The Brother's Keeper

The Brother's Keeper

Over a two-year period, Nigerian singer-songwriter Chike recorded The Brother’s Keeper, a bevy of 16 songs that are by turns celebratory, ruminative, and oftentimes private. Together, they consolidate his rise to the top tiers of contemporary Nigerian pop, building on the success of 2020’s Boo of the Booless, the debut album that marked his transition from an aspirant singer competing on Project Fame West Africa and The Voice Nigeria to a star in his own right. “For me, The Brother’s Keeper is a state of believing that I’m existing in right now: who I have to be while I make this music,” Chike (born Chike Ezekpeazu Osebuka) tells Apple Music. Temporal specificity aside, The Brother’s Keeper reveals a confident artist who is well-aware of the high expectations from himself and his growing audience. Chike’s vocals and song structures might suggest an R&B backbone, but his varied sonic interests include the searing emotional peaks of pop ballads, the throbbing rigor of amapiano, and the combined form of dance rhythms and morality tales of West African highlife. Here, Chike talks us through his sophomore album, track by track. “On the Moon” “I always want to mess with amapiano. It’s fun, and nobody wants to be bored. Some people are just going to jump on it because they feel that’s what’s trending. But that’s not my reason. I just wanted to have fun. Because I don’t produce most of the time, I’m in the situation where the producer has to interpret, and I just have to guide them. And there’s only so much you can do. Sometimes, you’re lucky to find somebody who has an extreme synergy with you, where you don’t have to even say too much for them to understand where you’re going with the music. An artist is blessed to have that.” “Tell Am” “This is very much a wedding song, which is just as well because I perform at a lot of weddings. One of the symbols of love in the present day is still marriage. Am I the wedding song expert? When I make music, I try to put myself in a clear mind. And whatever comes out from there, once it’s done, [people] can categorize it the way they please. But I don’t want to categorize right from the top, because then that ties me to a spot; it just kills your ability to explore and to touch other things.” “Spell” “The aim for ‘Spell’ was to create the impression of a situation you quit so many times and keep going back to. How do you recover from a spell? Time always does it.” “My Africa” (feat. Azana) “We wanted to make a song in praise of Africa. Some people who are Africans might or might not share our pride. When considering who to feature, Azana, who is from South Africa, complemented the music the most.” “Hard to Find” (feat. Flavour) “Flavour’s singing quality is very clear. He also finds a way to entertain. Any artist, at some point, wants to make music with somebody who inspires them, and I sure made use of this opportunity.” “Winner” “This song is about finding the one. In one lyric, I liken this to the last card in card games, when you play knowing that your next card is going to be a big one. You either win or lose, but at this point, I’m saying it’s a winning hand: she is a winner or he is a winner, as the case might be.” “Bad” “One of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten in a relationship is being told how to get back at someone. I felt bad because I got back so hard, and I just knew that I wasn’t going to do that to another person again. I tasted it, and I know how it feels. As I got older, I learned that excluding yourself from the situation is always better because sometimes the activity of getting to hurt the other person ties you more and more into the situation.” “Zamo” “I think my strongest suit is my mind and the stories I’m able to tell. Should I find myself telling them mostly in ballads? Should I find myself telling mostly in reggae or in Afropop beats? So be it. I don’t need to set out to create those times—they always just come. So, it’s about me noticing them and deciding on what song to express it.” “Pour Me a Drink” “One truth is that everybody’s a liar. A lot of times when you want to get the truth from people, it’s never really the complete truth. And sometimes this even happens between us and ourselves, where we’re not able to face the truth. This song is for when things get so rowdy, and you ask that someone pours you a drink. You don’t want to be too conscious of the fact that things are not what they are, or things are not what they should be.” “You Deserve” [Chike & Ycee] “This song is a state of mind describing when you love a person, but you’re willing to let them go and have a better experience than you can give, from somewhere else or from somebody else. Ycee got on the song and complemented it so well. To some, when I sing, ‘You deserve more than I can give,’ it might seem a little patronizing, but I intend it to be selfless.” “Enough” “Most times, if you are the approacher, in most human relationships, the natural instinct is to want to show that person that you are right for the position. I’ve had to do that. I guess we all do that.” “Moving On” “I wanted to create a feeling where you are telling somebody that you’re not gonna put up with their shit anymore. You’ve done this before—you’ve done it the first, second, and third time. If you do it again, I’m just going to turn my back and walk away. It might sound like a song warning of a heartbreak around the corner. It wasn’t intended that way. It’s a stand-your-ground kind of song: ‘This is my stand, and this time I’m not gonna move for no one.’” “Good Things” “I intended it to speak towards patience, saying, ‘Your time is gonna come. What belongs to you is going to get to you at some point.’ We all get there at some point. I believe it will register to anybody who has the belief in what was said.” “God Only Knows” “This song literally talks about betrayal. The lyrics combine pidgin, English, and Igbo, my tribal language. You are always going to hear a combination of those three in my music.” “Nothing Less, Nothing More” “This song is about that craving for one more chance with somebody who, realistically, you’re probably never going to see again. I know that I’ve tried to make lines sound more poetic, but I try to make sure that, in sounding poetic, I don’t sound unrealistic because I’m not writing poems. I always try to find a balance between being poetic and being realistic, and I try to maintain as much reality as I can.” “Please” “At the end of this life journey, I want to walk away from this fast life with something of some value. That could be to be genuinely happy, to be self-sufficient, but I don’t think I’m gonna be happy if I don’t, at some point, sing or say all I have to say.”


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