Born Agwu Victor Lion Ikechukwu, Black Lion (the Alien) headlines our second Stars of The Spotlight feature.
Black is an upcoming Nigerian musician, record producer, fashion illustrator, and painter. Originally from Ebonyi state, he was born and bred in Lagos. We first discovered him on Tecno Mobile’s Boom Play, on a smashing single titled “Maria.” We were so impressed; we had to put him on this pedestal where our readers can notice him too.
Getting in touch with Black was a seamless process followed by a hugely insightful one hour.
Monikers and artist names come in unique packages, that’s normal. But many would agree that Black Lion (the Alien), for an upcoming Nigerian musician, that’s super-unique.
So, we started by first seeking the story behind the peculiar nomenclature.
Of course, the “Lion”was a given name, however, it wasn’t until his time at the University of Nigeria, Nsuka where Victor was studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine and Applied Arts that Black Lion (the Alien) came together.
“We were in class one day, and someone called out my name and someone sitting beside me said he’s never seen a lion that’s black before (something to do with his shinny black complexion),” Victor, opening-up about his stage name. Come to think of it, a ‘black lion’.
He continued, “A ‘black lion’, it clicked in my head how strange that was and, on that spot, I immediately changed my Instagram name to Black Lion.”
“About the Alien part, my friends, acquaintances had the habit of calling me weird and a bit philosophical about the things I say. They say sometimes, they don’t even understand me like I was an alien or something. So I went with Black Lion (the Alien) and that’s just how it happened.”
Victor developed interest in music before he became a teenager, citing his admiration for poetry as a major percussor. “I remember, I was about 10 or 11 when I started admiring poetry, but basically, curiosity got me into music, because I used to wonder how one artist would be able to make 5 different songs, with different melodies, lyrics, and sounds. So curiosity made me go into music, to explore and see how they did it.”
However, his foray into the professional craft began in 2016 when he started putting out records. His major influence is American rapper, singer/songwriter, and record producer Jon Belion whom he discovered and started following in 2014. “Honestly, he made me take music seriously,” says Black about Belion.
But that’s not all. Black describes his music as soothing, a blend of Highlife, Afrobeats, and Soul. We weren’t surprised when he mentioned the likes of Mr Eazi, Wande Coal and The Weekend as other influences. He was full of praise for Eazi, stating he’s a huge fan of his music and business. Aren’t we all!
Highlighting his future ambitions and potential collaborations, we quizzed him about which artists he’d like to work with and his answers were quite straightforward. “Somebody like Burna, probably Wiz- not because they’re big names, I just love how they’ve been consistent over the years.” I’d also love to work with Wurld, Mr Eazi, and definitely Jon (Belion).”
It’s no longer news, the power that the internet possesses in terms of magnifying appeal, reach, and clout. So, we asked Black to share his perspective of how the internet has impacted the music industry.
“Yeah, the internet has impacted the music business very well, because now it’s easier to discover talent, unlike before when there was no internet. It’s also easier to meet with music executives.” “Generally, I think the struggle was more when there was no internet. All that we do on the internet now, you had to do it, hustling in the streets and all that. So yeah, it has positively.”
One of Black’s major influences (The Weekend) made his break via YouTube; and if he stays consistent and true to his ambitions, a similar fate may await him.
His current favourite song is “Happy Me” by Ibejii, another upcoming Nigerian artist he discovered on the internet. Instagram to be precise.
Black also revealed he has performed in several shows while he was in the university. He’s never performed outside Enugu but will be hoping to anchor more events when his first compilation project – an Extended Play (EP) titled “Coconut and Grapes” drops later this year.
Of course, we had to make him share a detail or two about the project, starting with the inspiration behind its title.
“It’s basically about love, it’s the journey of love that we walk. Sometimes love can be as hard as the back of the coconut fruit, though it is also juicy and sweet like the inside and like the berry (grapes).” “So that’s basically it,” said Black about Coconut and Grapes.
After these revelations, it’s no wonder people (his friends) see Black Lion (the Alien) as a philosophical person.
Asking what he would change about the current state of the industry, he put his affinity for peculiarity to the fore again, saying, “I’d like for there to be acceptance for more variety of sounds. Funders, investors have to trust in new inventions and put faith in artists with fresh ideas.”
Black’s ideas are coincidentally inline with one of our publications on what the future holds for our local industry after Burna Boy’s Grammy success. The importance of record labels putting faith in fresh ideas to the growth of the industry cannot be overemphasized. You can check out that post here.
Just like we revealed earlier, Black is multitalented, a painter who manages his own graphics designing and merchandising business. He cited that as one of the things he’d probably be doing full time asides from making music. He is also passionate about animals and would welcome the idea of being a veterinary doctor.
In the next 5 years, Black plans to have become a mainstream artist, again citing Mr Eazi’s career path as one that inspires him. As well as for his music, Eazi is a renowned business man with a knack for nurturing and empowering young talented musicians. Black shares similar ambitions.
With the likes of Eazi and Black, we can be rest assured that more talents, styles, genres, etc. will keep coming through, potentially putting the fate of the industry in good hands.
Our chat finally ended with Black revealing what he thinks is the best advice he’s ever been given; one he thinks would benefit most people in his position now.
“I don’t know the best advice I’ve been given but, I’ll say it’s from a friend, “If you stop this thing you’re doing, I go wound you Like, just keep going, keep going regardless. If you fall; pick yourself up and dust yourself, keep walking. You don’t have to run, just keep walking, just make sure you get to your destination strong.”