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Interview: Bella Shmurda Levels Up on High Tension 2.0

Bella Shmurda real name Ahmed Abiola Adebiyi garnered mainstream prominence a year ago when he released the remix to the street anthem “Vision 2020” which features his idol Olamide. Often heralded as the new “King of the Streets”, this record could be described as the coronation of a new king by a reigning vanguard.

Bella Shmurda further cemented this enviable position with his critically acclaimed debut compilation project, an EP titled “High Tension” and the colossal hit single “Cash App” featuring Zlatan and Lincoln, one of the biggest Nigerian songs of the year 2020.

Off the back of his recently released sophomore project aptly titled “High Tension 2.0”, Unorthodox Reviews caught up with the fast-rising star as we touched base on his come up, the inspiration behind his latest project, and his overall artistic evolution.

1. Let’s dive straight into the new project. “High Tension” was critically acclaimed, so what was your mind-state going into “High Tension 2.0” off the back of that success, and what is the reception you were expecting from the fans? 

I have been doing a lot of features lately, so on “High Tension 2.0” I just wanted people to listen to pure Bella Shmurda, no mixed feels… you understand? I just want the people to enjoy the conscious Bella Shmurda sound in another dimension. And all I’m expecting is just pure love from my fans and I am getting it, “High Tension 2.0” is getting a lot of love and acknowledgment, so we are good, we are moving!

2. Your sound resonates with the youth. What would you say is your philosophy in life that makes you achieve such a powerful impact through your creative work?

My philosophy is simply recognizing the reality of good and bad, right and wrong, black and white, the right and the left… you understand? And I feel like I should inspire people with my music because we have a lot of less privileged people out there. So at least if it is through my music, they could have a voice then I think I should do it. So majorly, I just want to motivate people, inspire people, and enjoy the vibe while it lasts.

3. What makes Bella Shmurda stand out from other artists?

I would say I am a voice for the voiceless. I have been in that place before. I have been in that less privileged position. So, I think I am just here to awaken people, to inspire them. So that’s what I am here to do, to awaken people, to give them conscious sounds that they’ll enjoy.

4. You just mentioned you have once been in that less privileged position, what would you say was your biggest challenge coming up, aside from financial constraints?

While coming up I had this inferiority complex of a sort, and it’s because when I looked at myself sometimes, I felt like a nobody amongst people. So, I had to work hard on myself to overcome this hurdle as someone who wasn’t balanced with life.

5. What are your thoughts on the Ghanaian music scene? Who are the Ghanaian cats you listen to, have linked up with, and generally vibe with?

I have Efya, she is my good friend, same with MzVee, Kelvyn Boy, Larruso, Shatta Wale… you understand? For me the Ghanaian music scene is big! All the Ghanaian artists are doing well. And the fact that Ghanaian and Nigerian artists are constantly collaborating is another good thing. I for one already have a collab with Shatta Wale, and Efya too already. Ghana is doing well; Nigeria is doing well… everybody’s shining.

6. Who are you inspired by musically?

Back then I listened to a lot of contemporary African music, the Fuji acts, the Juju acts, and also to Baba Fela (Fela Kuti) with the Afrobeat sound. These were all major inspirations. Listening to them, their conscious sound awakens you and gives you another spirit. In more recent times we have the likes of Baddosneh (Olamide), shouts to him, we also have the likes of Oritse Femi. These people also did well and are my inspirations. They put our music out there, and I perceive myself as a predecessor responsible for taking it to the next level.

7. At what point in your life did you decide to take music seriously?

Being an educationalist, at a point, my mom never liked this music thing. I however kept at it till she started vibing to it like she started singing my lyrics unconsciously… you understand? So, at that point I felt like “man I think this is working”, cause for my mom to be enjoying it, then it must be that good. This spurred me on to take my music even more seriously… writing, going to the studio, and all of that. She still had issues though, but for me to see her and the rest of my family vibing to my music was such a turning point.

8. I have had the pleasure of listening to both your projects and even though I love “High Tension” to bits, I must say, I believe High Tension 2.0 is indeed an upgrade in terms of overall growth with regards to your artistry. Would you agree with that? And if you were to choose between the two, which one will you pick?

Both projects are my hard work, they are my sweat… you understand? “High Tension 2.0” as you are saying is a better Bella, a more experienced Bella, a Bella who is now aware of some things. So, for me, I think I will have to agree with you. But at the same time, they are both my projects, and they are both doing well, so we give thanks to God.

9. You have already worked with some of the biggest names in African music. But what will you say is your dream collaboration?

Well working with people like Baddo (Olamide) is a dream come true so big ups to myself (laughs), and shouts to Olamide Baddo! I have other artists I like outside Nigeria, the likes of Nasty-C, I like him so much, and Post Malone, I love Post Malone too from the US. So, I guess I’ll just have to keep working, someway somehow, I’ll connect with these people, and we’ll make some good music.

10. What was does the future hold Bella Shmurda in the aftermath of “High Tension 2.0”?

So basically, with “High Tension 2.0” I just want to give my music out to people for them to enjoy, for them to stay awakened, for them to live! And in the next few years, I see a better Bella, a bigger Bella, a stronger Bella in different facets of life.

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