Becoming a ‘Citizen of the World’

The Nigerian singer blends Afrobeats, dancehall, reggae, drill, pop, and more into a "continental sound."
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This article previously appeared on Audiomack World.

King Perryy is a singer with conviction. The mastermind behind beloved songs “Man on Duty” and “Work ‘N’ Grind” isn’t here to just score hits. He is here to deliver a message as a citizen of the world. Signed by Nigerian dancehall legend Timaya to his Dem Mama Records, King Perryy uses his “continental sound,” a “fusion of different genres, cultures, and lifestyles,” as an agent of unity, to bring people from different backgrounds and different parts of the world together.

After his breakthrough single “Man on Duty,” Jamaican producer Teflon Zincfence, who has credits with Koffee and Chronixx, reached out to King Perryy. That connection would blossom into a strong creative relationship, with Teflon producing tracks on Perryy’s debut, Citizen of the World.

The journey to Citizen of the World was one of self-discovery for the artist who gave up rapping to pursue singing as his true passion. The project reflects King Perryy’s strong dancehall background and interest in a wide range of music genres. King Perryy polishes his unique style with the sticky sounds from Port-Harcourt City, where he grew up.

“It’s me showing the world that there are no boundaries to my music. With my craft too, I bring in different people from different parts of the world,” King Perryy says. “If you are aware of yourself, if you are aware of your environment, and if you are aware of the world’s problems as your problem, then you are a citizen of the world.”

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What was it like making an album that is hinged on a core philosophy like being a citizen of the world?

I found this album the moment I found myself. Identity crisis is something a lot of artists don’t speak about. It is a problem.

I was at a Champions League event that took place in a nightclub in Lagos. This was when the trophy came to Nigeria in 2019. In the club, the DJ played my single “Man on Duty,” and everyone went crazy. Everyone was dancing. I was happy, but for a minute, I stepped back, and I realized that the people in the club didn't know I was the one who sang this song. At that point, I understood that when you speak and don’t carry the message, it becomes a problem.

Once I figured that out, my life changed. The next song I put out was “Work ‘N’ Grind.” That song is special to me because I made it when I was really down. That was the moment I understood so much of myself.

You use a catchphrase on most of your records: “continental sound.” What does that mean?

Continental sound is a fusion of different genres, cultures, and lifestyles. It is me letting you know that as long as the music speaks to my soul—if it is drill, if it is reggae, if it is highlife—I’m going to make that music. You will always hear a foundation of my dancehall orientation in any song I make.

You used to rap before. Why did you switch to singing?

It all happened in one day. I had a friend who rapped so well. We had a freestyle session, and he dropped mad bars. I quit rap after that. I want to be the best at what I’m doing. If I’m not doing the best, then when am I doing it?

I quit. I had to find myself. I was in the studio for a year and working. I did my internship in the studio because I was still in university then.

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How did you first come in contact with reggae and dancehall?

It was through my parents. I was born in the South-South region in Nigeria, and we love good music down there. We listen to a whole lot of reggae and dancehall. I woke up to different types of music genres in the morning. My dad would wake us up to songs by Sean Paul, Bob Marley, and so on. I think I found love in reggae and dancehall. It has helped me in becoming the artist I am today. Those days gave me my foundation.

Why is Port-Harcourt City now a hotbed for music talent in Nigeria?

I feel the music foundation of Port-Harcourt is so grounded. We listen to genuine music. We listen to all types of music as long as it is unique. There are so many great artists in Port-Harcourt that people need to listen to. There are still many young artists back there also.

Burna Boy is also from Port-Harcourt. How will his GRAMMY win impact the music scene in the city?

I feel it is not just only the music scene in Port-Harcourt. It has opened doors for every artist right now in Nigeria and in Africa also. It is a good time to be alive right now because the world is watching. People are beginning to listen to good music. Shout out to my sister Tems and my brothers like Fireboy [DML], Joeboy, and Oxlade. There are so many of us right now. I’m excited to be alive right now. Burna Boy winning the GRAMMY means so much to me as a Nigerian and an African boy. There are many of us that are going to win it.

By Ayomide Tayo for Audiomack

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