With a tight chemistry with infectious personalities, PsychoYP and Azanti are the freshest artists on the scene. At only 22 and 17 years old, the pair are a part of the young creatives emerging from Nigeria.
Their latest project – YP & Azanti, Vol 1 already has surpassed one million streams and remained an IndustryMe favourite since its release in November last year. We caught up with the two to discuss genre-bending and what it means to be your person in the industry.
Okay, how are you guys?
Azanti: I’m good, man.
YP: Yeah, I’m calm you know, chilling.
So how did you and YP meet? From my understanding work on the project began with an email?
Azanti: Yeah..hmm well I didn’t send an email to work on a project, I just sent the email to send him some music then we ended up working on a project.
What was it about YP that made you want to hear his thoughts on your music?
Azanti: It was this one song, it was erm… [hums], it was that song. I was like that’s some crazy stuff so I hit him up and was like damn man, I really like your music.
And YP, what made you want to get back in touch with Azanti?
YP: Basically, it took me some time to even get back. I mean there was someone that kept playing his stuff for me like both unreleased stuff and new. It didn’t sound like anything I was hearing at that time and yeah I just had to reach back.
One thing that comes to mind about both yours and Azanti’s music is how unique it is. It’s hard to pinpoint what type of genre it is. What type of sound would you describe Vo 1.?
YP: The project is probably more Azanti’s sound [laughs] Azanti sorry describe your sound for us?
Azanti: Omo I don’t know man, I think I’ve grown out of the sound of the last project. It’s just R&B mixed with anything – R&B mixed with Hip-hop, R&B mixed with Dancehall, R&B mixed with Afro. That’s basically my sound. This project is basically an embodiment of that.
You know I’ll call your sound R&B Afro-Fusion [Laughs]
Azanti: I’ve heard that as well
So you guys weren’t together when you recorded the project?
Azanti: Yeah nah we didn’t record together.
How did the recording process go? Would you just send in your vocals to each other by email or?
Azanti: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Just back and forth like my phones.
And who would you say took the lead in terms of the production and writing? Was it 50/50?
Azanti: Yeah, I think it was equal, I don’t think either one of us took the lead. I think we just did our parts you know.
What is the one song from the album you keep on repeat?
Azanti: I always say Ji Masun but nowadays it changes.
Yp: Basically, the same thing, but like I’d say Nobody or New Bag, but I put Nobody first because of the mixing process for that. I enjoyed mixing that song.
Were there any influences you brought with you into the early creation of the album?
Azanti: Yeah, well I would say maybe the Oxlade EP actually, but that’s the only thing I can recall like that’s the only stand-out project that I can recall right now. I don’t think I took any direct influences from anything I like specifically.
Yp: Yeah, I don’t think for this project we were listening to anyone. I think we were just in our own space trying to feed off energy.
One thing I wanted to ask you guys, just a general opinion, how do you guys feel right now in terms of the scene and the way it’s grown internationally?
Azanti: I think it’s in a very good space man like Weezy and Burna just won the Grammy, so it’s really opening a lot of doors for even us you know. I think afrobeat and Nigeria, the Nigerian scene in general is in a very good space. The opportunities are more now and more eyes are watching now, more ears listening.
Where would you guys like to see yourself in this scene?
Azanti: Eh, you can only do your part. So just to put out good music on, keep vibing and that’s it. [Laughs] knockout!
YP just recently you have been nominated for a Headie, how did that feel?
Yp: Um, it was…I was shocked. Yeah, it was surprising. But like obviously I knew I wasn’t gonna win it ’cause industry but yeah [laughs].
Industry hmm care to elaborate?
Yp: Nah nahhh…you already know, you know what I mean, but yeah. It felt great being present and being nominated in the first place.
And Azanti you recently signed to Apex village?
Azanti: Yes, mam.
Did you always want to be a part of that collective?
Azanti: t’s not something that I had my sights on, but like it was something that came. I was like, okay, yeah that’s exactly.. might as well. So yeah, it’s been love since.
So going to go back to the album, I just wanna find out more about where you guys want to take your partnership. Will there be a Vol 2? Or is this just a standalone release?
Yp: There’s definitely going to be another project, but I just wanted to use this opportunity to bring him out the best way possible. So yeah, with the first project we made it short cause we had way more songs but there’s definitely a second part.
Now that I know that you guys are going to bring out more material. That means you guys are going to tour with this album, right? As in when the doors open.
Azanti: Ehh [Laughs]
Yp: ehh tour where? [Laugh]
When Covid is over, come to the UK.
Azanti: Ehhh, if the door opens.
Yp: [Laughs] we will see.
Which track is next to be released?
Azanti: Oh, I don’t know.
Yp: Azanti is meant to drop a project but that’s still in the works
YP would we see some of your work on Azanti’s solo project?
Yp: Yeah, yeah definitely.
Would you say you have taken on as a mentor to Azanti in a kind of way?
Yp: In a kind of way, but Azanti is his own person. I can’t really influence him on his music as he does his own anything. I learn a lot from him as well, so yeah.
As you’re both quite young, how do you navigate the industry with the older heads? This industry likes to take advantage of the young ones.
Has there ever been like a time where you literally had to let the elders know that you’re your own person?
Azanti: [Laughs] Come on, It dey happen…
Yp: Just say yes.
Azanti: [Laughs] Okay I’ll just say yes and leave it there.
Okay, I’ll phrase it like this, if there’s someone else who was your age entering the industry. What would you advise them?
Azanti: Just jazz up, sharp first of all. Second of all, you have to understand, omo that you’re here for yourself and also nobody is out here trying to do stuff for you. Everybody is out trying to eat for themselves. So you need to get it into your head not many people are going to do your favours just for favour’s sake. They expect much more back, so just need to be smart with how you work and who you work with.
Going back to the album, When it came to mapping out the sound for volume one? Who led the production?
Azanti: I wouldn’t say I lead the production but I think I did a bit more production than YP. I did production on Ji Masun, Caro, Nobody. I didn’t do the full project, production-wise but I arranged them, and I made certain adjustments here and there just because of the ear I have already. But like when it comes to like production nowadays, I tend to leave it to the big boys because I find it very hard to do production and you know singing at the same time, so I just tend to like to leave it to people who are there for that and I just do my own bit. It also helps everyone eat.
YP when it comes to lyrics, does the beat lead you?
Yp: Yeah, I don’t really sit down to write. Most times I just let the beat tell me what to do, it’s kind of a spiritual something.
I know your kind of a hip-hop head, when are we going to see that side come into your music?
Yp: Real soon, my next project is Rap HipHop. Strictly, there’s nothing Afro about my next project.
Would you say the scene back home is open to music that is less focused on the Afro sound?
Yp: Nah, not really but there are people that listen to it. I mean, I think a few more people are trying to be more open to it, so yeah.
I’ve noticed you’re very particular with who you work with on your music?
Yp: Yeah, you’re right most of the producers I’ve worked with. I’ve known them for a long time. They all understand my sound.
Would you say artists right now should focus more on working with people that know their vision rather than trying to catch the next hot producer?
Yp: Yeah definitely!
Azanti: For me, it is a bit different because the way I work is one month I could be like into this producer and then the next month I could be into another producer. So, I’m like a producer ashawo. It’s unfair for me to look at someone and say, oh, you should stick to one producer because I don’t know man, I just work with everyone. If I feel something at the moment, I’m going to record it if I don’t, I’m not regardless of who’s sending me the beat or not.