Feeling like you belong somewhere is so important – especially for people living in the diaspora. And music like almost nothing else, has the power to create a sense of group identity. That’s where SMADE comes in. He’s giving people a platform to connect through Afrobeats.
SMADE, originally Adesegun Adeosun Jr., brings the very best in music and cultural experiences to the African and Caribbean community in the UK.
In partnership with the African Diaspora magazine, we were delighted to speak to SMADE about his life, music projects, and challenges he faced along the way.
More about SMADE
Now 34-years old, this musical Nigerian has made a real name for himself as a foremost Afrobeats promoter and the CEO of SMADE entertainment. Also, co-founder of Afronation, the largest urban music beach festival in Europe, he's doing a wonderful job at connecting people in the diaspora via music and events showcasing African culture.
"SMADE means self-made: becoming successful by one's own efforts. It's funny because my full name’s initials also spell SMADE. I adopted it from my dad, and later realised it means so much more.”
Growing up in a strict household, SMADE stayed away from alcohol and partying. Then at the age of 14, he moved to the UK to study.
His time at college was a real defining moment in his future career. He organised a few parties for his friends and later started exploring clubs with them – despite not being a party person himself. And that's when he spotted a business opportunity in the vibrancy of the UK nightlife.
His chosen career might seem contrary to his upbringing, but SMADE's parents have been nothing but supportive of their son.
"My parents are proud of me. They taught my siblings and me that we need to find ourselves and be great in whatever we do. I remember my dad once came to a club night at Guvnor Bar by surprise. He's also been to a couple of my big shows, such as Olamide Live and Davido Live, and I am grateful for the support."
What is SMADE Entertainment about?
Since being founded ten years ago, SMADE Entertainment has sold out festivals and concerts all around the world. It’s also hosted recurring events in popular African night clubs in London – such as Afrobeats in the city in the Club Aquarium.
With a mission to deliver the best possible African entertainment, SMADE has worked with names such as Wizkid, Yung Bxne, Fuse ODG, or Eddie Kadi. But he doesn't stop there – one of his passions is discovering new artists and giving them a platform to showcase their talents and kickstart their careers.
"It's exciting to work with people that are so diverse. They all need something different but work towards the same goal – which is spreading the African culture worldwide, and making sure that people enjoy their shows.”
Despite becoming one of the best Afrobeats promoters in the world, he still remembers his first shows as vividly as if it was yesterday.
"I started the Club Nights in 2007. I did a few shows with other promoters like Cokobar, or D'banj. The first and second Afrobeats Festival took place at HMV Apollo with P-Square and Wizkid. But my first big independent show was Davido 2013 at the IndigO2. It was amazing. I was so grateful to God that he had got me through it all. That was the real start of what we do today.”
SMADE's take on Afrobeats
Music was a big part of SMADE's life. "Afrobeats found me, not the other way round.”
His father was an Afrobeats enthusiast, so SMADE was raised on a constant musical stream of the likes of Fela, Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Ade, Sir Shina Peters, and Ayinde Barrister.
"Afrobeats is so unique – its great sound is our biggest advantage. We may be behind other genres in terms of size and reach, but we are coming up. I believe Afrobeats is the fastest growing genre outside of hip hop. The world is getting to know that Afrobeats exists. Our main challenge is reaching a wider audience."
The challenges along the way
SMADE entertainment was established in SMADE’S early 20s. But as many new businesses, he faced challenges along the way.
"There were times our club nights and concerts didn’t make any money at all or even made a loss."
Another challenge was finding a reliable team of hard-working people who share the same vision. Luckily, he's now backed by a great team.
"I don't think I’ve successfully made yet because there is so much more I want to achieve. I believe being self-made is about continuous development," he says.
Now a high-profile entrepreneur, he's battling the same challenges as everyone else. His main challenge is balancing family and business.
"Being a business owner takes up a lot of time. It's like raising a child. So, I have to try and make time for everything – my family and the business," he said.
"I can't give away all my secrets as to what makes me tick, but I love spending time with my kids; they are the funniest people I know. They make me happy. They also love Afrobeats, and we often dance together. They are always teaching me some new dance moves!"
The support of the African Diaspora
The African diaspora has proved to build a great support system of SMADE's efforts.
"The future for SMADE Entertainment is to keep giving the people in the diaspora what they want, to keep connecting them with their favourite artists. We have now started doing festivals — the first one in Portugal and the second one in Ghana. We plan to take it worldwide! Continuously. Yearly. We seek to unify the culture and music we promote."
"Of course, there is always room for improvement, and I think we are doing well right now because everyone is interlinked. From TV, fashion, music, and sports, we are all supporting each other."
"My advice to all Africans, who have a dream or vision, is to start somewhere. There may be people doing the same thing, but if God has given you the vision, do it - start! There can't be another you; nobody can do it as you can. So, believe in your dreams. Dream bigger, be patient, and work harder every day!"
WorldRemit shares his passion for building bridges for people in the diaspora.
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