Afrobeats Rising Phoenix: The Journey of Creen Caesar

Words by Lovelin Kolawole
Creen Caesar is a recording and performing artist from Imo state, Nigeria, embodying the fusion of tradition and modernity, formulating a musical narrative that captivates hearts and minds worldwide.
In this illuminating discussion, he unveils the origin of his stage name, his extensive musical influences, the delicate art of balancing academics and artistry, the creative genesis of his latest single “OGBUEFI,” the transformative role of social media in his ascent, and his bold vision for the evolution of Afrobeat music.

What inspired your stage name?

2015, I was learning a little bit of Spanish and I saw the word “believe”. “Creen” means to believe in Spanish, and I actually liked it. And again, I’m Catholic, so if you’re Catholic you’ll know when talking about the creed, creed means believe. I feel like this is cool. When I started making music professionally in 2018, I thought like oh I shouldn’t just have only a name I coin; one of my names has to be a part of me. That’s when it became Creen Caesar. To be fair, during that period almost all my quote and unquote idols had their names and surnames, like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Nasty C, Cassper Nyovest. So it just felt right for me to have this. So that’s how I came about this.

Who inspires you musically?

Right now I won’t say who; it is just sound right now. I actually pay more attention to sound, a sound that has so many cultural elements into it. Right now I can’t say who but what inspires me. If it was back then, I had a series of artists that inspired me then but right now it is much more on what I listen to that inspires me. Back then I was inspired by Nasty C, Cassper Nyovest, J. Cole, Kendrick, and more.

How did you handle both your musical interests and academic responsibilities so effectively, resulting in your graduation as the top student in your department?

To be sincere, it wasn’t really that much of a big deal. I might be a little bit sassy in my sound, but I feel like artists can just decide on what to do. You’re not doing music for the entire 24 hours; you still have time to yourself. When I was in school, I was the course rep. I go to shows, and from the show, probably we have an early morning lecture, I’ll carry my backpack from the show to lectures the next morning, and from lectures, I go home to sleep. So basically, I feel like whatever you’re doing, you do it well. My parents did not send me to school to do music, to be fair. Music is what I’m doing, so I feel like I owe it to them to give them a really good result.

What’s the inspiration behind your recent single “OGBUEFI”?

I wrote Ogbuefi towards the ending of last year. Ogbuefi was my mental state at the time I wrote it. Ogbuefi is a title in Igbo land. The literal meaning of Ogbuefi means “killer of the cow”. Now if you’re figuratively expressing it, it just basically means the person that brings money because obviously before you kill a cow in Igbo land you know how much you need to have and they can’t just give you Ogbuefi just by killing one cow, you need to have done it several times before they say that this is your title. So the single is just like, “I keep putting the word” Ogbuefi “on,” keep killing the cow basically in whatever particular aspect you’re doing, if you’re doing music, keep killing the cow, keep dropping hits. So that was basically the idea behind Ogbuefi.

In what ways do you think social media has contributed to the growth of your music?

Social media is what traditional media used to be before; it’s almost like you’re having the radio at your doorstep. It has contributed a lot to my growth because I can be here now and I can drop a video on my Twitter page and 3,000 – 5,000 people are seeing it right now or more, depending on how viral the video goes. Not just for me, I’m talking as a whole. If you check through TikTok now, you’ll see a creative that just created his account yesterday and dropped his craft today and he’s blown up tomorrow. I’m not saying it really happens to everybody, but social media has given more independent artists a whole lot of chances. The benefit of social media really outweighs the downsides for emerging artists.

What do you think about the evolution of Afrobeats in Nigeria and your role in it?

I never got a role yet lol, I can’t really explain what Afro beats is right now, because there is a whole lot of confusion. If I want to talk about Afro beats as Music coming out of Nigeria as the blanket statement, in 2019 there is an emergence of Alté into the industry and the lasting effects of Alté are inspiring. If you check out the music industry from pre-2018 and post-2019, you’ll discover that our artists’ style has increased, the appeal of you being an artist has increased as well, of course, this is what we got from the Alté industry. In terms of sound, I feel like the industry is becoming big enough that different people can survive on their niche fan base. The music industry is a stage where you don’t really need to leave your comfort zone if you don’t want to benefit from it, so that’s how the Afro beats industry is heading to and I really love it. Every creative is now being much more creative in his own space, blues, RNB, Folk music; a lot of emerging artists from folk aspects of Nigerian music and it is really dope to see. Afro beats are progressing so far.

What accomplishments do you see yourself achieving in the music industry in the next five to 10 years?

I can’t really say five to ten years, but I can say the next one year to six months. I hope and pray that I’m able to tour in my next project I’m dropping, even if it is a Nigerian university tour, I’ll go for it. I just want to perform my music to as many audiences as I can and I mean my cultivated audience, the kind of audience that you already know the energy to expect because, for up-and-coming artists, it is really hard when you get to shows and you don’t really have time. If you’re based on performing for like 10 minutes and you’re using 5 minutes to ginger the crowd before they get to your pace, the time for performance is over. So I really need to perform to my crowd like my audience, so that’s just the next point I’m looking at.

Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know or any message you’d like to share with them?

I’m appreciative of their support. I don’t really have the biggest fan base, but the support is crazy. I can just say I’m starting this challenge today and everyone is responding to it; these are people that don’t even know you from Adam. So I’m just grateful for the support they’ve shown me since 2018 down to right now. And yeah, more music on my own part, I’ll make sure even if we are ten, a hundred, or one thousand, you people are going to receive the best of the best from the rollout to the visuals to the content; you’re getting the best.

What’s your opinion on the proliferation of female acts in the music industry?

In the past, we didn’t really have many female Afrobeat artists because of the way the industry was going. It didn’t have space for female artists. But right now, I’m happy everyone is benefiting from the evolution of Afrobeat in Nigeria.

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