Mad Over Runtown; The Afrobeats Star Bringing Sounds For The Summer.
Photography: Derrick Kakembo
Words: Stephanie Dando
Nigerian music artist Runtown seemed to swan out of nowhere, creating unimaginably influential waves on the Afrobeat genre with relaxed, summer-smooth rhythms and his native patois. Dabbling in R&B, hip-hop, and Reggae, Runtown – real name Douglas Jack Agu – brings to the table the influences of well-known and well-loved figures like Lupe Fiasco, Drake, and Bob Marley, as well as more eclectic artists like Stromae and Sade, in a fresh and unique way. Imagine playing volleyball at dusk on a still sun-soaked beach, or cruising through the city in a soft-top with that one friend of yours who’s never stressed – there’s a good chance Runtown would be playing in the background.
Beginning his music career a decade ago with his eponymous single, Runtown started making waves in 2014 when he collaborated with Nigerian native Davido on the hit ‘Gallardo’. The Afropop hit was just the beginning of Runtown’s successful career as it saw him to the stage of the Nigerian Entertainment Awarts, winning him Best Collaboration of the Year.
The same year, he signed onto EricMany Entertainment and released his debut album ‘Ghetto University’. Runtown’s tumultuous relationship with his record label ended in his breakup from it in 2016, but that hasn’t slowed down the twenty-eight year-old.
The Lagos-based artist feels strongly about the influence to which his music is inextricably tied.
“[but] I don’t think people have been properly educated about its origins,”inferring that staying true to Afrobeat’s roots is “[what] a lot of us African artists are doing…because that is why the world is loving our music.” Afrobeat is a genre half a century old that’s distinctive due to its Western and African fusion, resulting in a laid-back, funky, thoroughly chilled out sound.
With a view-count of over 65,000,000 on YouTube, Agu’s wildly popular ‘Mad Over You’ is a love song to Ghana. “Ghana girl say she wan marry me o / I hope say she sabi cook waakye,” Runtown explained to The Fader that the song was inspired by the beauty of Africa.
In his most recent single ‘Energy’, Del-B produces an R&B/Reggae fusion featuring languorous, tropical-flavoured beats over a music video of wide open blue and green vistas. You can almost feel the sun on your skin.