Fireboy DML is here to put Africa on the map. As one of the leaders in the Afrobeats, Afropunk, and Afro-R&B movements, the Nigerian recording artist has been dubbed “the future of Afrobeats” — bringing his Afro-life mentality to the States. His music is centered around love, relationships, confidence, and overall all the speed bumps life throws at us.
The 24-year-old admits to being a loner growing up, always by himself in his room writing poems — which makes him the person he is today. He states, “You can’t be a popstar and be an introvert at the same time, it’s hard but I’m working on it.”
If you’re a fan of Fireboy, you already know his top 3 influences: Wande Coal, Jon Bellion, and Passenger. If you are a fan you should know by now. Boasting 1.6 followers on Instagram alone, Fireboy prides himself on creating a certain aesthetic with his social media pages, embodying cutting edge style, personality, art, and creativity.
It was his breakout single “Jealous” released in 2019 that would give him the momentum to break through into the mainstream light. Soon after, he followed it up with his critically-acclaimed debut album titled Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, with zero features.
Fast forward to 2020, he released singles “New York City Girl,” “ELI,” and “Tattoo,” holding fans over until the release of his forthcoming project APOLLO. Flaunt caught up with Fireboy via Instagram Live, who was posted in his hometown of Nigeria. Read below as we discuss his roots in Afrobeats, the height of “VIBRATION,” studio essentials, his new album APOLLO, and more!
What was the household like growing up in Nigeria?
Grew up in a family of 5, oldest of 3 boys. I’ve always had that sense of responsibility.
What did it take for you to get to the popstar status that you’re at today?
All I do is make music to be honest. Hard work, making music in my room. Music discovered me, and here we are now.
What was the turning point when you knew you could do music for the rest of your life?
I was in school, my sophomore year. I put myself in the studio with a couple of friends. Hanging out, telling jokes, then I made a song. When I got to my room, I thought “wow, what the fuck? This is it!”
Was it fire?
Well… [laughs] To me, it sounded good. I knew I made something very special. From then on, it was greatness all the way.
Being from Nigeria, what does Afrobeats mean to you?
Afrobeats means everything. Afrobeats represents my roots, I was born in Afrobeats music. I grew up listening to Wizkid, Wande Coal, Davido, Olamide, a lot of the pioneers of Afropunk before Afrobeats came to be. It’s everything to me, grew up listening to this shit.
Have you collaborated with any of these artists?
Yeah, I worked with a couple of legends for my forthcoming album. That’s all I can say. [laughs]
“VIBRATION” is at over 11 million on Youtube, did you think it’d blow up like this?
To be honest, yes. I knew, but I didn’t know “Jealous” would blow up like that. Even before I sent “VIBRATION” to management, I listened to it for a couple of weeks. I was on the bicycle, I had goosebumps throughout the ride. I knew it’d be a hit.
What was the vibe when you were making it? It’s such good energy.
It was a playful vibe. It was a 10-minute freestyle on such a beautiful beat. It was easy for me because I resonated with the beat. Shout out to IamBeatz, it was jokes and laughs in the hotel room. Room service kept coming, knocking on the door saying we’re making noise. It was fun, I had fun.
Best memory from that shoot?
The video shoot was fun. It was a point where the producer ruined my white suit. It was a colorful thing I was doing, trying to emulate the culture. Painting my body throughout, etc. I loved that suit, it’s very expensive. [sighs] Everybody loved the song, even the cameraman. Good vibes only when you’re making a video to a hit song.
Bring us back to when you created “ELI.”
wanted to make something extremely different, out of the box. Pheelz and I resonated, we have this synergy. I told him I’m tired of the upbeat, uptempo Afrobeat, let’s make something unique. It was a Chinese flute melody. It was spiritual, but something Nigerians could still relate to. Teaching beauty, unifying the world, etc. It’s extremely different.
I love the Asian influence!
That Asian flute inspired the whole song, big ups to Pheelz. We added the rest to make it more Afro-central.
What does “jah eli jah” mean?
That’s God. Calling to God like “save me from the world, she has me under her spell!” It’s just an exclamation.
Are you sure it’s not about a particular someone?
No. [laughs] I’ve met a lot of beautiful women in the past, but it’s not about a particular person.
3 things you need in the studio?
The producer, the mic, and occasionally sweet white wine. I love sweet white wine. I don’t smoke. I wish I could smoke, but sweet wine does it for me. When I hit that sweet point, that’s enough for me. I’m on my own cruise.
Was “New York City Girl” based on a real story?
Now that was real. It wasn’t anything serious, a friend of mine flew in from New York City to shoot a video with me. She left after 4 days of shooting. I’m talking to my boy and in my mind, we’re cool. What if I’m falling for her? What she left me in shambles? Okay, this would make a great song. I want to make a song everyone could relate to because we all have that person we miss.
What does it mean to be a soulful singer?
All my songs have that soul in them. I’m very particular about eating up people’s hearts. Even when you’re dancing, you have to feel something while you’re dancing. I’m all about that, it’s all about soul for me. When I’m writing R&B lyrics, I try to infuse PG English. The exclamations too.
How would you describe your fashion sense?
Quirky, central and laidback. I love the laidback vibe. I love the way my dreads cover my face. I can wear anything, they’ll think “okay he’s an artist!” I like to vibe. If you’re an artist, your art has to reflect not just your songs, but in your fashion sense and how people see you in public.
What are your hobbies outside of music?
I love to read. I love to read old classics. I love Dan Brown and Oscar Wilde. I love to take walks. I haven’t been able to do that lately because I’ve been harassed a couple of times, it wasn’t nice. I also love to play videogames. I play FIFA, the only game I play all day. I love to write poems.
Digital Fortress by Dan Brown. A lot of people wouldn’t think it’s his strongest, but I think it is. It’s so compelling, that book’s amazing.
Who’s your dream collabs?
Jon Bellion. I’m very close, give me some time. Give me 6 months. I adore him so much. I have pictures of Jon Bellion, Wanda Coal, and Passenger framed in the hallway leading to my room. Before I go to bed, it’s like a shrine.
Does Fireboy reply to his fans?
Of course I do. Sometimes when I’m online, I’m not in the mood. I’m worried about something or anxious, I’m always anxious. When the message is so heartfelt and gets to me, I reply.
How’s your fanbase at home compared to the States?
At home, I can’t even walk outside. It’s beautiful.
What do you get sad about?
Sometimes, life reminds you that you’re human. That’s what my second album is tied to, it’s called APOLLO. It’s sadness-inspired, healing prophecy.
If you weren’t a musician what would you be?
A professional writer or a football player.
What would you say is your full potential?
I don’t know what the future holds. The goal I want to achieve is taking Afrobeats to the next level. I want to be one of the pioneers that make Afrobeats global. I’m making music, keeping my head down. No matter what success or failures I keep going. I’ve studied the greats and that’s what they did, they kept working.