From one hit song to another, an extended play (EP) in the bag and a debut album in the offing; Bella Shmurda has continued his steady rise since he came into the limelight in 2019.
Prior to the release of ‘Vision 2020’, his breakthrough project in 2019, the 23-year-old fast-rising singer was relatively an unknown figure in the Nigerian music landscape.
But barely a few months after the project, he took the country’s music industry by storm with ‘Cash App‘. The song — released last year — not only became a street anthem but also snagged a nomination for the ‘Next Rated’ category at the 14th edition of the Headies.
Since then, the musician, whose real name is Ahmed Abiola Akinbiyi, has inspired several other hit songs and collaborated with music heavyweights.
In this interview with TheCable Lifestyle, Shmurda talks about his music career, life before stardom, debut album, and his performance with Trace Naija.
Almost every artiste has some sort of inspiration behind their stage name. How did you come about Bella Shmurda?
My names are Ahmed Abiola Akinbiyi. I coined Bella from Abiola and I used to be a fan of Bobby Shmurda, so I took his last name and that formed Bella Shmurda.
Not many knew you until you released ‘Vision 2020’ in 2019, tell us about your career before then
I have been doing music for a while before 2019. I actually recorded ‘Vision 2020’ in 2018 and I already dropped few singles for the culture before then too. It’s all fine.
What factors would you say help to shape your career as an artiste while growing up?
I’d say everyday life, the hood where I came from and grew up as well as my family helped shaped my career
‘Vision 2020’ appeared to be a prophecy because you had your big break the exact year with the release of ‘Cash App’. What was on your mind while you were composing that song in 2019?
I actually just did my thing, nothing specific was on my mind. I call my sound the conscious sound. So, I was just talking about what’s happening in my society and what the government said about 2020 being the year the country would take a better shape, little did I know I was prophesying for myself.
Fame is something every artiste craves but not many can successfully manage the pressure and responsibility that comes with it, what has been the experience for you?
All I can say is it’s crazy out here. No one really cares about the pressure, you have to wear that smile even if you’re going through hell. I’ve had my fair share of the good and the bad. It’s the life we signed up for, so we just have to manage the pressure and responsibilities anyways and I’ve been doing that with the help of my team and my well-wishers.
You were nominated for the ‘Next Rated’ category at the 14th edition of the Headies but you lost to Omah Lay. How do you feel losing your first shot at the Headies?
Firstly, I’d say a shout-out to the Headies for the recognition. It shows my hard work didn’t go unnoticed. But there can only be one winner and it’s a well-deserved win for Omah Lay, shout-out to him. Omah Lay and I are good friends. It’s all good
Let’s talk about your experience with TRACE NAIJA. How do you describe your performance?
Superb and nice.
What’s your experience performing with a live band?
That’s not my first time performing with a live band though. In fact, my kind of music sounds well with a live band performance. I have a live band team I work with. Expect more of Bella Shmurda live band performance.
Platforms like Trace Naija and others have been promoting the Afrobeats and its artistes of which you’re one. How do you describe the efforts of these platforms in promoting your works and that of others?
Big shout-out to Trace Naija and every platform promoting Afrobeats and other stuff out of Africa. You’re doing a great job, and the efforts aren’t going unnoticed, I personally appreciate them. God bless every platform and everyone doing their best to make Afrobeats and other things out of Africa a global phenomenon.
Afrobeats has become a global force. We’ve seen the heroics of Burna Boy, Wizkid and Davido in the international scene. What’s the feeling of being an Afrobeats star in this era?
Honestly, I feel graced to be recognised as one of the artistes in this era. There are so many afrobeat talents out there so I’d say I feel graced. Big shout-out to Olamide Baddo, Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, Runtown and all the legends that paved the way!
Does any of the above singers inspire your craft as an artiste?
I try to learn from everyone. Big shout-out to all of them.
Do you think there is healthy competition among artistes in the Nigerian entertainment industry?
From my own perspective, I feel the competition is healthy — good vibes all the way. Everyone is doing their thing, different sounds coming out every week and everyone is supporting each other. The sky is big enough for everyone.
Let’s talk about your music, what do you strive to achieve with your songs?
When people listen to my song, I want them to dance, I want them to learn and I want them to stay conscious. Basically, I want to awake and entertain people with my music.
Currently, Nigeria is faced with many challenges, as an artiste with a huge following, how are you using your brand to improve the situation?
Nigeria is a sensitive country with sensitive leaders, so we have to be careful about how we use words and how we use our brands and platforms. But I’m doing all I can alongside my music to improve the situation.
As an artiste, who would you say you look up to as a role model?
I look up to Olamide, contemporary Fuji artistes like Pasuma, K1 De Ultimate, King Sunny Ade and the likes. Others are Angelique Kidjo, Youssou N’Dour and our own Fela Kuti. I celebrate these legends.
When should we be expecting your debut album?
It should be released sometime in 2022.
Are you in any relationship at the moment or considering going into one anytime soon?
Yes, I’m In a very serious relationship with my craft.
What collaborations/projects should we be looking forward to in the coming months?
I’ve got a couple of projects coming. My EP, ‘High Tension 2.0‘ just dropped, shout out to my fans and everyone supporting me. Let’s expect a better, bigger, and more interesting Bella Shmurda in the coming months/year.
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