In some ways, the uncertainty which has become a normal feeling for much of the world is the same uncertainty which burdens many immigrants daily in a normal world. This also doesn’t exclude musicians—especially those who are independent. “I do all my ads myself. Just the mixing and mastering is thousands of dollars,” says Akinyemi on the unseen struggles of unsigned artists, “The reason people sign to a label is because they don’t want that to come out of their own pocket. It has come out of my own pocket.” These financial obligations in no way guarantee any sort of return—let alone profit.
To take a risk like Akinyemi requires a steadfast confidence and trust in your process and craft. It means a bit more to Akinyemi than it does to most: after three years of studying computer science at university, to his parents’ chagrin, Akinyemi dropped out to focus on music full-time; “Imagine paying for your kid to go to college for years and then they end up wanting to rap. My parents [thought] I was wasting my life.”
When asked how the 24-year-old garnered the self-confidence to make such a life-altering decision he laughed and responded: “I’m Nigerian.” It doesn’t hurt that Akinyemi has a monumental stage-presence that even many veteran artists can’t compete with. “His energy is uncanny,” says Akinyemi’s manager Noah Padawer-Curry, “Yemi is the best live hip hop act I’ve ever seen.”
Akinyemi wasn’t discouraged by his parents’ skeptical outlook on his burgeoning rap career. “I needed to come back to her with ten thousand people and say: All these people are supporting me, why aren’t you?” And he did. Unaware that his mother was in the audience, Akinyemi performed to a crowd of thousands just months after he made his decision to pursue music. His mother looked-on and cried from the mass of people.
Warrior’s Fate will arrive this summer, with songs that explore Akinyemi’s experiences living in a COVID-19 world. “I’m telling people it’s okay to be vulnerable,” he remarks on what he hopes the album will inspire, “more than that—it’ll help you.”