Thanks to afrobeats receiving a greater spotlight, we’re now seeing a hotbed of new talent giving us the sounds of the African diaspora. Omo Frenchie has been one of the names on the lips of many, creating wild curiosity with his addictive music.
For the Congo-born artist, music was always on his brain, but it seems he wasn’t always aware how much of a blessing he had with his talent. Playing football was also something he was passionate about. But whilst this seemed to phase itself out, his love for music didn’t waver. After featuring on Afro B’s track ‘Oh My’ with Tribal Man, he found that people were keen to know more about him, “I underestimated everything”, he revealed. “After the song came out, Afro B, he was already a DJ, so people knew he was, Tribal Man was doing well. I remember coming on Twitter a week later and people asking, ‘Rah, who’s this Frenchie guy?’ So I decided to carry on pursuing it”.
For Frenchie, his Congolese heritage is a strong part of his musical identity. Moving over to the UK with his family as a baby, his parents ensured that Congolese music and culture remained embedded in him, “On Saturdays, every weekend morning, there was Congolese music, Congolese praise and worship first of all, that we’ll play in the morning. As the day goes past there were more tunes. It was always interesting to me, the sounds, the music videos. I always used to ask questions”.
Frenchie often incorporates French and Lingala into his music, something which some would see as brave considering his music is primarily being exposed to a British audience. But making his bilingual sound translate in the UK has become less of a concern for the artist, “As time went on, I started to realise there was that balance. You can be universal, though you can be speaking a different language. Even though people don’t understand, they still f**k with it ‘cos it sounds good. It can be done and it can’t be done”. As an artist he’s aware that whatever he delivers, it needs to be of high quality, “When I spit bars in French or Lingala, I just make sure it sounds as wavey as it can. They might not understand it, so that they think, ‘I don’t know what you just said, but it sounds cold!’”
The beauty of Omo Frenchie’s music is that it doesn’t fit neatly into one scene. He incorporates a number of genres, which includes afrobeats, with rap and much more. So how does Frenchie place his sound across the musical spectrum? “Self expression. I express what’s within”, he stated. With the plethora of influences that have shaped his music as a result of his upbringing in South London, this response makes sense: “There’s not really many Congolese people. There’s a lot of Nigerians and Jamaicans and Ghanaians. I built strong relationships with those people from different nationalities”.
Having different cultures around him has meant Frenchie has been able to incorporate a number of sounds into that of his own, “For example if there’s a bit of Jamaican influence in my music, it’s not that I’m being a beg, I just grew up around serious Jamaican people as I was so interested in their culture, it’s become a part of me, it just makes me who I am”.
A part of a musical scene that is tight knit, he considers fellow artists, Kwamz and Flava, and Naira Marley his friends. Whilst being successful in the music industry doesn’t necessarily require support, it sure is helpful. “We’re all from the Peckham region, and we’ve known each other from before music…Support is not really important but if it’s there, then it’s good”. Frenchie is well aware that there aren’t many musicians hitting the scene from a Congolese background, “It’s nice to feel like you’ve got some sort of family, especially as amongst everyone, I’m the only Congolese artist…”
Frenchie is due to release his debut EP, ‘Diamond in the Dirt’ on 26 May. One of the tracks we can look forward to is “Chosen” which features man of the moment Abra Cadabra. Frenchie admits he’s been holding onto this track since July 2016. But despite the demand, he’ll only be letting go of it when the time is right, “As long as no-one has heard it, it’s always going to be new music. That’s why I preserve it. It will definitely be worth the wait though”.
Aside from his clear musical talent, Frenchie wants to create a legacy much more than just this, stating that he wants to “represent positivity and better things”. Revealing he’s also “into a bit of design and building a charity”, if the levels of creativity are anything like his sound, we’re definitely all ears and eyes for Omo Frenchie.
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Words: Nikita Rathod