Ibra Ake is Still in Wonderland


The only Nigerian on the winning list at the 61st Grammy Awards, Ibra Ake, is still in wonderland, writes Omolabake Fasogbon

Nigerian-American multi-talented artiste, Ibra Ake is having a swell time at the moment as he won big at the 61st Grammy Awards that took place in Los Angeles, United States, last Sunday.

Before now, Ake’s name did not ring a bell in this clime despite his laudable feats in the creative industry abroad. Not anymore; Ake is now the hero calling the shot in the local tabloids and beyond, while also making Nigeria proud.

Ake, a music producer cum writer, who had his formative years in Nigeria, has paid his dues  in the global creative unit and presently relishing payback time, as he caught global attention at the 61st edition of the highly coveted gramophone award,  where he clinched the ‘Best Music Video’ producer award for producing Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’.

Ake’s trophy is also gaining more prominence globally for being part of the multiple winning works, ‘This is America’ at the much-respected show which played host to world’s creative best.

‘This is America’, for which Ake won the best video producer, bagged the ‘Record of the Year’ trophy. It equally stood out as the Song of the Year, Best Music Video of the Year, Best Rap/ Sung Performance.

The obviously elated commercial photographer and art director could not conceal his excitement when he took to his Twitter page to celebrate his first Grammy recognition as he wrote: “I can’t believe I just won a Grammy. Where is the catch?Royalty forever!”

Ake in an interview once explained how he met  ‘This is America’ star, Donald Glover, better known as Childish Gambino, as a freelance and budding photographer, who eventually developed a soft spot for his offerings, after which both of them rolled stronger in greater deals.

The California based filmmaker also spent part of his life in New Jersey and shuttles between cities around the world from Lagos to New York.

With a number of blockbusters credited to his brain, his unique approach to the creative has earned him rave reviews and recommendations, making him sell like hotcake.

Notable among his illustrious works was the Emmy winning comedy series, ‘Atlanta’, written by him.

Lauding his input to the creative industry, American based premier men’s magazine, GQ, commented: “His role as a creative guide and resource spans across the collective different albums and projects, including Atlanta, where he helped to adapt the show’s tone to its marketing outreach”.

Ake’s photography skills have taken him as far as shooting the covers of fast selling magazines and engaged in other personal photo projects which he has shot in Cuba, Nigeria and other parts of his world. For him, creating transcends storytelling, but relates to identity and politics. It is with this perception that he sets out to pull all stops.

Earlier, he dropped his feelings about his award-winning work saying, “With ‘This is America,’ it’s fun to see the reaction because the distribution is so large; it’s so weird to see your ideas disperse on such a large format.”

Although, Ake’s fame springs from his distinguished works outside Nigeria,  he ties his exploits to his experience and upbringing back home and has not stopped spreading this.

He once hinted in an interview, “Every time I’m looking for a picture of Nigeria in the 70s, I’m never like, ‘let me check National Geographic.’ I’m always like, ‘What pictures did my parents take?’ It’s always true to their eye and what is important to them, which is definitely a different value, but I think there’s something very authentic about that.”

Beyond financial perspective, the latest Grammy recognition equally translates to a boost for Ake’s already made brand across board and indeed, a step to more golden trophies.

Ake’s win brings the number of foreign-based Nigerian artistes that have won the prestigious music industry award to seven, including ace percussionist Sikirat Adepoju, Lanre Babalola, Kevin Olusola, Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel, Sade Adu and Hakeem Seriki. 

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