Yesterday Afropop superstar Mr Eazi shared his long-awaited debut album, The Evil Genius, out now via the artist’s own emPawa Africa imprint.
Said to have been recorded between Ouidah and Cotonou, Benin; Kigali, Rwanda; Accra and Kokrobite, Ghana; Lagos, Nigeria; London; Los Angeles; and New York City, The Evil Genius features some of Mr Eazi’s most personal work, as he dives deeply into subjects like love, betrayal, loneliness, and family, expressed through three distinctive acts.
However, what makes this one special is that its a first-of-its-kind fusion of African music and art, as Mr Eazi commissioned visual artists from across the continent to create a unique, physical art piece to represent each of the album’s 16 tracks. Noting a lack of meaningful collaboration between Africa’s exploding pop music scene and the continent’s fine art creators, Mr Eazi personally handpicked 13 artists, representing eight African countries, adding art curator and patron to his already extensive resume of pursuits.
As part of the rollout, Mr Eazi has been inviting the public to experience the music alongside the art at multi-sensory exhibition listening experiences, with the first two taking place in Accra, Ghana and London (where it was part of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair) earlier this month. The exhibition will next head to Mr Eazi’s home country of Nigeria, where it will appear as a special project within ART X Lagos, West Africa’s premier international art fair, in November. Additional exhibition locations are soon to be announced.
Visual artists who contributed to the project are: Alpha ODH (Nairobi, Kenya), Chinaza Nkemka (Lagos, Nigeria),Dominique Zinkpe (Cotonou, Benin), Edozie Anedu(Lagos, Nigeria), Elangwe Sesse (Cameroon), Ikechukwu Christian (Lagos, Nigeria), Kufa Makwavarara(Zimbabwe/South Africa), Patricorel (Cotonou, Benin), Samuel Tete-Katchan (Accra, Ghana), Sandra Seghir(Dakar, Senegal), Sinalo Ngcaba (Cape Town, South Africa), Tammy Sinclair (Abuja, Nigeria), Tesprit (Lomé, Togo).
For the album’s cover art, Mr Eazi collaborated with celebrated Nigerian stylist, designer and photographer Daniel Obasi, known for his work with Beyoncé and Louis Vuitton. Obasi shot, styled and designed the album’s cover image, letting lyrics from “Orokoro,” “Chop Time, No Friend” and “Advice” guide its dense narrative. “In a metaphysical and surrealist portrayal, the cover art draws from the composition and ideals of the last supper and David’s prayer of Psalm 23,” Obasi says. “Spirituality, love, confidence, betrayal and thanksgiving are themes.”