Nigeria’s LONDON Is Producing Afro Sounds of the Future
You may have heard his tag on your favorite afrobeats hits, it’s so catchy that producers from other parts of the world have attempted to steal it.
Kaduna-bred star hitmaker LONDON is known for his futuristic and innovative fresh take on afrobeats. With bangers like “Gyrate” by Wizkid, “Koroba” by Tiwa Savage and “Soundgasm” by Rema under his belt, it’s crazy to think his journey as a music producer only started in 2018.
Born Michael Ovie Hunter as an only child in London, England to a Hausa mom and British dad, then raised in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria, producer LONDON’s journey into music production isn’t exactly far-fetched. He started out with a passion for graphic design before experimenting with keyboards and drums at his church, where he recorded melodies to impress his friends at school. Like many Nigerian artists, LONDON got his start making music at church where many of his family members were heavily involved in the choir . He first downloaded Fruity Loops Studio software on his laptop in 2018 but he felt discouraged because couldn’t figure out how to use it. After hanging around his friend’s studio and several Youtube tutorials later, LONDON finally understood the whole music production ‘thing.’
LONDON’s early compositions caught the attention of veteran Nigerian music producer BabyFresh, the architect behind some of Nigeria’s biggest afro pop hits in the past decade such as “‘Allover” by Tiwa Savage, “Problem” by Reekado Banks and “Adaobi” by the Mavins. He took him under his wing and taught him the tricks of the trade in music production. This brought LONDON closer to the Mavin Records family where Baby Fresh is an in-house producer, ultimately leading to his big break in the industry.
Image provided by the artist.
While living in Benin City with his aunt, he found out that Reekado Banks and Wizkid had jumped on the first ever proper beat he had made and sent to his mentor Baby Fresh. The track, titled “Turn Up” by DJ Tunez, came out in December 2018. That was LONDON’s, then-called ‘Hunteronthebeat,’ big debut in the Nigerian music scene — a huge feat for a rookie beatmaker who was just beginning to pick up the ins and outs of music production. The next obvious step for him was to make the move to Lagos, Nigeria’s entertainment hub. With a laptop and only the clothes on his back, LONDON embarked on a long bus ride from Benin City to Lagos. He crashed at his friend’s house for a few days with no idea where he would go next until Mavin sound architect Ozedikus invited him to the studio and the rest is history.
Though he was admitted to university in Benin City, he chose to stay in Lagos and pursue music, causing some dismay among some of his family members. “At that point I wasn’t thinking about anybody, I was only thinking about how I was going to help myself, ”he tells me.
After all his growth and success, his family has grown to accept and support his career path. “I like it when people dare me to do stuff, it gives me morale,” he added as he recalls the obstacles he faced while trying to take his craft to the next level. “I had already made up my mind that this is what I wanted, there was no going back,” he said.
His sheer tenacity and challenge-loving attitude is perhaps the reason why only two years later, LONDON has grown into a master beatmaker and gained a superstar roster of clients with a tag that is well-known in the business.
WizKid – Gyrate (Audio)
For a newcomer in the game, LONDON has carved out a brand that has been in high demand for the last two years, but what is it exactly that makes his sound stand out? “My creative process is really weird,” he says, “I never plan on making beats, it’s really hard to get in that vibe, but it just happens, anything that comes.”
Not limiting himself to afrobeats, trap or R&B and having an open-ended approach in the studio has contributed to the magic he’s been able to create with some of Nigeria’s biggest stars. As a highly sought-after producer at the moment, he remains picky with who he chooses to work with, more recently producing for Mavin breakout acts like Magixx, Ayra Starr and Crayon.
On working with Wizkid for the first time, he says it was unexpected when he heard that the Nigerian superstar had recorded on four of his beats. One of them, a track titled “Electric Vibe,” landed a spot on Wizkid’s 2019 Soundman EP, another breakthrough moment for the producer. He worked with the megastar again on his most successful body of work to date, Made in Lagos, where he produced a track titled “Gyrate.” He recently found out that he’s been nominated at the 64th Grammy Awards under the Best Global Album category for his contribution to the album. On the significance of this moment for his career he says, “I prayed for days like this and right now I don’t even know what you say but thank you to Wizkid for putting the kid on!”
If he was to give any solid piece of advice to other hungry producers out there, LONDON says, “Your elders aren’t always right. It’s all in your own hands. Don’t let anybody hold you back and stick to your sound.”
He dreams of working with Drake one day, and with the way the trajectory of African music is headed, it’s not an impossible ambition. Other young producers in the scene like Rexxie and Telz have already gained Grammy recognition for working on Burna Boy’s Grammy-award winning African Giant album last year, and producers like Tempoe have garnered monster hits with tracks like “Love Nwantiti (ah ah ah)” by Ckay, which was at one point the highest Shazamed song in the world. In short, Nigerian music producers are absolutely crushing it right now, and they’re at the forefront of creating sounds that the global market is responding to incredibly well. Afrobeats and Afro-inspired sounds are taking over. With new generation producers like LONDON at the helm, there are no limits to how far these sounds will reach as they perfect their skills and challenge themselves every day.
With a fresh Grammy nod and having recently signed a major publishing deal with Sony Music Publishing, LONDON intends to take his beatmaking and composing craft to the next level. His latest monster production “Bloody Samaritan” by Ayra Starr is going viral globally on TikTok right now and is also sitting high on the charts of most African countries at the moment. But LONDON is already back in the studio, focused on his next big project by a big artist that will hit the airwaves soon. “Expect more hits,” he says.