Standard love songs are far from the be-all, end-all for progressive R&B artist Azekel. A ruminative songwriter, the Nigeria-born, England-based musician has examined issues such as adulthood and identity, self-worth and depression, and the responsibilities of parenthood, all the while developing a fearlessly vulnerable singing technique that doesn't rely on his potent falsetto. Azekel generated momentum during the mid-2010s with a slew of early, short-form releases that earned the admiration of Prince and led to collaborations with Massive Attack ("Ritual Spirit") and Gorillaz ("Momentz"). The advancements culminated in 2018 with the release of his self-released debut album, Our Father.
Originally from Nigeria, Azekel Adesuyi moved with his family at the age of three to his native East London. In England, he developed an early interest in numerous forms of music and taught himself to play guitar and keyboards, which led to writing songs and eventually production. He started to build an audience in 2013 with the double single "That Feeling"/"A Song to an Unborn Child (Delilah)" and Circa EP, the first releases on his independent label THNDRLGHTNG Recordings (known eventually as Thunderlightning). He teased the release of his second EP, 2015's Raw, Vol. 1, with "New Romance," a booming and buzzing track that was wholly modern yet out of step with commercial R&B. Prince, one of his key inspirations, tweeted support.
Azekel's profile continued to heighten during the next couple years. He co-wrote and was featured on the title song of Massive Attack's 2016 EP Ritual Spirit, toured with that group, and released his third EP, Raw, Vol. 2. After touring with Banks and appearing on Gorillaz's 2017 album Humanz -- he contributed background vocals to "Momentz" and was featured on the deluxe-edition track "Midnite Float" -- Azekel devoted more time to his own material. Three thematically distinct, digital-only EPs -- recorded primarily in solitude with some co-production and additional instrumentation provided by the likes of Redinho and Joe Armon-Jones -- were spread across the first five months of 2018. That November, the trilogy was combined and re-sequenced for the vinyl and digital album Our Father, which added the exclusive and cathartic "Waiting to Die." ~ Andy Kellman