Afrobeat R&B artist, Meaku talks sacrifice & hard work.
Meaku and his latest album, Hybrid Vibes Volume II, gives the listener a smooth sound that is perfect for creating a relaxed mood with a vibey twist. R&B sounds fused with Afrobeats takes you away to another space providing a balance of emotions that doesn’t weigh too far on either side, keeping you in the right frame of mind. This is what makes Hybrid Vibes a genre all its own.
With familiar instrumental elements and intentionally sculpted lyrics, Meaku invites us into his world of music and gives us a glimpse into what gives his work life and meaning.
Tell us about your upbringing and how it inspires the music that you create.
Meaku: I was born and raised in Inglewood, California to Nigerian parents. It was instilled in me from birth, since the beginning, the importance of education and knowing the importance of what life is. I’ve been on this journey and connected to music through the efforts of my mom. She’s in the choir at her church, and not just in the choir, but she’s the head of the choir here at the Inglewood Catholic Church in the city of Los Angeles.
She would always give me songs to sing in church when I was a kid, so it’s been embedded in me to do music. I graduated high school and immediately knew music was where I was meant to be – just being in that realm.
What is it about music that resonates with you? What sacrifices have you had to make to make your music career or reality?
Meaku: Music is low-key my savior. It’s my therapy when I’m in the mood of things that affect us. It’s always been that for me. It gives me a feeling of butterflies that overcomes me. It feels good to be able to create and build. The sacrifices I’ve had to make have been friendships and relationships. I’ve had to cut ties with people and really focus.
What specific elements do you find are critical parts of your daily routine as it pertains to your faith and heritage?
Meaku: When I first started doing music, I didn’t necessarily have the support of my family considering that education was the most important thing for us in our family and culture. So, for me, I had to really delve in and go to school for music to really get my parents to understand that this is where I’m meant to be. I became my own sound engineer just to show that “hey, this is what I want to do.” This is what moves me and this is what drives me. I also pray every day and run and exercise. That is the start of my day.
“Hybrid Vibes” is a music genre that you’ve coined as a unique approach for your listeners. Why did you feel a specific genre was necessary?
Meaku: We each have our own instances here in this world. I’ve always considered myself kind of a loner. Not in a bad way, but somebody who is a lone wolf – not necessarily following trends, but being a trendsetter in a sense. So, it’s always been one of my things. Anytime I get in the studio, I always look to create new and not create the same. To generalize, Hybrid Vibes is a lane all its own. It definitely infuses what I’ve grown up with: Afrobeats, R&B, and various styles of things I’ve been involved in.
As an independent artist, you face challenges that can be difficult, but also rewarding. Have you always wanted to be an independent artist and why that decision?
Meaku: When I first started, I thought I wanted to get signed, but as years started going by, I realized that a lot of the stuff that I had been doing have been on my own. Not saying that help is not necessary or needed, it’s just, you know, in this journey, I’ve been able to find myself through it and connect with dope and real people through the process. So, for me, it’s more of a connectivity thing.
You have a wealth of knowledge in the music industry and being an engineer that can mix and master your own work. What do you find to be unique in your process?
Meaku: Just identifying what moves me whenever I’m working. It has to move me in a way where I feel really connected to it. It’s more important to me first than it is to the listener because at the end of the day, I’m the one that’s going to be performing it, singing it, etc. So, it has to be a real connection.
Besides engineering, what have you learned business-wise when it comes to the music industry? How do you stay up to date?
Meaku: It’s a moving process. Everything is always moving. We definitely have to stay afresh and afloat to what the new technologies are. With engineering, there’s always new updates and approaches so you have to be in the know to understand these things. For me, it’s being able to evolve in those realms to help evolve everything else. It’s crazy because I’m constantly researching, constantly looking up things and of course networking is important.
I definitely have a cool, dope network of people who are filling me in on things that are happening within my space that I may not be aware of. Like, with all the things that are happening right now, like NFT’s and things of that nature. So, everything is connected. It all goes back to when you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing and what’s real.
There are changes occurring within the music industry that impact how it operates and how music is distributed. What are your overall thoughts on this? How does this make you feel?
Meaku: You know, like I said, it’s a constant evolution. I’m excited for what the future of music holds, especially for independent artists. More and more people are becoming awake to the reality we are in. Independence is a necessity at this point. It’s a blessing to be able to be in that. It’s amazing. It’s crazy, you know, you even see that Afrobeat has just entered the Billboard charts. There’s a whole new charting system. So, there’s so many different things that are happening. It’s really exciting to see where this is going.
Let’s talk about your album, Hybrid Vibes Volume II. What was the inspiration behind it and in what other ways does it differ from previous works?
Meaku: Hybrid Vibes Volume II was actually sped up because of the loss of my child. My lady and I lost a child earlier this year. She was actually due May 11. It was four months earlier than the expected date and, in the process, I almost lost [my lady] too. So, it’s kind of an awakening for me and realizing that not every day is promised. As long as we’re here, doing what we’re meant to be doing, don’t hold on to the blessings and the gifts which God has given us to share with the world. Just around that, so many different things have been happening. For me, I answered the call.
When you talk about answering the call, in what other ways do you feel that the call was answered through this work?
Meaku: So, for this album Hybrid Vibes, it was more about the message being love, freedom and perseverance. If you listen to songs like “Never Back Down”, it shows you that no matter what you go through in life, no matter what it is, we still have to push through. We’ve been going through this pandemic, living through it, but we still have to keep going. Things like death trigger things to happen and I’m grateful for the support and my family that I have. They have helped me to push through the situation.
You’ve collaborated with a few artists on this album? What was the determining factor you looked for when deciding to work with them?
Meaku: So, Local Astronauts, who I collaborated with – we actually had a prior project that was different from my album. We worked with TF, another dope artist out of LA and I’m featured on his album. We did well on that project and it’s continuing to do well. They had a sound and a flavor that I felt was needed for this project. They were selected, and it was a vibe. Like I said, everything is based on connectivity and vibes with me. It’s crazy that TF’s album coming out last year was listed in the top 11 albums by Revolt. His album is number four. Again, just the synergy of what it is now connected into.
Cheekychizzy was another one of my boys I’ve known for years and he’s an incredible producer/artist. I played a record for him, he listened to it, and he knocked it out immediately. Lola Savage was on my last album Hybrid Vibes Vol I, so it was automatic that she was on this project. My boy Fredy Muks got me situated with the Grammys. He produced on track 10 – “Wish You Well”. Then, Ashley Imani is my homegirl.
She’s another amazing artist out of L.A. She’s been doing her show with Usher at his residency. I’ve known her for years out of Inglewood. She’s also on the project. This album is all about synergy and connecting with real people. It’s funny because I had like this thing, just connecting with my day ones. You have a producer on the album, they’re a day one. Everything is just synergetic.
What are you looking forward to next?
Meaku: Looking forward to putting out more great music and easily connecting with amazing people and continuing to elevate.
What do you want people to know about you?
Meaku: I work hard and I’m a man of faith. I love God and I love life. For me, it’s about being a peacemaker and keeping peace wherever I go.