Interviews

Minz: The Afro-Fusion Monster

In terms of fusions, Minz's blockbuster smash single 'Wowo' is a mix of rhythm and blues, jazz, and Afro rhythms. He recalls scoring the banger during a meeting in Cotonou. 

Minz
Minz [Instagram/@minznse]

Damilola Aminu, also known as Minz, has come a long way since his early days of playing music in cramped homes. The fast-rising singer’s rise to popularity has been gradual but consistent. 

While many in his position would have given up long ago, Minz’s unwavering enthusiasm, combined with the divine, has propelled his sound to levels that should seem unattainable for an independent music act. 

His ambition to succeed has made him popular in Francophone-speaking countries such as Gabon, where he had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform for a crowd of over 16,000 people at the Vacances Bal Poussiere, the largest Afro-French festival. Gabon’s capital, Libreville, hosted the event.

The Pan-African star, who is twenty-eight years old, has broken into the Nigerian mainstream market with his life song ‘Wowo’ (both the original and the remix).  

For a long time, despite his international success, the singer struggled to score a hit in the United States, until ‘Wowo’ broke the curse. The success of the song brought Minz greater prominence in Nigeria, as well as a slew of new admirers and loyalists. 

The rising Nigerian star, Minz tells us about his future ambitions, beloved music connections, impending university tour, and more in this in-depth interview.

          Wowo

Minz begins the conversation by recalling his poor beginnings as a young boy growing up in the Surulere suburbs of Lagos. He describes growing up watching his middle-class parents fight to offer him the greatest life possible by sending him to the most expensive educational institutions, even if it meant borrowing money. 

I have heard people say I make pop music or R&B. But I disagree, my sound is a fusion of these sonic genres.

Minz, 2023.

Minz recalls a difficult childhood in which he fought to fit in. He had desired as a child to be a wealthy child but swiftly interrupted himself by emphasising how grateful he is for his parents’ sacrifice of love through the years, and how he considers himself fortunate to now return the courtesy.

Minz’s love of music revealed itself in the most innocuous ways as he grew up. As a child, his uncanny sense of rhythm and melody sparked his interest in music.

“I have always wanted to do music, even as a kid I would always tap my hands on anything I could find. My love for music is genuine and it graduated into a full-blown passion while I was still in secondary school.”

Minz went on to say that he had always known that he would create a career out of his love of music. According to the International Law and Diplomacy graduate, his love for music expanded enormously during his college years. 

My favorite part about being a music artist is not just about the glitz and glamor, I mean, they are very nice. But there is a different kind of joy I feel when I see a fan dancing to my music

Minz, 2023.

Minz’s music is classified as Afro-fusion. He combines a variety of musical elements to produce one body. 

“I have heard people say I make pop music or R&b. But I disagree, my sound is a fusion of these sonic genres.”

In terms of fusions, Minz’s blockbuster smash single ‘Wowo’ is a mix of rhythm and blues, jazz, and Afro rhythms. He recalls scoring the banger during a meeting in Cotonou. 

The excursion had an official purpose. He intended to meet with popular Nigerian artist Mr. Eazi, as well as pursue other interests, including music production. Wowo’s instrumentals were played to him during one of his planned music sessions by his music producer.

” After a long day, my music producer and I were just vibing in the studio in Cotonou when he played me the beat for Wowo. I instantly loved the beat and freestyled on it. When I got to the chorus part, my producer and I shared a glance at each other. We knew we had to record that shit. Honestly, I knew it was a good song, but I never expected it to go this massive”.

Ideal Collaborations 

Minz has more ambitions than just being a formidable musical act. He hopes to one day work in technology, potentially combining both areas to serve a higher purpose. 

Minz also hopes to work in the fashion sector in the future, citing late fashion icon Virgil Abloh as his main inspiration.

During the conversation, the singer boasts about his amazing work pace, claiming that he has over 400 unreleased songs in his vault. This kind of claim hammers home his undying love for music recording. However, his passion for music recording is not as rewarding as the prize itself. 

Minz believes that the most fulfilling component of his trade is not fame or fortune, but how much his music means to the average person. 

“My favorite part about being a music artist is not just about the glitz and glamor, I mean, they are very nice. But there is a different kind of joy I feel when I see a fan dancing to my music, or when a fan reaches out to tell me how my music got them through a tough time in their life. To be honest, that makes me very fulfilled. Also, getting to travel to various countries is a total blessing and one of my favorite perks about being a musician”.

Minz, on the other hand, believes that the disadvantage of being a musician is the unpleasant work atmosphere that comes with the territory. He describes the music industry as “cold.” In a dog-eat-dog environment, he has become somewhat distrustful and “cold” in comparison to his naturally gentle demeanour.

Minz mentions some of his preferred colleagues for the future. Legendary Nigerian vocalist King Sunny Ade, Malian music diva Fatoumata Diawara, Nigerian folk star Aṣa, and American Travis Scott are among those who make his cut. He admires their sheer creativity and aspires to be on their level one day.

Blinding Lights

Minz has a great working relationship with a variety of A-list celebrities, but he especially bonds with Nigerian singer and composer, Runtown

When asked to characterise his working relationship with the Enugu-born act, he said, “Runtown is my brother for life! That’s my bro. I go to him sometimes when I feel stuck or I need advice. He is always there to lend a helping hand, even outside of music. We have so many gems unreleased. When we are ready for the world to listen, we would drop them, fingers crossed.”

Minz is a music producer as well as a vocalist. He claims that the latter ability has helped him perform effectively as a musician.

I am a very reserved and shy person... I wear glasses as a form of protection, lol... my way of blocking the blinding lights…

Minz, 2023.

Being a music producer has given me an edge as a musician. It is one of those skills that I am extremely thankful for. It has helped the way I transcribe music in the long run”.

Looking at Minz’s Instagram, one prominent and repeating characteristic of his aesthetic viewpoint is his zealous employment of extremely tinted eye shades. The accessory has played a significant role in his fashion and branding, but there appears to be more to it than meets the eye.

” I am a very reserved and shy person and I might come off as outgoing, but I am not. I enjoy being in my shell a lot, but due to the nature of my work, I have to be in the public eye. I wear glasses as a form of protection, lol. It is my super cape, my way of blocking the blinding lights that come with fame, a lot of my peers are like this too,” he explained.

EMPAWA

Minz recalls his worst musical performance and how it changed his perspective on performance-enhancing substances. 

While I was still In University, I got booked to perform at a student-organized event and I was so pumped and anxious at the same time. In a bid to calm my nerves, I took some performance-enhancing drugs to get high. My whole set was a disaster, I was oblivious to everything I was doing. All I could remember was some girl screaming at me while aggressively holding my shirt. I guessed I pissed her off or something, lol, it was a chaotic experience. Since then, I have never used anything to aid performance”.

Empawa, Mr. Eazi’s music publishing organisation, has a collaboration agreement with the artist. He describes receiving a surprising email from Mr.Eazi personally, along with a letter expressing Eazi’s intention to cooperate with him.

“Before that moment, I had been trying to get Mr.Eazi’s attention. But nothing happened. Until one day, he liked one of my posts on Instagram and before I could reach out properly, he sent an email through my manager. He said that he had been watching me for a while, and he has been seeing my grind, and he would like to support me. That was how the Empawa deal came about, pretty simple story.”

By Any Minz Tour

Minz and his colleagues are expected to begin a month-long tour on June 3rd, 2023, visiting fourteen institutions in all. While on the road, he’ll be performing with yet-to-be-announced support acts. 

“The tour is my way of giving back to my Nigerian fans who have consistently shown me love.”

He plans to kickstart with a fourteen-campus tour. 

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