Mr. Eazi & DJ Edu

The Mr. Eazi and DJ Edu collabo project Chop Life Vol. 1: Mzansi Chronicles is here to headline our summer and get us in the mood to enjoy life. Made up of fourteen tracks influenced by the South-African amapiano style of music, the global music artist and UK-based afrobeats tastemaker worked with diverse artists and producers to make this project come to life. The feature list includes award-winning amapiano crooner Focalistic, South African afro-punk star Moonchild Sanelly, the sibling duo Major League DJz, and rising Eastern Cape songstress Ami Faku, among others.

On the heels of the album release, I was able to get these global artists to chat with me on the inspiration behind the project, how it came about, and what’s next after Vol. 1 of Chop Life. In the process, Mr. Eazi spilled some happy news that I’m sure fans will go wild about.

“DJ Edu likes leaking my songs,” was Mr. Eazi’s first answer to my question on what led to the release of Choplife Soundsystem, “and he’s been threatening to leak more of the songs we’ve made together.” He revealed that DJ Edu probably has over 200 songs that he’s either made with him or in the process of making with him, leaving him with two choices; letting DJ Edu continue leaking his records or officially releasing them. As we can clearly see, he chose the wiser of the two choices, which is the better for fans who are having a great time listening to the album.

I waited a while for DJ Edu to defend himself, but since he wasn’t prepared to do so – actually, he laughed it off – I asked what the overall theme of the album was. “It is about freedom of expression and also being in our safe space,” DJ Edu replied. He wanted the project to present African music in a fun and danceable way, deriving elements from the South African subgenre of house music called amapiano. Choplife Soundsystem, like its name, is meant to act as a “soundtrack to enjoyment.”

If you don’t already know, this album was recorded in Cape Town and Johannesburg over the course of twelve months. Jokingly, Mr. Eazi revealed that the way he chose the two locations was that he spun a map and visited the location it stops on on his jet. But the really curious thing was the reason Mr. Eazi, the King of Banku music, chose to make an amapiano album. Well, turns out his producer was the first to bring him into the headspace of making amapiano music, and while he rebuffed it at first, an unlikely collab with the late Costa Titch, who he’s been listening to a lot prior to being featured on the remix of “Big Flexa,” made him finally consider it. However, it would take him hearing a number of amapiano music he’s never heard before to make him reach out to DJ Edu and say, “Let’s do this.”

“DJ Edu is probably the only DJ that plays afrobeat and his afrobeat is not only Naija music,” Mr. Eazi gushed about his Choplife Soundsystem collaborator. He further credited the “African music ambassador” with introducing him to new artists he probably never would have heard of.

During our chat, Mr. Eazi named the writing and recording of “Tear Chain” – the album’s opening track – as one of his most memorable moments working on the project. “Tear Chain” afforded him the freedom to brag about the things he’s achieved in his life “like Jay-Z.” “I tear chain, these days me I no dey look face,” he sings, “My switch up be like action feem / John Wick action scene / Ambition too extreme / Uncle Paul, strong regime.” However braggadocious the lines on “Tear Chain” may seem, Mr. Eazi actually confirmed that every line is true, especially “ambition too extreme” and “Who you know wey getti B Ball team / Sponsor league / Baddest bitch” –and yes, before you ask, he’s got all three things. He’s invested in a basketball team, his company has sponsored a league, and he’s currently engaged to Temi Otedola.

At the end of the day, the reason these two Nigerian powerhouses came together to create Choplife Soundsystem was to make amapiano music that will soundtrack our happiest moments. And they succeeded. The album is so unique in the fact that if you play it from the top to the bottom, “it all sounds like you’re playing the same song” just like DJs do. Each of the artists on the record was allowed to express their different musical styles, making the album a journey of high-energy beats, low-energy beats, and even drawing influences from Western Music, courtesy of DJ Tarico.

Talks for the release of Chop Life Vol. 2 are already underway and we’ll finally be getting a “Mr. Eazi” album before this year runs out – exciting, isn’t it? In addition to this, Mr. Eazi and DJ Edu will be taking the album on the road, with stops in Accra, Barcelona, Brussels, London, Paris, and more. When I asked him if he intends to bring any other artist on stage with him on one of his tour dates, his response was open-ended.

No doubt Mr. Eazi will be reigning supreme this summer and beyond.