TroyBoi’s newest track started with a text. For the U.K.-born, Miami-based producer, that simple message opened up an entire continent.
Debuting exclusively on Billboard, “Mother Africa” is a stunning amalgamation of the complex percussion that’s made TroyBoi a favorite of the more sophisticated end of the bass scene, and traditional African singing that speaks to his own Nigerian heritage. He says it’s the most powerful song he’s ever made.
“The emotion in the vocals grabs you immediately and as the song progresses, it intensifies,” the producer tells Billboard. “I knew I had to match the energy of the vocals and go crazy with the production. There are moments in the track that you can’t help getting hyped about, because the combination of raw emotion and raw production undeniably slaps you in the face.”
You can get slapped in the face by listening to “Mother Africa” below. Here, TroyBoi talks about the song’s origins, how the track is raising money for a good cause and his own experience as a Black artist in the dance scene.
The vocal samples on “Mother Africa” are incredible. Where did they come from?
One of my good friends was booking a trip to Kenya, and the reserve of where he was staying had a promotional video with traditional music in the background. My boy Mike sent it to me and was like, “Look at this amazing place I’m going, and check out the background music, I can hear you doing something crazy with it!”
The whole video was breathtaking and true enough, the moment I heard the traditional African vocal chants come in, the hairs on the back of neck stood up and my creative juices were activated. I obsessively went to work on the track for the next 24 hours and sent the first draft to Mike. His response was, and I quote, ‘OH MY F–KING GOD, that drop is PHENOMENAL, I almost crashed my car, my heart almost came out of my chest on the drop!” I was so happy to do it justice.
How does this song nod to your own ancestry? Why was this the right time to make a track that does so?
This song means a lot to me as I am half-African, Nigerian. I harnessed a lot of my heritage into the music, especially the drums, which are one of my signatures and favorite parts to produce. It’s an honor to represent Africa and introduce these incredible traditional sounds into modern music. I made this song in May, but since then there’s been a lot of unfortunate events that have been happening all over Africa. I felt that this might be the appropriate time for me to provide healing, comfort and awareness through my music.
In the wake of the BLM protests, there’s been a lot of discussion about racial inequality and systemic racism within the dance scene. Have you experienced this racism as you’ve risen in your career?
I have been blessed to achieve what I have so far in the dance scene. However, I do feel there aren’t many Black headliners and have had moments in my career when I felt that I could have more than qualified to play on many stages, but was just not given the opportunity. This is why I focus on making what I do completely undeniable, so that color doesn’t matter.
How can white people in the dance scene be better allies?
More equality on festival lineups, more additions of Black artists music into the major playlists, and an overall sense of awareness to support upcoming and current Black artists.
Money raised from this song goes to Save the Children Africa. Why did you pick this organization?
We are donating a portion of the proceeds to Save the Children because they do incredible work to help children in Africa and all over the world who are in need of support. Children are our future, and they need to be protected. I am a very giving person and nothing satisfies me more than making someone happy. Being able to give back through my music and help change the lives of many children is a phenomenal feeling.