At the time of writing this, on the cover of Apple Music’s Africa Fast Rising, a playlist tagged “the next generation of stars,” is Khaid, a young Nigerian artist born Sulaimon Shekoni Solomon. And it is such a perfect tag for Khaid, who has been consistently pushing himself to get better with the release of each song. From his debut EP, Diversity, where he explored diverse themes, to his sophomore EP, Emotions, which is filled with emotional songs like Jara, People, Jolie, and others, Khaid’s growth can be felt as a Nigerian artist passionate about his craft.
As a young, talented African creative that he is and ahead of his UK tour, we had an impressive conversation with Khaid about where he came from, his journey so far, his musical influence, his relationship with Sydney Talker, his plans, and everything else.
We had a good time talking to Khaid. Enjoy.
Hey Khaid. How are you today?
I’m doing great. I’m grateful.
Before we get into everything else, I want to know the story behind your stage name. How did you arrive at Khaid?
You know, as the normal routine, we were trying to get a stage name, and Sydney just came one day and said, “Yo, your name is Khaid!” As time went on, I started liking the name, and I had to give it meaning.
And what’s the meaning?
The meaning of Khaid is ‘The Overtaker.’
I bet you’ll overtake many charts soon.
Yeah, by the grace of God.
Give me a glimpse into your background.
I’m a street boy from the streets of Ojo, Lagos. I’m from a family of 10—two parents and eight kids. I was once a mechanic, a barber, and a painter. It’s just a great journey from that side of the world and getting to see another side of the world. It’s amazing what music can show you and whatever you put your passion into. It’s been a great experience; every stage was a necessary step in my life. To experience street life and to get where I am right now, I’m just so grateful and happy with how everything turned out for me.
What influenced becoming a musician?
I’ve been introduced to music right from time. My mum loved listening to songs a lot, and my dad loved playing fuji a lot. Being in that environment helped me a lot because almost every time my dad was listening to Fuji, my mum would be listening to Michael Jackson. This influenced me a lot. I fully got into music when I was in school, and someone stole my rap. And then I said, “I’m going to write something better than what they stole.” From there, I just kept going hard and hard. And the love keeps getting real and real.
Everyone is doing Afrofusion, Afroclassic, and others. Can you describe the specific elements or style that define the kind of Afro that you do?
I don’t know. I just call myself Afro-enjoyment. I don’t do music for Afro this or that. At the end of the day, everything is still under Afrobeats. I just don’t see any reason for that.
When I listened to “Emotions,” it’s a cohesive body of work; it’s complete. And the growth from diversity can be felt. What’s your creative process when putting this work together?
With me, I just let the vibe of how I’m feeling and the vibe in the room inspire my process. Most times, I go into the studio with a clean head and no intentions, and then I’ll define what I’m here for. My creative process is more like the beat-making and the vocals, and everything else comes after.
Every song on Emotions is brilliant, but Jara is really special. How did you create that song?
“Jara” was made way before I released any song this year, but we had to take everything step by step. “Jara” has always been that song that everyone on the team has been anticipating to come out.
You were recognised by the Headies Award, a huge award that every young Nigerian artist looks forward to.
Not every Nigerian artist looks forward to the Headies. I do not look forward to the Headies. Everyone has a path they want to take, and I’m just trying to pass a message. But it’s a great award that’s essential for Afrobeats.
It looks like a short period, but you’ve achieved quite a lot. How has the experience been?
In the music scene, you have to experience things. Everything, including the unexpected, happens. My experience in the scene has been great. The love from everybody has been massive.
Speaking of recognition, congratulations on being featured on Apple Music’s Africa Rising Playlist. The playlist is often tagged “the next generation of stars.” How does this make you feel, and what impact would it have on your career?
I feel amazing and blessed about it. I feel appreciated. From there, we just have to keep moving.
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Are there any specific artists or musicians who have had a significant influence on your work?
Most of them are trap artists. I grew up making trap songs. I just started making Afrobeats when things changed. So most of the artists that influenced me sing trap. I’d say Polo G, Juice WRLD, XXXTentacion, and a lot of others.
Your first and second EPs have no features. So are there artists you’d love to collaborate with?
Yeah, I want to work with a lot of artists. As much as possible. I can’t even mention names because I want to work with a lot of colleagues: Polo G, Lil Durk, Burna Boy, Wizkid, Davido, Billie Eilish, Ed Sheeran, and everybody else.
Your record label boss, Sydney, is your number-one fan and promoter. And he has a lot of followers and a fan base. Can you tell me more about your relationship, how you met him, and what are some success stories that have come out of this relationship?
He sent me a DM through Instagram about a freestyle he saw on my page. I was so happy to finally meet him because I lied to him and said that I was around the island when I was somewhere else. He told me to come through. I met him that day, and I made a couple of freestyles. He told me I was signed before going home that day. And that’s how it came about, and it’s now like a big family.
What are your future plans? What’s next after Emotions?
Expect different things. You are alive; I am alive, so expect things. Expect the unexpected. It’s keeping a better version of myself and investing in something.
Photo Credit: Instagram – @newplanetary