by Hero Magnus
Ikey is a Washington DC artist who has been making waves around the globe since he began
his robust music career. His latest single “Go Outside” is just the last in a long string of gorgeous melodic-rap works, ones that appeal to a broad range of audiences interested in many genres.
Ikey is proudly Nigerian American and says he makes records for “the streets, the internet, and
most importantly the Third World.” His influences include music from all across the African Diaspora, but as a longtime DMV resident, he’s especially intertwined with Washington DC Go-go music. He also references Wyclef Jean and The Notorious B.I.G as favorites. And the delicate piano instrumentals on “Go Outside” trace all the way back to his first album.
In 2018, Ikey came out with this debut, the on-the-nose stunner Green Card. It showed off his
incredible versatility and musical prowess, from the twinkly instrumental lushness in “Village
Boy” to the fierce and growly “Timbuktu.” Ikey’s singing voice is lovely as well, as he displays in
the more anthem-style “Roslin’s Basement.” His lyrics are understatedly clever, giving Ikey the
ability to dive into complex issues with dexterity and depth (“if I’m too fat for designer clothes /
I’m splurging on accessories.”)
Ikey has also released several singles since Green Card. There’s the playful “Billie” (on the
cover, an arrow points to a billie goat, which Ikey holds in his arms), a reference to Ikey’s
self-titled nickname “Ike da kid.” There’s also the controversial “Akata,” which Ikey wrote about
balancing his identities as a first-generation immigrant. Akata is a disparaging word usually used among Nigerians and other West Africans to refer to African Americans. The song caused such
a stir that Ikey opted to defend himself on Instagram, describing how he has ‘accepted the
burden’ of having to constantly defend both his Nigerian and American identity.
Ikey calls himself the “Chinua Achebe with two turntables and a microphone.” His performance
style is astoundingly complex, combining a smooth and quick rapping ability with a “southern bounce” and “reggae drawl.” Ikey’s constant sonic reinvention makes it unsurprising that he would pivot so intensely for the new single “Go Outside.” Even though Ikey consistently uses his music to engage in political & social issues, the exploration doesn’t always have to be explicit.
His most recent single is powerful simply because of Ikey’s multifaceted existence and musicality.
“Go Outside” focuses on the bliss of hanging out with your significant other. It’s a clever time to
pivot from Ikey’s usual content: the song urges listeners to jump out of their chairs and take a
walk outside. “I just wanna get away / I’ve been staying in the house,” he sings, complaining
about a feeling that is almost universally relatable during quarantine. The song is both calming
and energizing, allowing room to lay back and enjoy.
“I don’t care whatever we do / as long as I’m hanging out with you,” Ikey sings on “Go Outside”
to a lovely 80s vibe and glittery piano progression. Ikey’s already more than proved his musical prowess. Now, he’s just here to give us a great vibe. Check out “Go Outside” below and keep an ear out for Ikey’s future work.
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