Truthfully, every artist hopes to evolve with time and step into whatever form that excites them while retaining the key essence of their art which attracts audience. This will mean constantly adapting to best version of themselves as times and seasons changes while they continue to impact with their art always.
Although, some of these transitions have been jarring and incongruous, while others have been smooth and jaw-dropping. Kudos to AG Baby, Olamide, Burna Boy have been praised for their artistic evolution across different times and seasons, while Pheelz, Young Jonn, Maleek Berry get their credits for fantastic reinvention into an artist having first started out as producers.
From Pheelz The Mr Producer! who came into the light as a young producer and helmed majority of production works on Olamide’s trifecta from “Yahoo Boy No Laptop” to “Street OT” , to the well refined Riddimakulayo who took major charge of the critically acclaimed first pair of projects by Fireboy DML, and then to Pheelz as an artist first of all creating songs that resonates (Electricity with Davido) with various sect of listeners and then global hits (Finesse with BNXN) that shook the music world.
Since having his debut as a producer at the age of 16 with Olamide’s 2012 hit “First Of All“, it’s been a breezy journey for the veteran producer, who undoubtedly had one of the best run amongst producers in the last decade with many hits to his credits and notching in several nominations in the Headies with his ultimate win with Teni’s “Billionaire” in 2020. Gathering such experiences from paying close attention to the recording process of several artists he has worked with closely has helped shape and serve as a guide into life as a recording artist for Pheelz. It is safe to say those experiences served as a much needed foundation and building stage for the artist he now presents himself as.
As an artist, the first time we caught a sniff of Pheelz’s ability to record was on “I’m going in” – the intro to Olamide’s debut project “Rapsodi“. Although, he was not credited as a featured artist, but his melodic and captivating confession on the track is one of the memorable highlight of the song. It took time for Pheelz to properly morph himself into an artist as his first track released officially as a recording artist came surprisingly two months after he achieved his most coveted desire of winning ‘Producer Of The Year’ at Headies, something which had eluded him many times. “One Life” was released in November 2020, but it did not generate enough buzz as listeners had not yet tapped into Pheelz as an artist. Few months later, he released his debut project, an EP titled “Hear Me Out“, a 5-track EP captures all of his hard work as a fledgling artist and presents us with his sonic template which melds danceable elements with R&B and Afro-Pop. The veteran producer who produced major hits in Nigerian music industry during the 2010s was slowly shape-shifting into an established new generation popstar.
As the journey continues to unfold, Pheelz hits the peak so far in his career with the global hit “Finesse” with BNXN. The track which first hit the public via a snippet, then spread so fast all over the media, especially TikTok where it generated buzz around it even before its official release. That was the moment, he was prepared for the opportunity and when it came, he took it. That was what catapulted him into an artist in demand and earning interest of listeners to what he has to offer. If it was a fluke or one time thing, he enlisted Davido to create another chart topping single in “Electricity“. This cemented his status as one of the best hit crooners amongst his peers. At this point, listeners had no choice but to pay attention because Pheelz keeps getting better on every new release.
While Pheelz has been lauded for making fantastic Afro-Pop tinged tracks, he also delves constantly into creating soulful tracks that will resonate as essential R&B deep cuts in later times. Songs like “Pheelz Like Summer” emits summer time vibe with balmy nature and “Stand By You” with its heart-warming soulful love confessions. In all of this, it is not surprising to witness Pheelz given an honourable mentions in our list that compiles the best songwriters of the new generation. He doesn’t just have the right sonic backdrop, he has the solid pen game to back it up to create fantastic songs. The highlight of his excellent pen game are revealed on tracks like “Finesse“, “Pablo Escobar” and “Crown Of Clay” with impeccable storytelling on “Wayward Girl“.
The numbers and charts ? Pheelz also dines at the top table in the aspects of figures and charts. “Finesse” peaked #1 across all major DSPs in the country, holds a top 5 record of highest first day streams on Spotify, peaked atop TurnTable Charts weekly Top 50 and UK Afrobeats chart, peaked #5 and #10 on US Afrobeats Charts and World Digital Songs Sales Charts respectively. Also noteworthy, it was used as a FIFA 23 soundtrack and featured on Barack Obama’s 2022 summer playlist. “Electricity” however didn’t exceed the exploits of its predecessor, but it had its own moments. It peaked at least #5 on all major DSPs, peaked #1 on TurnTable Top Radio Songs chart, peaked #6 and #12 on UK Afrobeats Charts and US Afrobeats Charts respectively. Even when people are quick to downplay this achievement because he only achieved them with singles, Pheelz still hit commendable heights over a lengthy body of work on his sophomore EP titled “Pheelz Good” – released earlier this year. “Pheelz Good” peaked #1 on NG Apple Albums Chart and charted in 24 countries. It also peaked top 10 on all of other DSPs in the country. The numbers and the records don’t lie, it only proves the point that, Pheelz has the capability to stake a claim that he belongs to the top echelon of artists with quality arts and immense commercial success.
Successes have cherry on top in the shape of Awards. Despite his inept ability to win awards as a producer with only one win in ten nominations, Pheelz won his first award nomination as an artist when Finesse was nominated for Best Collaboration in The Soundcity MVP Awards. He has also gone on to scoop five Headies nominations this year including a nom in the highly coveted and competitive ‘Song Of The Year‘ Award with Finesse while also earning a double nomination in the ‘Best Collaboration‘ category with “Electricity” and “Finesse“.
With all said, it is important to note that none of his peers in shape of other Producer turn artists have been able to replicate his success or lay a claim to reach the heights of Pheelz. Sometimes, we quickly forget Pheelz was a producer at a time due to the hits he serves up constantly and that is his biggest advantage. Having spent nearly a decade behind the boards, helping artists crafting hit songs, he is now making them for himself. We are currently witnessing one of the best transitions so far in the history of the Nigerian music industry. Let’s pay attention, Pheelz is on a roll.