CKay is the biggest trend in our music currently, even almost on every streaming platform across the world.
Chukwuka Ekeani, professionally known as CKay, is a native of Anambra State, who was born in Kaduna State.
He discovered music at the age of seven, through his father who was a choir coordinator at the time and he became a songwriter and a producer at the age of thirteen.
CKay relocated to Lagos in 2014. Fortunately, in 2015, he was allowed to work as a production intern for Chocolate City, a record label he was later signed under that same year, after Loopy Music, the first label he joined merged with Chocolate City when MI Abaga took over the headship of the latter.
The first official song CKay produced involved MI Abaga featuring Moti Cakes; it is titled Third Mainland Bridge. CKay was officially announced as an artist under Chocolate City in 2016, as he debuted his music career as a singer with the song Nkechi Turn Up that same year, followed immediately by Gaddemit, Chinekeme, Last Call and Gmail featuring Dremo in 2018.
CKay had collaborated with Dremo, Moti Cakes, Dice Ailes, Pryse, MI, Ice Prince, Koker, Blaqbonez, Barry Jhay, BOJ, and recently in 2021, Ayra Starr, in either singing or production works. CKay has had a fair share of unfavourable criticisms from music critics, especially because of his style of music which combines Highlife with the globally accepted Afrobeats; this was rather strange than amazing to music critics and music journalists at the start of his career.
These criticisms were very raw and destructive, especially in 2017, when CKay released his debut (first ever) extended playlist titled Who The Fvck is CKay? It was reported by several music journalists that the EP almost thrived on a publicity stunt. This is an allusion to a podcast involving MI Abaga on a platform known as Loose Talk, where Osagie, the presenter, questioned MI about the existence of CKay.
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Being cognizant of this, critics believed discussions on that single podcast facilitated the title of CKay’s 2017 EP, an EP badly criticized for not striking the right chord in its overall performance. Away from 2017, CKay returned with another Extended Playlist titled CKay The First, in 2019.
This time, his sophomore EP, contains eight songs, including Love Nwantiti, a hit now raging overseas like a wildfire. Love Nwantiti became a success in Nigeria already. This led CKay to record several foreign versions of the song, about ten foreign versions, including a French version, German version, East African version, UK version etc, featuring several artists in the targeted countries.
Nigerian version has a remix featuring Joeboy and Ghanaian singer, Kuami Eugene. In what resembles magic, Love Nwantiti (UK version featuring DJ Yo! & AX’EL) only became a major success for CKay in 2021, topping several streaming charts across Europe, America and Asia. With more than a thousand videos made with the song by Tik Tok users, Love Nwantiti gained well-deserved attention across several streaming platforms in 2021.
Love Nwantiti (UK version), at this moment, is still No. 1 on both Global and other countries Shazam, also 1 on YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer etc, of several countries. This can be easily confirmed on kworb(.net)
Love Nwantiti debuted on 23 different music charts across 21 different countries, including peaking at No. 1 on the UK Indie chart, No. 2 on the Netherlands (Singles Top 100), No. 3 on Norway (VG-lista), No. 6 on Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade), No. 9 on Ireland (IRMA) and No. 9 on UK Singles (OCC). CKay now holds a joint record with D’banj for Nigerian songs with the highest peak on the UK Singles chart (both and D’banj peaked at No. 9 respectively).
On Monday, 27th September 2021, the song debuted at No. 80 on Billboard Hot 100, giving CKay his first Billboard appearance ever. The French version includes vocals by French rapper Franglish, the German one is a collaboration with Frizzo and the North African version a collaboration with ElGrandeToto, the Spanish version with De La Ghetto, the South African version with Tshego & Gemini Major and the East African Remix featuring Rayvanny. On 12th February 2021, CKay released Boyfriend EP, his third. The project was targeted at celebrating February 14th (Valentine’s Day).
The cover art shows CKay, strumming a lead guitar with closed eyes, while a lady resting against a roofless car hugs him from behind, with an arm thrown over his shoulder.
The car is decorated with flowers to suggest an atmosphere of love and romance. One notices the singer has something with the pink colour because his hair is dyed pink to rhyme with the pink colour of the car. All these, coupled with the title of the EP, readily give anyone the hint that Boyfriend, which houses seven tracks, is a tale of romance between two love birds. Like a damaged water pipe, the project bursts open with the lead single titled Felony.
CKay uses this Afropop melody as a vehicle through which he conveys his love interest to his intended. The whole song thrives on eulogy as the singer praises his woman as the “most beautiful lady I know”. He would later unabashedly claim that he would “sleep for cell” and commit “felony” just to please this lady.
No wonder one writer claims “you don’t know how foolish you can act until you fall in love”. It seems love makes one do foolish things like committing “a felony“. CKay’s delivery and ethereal vocals properly blend with the instrumentals which is the combination of guitar tunes, a wind instrument, something like a violin, piano chords and drumbeats.
Little wonder Felony was the breakout single off this EP. Show My Side is a man’s way of inviting a woman over to his house. It is a very brief invitation. The reason for this call is because “I need your body”. The invited woman, Amaaraee, UK based Ghanaian singer, is effectively available to whisper love confessions to CKay on the song, with her falsetto.
Amaaraee is more determined in her objective than the shy CKay who beats about the bush with his “make I chop your occupation” sexual euphemism; Amaaraee is not ashamed to tell her listeners that she is going to her lover’s house to send him “naked pictures”, “ride or die” with him, “shake” it and “put it down on you” for him.
These dirty talks are sexually provocative, therefore the song is relevant in any mood of horniness. It can be played during intercourse too. CKay totally appeals to our sense of hearing with the Highlife vibe titled Jeje de Whine. Folake, just as she’s been in the crafts of Tekno, is once again a culprit in the hands of CKay Yo. The singer begs Folake to stay with him.
The atmosphere of this track is love-laden, particularly the encapsulating sounds of the instrumentals. While the acoustic guitar is everywhere on the song with the piano chords, the lead guitar is only deployed to solo at specified moments on the song.
CKay is equanimous enough to make his intentions known here. He wants her to “jeje dey whine for me” (i.e calmly dance seductively for me). CKay is calm, therefore, the lady too must whine it in a “jeje” (calm) way. The image the singer paints with his sober vocals is that of sex. I mean, he apologetically demands that Folake “bring your body”. He is even man enough to talk about his willingness to engage in oral sex with her hence, “to bá ní kí n la, mo máa la” (if you tell me to lick it, I will lick it).
The shift from Folake to Isabella is so rapid. If Isabella is not the same person as Folake, then CKay must be a bad player. The tale of love continues on track four, Isabella. The song recounts how the singer meets a girl at “Lekki Phase 1”. The lady immediately becomes a favourite to the singer. He would do anything to have her for himself, even if it means trying to convince her that “na me dey sweet pass ogogoro”.
Again, this is an Afrobeats tune like the first two tracks on the EP. Bianca Costa, a Brazilian singer, is the featured artist on track five, Skoin Skoin.
Though Brazilian by nationality, one cannot immediately ascertain what language the female singer is speaking on this Highlife tune, because she has also lived in France and Portugal. The lead guitar is very dominant alongside the Konga drumbeats on this track. Skoin Skoin is a reference to the reactions that greet the singers’ show of affection for their respective lovers. Skoin Skoin, a slang, is synonymous with “mental disorder” or craze.
When one shows to his lover, an overwhelming love, that is somewhat hysterical, one’s lover may perceive it as outrageous, odd or abnormal. It even makes some lovers feel uncomfortable. This perception of an oddity in CKay’s show of love by his lover is what forms the theme of this song.
CKay himself notices that he is losing his head when he exclaims that “you are a bit too much to handle”. Regardless, “I like it”. He couldn’t care less. Mezebu features fellow Nigerian compatriot, Oxlade, and KiDi, a Ghanaian singer. Mezebu is slang used to say “I am drunk” in Nigeria. There is no difference between this track and the previous one, Skoin Skoin. Both are synonymous. Both are Highlife in nature. Maybe, this one continues from where that one stops; still, it feels like “my head no correct” expressing his love to his lover.
Oxlade and KiDi are the only notable difference in the song. While Oxlade’s contribution totally hinges on his serene vocals, and its pitching in the chorus immediately after his verse, KiDi’s presence is felt more in his delivery that takes the shape of that of RudeBoy, one of the now-defunct Psquare.
It is worthy to note that some lines on KiDi’s verse imitate Tatiana Manaois’ tone on her hit song titled Helplessly. CKay is left with almost nothing exceptional, to do till the song clambers to its bridge. The last track, Kiss Me Like You Miss Me, joins the list of African songs crafted on the now global Amapiano, a genre of music described as “house music” which was discovered in South Africa in 2011.
CKay has been the only party showing love and affection in his relationship since the beginning of this EP. Now is the time for all the love he has shown to be reciprocated as he demands kisses. CKay needs to be convinced that he is loved the same way he loves his woman, hence the reason, he requests she “put me for your DP/status” on social media, so that the world can know she is his.
Boyfriend EP might not have given CKay the bang he needed at the time it was dropped, but a proper promotion of Felony or Kiss Me Like You Miss Me, will definitely do the magic. Love Nwantiti, a properly promoted track he released in 2019, now doing wonders abroad two years after, is a shred of evidence.
CKay’s streaming figures on Spotify is 6.48 million, more than that of Wizkid (2.69 million) and Burna Boy (2.36 million) combined. This is not to demean both singers who are doing more than well in their respective careers. Rather, it is a fact mentioned to show what a single song, Love Nwantiti, has achieved for CKay.
Felony and the entire Boyfriend EP might do the same if CKay is ready to spend on promotion as he did for Love Nwantiti, maybe in another two years time. CKay had received a plaque from YouTube in late July, for reaching a hundred thousand subscribers on the platform