Asake’s Reign in Afropop: One Year After “Sungba (Remix)”

Asake is blazing a trail in Afropop

Last month, Asake’s “Sungba (Remix)” with Burna Boy marked its one-year anniversary. The previous year was evidently a thrilling ride for the Nigerian artist, and that track was an important fixture in the series of successful events that elevated him from an underground hitmaker to a bonafide superstar. On Sungba (Remix),” Burna Boy, who had laid a winning verse on the remix of Black Sherif’s “Second Sermon” the year before, added further gloss to an Asake song that was already tearing through music charts in and outside Nigeria. That Burna Boy cosign cemented Asake’s place in the list of new and exciting Afrobeats acts exporting Nigerian music and culture to the world.

The foundation for Asake’s successes was 2020’s “Mr Money,” a sleeper hit that began his fruitful relationship with Nigerian music producer Magicsticks. “Mr Money” had the Amapiano-infused instrumentals that would become a necessary feature in Magicsticks and Asake’s works. On the Olamide-assisted “Omo Ope,” they raised the stakes, elevating their connection and artistry. “I think ‘Mr Money’ was us trying to find our sound, and ‘Omo Ope’ was like, yes this is the sound,” Magicsticks said about that period. 

It is worth mentioning the Olamide feature here. Around the world, newcomer artists have always depended on influential artists to acknowledge their sounds and back them with either a guest feature or public recognition. These acknowledgements do wonders for the careers of newer acts by opening doors for them where it seemed there was none. Olamide did this for Asake on “Omo Ope”; he went a step further to add the singer to his roster of artists on YBNL Nation. Immediately, Asake was in the spotlight and began catching the attention of the mainstream media. 

“Omo Ope” was part of the songs on ‘Ololade Asake,’ Asake’s debut EP. The four-song project introduced Asake’s style of Yoruba Gospel, Fuji influences and Amapiano-aided Nigerian pop primarily honed by Magicsticks. “Trabaye,” “Omo Ope” and “Baba God” carried ample evidence of Asake’s engaging storytelling and gratitude to a higher being. But it was “Sungba” that proved the potential of his star power. Off of Magicsticks’ infectious production, Asake unleashed his repertoire of quotables and fully assumed his role as a hitmaker. 

In his memorable verse on Sungba (Remix),” Burna Boy, who was only months away from dominating the world with “Last Last,” merged his energy with Asake’s, finding pockets of melody that highlighted his position as one of Nigeria’s most versatile music makers. Both he and Asake didn’t outshine each other; instead, it was a flawless collaborative effort as both artists allowed each other space to wield their creativity and pump the blazing track with extra verve.

Within the context of the music industry, the importance of music videos cannot be overstated. While the production of these contents has evolved through the years, they are important pillars for any artist in the industry. Asake was aware of this and enlisted TG Omori, one of the best hands in the game, to curate the music video for “Sungba.” It was in the video that Asake and TG Omori began to piece together the details that would transform Asake from an everyday man to a leading man, starting from his physical appearance to his fashion choices. TG Omori reprised his role for the music video accompanying Sungba (Remix),” chiselling the edges of Asake’s on-screen persona. 

With every song and music video that followed Sungba (Remix)”“PALAZZO,” “Peace Be Unto You (PBUY),” and “Terminator”—the trio of Asake, Magicsticks and TG Omori kept on hitting new highs and reinventing the singer’s dynamism. When Asake’s debut album ‘Mr Money With The Vibe’ eventually arrived, audiences were primed and ready to experience the full dose of Asake’s magic. The project, in addition to housing “Sungba (Remix),” also featured incredible cuts such as “Organise,” “Dupe,” “Joha,” “Nzaza” and “Sunmomi.” Both music videos for “Joha” and “Organise” deepened the chemistry between Omori and Asake, marking their partnership (as well as that of Asake and Magicsticks) as one of the most dynamic in Nigerian music history. 

The Asake of “Mr Money” no longer exists. In his place is a renowned performer who has toured the UK and the US and appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show. Musically, too, Asake has sought reinvention, most clear on “Yoga,” his first single of 2023. On the track, Asake dug his feet into other African cultural influences by sampling Mauritian singer Michel Legris’s “Mo Capitane,” and for the music video, TG Omori bought into Asake’s Pan-African inclinations by setting up shop in Senegal.

Asake is a star living in his glory and seeking to explore new forms of musical creativity. In just one year, he has steered his career in an upward trajectory, with the help of his label boss, a gifted producer and a sharp-eyed music director. His story is noteworthy for the crowd of support he has enjoyed, whether from fellow musicians or fans. Sungba (Remix)” is one of the fitting examples of talent-meets-efforts-meets-support. Boom. Stardom.

Featured image credits/NATIVE