Asake | The Humble Ignition, The Everlasting Flame

Via Issue 188, The Eternal Flame Issue!

Written by

Shei Marcelline

Photographed by

Tayo Kuku Jr.

Styled by

Raya Khaled

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LOUIS VUITTON MEN’S jacket and pants, MAISON MARGIELA sunglasses, and talent’s own earrings and necklace.

Fire often defies those who try to tame its shapeless potential. Many are tempted by the flame, but cower in fear of its power only to be engulfed. But watch 28-year-old Afrofusion singer Asake befriend the inferno effortlessly; harnessing its blaze as a source of rebirth rather than destruction.

Born Ahmed Ololade, Asake ignites through creation. He draws upon his upbringing in Lagos, Nigeria to create a delectable pairing between the familiarity of Afrobeats and the traditional elements of fújì, Yoruba music, which he grew up listening to. Harnessing the percussion-heavy rhythms of fújì, Asake admits the distinctive genre became the catalyst for his idiosyncratic style. Known for pivoting mid-verse between English, Yoruba, and Pidgin, Asake shows us that language does not strip our ability to feel the music. “My sound is different and I proudly infuse my local dialect in my lyrics,” he shares.

LOUIS VUITTON MEN’S jacket and pants, MAISON MARGIELA sunglasses, and talent’s own earrings and necklace.

Embracing this amalgamation of sound is precisely what has gained the singer a global fanbase, along with 5.2 million monthly listeners, as he prioritizes the sometimes jarring transitions of change. Upon releasing his sophomore album, Work of Art, in June, the project immediately gained popularity for its sonic vibrancy, debuting 12 songs on the Billboard US Afrobeats Song Chart. Tracks like “Amapiano” and “2:30,” are stand-out fan favorites, while “Basquiat” envelopes visual mediums into the album. Asake describes his theater days when he stumbled upon the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat in school. Fascinated by the artist’s work, the album cover is an ode to Basquiat with a playful twist. Following the success of Work of Art, Asake broke nomination records for the 2023 Headies Awards, receiving eight nominations.

EARTHLING VIP top and pants, MAISON MARGIELA sunglasses, and talent’s own earrings, necklace, watch, and bracelets.

Often referred to as “Mr. Money with the Vibe”—an alias after his debut 2022 album—Asake sparkles effortlessly in the limelight. Having amassed millions of listeners and toured globally, the singer reveals that his priorities haven’t wavered even as his career has taken off. Asake continues to fan the creative flames that sustain him.

EARTHLING VIP top and pants, BOTTEGA VENETA shoes and sunglasses, and talent’s own necklaces.

Tell us about your upbringing. When did you first begin making music?

My upbringing back home in Lagos, Nigeria, I would describe it as a bittersweet experience, as all the things I wanted I couldn’t get—but had everything I needed. [I] lived in a small community where everyone looked out for each other, but never really cared. My parents loved music and that kind of rubbed off on me. I was in a cultural group, and we performed at different places, and later got into music when I gained admission into Obafemi Awolowo University. Ever since then, I knew this is where I wanted to be and stuck to it.

How did you decide on your stage name, ‘Asake’?

My stage name is actually my mother’s. While I was in the cultural group, people used to call me ‘omo Asake’ which means child of Asake in Yoruba. And after a while, it just stuck. People stopped adding the ‘omo’ and left ‘Asake.’ I thought it was cool and decided to go by it. 

Tell us about how Work of Art came to be. What did you hope listeners would take home with them?

Work of Art is a project I hold so dearly like every other project I have released. I want the world to see the artistic side of me.

MIMATA top and pants, BOTTEGA VENETA sunglasses, and talent’s own earrings

Work of Art tells stories about accepting change and the life you live now–how do you deal with change, especially the transition into the spotlight?

Like they say, ‘Change is the only constant thing in life.’ My whole life has been a journey, and I always made sure I was growing. So I expected to change and was ready to adapt to the new lifestyle fame brought. But all in all, I still keep my essence and I still stay hungry. I mean, I work so hard not to remain the same.

You reference Jean-Michel Basquiat in the album. What draws you to Basquiat’s work? Do you have any other creative outlets in addition to music?

I studied theater art back in school, and I have always loved it. When I came across Basquiat, it was weird and different, and I wanted to know why he thought that way, so I decided to know him more. My sound is different, and I proudly infuse my local dialect in my lyrics, and, I guess, that kind of makes me weird amongst my international counterparts.

LOUIS VUITTON MEN’S top and pants.

How does fújì music influence you as a person and you as an artist? How do you use a traditional style of music, but still make it your own?

Where I come from, fújì music [is] played at ceremonies. [It] would have our parents dancing and sweating for hours. The influence it had on them slowly crept into me and I fell in love with it. I am a creative, I really can’t explain how I do it, but [it] sure comes out and sounds really good.

You use choir vocals throughout the album, what is the inspiration behind them?

Every artist gets to do something special with their craft and mine just happens to be that...the chants.

EARTHLING VIP top and pants, BOTTEGA VENETA shoes, MARINE SERRE sunglasses, and talent’s own necklace, watch, bracelets, and ring

You perform all over the globe. How does it feel to have your music resonate with an international audience?

Having people sing back my songs to me while performing is blissful; it makes me feel good, but then that’s the reason why I create. It makes me feel good, and I am glad it’s doing just that [for] people as well.

At a party, where would you set yourself in the scene?

At a party, I would see myself behind the DJ hyping the crowd or in my cool corner enjoying the music.

What are your current priorities in this era of your life?

My priorities are still the same, staying focused and chasing my dreams.

What’s next in your creative journey?

I say it all the time, ‘Only God knows next.’ I just play my part, stay humble and keep grinding. 

EARTHLING VIP pants, and talent’s own earrings, necklaces, watch, and bracelets.

Photographed and Flaunt Film Directed by: Tayo Kuku Jr. at B&A Reps

Styled by Raya Khaled

Written by Shei Marcelline

Grooming: Jenna Nelson at The Wall Group using Tatcha

Director of Photography: Donavan Johnson. 

Production Assistant: Sofia Ziman

Styling Assistants: Bassy and Rielle Esc

Location: Maria Greensheilds-Ziman Design

Special thanks to Grace Bessy at 3PM London

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