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Nigerian Artist Abdulala Wants His Music to Sound like Home

Born Abdulmalik Usman, Abdulala, formerly known as ABDUL, grew up in a time when Afrobeats peaked and became Nigeria’s core sound. A blueprint that lies at the heart of his music. “Growing up in Ajegunle and Festac [Town] shaped my musical experience and marked the beginning of my journey,” he tells iMullar. “It’s like Nollywood to me. In Ajegunle, I used to watch Daddy Showkey, Blackie, and other artists perform.” He has woven references to the likes of 2face, Daniel Wilson, Sunny Ade, Fela, and Onyeka Onwenu into his music – “their influence is all over my sounds” – and even earned the blessing of one of them. “When I moved to Festac, I had the opportunity to connect with 2Face, who became my mentor. His guidance was instrumental in my development. I mean, he’s one of the best-selling artists in the country, has seen and done it all. An artist of that calibre, there is so much to learn from him, and that is what I did.”

Since his secondary school days when he first began dabbling in music, Abdulala has matured as an artist, playing around the wispy outlines of Afrobeats and paying equal attention to going beyond the borders of genre. This was shown in his 2019 single, Six30, which featured Davido and Peruzzi. Now, he is ready for his first body of work, the EP Head Over Heels which he sees as the one to push him to the next level. “Although we had an idea of what we wanted to create, which was to make great music, we aimed to keep it light and fun without overthinking things. Keep it simple, of course, it’s music creation, and there’s always room for experimenting and going out of your box, but for this, I wanted to keep it close to home, focus more on the core sounds.”


Across five tracks entirely produced by frequent-collaborator Timmy, the music never veers from Abdulala’s Afrobeats’ ethos. “I loved the synergy with Timmy during the recording process,” he explains. “We had that brotherly, friend-like relationship, and we were having fun with it. You get locked in with a producer like that and you’re bound to make a handful of records. The chemistry created this EP, hence Timmy handling all songs on the EP from a production POV.”

Head Over Heels is an almost entirely solo effort. But on track 4, Normal, Nigerian singer KvngVidarr gets a rare feature. “I didn’t plan to feature anyone on the EP,” says Adulala, “but [KvngVidarr] was present for one of our recording sessions and his tone was lovely. He brought something different to the overall feel of the record […] it just made sense.”

While Head Over Heels is a capsule of Nigerian Afrobeats traditions, Abdulala tells us that, moving forward, he intends to frequent more West African sounds. “One thing I love about the current landscape of the music industry is the ability to exchange cultures and sounds. I was in Ghana a while back and I had a taste of the culture and it’s luxurious. Shoutout to Akwaaba and Strongman for beautiful memories. I enjoyed Ghana a bit too much that I didn’t want to come back.” Next up, Abdulala plans to be a noteworthy name within the Nigerian music industry and beyond: “The mission is to get the word out and expose the music to more people, taking the sound and image everywhere.”

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The iMullar is the voice of emerging African music and the lifestyle that surrounds it, showcasing exceptional talent from all around the globe focused on promoting the most distinctive new artists and original sounds, we are the authority on who is next.