By Eric Elezuo
The musical airwaves will definitely be lacking in content without the contributions of this maverick songster, Kabir Abodunrin, better known by his stage, K-Merit. In this interview, K-Merit revealed the details that have shot him to the level of international just less than three years into the industry.
Could you kindly trace your background?
I was born as Kabir Abodunrin on February 17, 1993. Today I am better known by my stage name – K-Merit. I am Yoruba speaking Nigerian from Idiroko, one of the border towns in Nigeria; Idiroko. I am a qualified Economist having studied Economics at the Universite Polytechnique Internationale du Benin, Cotonou. I graduated in 2016. Well, I have told by not a few who has seen me perform or heard my music that I am a prolific artiste, and apart from my mother tongue – Yourba, I also speak English Language, Hausa, and Jamaican Patois.
Apart from music, what else do you do
I am a professional a calligrapher I addition to drawing. All in all, I am a very creative person as I am proficient with whatever has to do with the use of my imagination.
I had to somehow deviate from what we do at Idiroko where I come from. There, the people mostly smuggle to earn a living. This is because we live in a nation where border towns are deprived of social amenities and industrial development. The government seems to be concerned about customs 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 songs do you sing and what impact do you hope to make?
Basically, I do dancehall and Afrobeat sounds. The intention is to preach harmony and love through my music.
When and why did you start playing?
I started doing full time music in shortly after my graduation from the university in 2016. I had to exercise enough patience before going into the musical field, and in between, I worked hard to obtain educational degree before exploring my talents and passion. This was even made more 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 started music as a career, many people had asked me one common question “Are you into entertainment?” They said I dress like one. This persistent question made me discover myself. People saw it in me even before I realized 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 listen to a lot of Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Sean Paul, 2face, and they seemed to have shaped my outlook to the musical world.
How have you developed your career and who or what are your greatest assistance?
In the course of my sojourn, I have come to realize that I alone can decide to succeed or fail based on the determination I have and the decisions I take. All in all, my family, Olisa Adibua’s mentorship and fatherly advice, as well as my team, Crystals Media Empire, and my fans have been a pillar of assistance in my road to success.
What strategies do you use in seeking out opportunities to project your work
I am an Economist, remember. I know the basic tool of every venture is to always minimise cost so as to maximise output or profit. This has been the reason I always optimize my musical parameters. Opportunities don’t come after artistes rather the artiste, especially up and coming ones like us stay alert to identify the opportunity when it comes, and grab its full potentials. I place my strength and weakness side by side and weigh every option.
Secondly, as a supplier of exceptional musical content, I had to understand the kind of people I am relating to. Again, I conduct researches about the market I am dealing with in terms of the hows, wheres and whys. I know how to make optimal use of scarcity. I knew Jamaican patois music is appreciated all around the globe, but there are few artists who deliver their message 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 artist 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 both home and abroad 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 (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. I was interviewed by Olisa Adibua on the morning rush. It was a dream come true, because as a kid, I had enjoyed watching Olisa on the terrestrial TV. Everything that happened to me that day was remarkable. The treatment and hospitality I have been receiving afterwards has 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.
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 Nigeria sounds, are being recognized in the world today. The likes of Olamide, Reminisce, Wizkid, Davido are better appreciated outside the country. They enjoy sold out concerts all around the globe.
How challenging is the music industry?
It is as challenging as any other industry, and because it is a creative based industry, government should invest more in it. Good policies should be formulated and implemented to deal with piracy. Piracy is killing pure arts. Knowing the right plug is the problem, and this makes upcoming artist suffer a lot during the climb to greatness.
What should we expect from K-Merit in the coming years?
I intend to churn out more quality music this year. The Video to Fame drops this April, which is in a few weeks’ time. I therefore, enjoin all my fans and music lovers to be on the lookout. I will also be dropping an Extended Play (EP) later in the year.
Do you wear tattoos or have something odd like most musicians
(Laughs) well, there is a sort of tattoo on my chest, but I already had it even before I dreamt of stepping into the booth. Let me tell you a little about my tattoo:
My tattoos; my life! I see this ink on my chest a highlights of my whole life.
My tattoos; my pride!! It reminds me that I am surrounded by an amazing family.
My tattoos; my strength!!! It 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 happens to be an Easter Monday.
The five boxes stand for me and my four siblings. It reminds me that all my mum’s seeds are going to be stars in their own right.
Any advice for as many that will wish to tow your path
Yes, they must realize that they path to glory is very challenging because you are not the only one on it. But with focus, determination, commitment and discipline, one can achieve any good thing he wishes to achieve. So be focused.
Where do we see K-Merit in the next five years
At the top! At the very top!