New Telegraph

My sound defines me – Rafsbeat

Young, dynamic and creative artiste, Raphael Chukwunweike Emmanuel, professionally known as Rafsbeat, is gradually carving a niche for himself as an upwardly mobile artiste with potential to be great. In this interview with EDWIN USOBOH, the Umu Ome, Enugu-born artiste, described as the new “Soul of Afrobeat”, talks about his affection for music, growing up and the next big step

Take us through a sneak peek of your music career

I grew up loving music, having a family that loves music so much. My siblings play instruments and sing too. My mom took me to her choir rehearsals when I was about five, by the time I was nine years old, I was already singing in the choir and playing the keyboard, and other instruments like drums, acoustic guitar, percussion, and the bass guitar. I grew with that and became a member of my secondary school acapella group (Choral Group) at The O Cornell High School also known as GSS MX in Niger State. That’s where I gained confidence to sing in the crowd. I started off my singing and production career as a gospel artiste producing some songs and working with some gospel artistes and producers, which was great at the time. Still, then I also had the conviction I could cut across all genres in music, not just Gospel music. So, I started experimenting to get my first studio equipment. I produced for a while in Abuja before moving to Lagos to start my music officially. All the adrenaline in my body was telling me I was going to break into limelight in six months, hahaha (laughs), but Eko will humble you. It was a process of growth for me. I learnt a lot meeting people who helped me grow from Dozie, Sunday, JAFFY, D Ten, Dtunes, and my cousin, Stephen Damian, the Nollywood actor.

What songs have you produced?

I have been opportuned to work with some known artistes in Nigeria and the international scene like Skibbi whom I coproduced the Legend Dtunes on his song, “Skibobo”; also, Kolosi by Teni Ft Dtunes. I also worked with Michael Blackson, the popular American comedian on his first song ‘Mutumbo’ which I produced and last year December, I produced for the Famous American rapper Chief Keef Sosa on his album 4nem by producing one of the amazing tracks there (Ice cream man). Also, I have worked with Kido Blanko, Charass Melody, Nkadi, Neky, among many others. I have released a couple of tracks over the years. I dropped my first Ep called ‘Old Records’ and some singles too like ‘Aunty Nike’, ‘Watch Ya Side’, ‘Coco’, ‘21 Bars’, ‘Right Behind You’. I am set to drop my new project called ‘Habit’ next year. I am also releasing a single this year called ‘Olamide’ on the Ep project, all produced by me.

What sound are you inventing:

My sound defines me. As my name would imply, “Rafsbeat” is an infusion of different genres, experiences, and emotions but with an Afrobeats foundation cutting across all genres of music, from soul to RnB, Hip-hop, Highlife and any other genre worth exploring. I am that flexible, but in all, when you hear it, you will know this is Rafsbeat

Who do you look up to as an inspiration in the music industry?

Don Jazzy. I can see a reflection of him on my path as a producer/artiste; Wizkid in terms of grace that the guy carries, and his talent too is amazing; Davido in terms of being Relentless and hardworking; Burnaboy in terms of understanding music and coming from nowhere to the top in a snap and as a performing artiste with great sense and choice of music. While growing up I listened to a lot of Whitney Houston, Don Williams, Christy Lane, Osadebe, Fela, Oliver de Coque, Back Street Boys, Boys 2 men, Westlife, Celine Dion, Micheal Jackson, Don Moen, Panam Pasy Paul. I listen to them for inspiration.

Why the name Rafsbeat?

As I said earlier, Rafsbeat is like an invented genre for my sound but the fun fact about that name was way back when I started music production. My cousin, Stephen, started calling me that whenever I make a dope beat. He would say, ‘Rafsbeat! RAF on the beat!!!, Rafsbeating!!! So, Rafsbeat was inspired by dope beats and thanks to him who figured it out.

How would you rate the Nigerian Music Industry:

I would give it a five star because we are at the peak of it all in the world rating though it has not been an easy ride, but we are grateful to the amazing legends who have collectively put the Nigerian music industry and Afrobeats on the world map. Some of them I look up to. It’s a proud moment to be alive to experience it, and I am here to give my own contribution to keep that fire burning for Afrobeats.

Where do we see you in five years?

I see myself making the world a better place to live in, in a much larger scale with my music in everyone’s lips and my sound in everyone’s ears bringing joy across to every part of the world.

As a young artiste and producer, what are the hurdles you are facing?

Sometimes I don’t get enough en-couragement I need but you must encourage yourself to do better. My parents as at then didn’t feel the music vibe as a career. At first, it didn’t really go down well with my confidence to propel my music, but it’s all good now. Another thing is lack of finance, and knowledge because not knowing how the music market works can be setback to push your music. You must be acquainted with promotion, branding and marketing as an artiste. I have grown to build my confidence and music to where everyone around me sees life in it and loves every bit of it. Looking back, I don’t see it as a hurdle but a steppingstone to build myself and my music to where it impacts the world positively.

Do you think the market is welcoming to a new act, or it’s a situation of a dog-eating dog?

I don’t think it’s the dog case. There’s room for every artiste to thrive if you know what you are doing and have the required knowledge and experience. Even if you don’t have backing from a team who understands the market and understands you, you would thrive regardless. people are hungry for good music, and they will always listen to one and fall in love with the music. As an artiste you need to build not just your music but yourself as a brand for your fans to fall in love with your music; people are moved by what they see and hear; so, you should always have a marketing strategy before releasing any music.

How do you relax?

I relax by creating music. I love movies, and food, especially our locally-made Nigerian food. If a lady wants a way into my heart, that’s the hint.

Love, career breakthrough, enjoyment. Rank this in order of preference to you now

You need all the love you can get for that career breakthrough and when that happens, enjoyment everywhere

Sometimes, music is inspired by a scenario. Can you share one of such incidents?

One of the events in my life that inspired my music was during the year 2020/2021. I had health issues with a growth in my lungs, but I kept on praying to God for healing, and I tried to resolve it medically. It was concluded I needed surgery, but there was no way I could ever afford that financially because I would be flown to India. Miraculously, came through. I went back for scanning and the doctors couldn’t find anything anymore. It was all gone, and I have been well and healthy with no issues or trace of that illness ever since. That event inspired the song at that perilous time with the whole #EndSars movement going on. I made and released the song “21 Bars” and shot a video for it too.

Take us into your growing up, family I

Raphael Chukwunweike Emmanuel, also known as Rafsbeat David. I hail from Umu Ome in Enugu state. Born 27 years ago into the family of Emmanuel Okwu and Patricia Okwu. I am the 4th born out of seven siblings.

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