Mr. Eazi The Nigerian-Ghanian Pop Star Putting Uniqueness On African Style Map

Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Eazi / @mreazi

Mr. Eazi, a passionate singer and rapper, sits at the symbolic border between two different cultures and countries: Nigeria, where he was born and raised, and Ghana, where he attended university and spent his youthful years in record music. He has become a major artist in the growing music industry in West Africa, which mainly focuses on Lagos and has produced many Nigerian superstars, Mr. Eazi has done more than anyone to popularize the sounds of Lagos. But there is also a unique Ghanaian and Nigerian influence on Mr. Eazi’s music as well: Songs like the lethal hit “Leg Over” have the energetic pulse of Nigerian Afrobeat but with the slow, lulling delivery that the artist says is inspired by the chilled-out vibe of Ghanaian life. He calls his signature blend “Banku music,” a reference to traditional Ghanaian staple foods. “It’s eaten with soup. Banku has three different flours, so it’s heavy and relaxed and tires me,” he says. The first time I recorded a song, I went straight from the banku joint to the studio, so I was sleepy. Some say I sing like I really don’t care. Like, “Hey, bro, are you really singing?” That’s banku. “

Eazi also represents Ghana in his wardrobe designed by Mariam Aduke Abass and is characterized by a combination of contemporary streetwear and traditional textiles, including his now distinctive straw hat, from the Ashanti region and the north of the country. He’s handsome and stylish, with a slim figure and close-cropped hair, and loves fun jewelry, bright colors, narrow-cut blazers, and turtlenecks. 

When asked about his fashion sense, he said before a big show in New York (at the PlayStation Theater) that he is always accompanied by Ghana and Nigeria wherever he goes.

 Spot a Signature Hat—And Stock Up, these hats are produced in northern Ghana and are synonymous with herdsmen and gold miners. They are made by hand and used because it is very sunny over there. They are woven but are made of the same material that they use to make baskets. The hats are sturdy. Even when I put them in a box in my luggage, I just need to stretch them a little, and it takes its shape back when I take them out. Ghana is very, very big on reggae music, so you will see rasta expressions in many art forms, which is why the hats are red, gold, green. Every time I go to a show and don’t have a hat on, that’s a problem. [The audience] feels like I’m incomplete without one. I throw them in a crowd at concerts when I’m on tour, so I’m only down to four, but my manager will be turning in 20. When I played in Ukraine, I was surprised when I looked at the crowd and saw people wearing them!

Photographed by Mariam Aduke Abass

Rock Bold Jewelry. The Ashanti culture is shrouded in gold. Gold is like the sun. It’s part of the culture; You see the Chiefs with those thick gold beads. I’m not too fond of extravagance, but I stayed in the Ashanti region for seven years of my life; I can’t deny it’s part of me. Then I will wear big necklaces and bracelets on stage. The jewelry is made in Kumasi. I keep it traditional. When you see this, you will know that the chief wears this jewelry. So okay, I’m the chief because I wear the chief’s jewelry. They make them by hand, but I am currently making mass production; the first line will be close to 6000 units. I sell them at shows.

Photographed by Mariam Aduke Abass

Symbolism Counts. I use beads with Adinkra, symbols used by Ghana’s tribes to convey messages. Each symbol signifies a very deep meaning. I like two in particular. Gye Nyame, which I carry in my bag, signifies God’s supremacy, which reminds me that there is a supreme being. And there is another one that I love the most, and that is the Siamese crocodiles, This is the most important symbol for me – it shows two crocodiles trying to fight for food but having the same stomach. It reminds me that the same is happening all over the world. People are fighting for their identity: race, country, tribe, sexual orientation, but at the same time, they have the same soul. It’s just a race, a human race.

Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Eazi

Make a statement, even if it arouses a little controversy. I wore clothes that were the most controversial thing last year. The materials used for these creations are what we call the Ghana-must-go bags. At one point, there were a lot of Ghanaians in Nigeria due to the oil boom. The Nigerian government has asked Ghanaians to return. There was a mass exodus, and they were using these bags because they didn’t have time to get a suitable suitcase. Going back and forth between Nigeria and Ghana, I would find that the businesswomen were using Ghanaian bags to transport goods from one place to another. I have the impression that this bag represents me: Mr. Eazi, a guy from Yoruba who left Nigeria for Ghana. I called my stylist and said, “I want to dress in Ghana-must-go bags!” And I told him I wanted the most prestigious traditional Nigerian cuts. Many were angry! They said they were going to beat me in the street. But I’ve also seen people use it on Instagram. They encourage young people to wear Ghana-must-go. At the end of the day, all is love.