Dubai: Singer-songwriter celebrates diverse cultures through music
MKO releases the much-anticipated single and video of his ‘made in UAE’ song.
Dubai-based singer songwriter MKO (Maduabuchi Kingsley Okpor) teamed up with other creatives in Dubai to work on his latest masterpiece Diverse. The self-titled track from his official Diverse album, went viral on day one when MKO released the teaser of the video before the official video release on April 4.
MKO is one of those artists who are obsessed with bringing different cultures together. He featured Mansour, a Jordanian contemporary singer (also based in Dubai) on the song together with other UAE based creatives that worked on the visuals; this along with styling and production have created a global product.
MKO made history in the UAE as the first artist to launch an AfroPop album in the GCC with his Diverse album. The singer is known to bring people and different cultures together through music and art on his platform Art fusion Night (www.artfusionnight.com).
What was the vision behind the song Diverse as well as the visuals?
I am privileged to live in Dubai which is one of the most diverse cities in the world. I have been able to mingle with people from different backgrounds, which also helped me when I travel to different parts of the world. It helps me blend in and I never have to feel like a stranger anywhere I go. Besides, what better way is there to bring different cultures together if not through music?
Music is universal and nothing is more appealing than the different cultures and sounds of music out there and no matter the environment you find yourself in, you will always find a way to connect with the sort of music that is a part of that environment culturally. In my case, I wanted to bring something new and organic to my environment which could become a global trend and that’s what I have done with Diverse. AfroBeats has changed the world from Burna Boy and Wizkid winning the Grammy and many other global sensations and icons such as Angélique Kidjo who is also from Africa. Therefore it only made sense to me for the need of AfroBeats to be seen as a genre that is original but yet diverse enough for all cultures and sounds of music globally.
These days, you cannot go anywhere and not hear AfroBeats as it is not only enjoyed by Africans. So as a way to make it inclusive, I decided to work on a project that is inclusive with sounds to celebrate both cultures i.e. the African and Arabian culture.
What was the need for you to make Diverse African/Arabian?
Absolutely… there was a need for me to bring both cultures together and execute it the way I did. The African culture is rich and the Arabian culture is bold/rich and together, we can share our diversity through the art of music, culture and fashion. These are some of the many ideas that were going through my mind when I came up with the concept of Diverse.
Does your background and love for art have anything to do with your music and did it reflect in Diverse?
I am privileged to be from one of the most creative countries in the world, Nigeria and also from one of the richest continents in Africa. Our culture is rich and vast therefore through music and art I have been able to share it with the world through the diverse communities in the UAE. Diverse is a project that I used to bring two different cultures that are not so far from each other, together.
Was it hard for you to find people to work with and what can you say about the music scene in Dubai?
When I released the full Diverse album, I knew what visuals would go with the self-titled single and it was important for me to work with people who saw the vision. It was difficult to find reliable people at the initial stages but I am very lucky to have some amazing friends in the industry who helped point me to the right directions so it was all hands on deck at the end of the day. Therefore, I wouldn’t take the setbacks as a disappointment but as a blessing. To be honest, the “disappointments” and “setbacks” were exactly what made Diverse what it is. So not only am I celebrating the success of the project but the setbacks as well.
I also want to make a significant difference within the music scene in UAE and I like to talk and walk the walk. Any one, who knows me, knows how much I talk about us collaborating more in the UAE that’s why I love to lead by example. My debut album has about 8 UAE based artists and 4 international artists. The music scene in Dubai is still growing and it has come a very long way but it will be a much bigger scene if we all work together, collaborate more and embrace our rich individual cultures.
I wouldn’t have achieved my goals with Diverse without the help of the people who worked behind the scenes and those who believed in the vision like Mansour who I featured, SammYoung and Ameen Al Obaidi who produced the track in Creative Cloud Production and Sweet Rhythms Studios. Kojac Legacy International managed the project and Resonate Media House directed the video. Wardrobe design was Finchitua and stylist was Feiruza Mudessir. Ezzy Afro (Esther Njoroge) choreographed the dance. These are all UAE based creatives and I wouldn’t give up the experience and professionalism of working with these guys for anything in the world. I would work with them again.
This project is the first of its kind. How do you feel about the outcome?
I am just honoured to say the video of Diverse is the most anticipated music video in the UAE from my genre. The project is about self-love, evolution of a new genre of AfroPop, Arabian vibes, growth and togetherness. It does not objectify women rather it celebrates them. I am pleased with the outcome. It honestly deserves all the success in the world. I put everything on the line for this project and I know the world will not fail me because I’d like to believe Diverse is about to take it by storm.
What do you have to say to your fans?
All I have is gratitude for my team and everyone who worked with me on this project — thank you all. It was a team effort and we will do it again. Finally, thank you for having me and for following my journey. It has been an exciting ride to say the least — especially with trying to do all these during a pandemic. To all creatives in UAE, I am here if you wish to collaborate as I am open to it so hit me up on Instagram @mko_world. (Text: Supplied)