Mr Eazi returns to live shows in a meaningful way

He takes his first live performance since his COVID-cancelled tour to spread a message of hope for a better future.

Back in October, Boiler Room x Ballantine’s welcomed their first True Music showcase since the coronavirus ravaged the Earth and placed crowd restrictions on public gatherings in most countries around the world. Returning with a new series, Boiler Room x Ballantine’s True Music ‘In The Round’ was conceived with the aim of joining communities in an intimate setting, whilst adhering to social distancing measures. On the day, the reimagined structure of this live show consisted of an in-person live audience of fifty members, joined by an online community of faces tuned in via a live stream on Zoom. Those that weren’t able to attend the event weren’t left out either. Since the show, Boiler Room x Ballantine’s have released videos of Zilo and Mr Eazi’s performances as well as a short film that depicts how Mr Eazi made his grand return to the main stage, for the first time since the pandemic began.

Preparing for his tour right as the WHO issued the global warning that COVID-19 was a certified global threat, Mr Eazi has had, up until this Boiler Room x Ballantine’s True Music In The Round headline, a year devoid of live shows. As an artist whose music lends itself to raves across seas, who is known for hosting and performing at festivals around the world – from his Life Is Eazi Culture Fest in London, 2017, to his debut at Coachella last year – the ‘rona’s effect on live music showcases certainly took its toll on Mr Eazi. However, as much as the banku don is a party-starter, the positivity expelled from his music is one that has blossomed from within. Where others might wallow and dwell in missed opportunities, Mr Eazi created new ones for himself, for example, conquering his fear of busking, accompanied by guitarist Tim Newman.

“Having that new experience was initially daunting but, in the end, really exciting for me,” Mr Eazi tells NATIVE. As the world has continued to adapt to a new way of living, we’ve all been encouraged to find new ways in which to convey our creative expressions. Mr Eazi tried his hand at busking, photographer, Daniel Obasi took a step in front of the camera, Amaarae delivered a full animated music video, Homecoming collaborated with Browns to bring the youth their usual streetwear marketplace, this time accessible from the comfort of our homes. Although this year has been excruciating and traumatising, in coping with the innumerable curveballs 2020 threw our way, we have grown more innovative, experimental and resilient; “it’s a learning curve, and I love a new challenge,” Mr Eazi tells us, going on to express that to still be able to do what he loves (performing), no matter how different that looks these day, is ultimately “a real blessing.”

“Things can go on in different ways,” Mr Eazi opens the Boiler Room x Ballantine’s True Music In The Round short film, which followed the headline act through his evening at the event, “the fact that it’s different isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” he said privately to NATIVE. Greeting the Zoom audience with the same effusive excitement as he did the sit-in members, Mr Eazi’s live performance was typically as bubbly and dance-inducing as it always is, despite the fact that UK government restrictions prohibited live audiences from standing up. At-home audience spectators, however, were able to join the Mr Eazi’s energetic up and downs as he reached the climax of ‘Life Is Eazi, Vol. 2: Lagos To London’ hit single, “Miss You Bad”. Given time in the short film to narrate the peculiarities of enjoying live music in this detached way, both the at-home audience and the audience present on the night, could be seen throughout the film, delivering nods, in some cases head-bangs, of approval for our apparent new reality.

“Music is that one thing that keeps us going – sad times, happy times, crazy times”

Mr Eazi’s performance came at one of the most turbulent times in Nigeria’s sixty-year history – at the height of the #EndSARS movement. Nigerians have always had a keen affinity for music, it colours our most important experiences, so it was no surprise that music was also a focal point during the #EndSARS protest period. As Davido’s “FEM” took on a new life as a resistance anthem of the Nigerian youth who will not be fooled by the empty promises of our leaders, viral verses blossomed into full blown songs that narrated the ongoing fight for our basic rights. But beyond the music itself, its artists also played a key role in the protests, using their platform and influence to inspire, inform, donate and, most importantly, serve. From his distant London location, Mr Eazi was doing so too.

“Supporting people on the ground in any way possible is so important, whether as a mouthpiece, signing petitions or through monetary donations – these are all things that will help strengthen our community that will lead to improvements,” he tells NATIVE, when asked about the poignant message printed across his concert hoodie. “Just because I have a presence, doesn’t mean I am disconnected from what’s going on and I want to raise awareness as much as possible in order to promote healthy change in the system.” More than a musician with a platform, Mr Eazi himself has been victimised by the criminal element masquerading as a police unit before, for non-issues as simple as having dreadlocks; Mr Eazi was always going to join in the campaign to #EndSARS.

“Ultimately, the collective consciousness of the Nigerian youth across the world has been elevated and now we are holding the government accountable, so we pray that from this comes change.”

This week, End SARS protesters have returned to the streets in a resurgence of the movement, owing to continued, brazen lawless on behalf of our government. Noting the structural barriers to justice and freedom in Nigeria, Mr Eazi is now looking beyond the protests, at ways in which we can see our revolutionary movement through to the end. “We must view the protests on the streets as a step forward and the next step is every one of us, such as you and I, getting more involved in selecting our leaders,” Eazi explains to NATIVE.

After a deeply dejecting year, most of us have been feeling understandably deflated. Using his first live performance since his COVID-cancelled tour to spread a message of hope for a better future, in our conversation Mr Eazi reminds Nigerians that we must keep going in our fight for justice: “We need to keep the energy and momentum.”

Image Credits: Vicky Grout/Boiler Room x Ballantine’s

To find out more about Boiler Room x Ballantine’s True Music presents In the Round, head to