While he hasn’t operated in the limelight like most of his contemporaries, Gabzy has let his music do the talking for him. His ability to connect with his audience lies in the unmissable emotions in his music, which resonates with listeners who show their love through the impressive streaming numbers he pulls.
Up till now, Gabzy has maintained a reticence with very little known about his life as a person and as an artist. However, as Gabzy prepares for the next phase of his career, he is opening himself up to share a little more beyond the music.
In this Pulse interview, Gabzy shares his experiences growing up in the UK, his interaction with Nigerian content, and his journey so far.
Gabzy (Gabriel Akinyemi) was born in Peckham UK where he grew up with the Nigerians that reside in the locale and where he had to navigate the reality of life in such a tough neighborhood.
“Born and raised in Peckham, it wasn’t easy at all. Peckham was a tough place to grow up but I’ll say my parents always made a way, so that I wouldn’t enter a certain lifestyle which I’m grateful for.”
For Gabzy, he found motivation in seeing his parents thrive daily to provide for the family and this pushed him to find a way to juggle academics while actively pursuing his music career.
“I remember balancing work/school and studio at one point – I used to even work in Primark to pay for studio sessions.”
Being born in Peckham meant that Gabzy had to rely on the Nigerian community and Nigerian focused media to connect with his roots. Nigerian music offered a way for Gabzy to interact with his Nigerian heritage which in turn inspired his artistry and this influence has helped him successfully unite both Nigerian and International consumers.
“Growing up in London, there used to be a channel called HITV when I was younger. They showed a lot of Afrobeats and any new upcoming talent. Which really resonated with me to the point where when I started rapping I used to reference a lot of afro acts so it’s definitely impacted my music.”
Gabzy’s music packs a smooth blend of Afropop, R&B, Soul, and even a touch of African American gospel music for a refreshing sound that has made him into one of the biggest Afrocentric artists in the UK. And although his music doesn’t pack the sonic familiarity required by the average Nigerian listener, Gabzy believes his focus on making good music has helped him to connect with all types of listeners irrespective of taste.
“I make music for everyone from all walks of life, whereas you can see certain artists cater to a niche audience. I won’t say it affected my branding and direction. If anything, it broadened how I saw my brand and direction. I also didn’t focus on being an afrobeats artist, I just wanted to make good music that resonates with me.”
With talent so elevated it shines through his craft, Gabzy’s genre bending abilities would quickly resonate with Nigerian listeners in the United Kingdom where he would go on to become a familiar figure in the British-Nigerian creative community. Gabzy believes the recognition he has enjoyed within the British-Nigerian community is directly tied to the quality of his music.
“I focused on my sound and aimed to make good music, then I started getting some recognition Big shoutout to the GUAP boys they’ve been tuned in for a while now.”
In addition to enjoying huge critical acclaim, Gabzy’s music has enjoyed commercial success evidenced in the streams he pulls. He also credits his commercial strength on the quality of his music which he says speaks for itself.
“Again, I’ll have to say; making good music. Good music travels a long way. Nothing is ever forced.”
Despite the impressive commercial success he enjoys, Gabzy has maintained a life away from the scene as he continuously shies away from interviews or offering insights into his personality through social media. According to him, he finds music to be the best way to engage with his fans and grow his reach.
“I never felt the need to become more known , I’ve always seen growth year on year. I feel like I’m just on a steady way up, always trying to expand the fanbase with better music and good collaborations.”
“My music is clearly bigger than me and I’m okay with that cause for me it’s all about the music,” Gabzy says about his resolution to never put himself before the music which is a mindset he has maintained and hopes to continue to maintain despite now taking the bold step to offer more parts of himself.
After letting listeners find his emotions in the music, Gabzy is breaking out of his shell to offer fans more than just the music. For once, he’s aiming to connect with his fans on a personal level as he takes his career to the next level.
“I really want to connect with the fans and my supporters a lot more. I want them to feel my presence and the emotion I feel when I’m singing in the studio and to do that I need to come out of my shell.”
On June 1, 2023, Gabzy released his latest single ‘Jambazz’ on which he explores log-drums for a smooth Swing record that unites fans across multiple soundscapes. This single ushers in a new wave for Gabzy, who for the first time, seems ready for the spotlight his music deserves.