Meet chuXchu, the New York-based Nigerian singer making tender and catchy Afropop songs
an impressive Afropop star
an impressive Afropop star
Until around two years ago, Nigerian singer and songwriter, chuXchu didn’t seriously consider being an artist. “It was just one of those things where I loved music and…I decided to give it a shot,” the singer explains with an air of fulfillment over a scheduled Zoom call. “I decided to give it a shot…I’m still here and I haven’t looked back.”
This origin story deviates from the common narrative in these parts. Here, the norm typically is that you can trace the beginnings of many artist’s music careers to their adolescent ages where they sang in church or school choirs, but in no way does his uniqueness constitute a bigger hurdle for chuXchu.
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With a deep love for music, even as a mere listener who sang love songs in front of the mirror, chuXchu’s ability as a singer and songwriter is clearly written in the stars. Earlier this year, he shared his debut EP, ‘Luvstruck’, an impressive set of tender songs which dug into romantic infatuation through salacious scene-setting, breezy melodies, and summery production that largely plays on the R&B-inflected side of the Afropop spectrum. With a solitary guest feature from Ayo Jay on “Numbers Don’t Lie,” chuXchu established his identity as a capable troubadour, with his subtly elastic tenor that radiates the sort of warmth befitting for his preferred subject matter.
“I just wanted to see what people gravitate towards; see what people enjoy more, see what I enjoy more because that’s equally as important and so far, it’s been great,” he tells The NATIVE, earmarking the EP as a gauge for where he’s at presently as an artist. Based in New York, the Nigerian singer is currently juggling his mic passions with a full-time job. At that, chuXchu’s music, which is by equal parts simmering, buttery and catchy, doesn’t sag from the weight of corporate responsibilities, neither does it come across as flimsy due to having a well-cushioned safety net.
While he’s ambivalent about not being based in Lagos, a major hotspot for Afropop, there’s a willingness to push his music to the widest audience range possible, even to locations as unlikely as Russia. “I’m just trying to figure out how to cater to everyone while spreading my art,” he says with optimism.
Our conversation with chuXchu has been lightly edited for clarity and it follows below.
NATIVE: When did you start music professionally and how has it been since you started?
chuXchu: I started around this time in 2019. Initially I never wanted to be the artist, I never thought I’d be putting my voice out there, it was just one of those things where I love music and there were certain artists I’d listen to all the time, and one day I decided to give it a shot. That’s really how it all came together and two years later, I’m still here and I haven’t looked back.
NATIVE: Congratulations on your Debut EP, Luvstruck. How was it like putting it together?
chuXchu: It was tough and I say this because I wanted to give it my all. You know how time consuming and how strenuous it is to put together a body of work especially coupled with the fact that I actually balance my passion for music with a full time job, so that kind of made it difficult and I wanted to create something that sort of embodies my vision for the project but infusing different sounds. From track 1-5, every track is different but still has the same theme and I just wanted to see what people gravitate towards; see what people enjoy more, see what i enjoy more because that’s equally as important and so far, it’s been great, The other day some people in Russia were dancing to my song; one of the songs I had the least expectation for. I’m just trying to figure out how to cater to everyone while spreading my art.
NATIVE: How has the general reception of the EP been since it’s release?
chuXchu: It’s been really great and I feel like I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve with this project. Before I put out this project, I put down a few bullet points I’d like to achieve with the project, I wanted people to know who ChuXChu is, know my range and versatility, accept my sound and I also wanted to set the stage for what’s yet to come and I feel like I achieved that within the first month of putting that out.
NATIVE: I noticed there was just one feature on the EP. Was that intentional and why?
chuXchu: Yes, it was very much intentional. Initially, I had started recording from Mid December until Mid February and I had had some songs I’d recorded with people, because I actually planned to have features, but I realized I never really gave people an opportunity to experience who ChuXChu is. When I feature people, it’s basically like me tailoring my sound to fit the featured artist. So I just wanted to prove a point, show my versatility, show my range and, yeah, I just decided to do a mostly solo project. Ayo Jay is the only guest artist on the project and that’s honestly because he was the first person to give me a shot when I first started. My first time in the studio was with him, My first time recording a song was the song I put out with him—“Killing Me”—and I was just like, let me just put him on this tape to make everything full circle. It was so important to me to have him witness what I would call my first actual body of work, because he’s just always been supportive and it’s interesting how I went from like a groupie to a fan to a collaborator and now to a really good friend.
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NATIVE: I’m hooked on “I Need You”, that’s definitely a personal favourite of mine. Do you have any standout tracks off the tape for whatever reason?
chuXchu: Yeah, “Tornado” and that’s because when I recorded it, I had no expectations and I finished that song in how many minutes? And initially, it was one of my least favourite but I sent it to a few people who I run stuff by and they were just like this is a hit! And just seeing the support from Apple Music and some of the other digital streaming platforms giving me support on that one record just sort of put everything into perspective for me. So “Tornado” and I feel like my favourite changes a lot but right now, that’s the one.
NATIVE: Being in the diaspora, how has appealing to the Nigerian market been for you since you started?
chuXchu: Honestly, it has been a blessing and a curse and I say this because if I was based in Lagos, I could easily connect with my peers, meet more people, push my music more, and a lot of other things. For instance, I have a record with Buju and Wani but I actually haven’t met them in person, we only talk on social media but being out here definitely gives me a different perspective. If you listen to my music, from the recording to the engineering you can hear the quality. So I’d say being here gives me that edge and even just the mindset is completely different. Sometimes, I wish I could be back in Nigeria but that being said, I’m still thankful and blessed.
NATIVE: So what’s next for you, music-wise?
chuXchu: So music-wise, what’s next is definitely growing as an artist and as a creative, but most importantly just keep on spreading music without boxing myself into a genre. Also, I’ve definitely found a few artists that I collaborate well with, musically and sonically, so I’ve been working on records with them. I’m hoping to drop a single right before December so we can rock Detty December together and, early next year, hopefully, I can put out a project again.
Featured image credits/KofMotivation