Nigerian born – Teemanay, aka “Young Icon” recently sat down with our host Juby to talk about his fast rising stardom as an Afrobeats artist and being signed to one of the biggest music mogul – Akon’s Konvict Kulture label.
In 2019 we met the Young Icon, who was not signed at the time, and the minute he walked in our office in Time Square, New York, we felt a great vibe and energy from him.
We recently caught up to Teemanay at his sold out live concert at Shrine World Music Venue in Harlem, and the vibe was definitely addictive.
LexAnn Media (LAM): Teemanay, you just had your first “Teemanay Live In Concert” at the Shrine World Music Venue in New York City, and your fans came out in their numbers to show you love. We were in the building, and you seemed overwhelmed with all the support from the crowd. Did you expect your first live self-produced concert to be sold out within a week of announcing the show?
Teemanay: Honesty, I anticipated and prayed for a first sold-out show in my career, but I didn’t expect the crowd I saw that night and that’s the reason why I was overwhelmed. It was packed both inside and outside, which was never done before by any Afrobeat artist based in the US, so it was history in the making, and I’m grateful.
LAM: What or who led you into creating music?
Teemanay: I would say my dad is to blame for that even though he wanted me to become a medical doctor. Growing up, we had the gramophone popularly called “turn-table” and my dad had a huge catalogue of music from across the world, almost any genre you can think of, he had. He played his music every evening, and that became among some of my favorite moments. As a kid I was gifted musical instruments on special occasions like birthday celebrations, that also made me develop my enthusiasm in playing musical instruments.
LAM: How old were you when you first started writing/singing?
Teemanay: I was 12 years old, and I started in the church choir, so my first songs were gospel songs.
LAM: Do you remember your first song?
Teemanay: Yes, it was titled “I Can’t Wait to Talk About” which I wrote at the age of 12/13, and it was about the love of God.
LAM: Which artist or artists would you like to collaborate with?
Teemanay: Wizkid, Drake, Chris Brown, Burna Boy, Tems, and Rihanna.
LAM: How did you feel when afrobeats blew up after the dance community went viral worldwide dancing to afrobeats?
Teemanay: I felt fulfilled because it was about time. I knew it would happen though, at some point, we were all just waiting for the moment, and I know Afrobeats will become the number one genre in the world by 2030.
LAM: In your opinion, who are the pioneers of Afrobeats?
Teemanay: The Great Fela Kuti, is the pioneer and founder of Afrobeats. He’s well-traveled and experienced and his journey inspired his creation. From London in UK, Harlem in New York, Accra in Ghana, and back to Lagos in Nigeria, he created the genre that has become the bedrock of African music in today’s generation.
LAM: What fulfills you about making music?
Teemanay: Seeing people from around the world sing songs I wrote in solitude, hearing how my music has impacted people through messages on social media and reading the comments. Knowing that my music is timeless and has actually put a smile on the faces of people that I have never met, that is a great fulfillment for me. A fan once sent me a DM on Instagram telling me how she plays a song I wrote on my debut EP titled “Stressed Out” and how listening to the song relaxes her in the morning on her way to work, and that was amazing to read and that gives me fulfillment.
LAM: Would you change your artist’s name? If so, what would it be?
Teemanay: No, I don’t think I will, because the name stems from my name and it resonates deeply, even my A.K.A is a very powerful name, being called “Young Icon” by fans means I am on the right path, so unfortunately there is no other name for me besides “Teemanay ” and “Young Icon”.
LAM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Teemanay: I see myself bagging a couple Grammys, owning a lot of real estate investments and Wall Street investments as well. Most importantly, I see myself giving back to my community in a huge way which I am already doing via an organization I am a part of called “Africa Everything”, AE. This year, we renovated schools in Ghana, and last year we did the same in Senegal, so we hope to move Africa forward, one country at a time.
LAM: Who is your favorite Afrobeats artist? Who inspires you to make music?
Teemanay: Fela Kuti, I grew up listening to Fela Kuti’s albums every week, thanks to my dad’s rotations. I am also inspired by “2Face Idibia”.
LAM: How does it feel to be signed by Akon’s Label?
Teemanay: Blessed is the word because I grew up listening to Akon. He was on my bucket list of Icons I had hoped to meet one day in my career and work with because he inspires me in many ways, and then I finally met him and got signed by him. This doesn’t happen every day, so I am more than grateful and blessed to be signed to Akon.
LAM: This is a 3-part question. What was your first performance like? Where was it and can you give us the highest and lowest moments (if any) of the experience?
Teemanay: My first official performance was in Lagos, Nigeria at Eko Hotel, a very big event called “AY Live” done annually by a comedian called ‘AY”. It was packed, 5,000 people, I was one of the opening acts and I was nervous and excited at the same time. Funny thing is I experienced my highest and lowest moment that day. My lowest moment was when it was my turn to perform and my flash drive that had my performance track got corrupted and would not work on the DJs laptop. True story, we tried all means, and it would not work until they skipped my set time, so I was stressed and kept pushing, as there wasn’t a good internet connection backstage so the song could not be emailed. We kept trying until finally God maybe blew in an internet signal our way and the email dropped, but they had already passed my set and was about to start calling the headliners. We begged and somehow AY came backstage and allowed me to go on and as soon as I went on, the show went live on National TV all over Nigeria, so I became the only opening act that was aired live while performing, and that was my highest moment. God was smiling down on me!!!
LAM: Do you play any instruments and if so which one?
Teemanay: I play the keyboard and the drums.
LAM: Over the past decade or so Nigeria has produced some iconic hip hop and afrobeats artists including yourself. What would you say to that little boy or girl in Nigeria today who look up to you for inspiration?
Teemanay: Trust the process, do not be in a hurry to make it. You will miss the journey that will mold you to become timeless, so climb the stairs and ignore the elevators, like I always say, “Stairs over Elevators”, trust me, it will be worth the while.
LAM. How involved are you with the creativity of your work?
Teemanay: I write all my songs, I co-produce as well so I am 100% involved.
LAM: How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your work, whether positive or negative?
Teemanay: I would say both positive and negative. It has made me realize that every moment must be cherished and valued on the positive side, then on the negative side, it has slowed down my revenue stream and income big time lol. It has affected my music career adversely because as a performer, being able to tour and perform at festivals, and concerts is my greatest joy and the pandemic created a big void and pause in that area.
LAM: What can fans expect from Teemanay aka “Young Icon” in 2022?
Teemanay: My fans can expect a lot; new music, new videos, my first tour and as well as an EP.
LAM: You have a brand of merchandise called the “This Vibe is Addictive”. Tell us about that.
Teemanay: It’s my persona, I have a vibe that is very addictive, so when I step into an environment, you feel the energy and ambiance, and my music makes you want to move your body. I made a whole song called “Stressed Out” and it has the opposite effect on people lol, the phrase came into being when I was in the studio recording a song called “Vibez” with my producer “Jaylon” and my engineer “Draf” and I used it as the intro for the song. Since then, the word got out and my fans identified the word with Teemanay, so I decided to create the merchandise and it’s been selling out online. Amazing!
LAM: Do you write your own songs/music?
LAM: Okay Teemanay, let’s play a game called: “This or that”
(a) Vegetarian/Vegan or Meat-lover? – [Answer: Meat lover, I’m African lol]
(b) Flying or Driving? – [Answer: Driving]
(c) Writer or Composer? – [Answer: Writer]
(d) Piano or Keyboard? – [Answer: Keyboard]
(e) Grammy or Oscar? – [Answer: Grammy]
(f) Kanye or Drake album? – [Answer: Drake Album]
LAM: Please tell the LexAnn Media readers something that no one else knows about Teemanay aka “Young Icon”.
Teemanay: I am a very good cook, and a lot of people don’t know that.
LAM: Thank you for stopping by Teemanay. We enjoyed catching up with you and feel free to drop by anytime. It was a pleasure hanging out with you, it was good vibez.
Teemanay: Thanks for having me. I look forward to coming back soon.
To book or interview Teemanay email: Teemanaybookings@vipconnected.com
Social Media Handle on all platforms: @teemanay
Music Link: Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TeemanayOfficial
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/teemanay/1067930639