Patoranking is a Nigerian Reggae-Dancehall artist who needs no introduction. Known by many as one of the pioneers of the current climate of African music, he ought to make his own mark with a new album ‘WORLD BEST" After a long hiatus, Partick Naemeka Okorie finally has a new story to share, one that includes the likes of sounds all over the world from Reggae, Dancehall to Hip-Hop and Afrobeats, all fused together just to match a new era in African rhythms. We sat down with the OG to discuss the process into making this album, his point of view on Afrobeats and the many plans he has for the future.
Thank you Patrick for accepting to have this conversation with Deeds Magazine. How are you today?
Where in the world are you at the moment?
I’m in Ghana on my way to Lagos. I should land there in 3 hours.
Did you have a show in Ghana?
No, it just concerned some other work and stuff.
Nice. You just dropped a marvelous body of work ‘WORLD BEST’, this is the longest time your supporters had to wait for a new project. Walk us through the journey; when did you start working on the album?
I would say about a year after the last release ‘Three’, so it took me two years to put this together.
What was the process like? Did you have any direction going into this?
I wanted to make music but, a different type of music entirely, you know. For me, it wasn’t just any type of music but a sound I know people can connect and relate to. And also, music that stands for my vision as well and where I’m heading to. That was what I had in mind.
When it comes to the African music landscape, I think a lot of people would recognize you as an OG. In that sense, from your first project ‘God over Everything’ in 2016 and this one, what felt different?
I think the growth is undeniable, you know. If you go back from the first to the fourth album, I would say growth. I’ve grown from a boy to a man and things are different now. There’s a different approach to creating music, gathering songs, building a body of work and translating it to the masses. There’s a lot of maturity, from writing to production, everything that has to do with music.
Even in terms of your features on this album, it’s quite particular as well. It seems like you’re touching on all continents, a variety of sounds, upcoming artists as much as established ones. Just to name a few, you have Ludacris, Popcaan, Diamond Platnumz and Victony, who is a newcomer from Nigeria. How did you make those difficult choices?
If you call your album ‘WORLD BEST’, then you have to bring the world into it. Looking at just the album cover, that was me sitting down on Africa and staring at the world. With music, I’m trying to bring the world to Africa. We just have to touch different territories and areas. On the African side, the reason there is no map, it was a way of trying to tell that we’re building bridges and burning borders with music. That is just what I believe.
‘WORLD BEST’, how did you come up with the title?
My friends, that’s what they call me. For me, it is an affirmation.
We know you had Victony on your album, but is there anyone else who caught your attention?
There’s Zion Foster, he’s a young man who made an impact in my eyes. He’s a dope artist. It’s talent, you know. He’s out there in the UK and doing his thing, it is only right that he’s part of the project. I love his music and respect his message.
I’m curious just from the time I’ve taken to listen to your album and really trying to grasp what you wanted us to take from the project. Something that I’ve noticed is the lack of female features. Are there any female artists you could see yourself working with in the future?
Yeah! You know me, I love music. At some point, I’m going to do collaborations with so many people. I’m looking forward to building bridges and burning borders. There’s so many people I would love to work with. In different parts of the world and territories, you know. I like Adele, we can do something great. I’m a big fan of Little Simz, you know. I like Stromzy and Skepta as well. I just love good music! That’s in the UK but if you go to the states, Drake, Chris Brown, all of the greats really. I see them and I know what we can make together. For me it’s just taking it one day at a time within the gospel of African music. Believing and living that success we are founding for ourselves.
I guess there’s always space in the next project in that regard. In terms of the album, what is something you want people to take out of it?
In respect to your field and area of specialization, I just want you to see yourself as the best and recognize you are the world best. As an entrepreneur, you are the world's best entrepreneur. As a singer or dancer, you are the world best. For me, it is a mindset that I want people to have when they leave the album experience, you know.
Very sincere. Speaking of the future, is there a tour that you have planned for the album?
Yes, most definitely. We are going to go on the road soon. Everyone should get ready. Just be on the lookout from Africa to the US, from the UK to Europe. We’re definitely coming.
I’m sure all your supporters will be delighted to hear about this. I think like everybody else, whilst working on your album, you also had the possibility to see the African music climate changing quite drastically in these couple of years. What do you make of African artists being recognized in world stages right now?
I just think that is the right thing to do because as Africans, we contribute a large percentage to ensuring that life is easier to people outside of our continent. If you check a lot of things, many of them are from Africa, which we all know. It is only right that we are included in every conversation. You don’t make music like for categories of people, fine if you said that but, don’t come to Africa for gold. So, how about that? [laugh] It’s only right that we are mentioned on these stages, it’s only right that we are included in that conversation. We are the conversation, we have been the conversation for years. I said that 3 years ago, we are the conversation. Now, it isn’t even about the conversation, we are the topic. It has moved from the clothes to the food, now to the music, very soon it is going to be the way of life. It is very right that we are seen from that approach.
Very nicely put. Let’s go back in time around 2014 in the UK, I would say that was the original birth of ‘modern’ Afrobeats as we know it as today. There were a lot of artists roaming around at that period, in particular you and a few others that come to mind. How different would you say the atmosphere is compared to now?
Oh you know, a lot has changed. The structure that we’re talking about is in place, it’s getting there. It’s going to be bigger than this and so, we just have to keep on going. Putting everything into perspective, the only thing missing then and now was a structure. We have so many opportunities right now, it’s just about management and making sure that the next generation takes care of the foundation that was built. Back then, it was just us trying to get here. Right now, we’re here so what’s next? It’s dependent on how we handle it.
There’s a question I am very curious to hear you answer. I know you dabble in between different genres from Reggae, Dancehall but even Afrobeats. Recently, a Nigerian artist by the name of Burna Boy made the following comment; “Afrobeats is mostly about nothing. There’s no substance, nobody is talking about anything, it’s just a great time”. What is your opinion about this statement?
Like they say, everyone is entitled to their opinion, you know. He didn’t say all of the African artists, he meant some of it. I thought I heard a certain percentage, right?
From my recollection, I do not remember him mentioning a percentage.
Even though being an ambassador of the culture, I don’t think it is something that should have been said by him. It’s a culture that we have to preserve. Our biggest problem is going to be the “I did it” route. Stating; “I… I… I…” that may be the downfall of the genre because there’s strength in numbers. If you say “We…”, that’s good. The minute it is “I… I… I”, then there’s a problem. I find that (statement) is completely untrue but like I said before, he's entitled to his own opinion. It depends on what you view as substance.
This makes total sense. Just from working and interacting with new faces and voices from this culture, would you say Afrobeats is in good hands and has the possibility to sustain itself against the test of time?
Yeah, it’s going to be bigger than this, you know. That’s the whole plan, that’s the prayer, it just depends on how it is handled. All I have to say is that everyone representing the culture has a role to play. The only way we can do it is if we come together collectively and join forces. A single tree doesn’t make a forest, you know. There is little renovation that everybody needs to do and then, we’re good. We can’t just go to America and see what they’re doing over there and then, bring it back home. That’s wrong. From everybody involved, every stakeholder, they need to understand that this is a building process. So while you’re building, a lot needs to be put into consideration. The type of material, the floors, everything you get, you have to make it the right one. What you don’t do is put just anything based on feelings and emotions because it is going to affect the whole building. If you’re holding a pillar, if you leave it, then the house is going to crumble. The reason you’re holding it is because from your angle, you're supporting the structure. If you bring it to music, everyone has a role to play, you just have to understand that this is a building phase. It’s going to be bigger than this but, the only way is if we all play our roles. That’s the best way I can explain things so that everyone can understand.
As an OG of this community, what would be some words of advice you would give to young and upcoming artists?
Keep working and keep an open heart. No matter how it is, don’t forget to keep on trying. Understand that it is quality over quantity and substance over hype. Trends die but substance remains. No matter how talented you are, talent may get you there but character will keep you there.
Styling assistant: @jekamuraa
Special thanks to @waterandgold for the jewellery customs
Thanks to @forevergoodldn for the amazing location.