Mr. Eazi, the award-winning Nigerian artist, is blurring the lines between continents and genres with his groundbreaking project, The Evil Genius. This innovative fusion of contemporary African art and music, hosted at Gallery 1957 in the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast & Galleria Mall, Ghana, is captivating international audiences and redefining the boundaries of artistic expression.
In August 2022, Mr. Eazi launched a mini-documentary for his hit single Legalize. This served as a teaser for his then-unnamed debut album, now titled The Evil Genius. The single was his first step in merging the emotional depth of his music with the power of visual art.
"I see the instrumental as a canvas for the music I'm making," Mr. Eazi explained. "I don't know what I'm going to say when I hear the instrumental, but sometimes you perform a song and the emotions are lost. You perform a really sad song and you see people dancing to it and enjoying themselves. This new project is therapy for me. I'm being vulnerable, and I just know that some people will feel the vibration. So now, I felt like it's good to have this in a visual form, which is the art."
Fast forward to September 2023, and The Evil Genius album has come to fruition. Each song pairs with a commissioned art piece, telling the story of Mr. Eazi's life journey—one art piece at a time.
This unique, multi-sensory experience combines African music and visual art. Mr. Eazi guides the audience through his life, crafting a narrative that resonates globally. The Evil Genius collection features 16 extraordinary pieces, each linked to a track from his upcoming album. Artists from eight African nations contribute, offering a stunning range of artwork from vivid paintings to intricate drawings.
During an exclusive listening session, Mr. Eazi delved into the album's inspiration. "We all seek acceptance and validation. Facing criticism can be tough. This album is my journey toward self-acceptance. It allows me to confront and accept even the harshest opinions about me."
The integration of visual art into the project adds a rich and multilayered dimension. Mr. Eazi emphasized, "I carefully selected these authentic and inspiring artworks in collaboration with talented artists from across the continent because art, for me, is the essential complement to the project. It serves as the visual embodiment of the music and the overarching narrative."
During the event, Eazi revealed that the idea of putting together the exhibition was properly formulated when he first saw the artist Patricorel's piece in Benin that depicts two skeletons expressing love. He explained that it was the first time he had seen love being presented this way, and the meaning of "till death do you part" became clearer in a new way. For instance, the first song off the album, which is a very personal one for him, is paired with the art piece titled "Oluwa Jó" by Tammy Sinclair. For this song, Eazi revealed that the first voice heard is that of his mother, marking the first time she has been featured in his music.
Other art pieces represent the father-son bond and the burdens they carry, the trials and tribulations faced throughout his life, and Jesus and his disciples gathered around the table for the Last Supper.
Set for release on October 27, The Evil Genius holds deep personal significance for Mr. Eazi. Both the collection and album promise to make a lasting impact globally, bridging cultures and genres. Mr. Eazi's innovative fusion of music and art invites global audiences to discover the richness of African creativity.
This project is set to leave a lasting imprint on the cultural landscape, encouraging fans to embark on their own journeys of self-acceptance and artistic exploration.
About the writers:
Jude Tackie (X/IG: @KobbyLavish, LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jude-tackie-82b2a2208 )
Ian Otchere(X/IG: @ian_priceless, LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ian-otchere