American pop singer Jason Derulo has been about more than just music; he is also a pop culture icon. Since embarking on his solo recording career in 2009, Derulo has sold over 30 million singles, achieving 11 Platinum singles, including Wiggle, Talk Dirty, In My Head, and Whatcha Say. His tracks have also gone on to add rhythm to common slang phrases and words making him a favourite of the youthful populace.
This made him an easy choice for this year’s Coke Studio — Global Fusion Edition guest artist spot. His current hit, Swalla, has more than 450 million views on Youtube and can be heard on most radio stations and clubs in Nairobi.
Jason was partnered with 11 different artists from across Africa for the project. They included Dela (Kenya), Rayvanny (Tanzania) and Bebe Cool (Uganda).
Derulo, who was born in Miramar, Florida, to Haitian parents, talked about his first Kenyan experience and the Coke Studio project that brings together artists of different cultures to create music together.
On how his experience had been in comparison to what he expected he would gain from Coke Studio, he said: “I didn’t come with any expectations or preconceived notions. I came with an open mind and heart, and it’s been amazing. I didn’t know what it was going to be like when I got here, but it’s been a life-altering experience; meeting all these African artists who are super talented and getting a taste of their culture and their individual vibes and creativity. Everything has made this a superb experience.”
What did he think of the process of composing, recording and putting up the performances? “The process is so tough. It is definitely not easy when you have your heart in it. I think it would have been an easier process if I wasn’t so emotionally involved. I really want to have the best product possible as an outcome, this is not just a money thing to me.
“This is about a clash of worlds and I hope the people will hear from the material that we made, that we really put our hearts into it. That is bigger than any cheque that you can cut,” said Derulo.
On meeting up with the different African artists, the pop star had this to say: “The mash of cultures is already happening in music anyways, but this was incredible and I think Coke is doing a great job with bringing it to the forefront as well. If the world just took notes about how music is going in mashing different cultures and different genres and used it to promote the same in people, I think the world would be a much more beautiful place.”
How did he find the experience of Nairobi? “I thought they were one people here in Africa, and that’s the same thing with most other people in the US. We assume you see one part of Africa and you’ve seen it all. It’s wonderful being with different people representing their different nations. Kenya (Nairobi) is also an amazing place and I appreciate the love and support I’ve experienced here from everyone.
“We went on a safari one morning and we had a walk there, it was incredible. I’ve had tonnes of food here and they are incredible too. A bunch of amazing food I had like the greens, fish and lots of proteins. I usually have full, protein-heavy diet anyway, so this was perfect for me. The meals reminded me a lot of Haiti; the spices and the sauces are very similar.”
The artist also managed to pick a few of the dances from Africa.
“I learned a couple of moves, but I just can’t remember the names. I can do them for you, though. Everybody in the collaboration has been teaching me their native moves, so I might whip some of those in my upcoming videos or performances.”
The Global Fusion Edition will be part of the Coke Studio Africa show that will start broadcasting later this year.
First published by Daily Nation