other thing man created because when it’s destroyed [when this thing you created is destroyed], then your belief is destroyed and you’re disoriented. But when it’s the Almighty; the infinite God, it cannot be destroyed. You can fail, you can fall, you can stumble or whatever, but you are always going to have that connection with the higher being that is God. You’ll never be doomed. I’ve realised that there’s one single thing that all religions preach and that God is love. Love is all that there is. Some people are like oh I’m Muslim so I cannot do this thing, and I respect that because it’s just a matter of what you have chosen to believe. It’s like how you see the world, some people think money is the most important thing, some people think love is the most important thing, some people think kids are the most important thing, some people think animals are the most important thing, some people think the earth is the most important thing and some people think agriculture is the most important thing. But we are made in those different ways to create balance in the world. You see there can’t be light without darkness. It’ s all about balance. It’s just like God the Almighty, He can destroy evil forever and there will not be evil in the world. But then why not? Because it keeps balance. Night time has its uses and day time has its uses; that kind of thing.
Last but not least, do you have any good book, movie, documentary or place you’d recommend to your readers?
There’s a book called The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho…it’s really good I love it.
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Thank you for stopping by today but before you go, do show Ejay some love by dropping a comment or any questions you may have for him below, and be sure to watch out for my next post.