International reggae star and dancehall hitmaker Patoranking releases his third album, aptly named “Three”, this Friday. Born Patrick Okorie in the Ebute Metta community of Lagos, Nigeria, Patoranking hasn’t lost sight of his roots as he continues to collect accolades.
Since breaking onto the scene with anthems like “Alubarika” featuring Timaya or “Girlie O” with the impeccable Tiwa Savage, Patoranking has been nominated for Best New Act awards at the Headies, Nigeria Entertainment Awards (2014) and at the MTV Africa Awards in 2015. In this time, Patoranking has released two LPs : God Over Everything in 2016 and Wilmer in 2019, both to critical acclaim.
As of late, Patoranking has broadened the continental horizon, appearing on Major Lazer’s “Particula” and performing as a special guest of Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation 20th Anniversary tour in 2018.
These brushes with international stardom have done little to take away from the homegrown message and neighbourhood anthems that Patoranking continues to produce. We spoke with Patoranking about his latest album Three and the down-home themes that characterise his work as well as his perspective on Pan-African music and how we can give back to our communities.
3 albums, many collaborations
We started by asking Patoranking about the lead single off Three entitled “Abule”.
“Abule simply means hood or ghetto, Patoranking explains, when making a song, all I do is just have a reflection about where I come from and then I write. I was thinking about the party life in the ghetto, how we party, how it is, the things that happen there…” It’s apparent Patoranking still feels a close connection to his upbringing and it’s reflected throughout his work.
The feeling is matched with a contagious lightheartedness. Speaking to the album title Patoranking explains Three as “not trying to struggle or think of a plan. It came as an inspiration. The whole mindset sums up to three.” Three is, of course, Patoranking’s third album, but there are layers to the triad. “Good things come in Three, he says, regardless of what is happening we need to make the best out of it by staying happy and loving each other.” In a final interpretation Patoranking explains Three as “love, happiness, and life.”
Whether it’s the Ghanian highlife of “Oda Bra” or the heavyweight reggae of “Lion in the Jungle” Patoranking continues to show interest in a Pan-African sound and audience. He explains, “I’m a Nigerian artist, so I’ve got followers and friends around the continent and it’s important that I carry them along and continue in that spirit, trying to touch everyone we can. In Africa we tend to see each other as one regardless of your country or where you come from”.
Multinational collaborations are of course included in Three, from Tiwa Savage and Sauti Sol to Ghana’s King Promise, these touches bring the work an expanse and rapport few contemporaries can match. “Collaboration is key, he says, I like to work with people when I’m a fan of their work. If I love your music I want to work with you. I look at the magic we’re going to create together. Most of the people I work with are fans and friends.”
Summarising his work he says, “we’ve got some conscious music we’ve got some love songs, some dance songs… emphasising more than anything, I want to speak to people through music. I want to be the voice of the voiceless.”
One Love, One education
While this may be ambitious for a recording artist, Patoranking has taken a dive into the world of philanthropy, notably through the ALU Patoranking Scholarship. The program provides 10 fully-paid scholarships for promising students from across Africa to attend the prestigious African Leadership University. “It’s the next generation leaders,” says Patoranking, making it clear, we never even thought of doing only Nigeria, it was always obvious to offer it to everyone.
In addition Patoranking was recently invited by Skip Marley to perform on a “One Love” original where all revenues from the track will be donated to UNICEF for children affected by the pandemic. “Everyone who listens to my music knows how much Bob Marley means to me, Patoranking explains, when I was called to do it I was very excited, I usually perform One Love in concert.”
Patoranking lives the credo he sings in his music, spreading love, happiness, and life in the studio and beyond. On Three expect to hear an artist with a mature vision of the world and a love for his homeland, even if his Pan-African reach has extended well beyond the Abule.
In conclusion Patoranking reminds us, “It’s not just about the album. We need to keep supporting African music, and to everyone who’s been supporting until now, we are thankful.”
Listen to Patoranking’s latest album Three here. If you want to learn more about the ALU Patoranking Scholarship visit this link.