Teo Flex Cites Burna Boy’s Persistence As A Force In His Own Budding Career

Lagos-born Afro-fusion act, Teo Flex, spends time, on the fourth episode of Hint A View, discussing what continues to be a major push in his rising career. The singer, whose career is as fresh and novel as a misty dawn, respectfully acknowledges Burna Boy as his role model.

Teo Flex, born Kosebinu Adeniyi Theophilus, is originally a Lagosian raised in the ghetto part of Lagos known as Agege. While discussing this and how it exposed him to some lifestyles on the street, the singer ties his discovery of the ability to do Afropop back to his days in the choir.

Teo Flex confidently boasts of versatility and a proper assortment of all the mainstream genres available to him in Nigeria. The singer who describes his sound as Burna Boy’s Afro-fusion, claims he is capable of Reggae-Dancehall, Hip Hop, Afropop and Rhythm & Blues.

The singer and songwriter, whose musical influences also came from the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and the American rapper known as J Cole, draws his inspiration from nature, socio-political related issues and real life experiences. Teo Flex describes music as a “weapon” of expression.

While Sam George Mac, the interviewer questions on, Teo Flex appears to have something more to say about himself and his art in this exclusive interview.

Q1. Yeah! Before this interview tonight, I went through your biography. A part of it reads that you are a Lagosian by origin.

So, Teo Flex, can you describe how making music from Lagos is? How does making music in Lagos as an up and coming act feel like?

Making music from Lagos is not an unusual thing for people with the music talent because even Lagos is the center for Arts and Entertainment. So, making music from Lagos is like you making music for the world apparently.

As an upcoming artiste like me, making music in Lagos is a big win for me. At the same time, the pressure can be overwhelming, especially when you’re still trying to develop your sound or trying to break into the industry and that, sometimes, becomes a burden too.

Moreover the population of music artistes in the streets Lagos is quite alarming. So, for an upcoming artiste like me, I have to work twice as hard.

Q2. That is one of the things that makes Lagos the Center of Excellence. It’s also the reason why the likes of Olamide, Brymo, Kizz Daniel, Wizkid and the others sang about Lagos too.

Tell me, Teo, since you developed interest for music, has there been anytime you felt like quitting, honestly?

Of course, yes! This reminds me of the most embarrassing moment I’ve ever had in my life. It was in 2019. I attended an event and it was a really big occasion where some celebrities were actually present. Unfortunately for me that night, an hour before I could perform my song, I got bounced out of the event because my sneakers were torn by the sides.

Q3. Disheartening flashback here. Well, it’s one of those events that make up one’s life story later.

When exactly did you start music? How did you start? Tell me in details how you went about it? When did you drop your first single officially?

I started music at a very young age of 10 and as at the time I was a rapper and Olamide was my first inspiration, anyways. One thing that’s factual is that I came from a musically inclined family and my dad was a choir master in the church for some years before he became a pastor.

He also made me join the choir which gave me ability to switch from rapping to proper singing and thereby awakening my abilities to do Afrobeats too. My first single titled Go Down dropped in 2019 and it did quite a few numbers on Audiomack.

Q4. A background filled with musically inclined people is what you can scarcely take away from many Afrobeats singers today. And yeah, majority of the singers in the Nigerian music industry of this present day were once in the choir.

Did you totally leave the choir or you are still a part of them even now? When did you leave, if you did, and how did the group receive the news of your departure?

I’m not part of the choir again and I left about a year ago and there has been no issues since then, concerning my departure.

Teo Flex

Q5. Beautiful! Why did you choose to do Afrobeats of all the genres available in Nigeria as a musically inclined nation? Why not Highlife? Why not Dancehall? Why not Hip Hop?

Apparently I’m an Afro-fusion artiste. If you check well, (you will discover that) I do almost all the genres of music (available to me) as long as it’s music. I’m the jack of all trades; I do Afropop, Hip Hop, Reggae Dancehall and R&B.

Q6. And that’s pure versatility — a quality that will help you navigate through every season of evolution in the industry. I did hear you on an Amapiano sound on your new single titled Shambele.

Oh! That backs up your claim of versatility. Listening to Shambele, I was greeted by the street jargon specific to Lagos and some South Western States, how did you become so conversant with the street and its language? You lived in the ghetto parts of Lagos?

I was born in Agege, a slum. (It is one of the) ghetto parts of Lagos State and if you have heard the popular saying “Agege loga wa”, that’s my hood and that’s where I came from. Although I don’t live there any longer.

Q7. I guess I may call you the “Ghetto Boy”. (Laughs) When I came across the song title of your latest single, I could not help it wondering what Shambele implies.

You actually used it as a response to every call you made on the chorus too. What is the meaning of Shambele, honorable Ghetto Boy?

Shambele is actually a slang I learned from a friend of mine and he told me it means “vibe”.

Teo Flex

Q8. Teo Flex, let’s Shambele on with the interview. (Laughs) You know, many Afrobeats act of the new school generation popping up the industry come in with vocals so similar.

Many of them too continue to sing different songs in tens and hundreds about the same theme. Having a knowledge of this, what do you think you have as a new school Afrobeats act that the industry lack at the moment?

Mehn they all lack what the main pioneer of Afrobeat had in almost all his musical releases. That’s the theme of socio-political issues and governmental dysfunction which you can only observe in Burna Boy’s music today. But then, he’s not part of the new generation. Teo Flex has a lot to talk about. Shambele is nothing compared to what I’m bringing into the industry.

Q9. Well! For clarity, Afrobeat and Afrobeats are two different genres of music. That of Fela is Afrobeat without the ‘s’, but in truth, the Afrobeats that is well known today and all its known acts look up to Fela as a sort of god to be worshipped. And that’s why they all attend Felabration. It’s deserving!

And, have you been a regular stage performer? You got a band when you perform or you prefer your songs being disc-jockeyed?

No bands for now but I’ll definitely love to have my own band in the future.

Q10. You spoke of Olamide being your first ever musical influence. Was there a second influence? A third and maybe a forth? Whose footprints do you follow at the moment in the industry?

Just a second influence and he’s still my role model at the moment. And that’s Burna Boy, the African Giant. He inspires me a lot and sometimes I feel like he’s the best of all.

Burna Boy

Q11. That’s a feeling for sure and a fact too if you consider the feat he has achieved so far in his career. What he has done, even in 2022 alone, is there to tell what greatness he embodies to even the yet-to-arrive generations of artistes from Africa. Wizkid and David too!

Tell me. What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from Burna Boy as a role model and how has it helped you in your own career so far?

I learnt consistency and perseverance. If you clearly remember, Burna boy has always been underrated until 2018 when he got his international breakthrough.

Then people started going back to listen to his old songs. So, that has taught me that no matter what happens to you in life, always keep pushing, because you don’t know when the table will turn to your side.

  1. I love your observation. It’s great sight you got, Teo.

Quickly, to bring this session to a close, what has your relationship with your fans been like? Do you communicate with them? How? How does it feel relating with them? How does it feel when they tell you how much they love your songs? Has there been any moment of crossing the boundary from a fan?

My relationship with my fans is nothing but an amazing one and for me that’s a very big deal, because it means my hard work and talent are being appreciated and not ignored.

Sam George Mac is a music journalist known for the reviews of several music albums and songs. He is a singer and songwriter of Afrobeats, Dancehall, Highlife and RnB with the stage name SGM — a graduate of Mass Communication from The West African Union University, Cotonou.

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