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On The Fringe: 3rty's Blend of "Herbal Music" Will Heal You

The multi-genre artiste's specially-brewed mashup of R&B, pop & Afrobeats aims to soothe souls, heal hearts & ease minds.

On the Fringe will attempt to tell stories of artistes who otherwise would not receive mainstream media’s attention due to the absence of representation or the necessary publicity. While some people are not as keen on discovery as some of us are, it is still essential to chronicle the rise of emerging talents that can create timeless records. Artistes covered in the series will be at differing stages in their journeys, but they will all be emerging acts somehow — either unto larger audiences or more niche ones.

3rty (pronounced thirty) makes music with many strong elements to it, a few prominent ones being Folk, R&B, and Afrobeats. Yet, it sounds like nothing else. It is unblemished by the constraints of trying to fit in, making it modern and timeless simultaneously. His features are the most apparent evidence of this fact. He applies these same qualities to songs with new-age singers like Jinmi Abduls and Dwin the Stoic, and they always shine through. His single “Feeling” is brazenly honest R&B with unexpected pop capabilities. He calls this unique blend of genres “Herbal Music” and claims the sub sound is a specially brewed mix that will ease minds, heal hearts and soothe souls. Using simple, natural language, melodies, and instrumentation, 3rty aims to create something that makes you feel both at home and at peace.

With his latest project, Blue Crystal, he touches on topics like familial love to basic decency. With well-thought-out ballads as his vehicle, he takes new and familiar listeners on a flight through his mental stratosphere.

We caught up with him recently to speak on the new body of work, his general outlook on life, and the reception it’s been getting.

Regarding his approach to music creation and development, he considers amalgamation a vital part of his process, and his derived sound is a product of this. He details his musical origins and some of the transitions he has undergone. “I knew I wanted to make Afrocentric music with a lot of soul. I found myself guided by the reactions of my listeners to my first few releases. Then I just continued to fine-tune my work until it had a general sense of direction. I started out making Afropop, Afrobeat, and Afro Soul Music. Those were the three main genres I began working with. Over time, as I kept working, my sound started getting more defined and blurred the three genres together with an easy-listening vibe that became what I call ‘Herbal Music’.”

“I would say I make music for people that have such busy lives and hardly find time to relax. All they need to do is just listen to my music and lean back, and they can find themselves at the beach under coconut trees with a bonfire going, and they can really relax.”

His lyrical and vocal techniques are some key areas he has developed since his early days. He says, “Between my last project and this one, I would say I have grown a lot lyrically and vocally. With the help of my producer, Jay Blakez, I have started to define my sonic vision and bring it to life more comprehensively.”

He details how being a working-class artist helped him hone in on the crowd he wanted to capture. “I would say I make music for people that have such busy lives and hardly find time to relax. All they need to do is just listen to my music and lean back, and they can find themselves at the beach under coconut trees with a bonfire going, and they can really relax.”

No amount of gratification will ever suffice for certain artists, whether it’s a stadium of people chanting their name and lyrics or an Obama co-sign. For 3rty, it’s in the little things that he finds validation. “Every time a stranger reaches out to me and lets me know how they have been affected by my music even when they are halfway around the word from me. That makes me feel like I'm fulfilling my purpose.” As an artist who was performing before the pandemic hit, he feels the same pain artists in that category do. “Fuck COVID,” he mutters frustratedly. “I have performed quite a bit and my favourite moment is when I feel that intimate connection with the fans, and I can sense that they are feeling what I'm feeling and expressing. I miss that.”

3rty is at the heart of a musical community in Lagos that pushes a soundscape few Nigerians are tapped into. He broke down his creative and collaborative process within and outside that community and how he likes to put his music together. “When working on a project, I start with the idea first and then start writing down lyrics. Over time, the lyrics continue to take shape in my mind even when I'm not actively writing, and when I have my lyrics, I go work with my producer to make the music come together. For collaborations, I either have part of the song ready and share it with my collaborator to add their part or invite them into the studio to rub minds and build the song from scratch. I’ve worked with Dwin, the Stoic, Jinmi Abduls, and D-Truce; we all have pretty good chemistry.” he shares. Speaking on the impact his last project Blue Crystal has had on his career and his lockdown experience, he says: “I believe it had a lot of personal impact; I think it helped me do some more experimentation as well as defining my sound more. At first, it was difficult to adjust, but over time, it helped me to double down and work on writing more songs and to finish working on my project.”

While he may not possess an extensive catalogue, he has managed to pass across his music’s uniqueness in his limited discography by touching on topics that are often disregarded in favour of more popular subject matter, effectively showing the need for diversity. The importance of this can not be overstated, and it is necessary to acknowledge the need for more dynamic voices like 3rty’s in a saturated market.

Listen to his latest EP, Blue Crystal below.

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