The Evil Genius

The Evil Genius

The highly anticipated solo album from international star Mr Eazi brings a fresh and dynamic reintroduction to the Nigerian-born artist. In contrast to his usually jovial sound, The Evil Genius takes us on an intimate journey through Eazi’s life over the past few years, expressed across a variety of reggae, gospel, highlife, and Afropop sounds. His musical growth sees him touch on themes of grief, depression, politics, and love with glimpses of his signature playful style. Each song is accompanied by an individual visual piece from artists across Africa, commissioned by the singer-songwriter. They represent the essence of each track, making The Evil Genius not just an album, but an exhibition of Eazi’s life. “This album is not just a music album, it’s art,” Mr Eazi tells Apple Music. “It’s meant to be displayed in museums and galleries.” Featuring collaborations with the likes of Angelique Kidjo, Soweto Gospel Choir, and a variety of producers, The Evil Genius showcases Mr Eazi’s duality and his appreciation for the transformative nature of music and art. Here, he talks us through key tracks from the album. “Olúwa Jọ̀” “‘Olúwa Jọ̀’ is a prayer; it means ‘Please, God,’ and at the time I recorded the song, I was at a crossroads, thinking what I would do with my life. I wanted to quit music because I wasn’t enjoying performing anymore. I walked off the Coachella stage and I felt nothing. I sang, ‘I swear to God, I feel lonely with people around me’; it was so deep. Also, when I recorded the song, my mom was ill, and I’d never seen my mom ill my whole life. After I added my mom’s voice notes, I just thought, ‘Yes, this defines the beginning of the album.’” “Òròkórò” (with Angelique Kidjo) “‘Òròkórò’ was recorded in Benin. There is a tree in Benin where many people come to pray. They say the tree also grows in Haiti, and anything you do to the tree in Benin reflects on the one in Haiti. The first night I spent in Benin, I was staying in a house by the side of the lagoon. I woke up in the night hearing sounds, with my hair standing, and I had goosebumps. Benin is a really spiritual city—I think it is the birthplace of voodoo. The chorus speaks about destiny. I’m saying, whatever’s in your heart, you speak, but there’s nothing you can do about my destiny. Benin is where Angelique Kidjo was born, so everything is connected. If you see the art by [Beninese artist] Patricorel, it reflects my words that all the money, or the house, [or whatever you may have in] the world, you’re not going to take it to the grave.” “Chop Time, No Friend” “This is brag therapy. So ‘Chop time, no friend’ is from an adage—one of those quotes you see at the back of the public buses in Ghana. It means it’s time to eat and focus on eating, focus on enjoyment. There’s always this chit-chat about me and my fiancée—I never respond to it. This is the first time I addressed it, saying when I’m with my woman, I don’t give a fuck about what you guys are saying. You can go on and say whatever you like.” “Panadol” “I just wanted ‘Panadol’ to be a fun song. [The producer] Type-A captures the Banku music sound, and I joke about professing my sexual prowess to a woman. Panadol is a medication, and I say, ‘Me I no dey take Panadol,’ so I’m just being cheeky, you know. ‘Panadol’ is a palate cleanser.” “Jamboree” (with Tekno) “‘Jamboree’ starts the second part of the album, my love story. ‘Jamboree’ represents the honeymoon phase of love. The art for ‘Jamboree’ is one of the most colorful pieces by legendary artist Dominique Zinkpè from Benin. The song features Tekno, who has become one of my closest friends. I would say Tekno is one of the most talented African musicians, probably in the top five in the world. He can do everything, from producing dance, fashion, painting…everything.” “Good Lovin’” (with Efya) “‘Good Lovin’’ is about what my woman wants from me. I’m speaking to the point in a relationship where I realize that my fiancée just wants my time and affection; that’s the most important thing to her. I can’t swap that for gifts or big gestures. The reggae inspiration and Efya’s vocals capture the message perfectly.” “Lack of Communication” “I am the person who bottles things up when I am bothered. ‘Lack of Communication’ is the phase in a relationship where my fiancée and I had just fought, and she wasn’t saying anything, giving me the silent treatment. So I was going crazy because I wasn’t used to her doing that. I felt so pissed and almost rushed out of our Accra house, but I realized, ‘Damn, this is just a lack of communication.’ For the first time, I understood how she feels when I don’t speak about what’s bothering me, and then get pissed at some stupid shit like her not giving me a hug. So the song is saying, let’s talk about the matter. Let’s resolve it. I’m apologizing, but I’m laughing at the irony. The irony is that I was trying to be, like, gangster instead of showing emotions. I also co-produced the record with Kelp. I’ve always collaborated on production, but don’t call myself a producer. On this album, I wanted to credit myself in the spirit of giving myself my flowers.” “Legalize” “I owe this album to the artwork by Patricorel. It is what started this journey of combining art and music. I was spellbound by his painting. He had painted a man and a woman sitting on a chair, similar to the ‘Legalize’ artwork. The man and the woman were skeletons holding something that was bringing life. So ‘Legalize’ is speaking about the finality of love and how out of love comes new life; it also ends the love phase of the album. When I recorded ‘Legalize,’ I bought an engagement ring months in advance—I knew I had found my wife but didn’t know when to propose. I was recording that song, and something came from my subconscious, and I knew that ‘OK, now is the time to propose.’ The video co-stars my fiancée, Temi. I actually proposed to her during the filming of it. The proposal was like an out-of-body experience.” “We Dey” “I recorded this song around the time of the protest in Nigeria for #EndSARS, but I thought it would be disingenuous to drop it with all the conflict. I didn’t want it to feel like I was trying to capitalize on that. I talk about ‘Fuck the circus.’ I feel like we often get trapped on which side we are supporting. All those structures distract us, which I call ‘the circus.’ They distract us from moving forward as a people.” “Zuzulakate” (with Joeboy) “So, I saw this video of this comedian online. He dresses like a pastor, always pretending to speak in tongues and keeps saying, ‘Zuzulakate.’ And tongues is spiritual. It’s intense worship that you don’t even know the language you’re speaking. So it’s like the purest form of communication with God. I don’t want to go too deep on religion, but that’s the kind of gratitude I wanted to express, an appreciation that words cannot express. Joeboy is a testament to the grace of God on my life. He was the first artist I signed to emPawa, and we had the smash hit ‘Nobody’ in 2020 in the middle of COVID, along with DJ Neptune. So having Joeboy on this record is beautiful, and he speaks his truth. As you go into the last two tracks, the theme of gratitude is kind of like a heavy one.” “Mandela” “On ‘Mandela,’ I was just grateful to my dad. My dad has fought battles for me. I don’t get into trouble because he’s prayed for me. I remember this vividly: I’m about to go to school, the rain is falling, and my dad is speaking in tongues, placing his hand over my head, praying for us. I’m thankful for those battles, those spiritual battles to break those generational curses. I’m a testament to that right now. Every life I touch with my music is because of the sacrifice of my dad. So I’m praying I can leave a legacy like my dad has left an impact. Like Nelson Mandela—his impact is forever.” “Exit” (with Soweto Gospel Choir) “I knew about the Soweto Gospel Choir before I started making music. So when I played the song to the video director Allison [Swank Owen], she envisioned us on top of a mountain with the choir singing. So we took the chopper to the top of a mountain in the Drakensberg, South Africa. There is only one chorus because I didn’t edit it at all; I just let them go with it.”

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