Singer/Songwriter/Rapper Teni Chats About Her Devoted Fan Base & This Year’s Afro Nation Festival

Teniola Apata, the talented singer/songwriter/rapper from Nigeria, knows just how important it is to stay true to yourself.

Through a combination of afrobeat, pop and rap, Teni the Entertainer, has tackled some difficult subjects in her music from rape in her breakout song “Fargin” to the unexpected death of her father. She doesn’t take herself too seriously all the time though as evidenced by the comedic videos she posts on social media that have garnered her more than three million followers.

We caught up recently with Teni to chat about her devoted fanbase, tackling difficult subjects through her music and what she is most looking forward to at this year’s Afro Nation Festival.

Photo Credit: Listen Up Music Promotion

With nearly three million followers on social media, do you think your authenticity is what first connected you most with your fans?

One thing I have always stood for is you cannot go far in life if you’re trying to be a photocopy of someone else. You have to be yourself and people will either love or hate you for it but there is nothing like being yourself. Whoever is going to connect with you will do do that. It’s great when people see you for who you really are and not what you appear to be like an illusion. It’s also great when you connect with people organically. My fans are like my friends. When I’m performing, it’s like I’m simply singing to an amazing bunch of people, who have seen me rise and grow and they are super proud of you. I love the support system they show. They fight for you even when you are not there. That’s what being authentic is all about and I am grateful to the fans for seeing me like that and accepting who I am. 

Tell us a little about your breakout song, “Fargin” and why you decided to take on such a difficult subject.

So, I grew up listening to the likes of Fuji and Highlife, and “Fargin” was inspired by legends from this genre. So I decided to a do a freestyle inspired by the lyrics of Adewale Ayuba’s ‘Omoge Cinderella’, added some King Wasiu Ayinde spice over an instrumental sample of Osita Osadebe’s ‘Osondi Owendi’. And it went viral, and I decided to drop it as a single tackling a subject which no one likes to talk about, but I felt it was important to sing about it from a woman’s perspective.

Are there other social issues in Nigeria that you hope to continue to expose through your music?

All the music I grew up on always had a message and I plan to tow that path. As an entertainer, I feel like it’s your role to educate, entertain and inform your fans and that’s what I plan to do with my music. There are a lot of issues I’d like to shed light on but I just do as the spirit leads most times. 

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Afro Nation, which lineup features Burna Boy, Chronixx, Sho Madjozi, GoldLink & Naira Marley? 

It would be great to witness a display of music, culture, different talents, food. To be honest, I can’t wait. 

Photo Credit: Samuel Martins/Afro Nation Portugal

Would you say you express yourself creatively though your own unique (fashion) style as well as through your music?

I just wear what I feel comfortable in and what makes me stand out. 

Just watching any of your videos, you exude such confidence. Have you always been self-assured?

As I stated earlier, I really feel like confidence is about being you and knowing your capabilities. 

Any times in your life when you lacked confidence?

Yeah, there were times where life throws a curve ball and this causes a little doubt, but I’m thankful for a great support system in my family, friends and team. 

What’s up next for you as an artist?

There is a lot going on. However, at the moment I got a new single on the way and the Billionaire Experience Tour in the UK, which will be at 02 Indigo. Really looking forward to an exciting year. Meeting new fans from different parts of the world.