Off the back of a successful EP, titled ‘F & F’ which peaked at number 15 on the Apple Music worldwide chart, and a recent smashing single, ‘Elevate’ featuring Kaylu, this would generally be regarded as a very successful year for any upcoming artiste and a chance to wallow in such success.
However, this isn’t the case for John-Li who achieved this formidable feat. The young and versatile artiste is determined to keep spreading his music and achieve his dreams of instilling the spirit of determination and offer hope to his listeners, leaving an impact for years to come.
How did the name John-Li come about?
It’s actually a combination of my full name John Olih. My friends and I were just trying think of something and we wrote my name out and just ended with it.
Your EP ‘F & F’ has been largely successful and you just dropped another single, this definitely has to be considered a successful year for you…
I believe for an artiste at my current level in this industry, I’ve had a fairly good year. I still believe I can do a lot more though and before the year runs out I definitely will.
Does that mean you have another project coming up?
I have several projects in the works so there is a high possibility that I’ll come out with another one but I can’t say for sure at the moment.
How would you describe your genre of music?
I make hip/hop mainly, but recently I started branching a little to afro swing, trying to get people to dance a bit and all that.
How has your experience in the music industry as an upcoming artiste been?
I never expected it to be easy and truly it hasn’t been.
I’ve had some gruesome and demeaning experiences so far but I believe it’ll be worth it in the end. It’s not advisable if you don’t have a strong will and mind anyway.
You must have had large periods of self doubts, how have you been able to push past that?
I have a vision for my life, so I know this is just a phase that will pass eventually if I just stay strong and focused. Plus the music is like a drug for me so it helps me keep a clear head.
You started putting out music officially 4 years ago, when did you realize this was what you wanted to do?
Ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted to do something that would impact people on a large scale. But I didn’t quite get into music till my final years in high school, when I began to see that this thing I did for fun had such an effect on people.
Were you ever in a group? Or you’ve always been solo?
I started in a music group called YZM. It was ran by Yung Ziggy a while back, with just a few of us in it.
So what happened to the group?
Nothing really happened we all just grew apart and started developing ourselves individually but we’re still in touch.
How have you been able to combine music with school?
Music for me started as sort of a hobby so it’s always been fun to me. At the level I still am, it’s tough but not overwhelming yet. So it’s relatively easy to handle, I just have to know when to stop and when to continue.
Who inspires you musically and how much of an impact do they have on your music?
I take a lot from Travis Scott and I think if you listen to my songs you can actually tell. But being a Nigerian artiste in Nigeria here I have to sort of bring it back home and so I try to mix it up a bit. I’d say my biggest inspiration when it comes to my sound is Travis Scott.
Your recent EP F & F peaked at number 15 on the Apple Music Worldwide category chart, congratulations. How did you feel about that achievement?
At first I felt quite elated but as the weeks went by I think the feeling changed to determination because I literally have no team and no one backing me. So I got to see that my dreams are actually very possible, if I keep up with this quality I’ve brought so far.
You’re an independent act, must be tough pushing your music at times.
With the help of my friends pushing my music gets easier after every drop to be honest, but I believe there are sometimes inevitable issues. Even with the mainstream artistes, there are always issues. Plus upcoming artistes are often get looked down upon, so it’s like a package deal we have to deal with.
Which producers do you like to work with?
I have two producers I work with Monarch (@abdul__aal on Twitter) and AJ69 (@ajibola_ca on Twitter). They hit me up, and I saw how good they are and I was interested.
If you could work with any three artists, who would be your picks?
Well, Travis obviously. Then Wizkid and Psycho YP.
Psycho YP is very talented and currently on a rise to stardom. Have you made a move to try and work with him?
I’ve actually been trying to get his attention for more than a year now but to no avail. I know God knows best.
And you’re not one to give up, it would definitely click soon.
I hope it does.
Are there any young artists you like to listen to or would love to work with?
I’ve got a lot. Theres CJ Littles, Marcovelli Contrast Badboywavy Leehis, to be honest the list is endless.
What was the inspiration behind your new single?
The song ‘Elevate’ was recorded a while ago and it came about as a result of my frustration. The way artistes treat each other even though we’re still upcoming is actually very wrong. So basically like the lyrics of the song says “I just wanna elevate, put these niggas in their place”.
Was that from a personal experience?
It was from several personal experiences, just as most of my songs are as a result of things that have happened to me.
What do you plan to achieve in the music industry with your music?
I really just wanna make the type of music that gives people that feeling of determination and hope. I want to make such an impact that would still be strong for generations to come.
Asides from music, are you trying out other things?
I make video edits and I’m trying to become a brand Ambassador for clothing brands.
Lastly, what message do you have for your fans and people rooting for you?
Y’all shouldn’t stop supporting please, and I’ll do my best and make you guys proud.
The music journey of an artiste isn’t a smooth one, filled with ups and downs, self doubts and many other adversities. This however hasn’t stopped John-Li from taking steps on his journey to the top. Possessing the ability to create quality and evergreen music, he’s destined for the top and we would be supporting and rooting for him all the way.
Check out his profile on Twitter @YungJli, to follow the young artiste and his music closely.
By Muyiwa Aguda