“Trust me, this album is more energy because you feel different after every track, after every song.”
King Perryy begins, speaking of his much anticipated debut album Citizen of the World.
“The way I work, music is a universal language. So when I listen to a beat, I tell a story about the way I’m feeling. Every song has a different feel. As long as the beat speaks to my soul, it doesn’t matter if it’s reggae, hip-hop or whatever. The most important thing is it speaks to my soul. And once it speaks to me, I speak to the world.”
Citizen of the World is one of the more ambitious projects coming off the continent in some time. King Perryy, the young hitmaker behind tracks like “Continental Boy” and “Murder” featuring Teni, as well as more recent cuts that made their way onto the album including, “Work n Grind” and “Man on Duty”, has set out to create his own breed of Afrofusion entitled “Continental Sound”. The results are staggering. In the 17 track debut we find King Perryy bouncing between reggae, drill, Afrobeats, Afropop, dancehall and more. Moreover it feels effortless, and each stab at a different sound is convincing enough to be a chart topper in its own right. Featuring the who’s who in both production and features, Citizen of the World is a bold attempt by an artist not willing to settle for a single lane. We spoke with King Perryy to unmask the Continental Boy and delve into the many inspirations and concepts behind the massive debut.
“While growing up my Dad used to introduce me to all different types of music.”
King Perryy says of his early influences.
“We woke up every morning to different styles. I knew that on Monday I was waking up to Fela. I knew on Tuesday I was waking up to Bob Marley. Wednesday I was probably waking up to Sean Paul.”
This diversity of influence is uncompromisingly apparent on Citizen of the World which has given birth to a new genre King Perry has coined the “Continental Sound”.
“Continental Sound, first of all, is the type of music I make. It’s me saying there’s no boundaries to my music.”
King Perryy explains.
“A fusion of different genres of music and lifestyles and culture. Bringing different sounds from different parts of the world together through music. That’s why I’m also putting out the album. I’m trying to make people know that there’s no boundaries to this.”
After a brief intro where King Perryy pulls from his time as a former seminary student to give thanks and praise to Jah, we’re introduced to “African Boy” a heavy reggae manifesto produced by Teflon Zincfence. Teflon Zincfence, known for his work with Chronixx and Koffee, reached out directly to King Perryy via Instagram which led to the 2018 single “Dirty Dancer”.
“For Teflon to send me that mixtape it was a dream come true for me because I’m a big fan of his work. When we met he reproduced [African Boy] he took it to a whole other level.”
King Perryy recounts.
“Teflon is my brother. Teflon is family.”
He doesn’t stop there,
“First of all I’d like to say a big thank you to everybody who is involved. To every producer on this project. We just don’t have a working relationship we relate personally. We connect. So from Teflon to like Yalababayala on ‘Citizen of the World’ to Guilty to Kris Beatz to Blaise Beatz TMXO, Khayleb, S’Bling, so many of them. From the moment that we met, we just had conversations and we shared the story, I told them my idea, I told them what I was trying to do, the vision. And we all shared the ideas and that’s how we started creating.”
This epic slew of producers and featured artists, among them Kizz Daniels, Timaya, PsychoYP and Oxlade, is not to be confused with inspiration as much as initiation. King Perryy makes it clear that his flexibility is not a way to grab at what’s hot, but a deeper reflection of his identity as an artist.
“Every track on the album was not recorded because of the artist featured on the album. Every song on the album was recorded before the featured artist got on it. The album was meant to be just me. It started as an EP of just 7 songs and then I woke up one morning and I’m like, ‘Why am I doing an EP when I could do an LP? Why am I trying to limit myself when I could do 10, 12?’
With 17 tracks out, it’s safe to say no limits were set in the end.
“I feel like people really need to understand my sound. People really need to know that it’s not just about the beats, but it’s about the message, the sound, me speaking to your soul. The complete package. That’s why I feel like I needed to put more songs. Because you heard me on a Drill beat and that’s a different ballgame. I have an EP coming out after the album of just 5 or 6 drill songs and that’s a crazy side of me the world has not seen. YKTFV is on the album to present me, to say, ‘Okay this guy also knows drill and that’s the drill side of him.’ You understand? The one with Oxlade that’s my sound, that’s me. ‘Work and Grind’, that’s me. There’s so much more where that’s coming from. I arranged the project so everything stands for something on the project.”
In this way King Perryy is doing his part to close the gap between the modern artist and the modern listener. “YKTFV (You Know The Fvcking Vibe)” with PsychoYP is as a raw a drill bop as they come. “Let Me Love You” feat. Oxlade has the spaced out pop vibe of Nigeria’s best crooners. “Waist” feat. Kizz Daniel has the high octane Afro house of “Nesesari”. Yet all of these tracks are King Perryy originals. King Perryy is able to act as orchestrator of his vision, pulling at the artists and sounds he loves to match his continental ambition.
We asked if King Perryy thought about this web of sound and influence in Pan-African terms.
“I do think about Pan-Africanism. Knowing that the Pan-African countries first, Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, all this, they all have different sounds. They’re all making different music. And you know, the sound in Cameroon or the sound in Angola can be a different type of music in Nigeria. What we call our fuji music, it could pass as jazz. What we call highlife here could also pass as makossa. So when it comes to Pan-Africa, I’m a big supporter because that’s unity, that’s how we bring the world together. Music is a universal language so I’m big on that.”
As with many artists off the continent King Perryy’s optimism in the local music scene with the eyes of the world upon them is evident.
“Africa is blessed,” King Perryy says. “Black people are blessed. Not just Black people, but now the people in Africa who are making music. I have my brothers, legends like WizKid, Burna Boy, they are already doing good, and they are also citizens of the world because they are bringing different continents and countries together with their craft and they are very aware of themselves. I mean, to me, it’s a good thing that everybody is looking at Africa right now because of our reach and our talent. I feel like it’s a good time for us right now. It’s a good time for Nigeria right now. It’s a good time for Africa right now. From Burna Boy winning the Grammy… I was born in Port Harcourt, same as Burna and we’re blessed! Trust me there’s so many talents from where I’m from. So many people. This is just the beginning, we’re coming. There’s so much talent. I wake up in the morning and I hear songs and I’m like ‘wow’. Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda. So many. Africa is doing good right now.”
One of the many figures doing their part to canalise African talent is dancehall artists and DM Records owner Timaya to whom King Perryy is signed. Timaya has groomed artists including Patoranking and Runtown to superstar status in the past and has been a key figure in King Perry’s development.
“Timaya is not just anybody. Timaya is like my big brother, he plays a father figure to me.”
King Perryy explains.
“The moment he saw me, he saw that fire. He’s one of the first people who believed in my dream. Who believed, ‘Okay you got the fire in you let’s go do it.’ He also helped me going on the journey of finding myself because Timaya is a teacher. He doesn’t say things to you to understand. He makes you find them out yourself. If you really are who you claim you are, you’ll have a good result. That’s why I love him so much. Apart from the business side it’s someone that’s always going to be in my life. I’m always going to call him everyday.”
It has been a long and fruitful journey of self discovery since stepping into the spotlight with “Man on Duty” in 2018, eventually culminating in the identity as a citizen of the world. King Perryy recounts a time he heard “Man on Duty” during a UFI Champions League Cup in Nigeria and how it became a catalyst for his newfound persona.
“To open the whole party they played “Man on Duty”. I was like, ‘wow’, happy, vibing and dancing. After a minute I chilled and was like, ‘Yo, do you realise that people don’t realise you’re the one who wrote this song?’ People are dancing, people are going crazy, and I can hear people asking, “What song is this?” And I’m looking at everybody like, I’m right here, I sang that song.
After that night I was not happy. I’m going to be sincere with you, I was not happy. I asked, ‘Why”? Why is that song bigger than me?’ I figured that I wasn’t aware of myself then. The moment I started becoming aware of myself and my environment everything changed. I didn’t want people to listen to music and just dance without knowing who is passing the message. I wanted people to listen to the message, enjoy the music, and the next thing they would say is, ‘Who is this guy?’ After discovering that I’m a citizen of the world it’s an identity it’s not just an album. It’s an identity and a mind state. After that I’ve been at peace with myself and I’ve been so happy.”
Peace and happiness are but two of the emotions transmitted through the music on Citizen of the World and this is à propos. It’s only fitting that an album designed with a continental mind and a global heart be as rich and varied as the world itself.
“If the world speaks to you everyday, you are a citizen of the world and you have to be thankful for it. So it’s me passing that information to the world to make people understand that.” King Perry explains.
When asked what’s next for the global citizen, King Perry responds,
“Big plans. I basically want to travel the world. I want to go on tour. First, I’m going to South Africa to shoot a couple of videos and do the rounds. I wanna also start a movement. Start a fundraising movement for an orphanage home. Also go back to my grassroots and sponsor some music instruments for them. I want to start from where I was born and start helping people find out their true selves. Whether it’s the music or whatever you want to be just always preach that you have to be aware of it. Some people are living without a purpose and that’s bad. You have to know your purpose so you don’t just come and go. I wanna do more of that.”