With his EP, Acknowledgement making waves and drawing listeners, primarily from the Gen Z, the Alté, Afro-twist rapper, singer and songwriter, Chyme is looking to break into the industry with his own unique sound and genre.
Chyme, born Ebubechukwu Chime began writing music at the age of 7 when his mother enrolled him in a Children’s Christmas carol competition at her workplace. He says that music had somehow always been in him as a lover of all that the world of art has to offer. With little drops of his sound like rain drizzles at events or on social media, and the validation that came, he was beginning to realize that a number of persons were “digging to his sound” and he could really this.
As we set up for our video interview via Zoom, I in Lagos, Nigeria and he himself in Canada, there’s Slide, my favorite track from his EP playing in the background. I wonder what Chyme looks like, apart from pictures on his Instagram, I had never met this young man who says “art is everything and music is just as beautiful as you want it to be.”
“I wouldn’t know whether to say music really runs in my family, but growing up my parents played a lot of Brenda and a number of other gospel songs. However, if I must pick someone from my family who really influenced my music, it would be my late cousin”, he tells me on the call.
Chyme’s earliest memory of his love for hip hop was memorizing the lyrics of “6 Foot 7 Foot” by Lil Wayne. He says “I remember sitting in front of the television and just watching music channels, writing down hip hop songs, then downloading them and learning the lyrics to sing them with the artiste when those songs came up again on the TV.”His interest in music was solidified while in secondary school, when some of his classmates began rapping in year 9. He soon joined the group of between 6 to 7 boys as their manager and soon enough, he was rapping with the crew.
In no time, the group christened itself “Sabotage” and began to look to pursue music professionally. However, that dream fizzled into obscurity when the group disbanded as some found new interests; and others changed school. Chyme however, was not going to let the desire to do music slip past him.
In 2017 he released ‘Waist’ with 4EB, an Afro-swing song where he raps about his woman and how the love they share is something he would treasure. The sickest bar on this track would be “You Harley Quinn, I’m Joker, but baby girl I’m serious.” Same year he dropped, ‘Say’. He would later release an EP with Kwado, Trapbraids and Afro-Twist’.
In 2018, Chyme released “Ends” which he says was written “in a sense with a woman in mind, but not really because of a woman”. This was one Afro-swing song that got his followers getting a real deal of what his music is. His voice blends smoothly with the instrumental and the song has the reggae vibe which is present in most of Chyme’s music.
Read more: Music Review: Chyme’s Acknowledgement EP Is An Audience-Selective Project
“We just friends, I’m in the zone/I told you leave me alone/but please don’t go/I feel at home”, he sings. The song comes off like a bipolar seeking love, wanting this woman today and then setting rules about what the love should be.
In 2019, he released “Dudu”, an Afro-Soul song which celebrates black beauty and all the glory of the melanin. Suffice to say before Beyonce’s ‘Brown Skin Girl’, there was Chyme’s ‘Dudu’. He’s been on a number of projects and mixtapes before his Acknowledgement EP.
Chyme is an upcoming wonder with a sound bringing together a number of cultures and elements to his music. After living in cities like Warri, Port-Harcourt, Enugu, Toronto and Ottawa, his music is a blend of all these cultures.
When I ask him if his living outside Africa does not reflect negatively on how Nigerians react to his music, he laughs and says, “music is a global language. My music is a record of my environment. My environment inspires me, my personal experiences and other significant happenings. It s one of the reasons why people are moved to f**k with my shit.”
“I call the genre of music I peddle, Afro-Twist which is a combination of what is present in Nigeria, available in Africa and prevalent in the West. It is all these things wrapped into one which makes my sound unique.”
The concept of a new genre under the Afrobeats umbrella is not strange. (Note that Afrobeats differs from Afrobeat, the deep funk and hard drums brought to fore in the late 1960s and early 70s by music legend, Fela Kuti.)
And as it goes, word on the street is that Vector, the Nigerian rapper is pushing ‘Rapfro’, a mix of rap and Afrobeats. The same goes for Yung6ix who is trying to introduce ‘Trapfro’ to the Nigerian music audience as evident in his recent project.
“Afro-Twist was coined as a move to describe my sound and what it entails. It is a blend of different sounds that has the Afro originality at the root of it. It came from my reading ‘A Twist in the Tale’ by Jeffrey Archer. I read the book when I was around 8 or 9. The book is a mix of different stories that all start ordinarily but take on a strange twist towards the end of the book, leaving you amazed and all. This is what my sound is. It is a combination of different shit, you have Hip Hop, the Afro sound and other genres of music to give you a desired, unexpected feel.”
Chyme’s Afro-Twist is insanely a gravitating feel. It has all the drums hitting it in the right places as is conversant with Afrobeats. There’s also the Jamaican reggae infused too, with bouncy rhythms and a slap of staccato which helps when he is rapping. There’s very little you can do when the beat begins. The mission is to draw you in and for an upcoming artiste, Afro-Twist is not disappointing.
With his songs on music streaming platforms, Chyme is placing himself in the center of the conversation as an Alté artiste to watch out for. His conversations in his lyrics emphasize what he tells me, “If its Afrobeats, it is Afrobeats wey dey teach Afrobeats.” His eclectic sound, his vocals and songwriting skill are going to see him go far in the growing Alté scene in Africa’s music industry.
As the conversation slightly begins to tilt towards the social and political aspect of making music and being an artiste, I ask him where he sees the Alté scene in 5 years from now.
In 2017, the world saw a switch of the narrative of what music genres were most consumed. With Justin Bieber joining Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee in the remix of ‘Despacito’, and Latin music making it big on the charts coupled with Cardi B’s ‘Bodak Yellow’, there was the realization that something new was happening in the music industry.
Similarly in Africa, with focus on Nigeria, the Alté genre was climbing the ladder, helmed by Lady Donli, Odunsi (the Engine), and other players who had been doing their own stuff, including DRB Lasgidi and Show Dem Camp. These artistes were bringing a new fire and experiment with a plethora of sounds that was strange as it was exciting.
“No doubt, the Alté sub-genre has been doing amazingly well and I mean in five years time, we can expect the best out of it. Like, just look at it and what is done, but do I see it overtaking the Afrobeats? Not in 10 years time. Yes, I said it. Nigerians are naturally a dancing people and not all the sounds in the Alté scene are for gravitating to. On the other hand, there’s Afrobeats which is primarily meant among other things to make you move your body. However, we can expect a synergy between the two. There’s the possibility of true Alté artistes making it mainstream like the Wizkid and the Burna Boy.”
With the #RevolutionNow protests ongoing in Nigeria, I ask him what he thinks about artistes joining the fight for social change. “It is inevitable, at some point we have to. And I feel like artistes have a bigger platform, if they say something, folks can f**k deep with it. For example, when Wizkid tweeted about the Xenophobia in Africa or Burna Boy who is constantly speaking about the need for Africa to do better.
“So, yes the musician cannot shy away from societal change and activism. If you can’t sing about it, with social media, on your page, you can lend a voice to the struggle.”
Perhaps the most startling thing about Chyme is the fact that he doesn’t rewrite his songs. He says editing them gives them a strange false feel.
“I am an artiste in every sense. I read a lot of books and all that, so art for me is very important. I like the authenticity of art, which is why I do not rewrite or edit my songs. Whenever I say it, a lot of people are puzzled as to this fact, but I believe as at the point of writing that song, there’s something truthful that must be divulged. With editing, there’s a huge probability that it would lose that truth hidden in-between the lines.”
He also regards himself as a contrarian who will not allow others perception of his music shape or determine how he writes or his art. This is evident in the 2017 song, ‘Just Vibes’.
While he says he’s heavily influenced by artistes like Olamide, Burna Boy, M.I Abaga, P-Square, Pasuma, Danny Young then Big Sean and J.Cole from the Hip Hop scene, he hopes to work with a number of artistes including Banggz, Fasina, Tay Iwar, Vector, Wani, Burna Boy, 6lack, Kid Cudi, Tiwa Savage, Waje, Merry- Lynn, Veen, Omah Lay and various others.
As we wrap up the session, I ask him one last question, “how would you summarize your journey as an artiste and where’s Chyme going to be 5 years from now?”
“Well, as much as I want to look into the future and what it holds for me, I want people to know my shit now. Let them first know and understand my sound now, then we can begin to think of what to do from then.
“But then, as an artiste, I’ll say my journey has been exciting. I’ve been doing this for a while and it’s all coming together. There’s been ups and downs, but it’s been an interesting ride. The goal however, still remains, let people get introduced to my music and let them enjoy what I do. That’s the goal.”Photo Credit: Instagram