Nigerian Afrobeats singer-songwriter Cheque joins LootLove via FaceTime on Apple Music 1 to talk about his latest track, “Dangerous (feat. Ayra Starr).” He also discusses his new album, ‘Bravo,’ how branching out into trap boosted his confidence, and how his chart-topping 2020 single “Zoom” helped him earn his parents’ blessing.
Cheque on how he feels now that his debut album is out
I feel the same, how I've always been feeling when I want to drop a song. I go crazy in my head, I think everything that is possible. So I'm very used to it, I'm used to it now.
I will use ‘Razor - EP’ as an example. When I wanted to drop “Zoom,” two days to the drop, I thought it was the worst song in the world. I thought, "I'm not going to drop it." That's how I feel. I feel like, "What? Oh, the mixing engineer. I'll call everybody." I'm always very anxious. I think it happens because of my itching success... I was always feeling like, "God, please, I cannot not get it."
Cheque on being nervous to release trap music
Nobody wanted to try it at that time. Even now, maybe nobody wants to try it. But at that time, that everybody said, "Don't do trap. Don't try it. Just leave it. Stick to afrobeats.” I was not really inclined towards that, I was always inclined towards trap. So it was very anxious for me, because I felt like I was one of the only people who wanted to drop that.
Cheque on why he thought now was the time for his debut album
I always knew that the more songs that I have out, the more people will understand me. I cannot be in a box, I don't have a single box, but I feel like this album is when people will really understand me. With more body of work. I never really felt the singles would describe me enough. I always felt like people misunderstood me.
The project came to me because of the lack of general acceptance of my genre initially. I always thought, "Okay, I'm going to put a trap song, put some afro and let's see what happens then." When I dropped it, all the songs that were doing well were the trap songs on the project, on the ‘Razor - EP,’ so I always feel like I just have to put out a project and then people will really understand.
Cheque on the difference between making his EP and making his album
Confidence. When I was making ‘Razor - EP,’ I was very afraid. I was making it from, "Oh God, oh God, if I drop this and nobody likes trap songs, everybody that has ever told me not to do trap are just going to tell me, I told you so." I didn't want that to happen, because I knew that if ‘“Zoom” didn't do what it did, nobody is going to sponsor trap in this country again.
Cheque on gaining acceptance from his parents after “Zoom”
First, my parents approved my music. They was like, "Oh, okay.” It was viral in all the states, definitely all the states in Nigeria. In my hometown, everybody knows me for that. So my mom always called me that when she's going to her office work, some people stop by and say, "Can we get Cheque's number?” And that is deep rooted in the village, it was cool too.
Cheque on his definition of success and his global ambitions
Continuous elevation is what I'm after, continuous, always growing, always growing, because I feel like man is never going to be satisfied no matter what we get, we just always want more. So I'm just for continuous elevation, that takes me to the very next level, the next one take me to forever. Worldwide, I want to go worldwide, that's my aim. I really want to do that, so I don't want to stay in one place, I want to be everywhere, that's my aim.
Cheque on collaborating with Ayra Starr on “Dangerous”
I had the song completed, I had this song “Dangerous,” I had it for quite a while, I had it for three months with me, finished, changed the beat, finished it. But I was always feeling like if I was saying, “I know you're dangerous,” because I was talking to the opposite, somebody, a partner on the song. I just wanted to have somebody to be able to express themselves back at me. Luckily in Nigeria right now, we have great female artists popping up everywhere, which is great. So then I watched one of her Instagram videos, there she was singing so crazy. I was like, "Oh, somebody got vocals here." But that didn't move me, then I saw one of her videos, she was all choreographing her dancing. It was very long since I saw that, somebody, a female doing choreography in her songs here. So I just felt like I got to message her instantly. She got me the verse very fast, that was really cool, so it was cool of her too.