Since the dawn of ambition itself, humanity has been obsessed with the concept of overnight success. While the contrasting argument of investing 10 000 hours to master a skill of interest, our bias romanticises the underdog who “came out of nowhere” and became an instant favourite. Nigerian-born Chukwuka Ekweani, affectionately known as CKay, was crowned an “Overnight Success” when “Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah)”, released in 2019, became a viral TikTok hit, which has since spawned a record-breaking success. From 73.3 million YouTube views, Billboard chart success, several infectious international remixes, Spotify viral hit alongside playlist editorial placement, and became one of the most Shazamed songs in the world.
However, unbeknownst to his legion of fans is how his 10 000 hours date as far back as his childhood. The acclaimed singer-songwriter developed his piano craftsmanship by learning the tricks of the keys trade from his father who was a church choirmaster in Kudana, Nigeria. He would later spend his formative years performing in local shows with his band Cre8tive Music and against the better judgement of his parents, he threw caution to the wind and headed for Lagos to make something of himself.
Making ends meet as a producer, it wouldn’t be long before his first big break where he was signed to powerhouse record label, “Chocolate City,” under which he released his 2016 debut single, “Nkechi Turn Up” followed by the EP #WTFiCKay in 2017. His 2018 smash hit “Container” garnered him notoriety before the lead single of his second EP “CKay The First”, “Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah)”, a song that was only identified as his after he posted an acoustic Tik Tok video, catapulted him into global crossover success.
Having captured the hearts of countries such as Morocco, India and Portugal, garnering over 2.8 billion across streaming platforms, the pioneer of the newly coined “Emo-Afrobeats” has channelled his earnest desire to connect with his audience; his astrologically charged narration of lovelorn experiences, over a decade of work ethic, and business savvy into this career-defining moment. Off his deal with Warner Music Africa signed end of 2020, “Africa’s Boyfriend” has released his pivotal debut, “Sad Romance”.
True to his Cancerian nature, “Sad Romance,” which boasts notable features such as Davido, Ayra Starr, Mayra Andrade, Ronisia, Abidoza, and Focalistic, is an anthology of straight-to-the-heart laments and Afrocentric dance anthems which eloquently balance the influential soundscapes of Africa’s standout genre exports: Afrobeats and Amapiano.
In its first 3 days of release, “Sad Romance” charted in over 50 countries worldwide on Apple music’s “Top 100 Chart” and spawned multiple playlist covers on Spotify including “New Music Friday Global”, Nigeria, South Africa, and India. The album’s lead track “mmadu” in addition to “come close (feat. Ayra Starr)” and “lose you (feat. Ronisia)” have been added to over 70 playlists such as “Hot Hits India”, “Hot Hits Ghana” and “Ginger Me”.
Africa’s Boyfriend also took over Netherland’s essential Afrobeat editorial playlist, “La Vida Loca”, curating a hypnotic audio experience nuanced by his favourite tracks from his eclectic debut and infectious songs from his industry contemporaries. Currently, Sad Romance sits at #1 in Rwanda and Mauritius on Apple Music’s “Top Albums Music Daily” Chart and #2 in Nigeria and Cabo Verde. On Shazam, CKay was “Artist of the Week” while simultaneously claiming playlist covers on Apple Music’s “Africa Now”, Tidal’s “Pop&B” and “Afro R&B”, YouTube Music’s “AfroPoppin” and “AfroBeats Now” and Pandora’s “New Music Now” and “New Afrobeats Now”.
“Sad Romance” has already amassed over 21 million streams on Audiomack and overall, the album sits at over 254 million audio streams across platforms with top territories including France, Nigeria, the USA, Netherlands, and the UK with fan favourites “mmadu”, “you”, “come close”, and “lose you” at the helm of the album’s repeat value.
With the world in his hands eagerly anticipating album visuals and the coveted Sad Romance Tour, it is safe to conclude that CKay is far from an overnight success. The same 10 000 plus hours of discipline and work ethic that has established him as a household brand at the genesis of his musical legacy will be the same x-factors that will sustain unspoken longevity and creative prowess that if anything will shift the culture and foster more emo kids to redefine the very fabric of sound itself.