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With Nigerian music gaining precedence around the world, King Perryy stands out as one of the country’s most distinctive and ambitious young acts. The creator of what he calls the “Continental Sound”, the former seminary student and would-be Catholic priest fuses the melodies and rhythms of today’s afro-beats with pan-African influences and reggae/dancehall to create deeply resonant songs that transcend cultures and borders. With a run of successful singles (“Man on Duty”, “Work ‘N’ Grind”) to his credit and over 70 million streams on digital platforms, he’s set to release his debut album, Citizen of the World.
Born Anthony Offiah, King Perryy grew up in the oil city of Port Harcourt, the same town that has spawned Nigerian music superstars Burna Boy and Omah Lay. As a child, his father introduced him to a wide range of music, from the reggae of Bob Marley and Sean Paul to Nigerian classics from Fela Kuti and Alex Zitto. Some of his favourite music from the time was from boy bands Westlife and the Backstreet Boys, whose melodies he maintains as an influence to this day. Taking to rap, he made his first tracks at age 12, freestyling over instrumentals from the group P-Square which he downloaded online.
He always felt he had a higher calling, and when it came time to further his education, he opted to pursue the priest hood in seminary school. Ultimately, after four years, he had a change of heart and shifted course, later completing his degree in Project Management at Nigeria’s Federal University of Technology in Owerri. Despite this, faith continues to be a driving force in his life.
Dubbing himself King Perryy — with two ‘y’s to avoid any mix up with the 1950s-erajazz saxophonist, King Perry — he began venturing into the Lagos studio scene as an undergrad, releasing tracks to Soundcloud. One of these caught the attention of Nigerian afro-dancehall star Timaya (“Bum Bum,” “Sanko”) who took him under his wing and signed him to his label, Dem Mama (DM Records for short). King Perryy’s first studio session with Timaya resulted in his 2018 breakthrough hit “Man on Duty”. “People are still finding that song”, he says. “I’ll wake up and find out it’s doing well in a certain place, and I’ll start seeing dance videos from that place. It’s still making waves around the world”. With the chemistry between the two artists apparent, the duo dropped another hit that year in “Kom Kom”, featuring another Nigerian afro-dancehall star, Patoranking.
“For a person of that caliber to see the greatness and energy in me, and say he wants to mentor me and see me grow, meant a lot”, King Perryy says of the connection with Timaya. “I see him as my big brother, apart from the business. He played a role in helping me to find myself and understand life apart from music”.
Working with Timaya, King Perryy realized he didn’t want to be just another afro-beats artist with catchy hooks for the local market: He wanted his music to resonate more broadly. And thus, the “Continental Boy” —as King Perryy IDs himself on his songs —was born. “The Continental Sound is a fusion of different genres, lifestyles and cultures”, King Perryy explains. “I’m not just ‘of one place’, or Nigeria. I’m ‘of the world’”.
Another key connection he forged was with Teflon Zinc fence, the Jamaican producer and “Riddim God” known for his work with Koffee and Chronixx. Teflon direct messaged King Perryy on Instagram in 2018 to tell him he was a fan of “Man on Duty”, leading to their first collaboration, “Dirty Dancer”. More recently, they re-teamed on “African Boy”, the anthemic opening track on Citizen of the World, as well as “Get That Money” featuring Timaya.
King Perryy has since collaborated with a wide variety of Nigerian talent including breakout star Teni the Entertainer (on 2019’s “Murder”), Kizz Daniel (“Waist”) and rapper PsychoYP. The latter joins him on “YKTFV”, a 2020 single that’s also set to appear on Citizen of the World. Inspired by the late Pop Smoke and produced by Toronto’s Rico Run Dat (Meek Mill, Rowdy Rebel), the track flexes King Perryy’s diversity with aforay into the drill sound that’s currently raging from London to Brooklyn to Accra.
“That’s another side of me the world hasn’t seen yet”, King Perryy says of the single. “I recorded ‘YKTFV’ after the whole EndSARS movement in Nigeria. It was a sad time for us and, with the whole Covid thing, I felt I needed a different energy for the moment when the world started opening back up”.
Over three years in the making, Citizen of the World features 11 new tracks along with four of King Perryy’s latest singles, in “YKTFV”, “Waist”, “Work ‘N’ Grind” and “My Darlina”. Additional features on the project come from Timaya, Mayorkun, Oxlade and Phyno, with beats coming from Teflon Zinc fence, Ghana’s Guilty Beatz (Mr Eazi, Beyonce) and Nigeria’s TMXO (Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage), among others.
The album is more than King Perryy’s debut project: It’s a manifesto and a mission statement for the way he sees the world. “Citizen of the World is an identity, a mind state”, King Perryy says. “I found the title the moment I found myself”.