If there were training on How to Write TikTok Hits, the facilitator would be CKay. The musician turned producer and went back to being a musician. On Valentine’s Day 2020, he released a remix of Love Nwantiti titled Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah) featuring Joeboy and Kuami Eugene. In a few months’ time, it went viral on TikTok.
Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah) became an international hit, charting across Africa, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. It got to number 23 in the UK and earned him his first entry on the US Billboard Hot 100.
A North African remix featuring ElGrande Toto became popular in the Maghreb countries. French remix featuring the rapper Franglish was hot in France. German remix featuring Frizzo, Joeboy, and Kuami Eugene caught on in Deutschland.
There was the Spanish version featuring De La Ghetto, the East African remix with Tanzanian musician, Rayvanny, and a South African remix featuring Tshego and Gemini Major.
A remix featuring DJ Yo and Axel took over the video-sharing app and grabbed the ears of millions of listeners across the globe. Over three million videos have been created under the sound on TikTok.
Since September 11th 2021, the song has remained the most-played song in the world. It left The Kid LAROI and Justin Bieber’s track, Stay, and Elton John’s remix of Cold Heart featuring Dua Lipa in its wake. At its peak, Love Nwantiti, which means ‘small love’ in CKay’s Igbo language, was on top of the charts in 160 countries.
What inspired this viral hit song?
“All my songs are inspired by toxic relationships,” he said. “Everybody is toxic. Toxicity is interesting. It was also a toxic relationship that inspired my song Container. The girl’s voice was used at the beginning of the song.”
For TikTok users, the sound is fluid. It’s versatile too, as it can be used in creating different content. The most popular are the dance videos copying a dance routine created by popular TikTok user, Tracy Joseph.
“Love Nwantiti was a freestyle,” CKay said.
“I didn’t pen a single word. Was in my living room, making beats like I usually do, and I played the chords, built on them, and did my freestyle. I recorded around midnight, and I was really sleepy. So, I decided I was gonna put words to the ‘ah ah ah’ part in the morning. Long story short, woke up in the morning and realized it was fire exactly how it was.”
There’s no smoke without fire. So, the meteoric rise of the track is another reason to believe that Afrobeats musicians are setting their own table on the global music scene. And that should be the first words from the mouth of CKay as he began the ‘training’!
We present CKay’s biography.
CKay, whose real name is Chukwuka Ekweani, was born on July 16th 1995. That makes him 28. We don’t know the first name of his father, who named him ‘God is Great’. But calling them Mr and Mrs Daisy Ekweani is a safe and easy way out. CKay is the last of the six children of his parents. He has two brothers and three sisters.
He was raised in Kaduna State, but he hails from Anambra State. Where in Anambra is CKay from? He’s from Ukwulu, a town in Dunukofia local government area.
Frequent inter-religious conflicts marked his time in Kaduna. Between February and May 2000, Nigeria’s most serious inter-communal violence in recent years occurred. In the fights between Christians and Muslims, over 1900 people were killed. And according to commentators, the 2000 Kaduna riots are the worst outbreak of violence in the country, second only to the 1967-70 civil war.
“I grew up knowing fully the reality of life and death,” he said.
“When I came to Lagos, I saw that many people’s trains of thought and ideas were sort of different from mine. For me, I just make the music how I like it, and people say it’s different.”
Ckay attended primary and secondary schools in the north. He was in Kaduna between 1995 and 2014, so that conclusion is not out of place. We, however, don’t know the identities of the schools. We know little about his tertiary education, either.
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CKay’s Music career
His father, who was the head of their local church’s choir, kindled his love for music. He soon learned how to play the piano from the choir conductor. The adventure into sound production kick-started when a friend told him about the music production software, Fruity Loops.
He got access to the software and taught himself how to produce beats. But he knew that practice makes perfect, so he joined a three-man band before going solo. This was when his stage name, CKay, a short form of Chukwuka, was born. By the time he turned 13, he had produced beats and written songs for a Christian music group.
“I guess I just gravitated towards music,” he said.
“And as I grew, I found myself drawn to it all the more. I kept entering new levels. From just being a singer to playing the piano, then the guitar, and then I started producing, and then I started putting out songs. It was all a process.”
However, leaving Kaduna for Lagos on November 3rd, 2014, hastened the process.
“I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t really take it seriously,” he said.
“I just derived joy from it. When I was a bedroom musician, I used to sing in school, and the girls liked me. I was “the guy that could sing.” Lol. I started taking music seriously when I graduated from secondary school and started mingling with other music enthusiasts in my city.
“Two of my friends and I formed a group called Cre8tive Music, and we were really popular in Kaduna back then. We organized a concert and sold all the tickets. That was when I realized how big this little thing we were doing could be.
“I wanted more, and I decided to move to Lagos. So, I saved money for nine months and one day. I just left home. My parents never really supported my dreams, even after countless conversations I had with them, trying to convince them of how viable music is as an occupation.
“So, I just left. I figured they’d eventually forgive me when they saw the results. They fully support and believe in me now.”
In Nigeria’s entertainment capital, CKay worked as a producer at underground studios to fund his music aspiration. A year later, he signed – first as a producer, then as a musician – for one of the country’s leading recording studios, Chocolate City.
He was spotted when the veteran rapper M.I. Abaga heard one of his beats. He was initially signed as a production intern by Loopy Music, owned by M.I. Abaga, in 2014. When Loopy Music merged with Chocolate City in 2016, CKay became a part of the Chocolate Family.
As a producer, CKay was involved in the production of TICBN tracks like Third Mainland Bridge (M.I. featuring Moti Cakes), The Box (M.I. in collaboration with Pryse), and Give Them (Koker). He has also made music for Dice Ailes, Ice Prince, Milli, Jesse Jagz, Victoria Kimani, DJ Lambo, Blaqbonez, Barry Jhay, and so many others.
Music production career paths can take one to several places, including being a musician. Like Young Jonn, CKay transitioned from a producer to a musician. But it has its challenges.
“At first, many people thought I was a producer who was trying to sing. So that was kind of a challenge at first, but it wasn’t a serious challenge I had to overcome,” he said.
“Many people forget I was an artist before I started producing. I started producing because I was bored. Friends of mine were like, ‘Oh, this is cool. Produce for me too’. That’s how I started producing, and then I discovered I could make some money from it in Lagos.”
He made his own singing debut with the track Nkechi Turn Up, but his breakthrough single was Container. This very catchy and sing-along track released in 2018 differed from what he had dished out earlier.
But 2020 was CKay’s breakout year despite a global pandemic. Love Nwantiti and its many remixes dominated the local and international airwaves. Celebrities like Justine Skye, Winnie Harlow, and Diddy commended the track. Afterwards, he was featured on Davido’s third studio album, A Better Time.
With a record deal from Warner Music South Africa, Ckay is revelling in his experimental expression of Afrobeats. However, everyone who has followed his career could argue that his Chocolate City days formed his development stage.
He has since grown and developed. This was displayed in one of his current tracks, Boyfriend. It’s full of soulful and ambient Afro-fusion. He now focused on telling blunt tales of romance through his music. He was blunt too on tales of his days with his former record label.
“I hear people say this thing about Chocolate City and development, but it’s actually untrue,” he said.
“It wasn’t a development contract. It was actually one where many things went wrong. I feel like I didn’t have creative freedom, mostly from my contract. I can say that the first project that I really had 100% freedom from was my first album, CKay the First.
“And that was when Chocolate City had a partnership with Warner Music. For instance, for the first part of my contract, there was a huge financial problem with Chocolate City.
“I wasn’t getting the promotion and PR I needed, so I had to jump into a street song, Container, which blew up on its own. That wasn’t my original sound. Still, I do not regret the song. It was a huge song.
“Street music, most times, does not need too much to become big. I was talented enough to make a song like that which blew up on its own, but it wasn’t my original sound. Chocolate City was definitely an opportunity, but it wasn’t a development for me.”
He was, however, full of praise for Warner Music.
“With Warner, there are literally no questions,” he said.
“I literally just bring the music, and they are like, ‘great, put it out!’. It feels amazing having a team of people that understand what you’re trying to achieve. The guys at Warner are really great people.
“From time, we have always had this great relationship, even before this contract. It wasn’t even an orchestrated thing. It is more like me doing business with people I have a great vibe with.”
CKay’s Career Timeline
2014 – relocated to Lagos
2015 – began working with Chocolate City
May 6th 2015 – released a promotional single Bad Musician Bad Producer
August 31st 2016 – officially joined the Chocolate City musician roster
October 23rd 2016 – Bad Musician Bad Producer’s cover by Kelly Joe was nominated by TNMA and earned CKay a special recognition
September 11th 2017 – released Who the Fuck Is CKay?
March 2nd 2018 – released Container, an Afrobeat record influenced by the South African gwara gwara dance style
July 6th 2018 – released the track’s music video.
August 30th 2019 – released his second extended play CKay the First. The album contained the hit track Love Nwantiti.
February 14th 2020 – he released a remix titled Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah) featuring Joeboy and Kuami Eugene.
November 13th 2020 – appeared on the song La La from Davido’s studio album A Better Time.
February 11th 2021 – released his third EP Boyfriend
May 4th 2021 – tweeted, “I’m NOT signed to Chocolate City. I’m signed to Warner Music South Africa.”
July 28th 2021 – received a Silver Creator Award from YouTube, with 100,000 subscribers.
August 6th 2021 – appeared on the song Beggie Beggie from Ayra Starr’s debut studio album 19 & Dangerous.
October 8th 2021 – became the first African musician to hit 20 million Spotify Listeners, with over 21 million monthly listeners on his page.
December 3rd 2021 – released Emiliana and By Your Side featuring Blxckie
April 1st 2022 – the music video of Emiliana was released and directed by Mosh. The song charted across Africa and Europe, reaching number 9 in France. It earned him his first top 5 ranking on the Nigeria TurnTable Top 50 chart
May 26th 2022 – Emiliana was certified platinum in France
May 24th 2022 – Ayra Starr’s Beggie Beggie earned him special recognition at The Headies in the Best Collaboration category
June 17th 2022 – released Watawi featuring Davido, Focalistic, and Abidoza
June 20th 2022 – became the second African artist to reach 1.2 billion streams. It was later surpassed by 200 million streams from Burna Boy, as the most streamed with 1.4 billion streams
August 18th 2022 – surpassed 100 million streams on Boomplay. It was given a golden club plaque to commemorate it
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CKay dubbed his sound Emo-afro beats to show that his music focuses on emotional and romantic lyricism. CKay has made tracks in various genres, mostly a fusion of Afrobeats, R&B, dancehall, Afro-pop, electronic music, and even interpolating classical music.
Over the years, his sound has become very experimental, particularly with Latin influences. Does one wonder about the rationale behind this?
“I won’t call it experimentation,” he said.
“It’s fusion; deliberate fusion. It’s me expressing all my experiences in the most melodious fusion I can create. I’m an avid listener of music, and I listen to a wide range of sounds. So, I guess when I’m making my music, a couple of those influences kind of show up in my sound.”
And he didn’t waste time in aiming another salvo at his former record label.
“Chocolate City did not contribute to my EP at all. They didn’t even want Felony to be released. I’ll still say it was an opportunity, and you know. They recognized my talent from the very beginning. I respect and appreciate that.”
Sad Romance (2022)
Way Ft. DJ Lambo
Oliver Khan Ft. BOJ
Like To Party Ft. Blaqbonez
Beeni Ft. Barry Jhay
Davido’s La La Ft. CKay
Nkechi Turn Up
Container Don Land
Love Nwantiti remix
CKay the First
Who the Fuck is CKay?
CKay’s Net worth
As one of Africa’s leading musicians, CKay has built a fortune in a short while from performing at shows, royalties generated by his discography, endorsement deals, and investments. His estimated net worth is $5 million.
CKay’s Houses and Cars
CKay spends his time between Lagos and South Africa. He owns choice apartments in highbrow neighbourhoods in both locations. He owns a fleet of cars in the garages of his homes.
The handsome Kaduna-born singer, also known by the nickname, Your Boyfriend, has a lot of female fans and admirers but he’s yet to single one out as a wife. But then, he’s said to be in a relationship with a lady based in Nigeria. Sorry, SA!
The Love Nwantiti crooner has a large following on social media. He has over 1.6 million followers on Instagram and 359k followers on Twitter. You can connect him via…
CKay’s biography can only reveal that he’s one of Nigeria’s leading musicians, having made his mark with commercially successful songs like Love Nwantiti and Boyfriend.
“I am Africa’s boyfriend because of the music that I make,” he says.
“The predominant thing in my life is love. That’s the one thing that I feel defines me, and I have experienced a lot of joys and pains in love.”
So, TikTok users should expect more songs like Love Nwantiti based on the same theme.