The airwaves will definitely be lacking in content without the contributions of Kabir Abodunrin also known as K-Merit. In this interview, the songster reveals how he shot into international stardom less than three years in the music industry.
Could you trace your background?
I am Kabir Abodunrin. I was born on February 17, 1993. Today, I am better known by my stage name, K-Merit. I studied Economics at Universite Polytechnique Internationale du Benin, Cotonou and graduated in 2016. I have been told by not a few who have heard my music or seen me perform that I am a prolific artiste, and apart from my mother tongue, Yoruba, I also speak English, Hausa, and Jamaican Patois fluently.
Apart from music, what else do you do?
I am a calligrapher and I also draw. All in all, I am a very creative person, as I am proficient with whatever that has to do with imagination. I had to somehow deviate from what some people do at Idiroko where I come from. There, smuggling thrives, because we live in a nation where border towns are deprived of social amenities and industrial development. The government seems to be concerned about excise duties/tariffs and nothing more. I have therefore taken it upon myself to let the world know that we are talented, educated and exposed, and with a bit of government attention, we can do more than what we are doing today. Watch me as I unleash talents from my slum.
What kind of music do you sing and what impact do you hope to make?
Basically, I do dancehall and Afrobeat. My intention is to preach harmony and love through music.
When did you start playing music?
I started doing full time music shortly after my graduation from the university in 2016. I had to exercise enough patience before going into music, and in between I worked hard to obtain university degree before exploring my talents and passion. This was made possible because I have a principled father who believes so much in education. He has been very supportive. My voyage into music also has a root in my love for unique fashion style. I am a fashion freak. Even before I went into music full time, many people had asked me if I wanted to go into entertainment. They said I dress like an artiste. This persistent question made me discover myself. People saw the talent in me even before I realised it, and when I finally did, I knew I had to use it to preach unity, love and peace.
Who was your biggest influence?
While growing up, I listened to a lot of Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Sean Paul and 2face, and they seemed to have shaped my musical outlook.
How have you developed your career and who or what was your greatest influence?
In the course of my musical sojourn, I have come to realise that I alone can decide to succeed or fail based on the determination I have, and the decisions I take. My family, Olisa Adibua’s mentorship and fatherly advice, my team, Crystals Media Empire, as well as my fans have been pillars of support on my road to success.
What strategies do you use in seeking out opportunities to project your work?
As a supplier of exceptional musical content, I had to understand the kind of people I am relating with. Again, I conduct researches about the market I am dealing with. I know how to make optimal use of scarcity. I knew Jamaican Patois music is appreciated all around the globe but there are few artistes who deliver their messages in this genre. So, with the privileged ability to speak Patois, I quickly joined this group. I knew it would be easier to be heard outside the country. I kept on churning out borderless music, and in no time, I started gaining support from outside the country; even before I was known as an artiste in Nigeria. I didn’t just sing and wait, I also wrote a lot of proposals to music labels, and before one could say ‘Jack’, Bentley Records New York was on my trail. Today, I have a publishing/distribution deal with them.
Is there anybody in the industry that you may wish to do collabo with?
Yes, Burna Boy because of his versatility. Again, there is Stromae (Belgian musician) so as to hit the European, most especially, francophone market. Damian Marley is also on my list, so as to produce an epic prophetic song.
Which of your songs can you describe as a hit and what inspired the song?
I can confidently say ‘Fame’. ‘Fame’ is the single I dropped after the success of ‘Gimme Love’. It all started when my previous work made me visit Beat 99.9FM. Olisa Adibua interviewed me on the ‘Morning Rush’ programme. It was a dream come true, because as a kid, I had enjoyed watching Olisa on the TV. Everything that happened to me that day was remarkable. The treatment and hospitality I have been receiving afterwards have been massive. This was what inspired me to do the song ‘Fame’. In this song, I explained all the bitterness and sweetness that my musical career has enjoyed. How the value for freedom is being yearned for, but it is too late.
Your Fame video is making waves at the moment. What is it all about?
It is vibes I garnered at a radio station. I was opportune to meet one of my mentors, Olisa Adibua. And I must tell you that meeting him alone was a big blessing, and that’s no lie. The video is a diary of an up and coming musician’s day. The project is dedicated to the memory of my mum who died 10 years ago.
How do you rate the Nigerian music industry?
There has been a massive improvement. Music generates gross revenue in Nigeria now, compared to some years back. Back then; youths were scolded for choosing music instead of white-collar jobs. African sounds, especially Nigerian sounds, are being recognised in the world today. The likes of Olamide, Reminisce, Wizkid, and Davido are better appreciated outside the country. They enjoy sold out concerts all around the globe.
What should we expect from K-Merit in the coming years?
I intend to churn out more quality music this year. The video of ‘Fame’ dropped in April. I will also be dropping an Extended Play (EP) later in the year.
You wear different tattoos, what do they stand for?
(Laughs) There is a tattoo on my chest, but I had it even before I dreamt of stepping into the (music) booth. Let me tell you a little about my tattoos: ‘My Tattoos, My Life!’ highlights my whole life. ‘My Tattoos, My Pride!!’ reminds me that I am surrounded by an amazing family. ‘My Tattoos, My Strength!!!’ motivates me in millions of ways whenever I have a reason to quit. The ‘Hail Mary’ stands for my mother, Mariam; she was a virtuous lady. The ‘Proverb III: XXIV’ stands for the day she left this cruel world – March 24, 2008, which happened to be an Easter Monday. The five boxes stand for my four siblings and I. It reminds me that all my mum’s seeds are going to be stars in their own right.
Where do we see K-Merit in the next five years?
At the top! At the very top!