Updated: Mar 21
20-year-old Nigerian native G.P. Ekpendu brings music and motivation to the table. Raised in Philly, he uses his voice to uplift not only his listeners but himself as well.
G.P. Ekpendu sat down with Gaye Magazine's Latesa Lins and opened up about his long road to self love and respect while freestyling at his home studio. Join us as we go down memory lane with an LBGT artist who knows the importance of being in your feelings to get through life.
Latesa Lins: Thank You G.P. for meeting with us. First and foremost, happy anniversary! Your first album, “The Feeling” came out this time last year. How has things changed for you?
G.P.: To be honest with you, the album didn’t get a lot of promotion and it was kind of like a sample album. I was just saying what I was feeling at the time - literally recorded the songs in my bedroom. I used beats that other artist would sample and just changed it into my own version. Just singing what I was feeling at the time. I’m happy how it turned out but now the new album, “In My Feelings” it’s like a part two. I’m mature now, and I know what I want to speak on. I know what I’m feeling now, and I’m really in my feelings because I’ve been through a lot of relationships. Now I know what I’m gonna talk about
L.L: Both albums are about feelings but what will the difference be with “In My Feelings”?
G.P: That’s a great question, the difference is actually the genre. The last album was kind of like an R&B vibe, this album is a pop vibe. Not like Lady Gaga, but like Ariana Grande and Sam Smith. You're going to cry, especially on the last track. I made it so you can cry.
L.L: Well I’m excited to hear the growth, you mentioned using different beats too. Being from Philly how does that impact all of your sounds?
G.P: The only thing that impacted my sound being from Philly is just knowing that a lot of people are struggling and there’s a lot of pain. With that I just put it into my songs. Every time I go through something, I look at people and see how they’re feeling too & I just go to the studio and sing about that. I'm from Africa, born in Nigeria. So with that type of background, that type of energy, I look at life in a much brighter way. Music really changed me.
L.L: That’s pretty dope being from Nigeria. How is the LGBT community out there?
G.P: Well to be honest with you....you really don’t have a lot of gay people in Africa. Actually you do but not openly. If it’s openly you’re dead or you’re cursed, bullied or you’re judged. So me coming here and having freedom that I didn’t have back home…. (Moment Of Silence) …Every time I feel like I’m having a bad day it really makes me think, “hey you’re not really having a bad day it could be worse.” Anything I go through I put it in my music. Being gay and queer, it really opened my mind to a lot of real things in this world...not everyone as to except me. But you have to respect me. You got to respect that I’m still a human being.
L.L: I’m really big on respect too & speaking of songs, what’s your favorite track so far on your new album, "In My Feelings”?
G.P: Hmmmm…My favorite track is actually, “I Wanna Be” but also it’s “Me & U”. That one is really really personal.
L.L: Ohhh spill the tea, what’s so significant about “Me & U”?
G.P: Ha! Well actually I was in a relationship. It was like a secret and I didn’t feel comfortable with being in a secret relationship, but I knew if I came out it might hurt the other person or maybe just hurt me too and that’s why it was very very personal.
L.L: You also picked, “ I Wanna Be” as your other favorite track on your new album. Does it have anything to do with your collaboration with artist Jontavian Barber?
G.P: Yes because I really didn’t expect Jontavian to want to be on the song, but I’m thankful that he is. Can’t wait for everyone to hear it and see the new music video. I literally hit him up and he replied back the next day. I’m so happy how the song turned out. It’s very good, it’s catchy & it’s a lot of vocals. It’s kind of like a vibe song that you can actually dance along with and still be in your feelings.
L.L: I’m curious as to what artist influenced you to be in your feelings so much?
G.P: Actually Sam Smith. He really really influenced me. Sam Smith is like my idol, I listen to him every single day. Him just being who he is, I respect him so so much. I look up to him, he don’t only have respect as a queer but respect because of his voice and the way he thinks about himself. Then he really connects with the listeners. That’s how I want to be, that’s what I wanna do. I wanna connect with my listeners. Sam Smith inspired my new album.
L.L: I like Sam Smith too, and I’m excited to hear how he inspired your new album, which is coming out 03/18. How did the album preparation go?
G.P: The album actually was supposed to be released last year in October. Sadly my grandmother passed away on November 2nd and I wasn’t in a good mood to release anything. One of the songs on the new album, “Please Don’t Cry” is kind of a dedication to her. It’s like her telling me not to cry & so releasing it back then would’ve been painful. I feel like everything had a reason and that was the reason for me not to release it. So now I’m happy to release it this month. I’m in a good mood, a good mindset, good energy.
L.L: This is definitely perfect timing, and I’m sorry for your loss. Does your family play a big part in supporting you as an LGBT artist?
G.P: To be honest with you I’m not like out, out. I’m not out to my parents or my family but people that know me know that I will speak about gay things. But to my family, it’s disrespectful towards them. You know you got a respect them and if they don’t like it, I don’t talk about it. But I feel like sexuality it’s not who you are, it’s just what you like.
L.L: Would you consider coming out to your family at some point?
G.P: I mean straight people don’t go around saying, 'hey I’m straight' so why should I go around and say hey I’m gay? Unless I’m in a relationship with someone, of course I’m going to tell them that. But other than that, unless I want to do it then I can but I don’t feel like that right now. So I’m not out with my family. I’m also Christian so it’s a lot of bias and other things that they don’t like. But, I don’t really say anything out loud either. I just say it through my music and my listeners listen to my passion. If you don’t do what you really love regardless of what people say, then you’re losing a lot of peace, a lot of love. It took me a long time to learn that, and now I’m comfortable enough to put everything I’m feeling sexuality, Christianity…everything and show people that look like me this is how it can be done.
L.L: I think you’re doing a great job in showing people how it can be done. Like with your music streams steadily increasing as a rising artist. How does that make you feel?
G.P: So actually, I'm independent but I’m signed to UnitedMasters distribution company. So they help me to promote myself and push my music, but I do a lot of merch things for myself. My record label is Gpower.Records. I don’t have a big team or anything like that. I really do everything myself so seeing those streams, & that people really listen to it, it was really like…WOW. If you go back to the first song I ever released it is still on a thousand streams and I see why. It's because I really wasn’t feeling myself. I just wanted to release a song, but then I actually listened and got more comfortable with who I am and what I’m feeling.
L.L: Since you’re more comfortable this time around, how long does it take you to write your songs now?
G.P: Thank God you mentioned that because a lot of people asked me that, but every time I go in the studio I don’t write my songs, I write it as I go when I get to the studio. Any instrument that plays in my ear is what I feel. Like I said, I’m always in my feelings so I’m going to sing what I’m feeling at that time, then I might do a little tweak and fix some words here and there, but I do a lot of freestyle. I can honestly stay in the studio day and night because I have a personal studio at my house to write.
L.L: I like how personal you are with your music, what's one of the most impactful moments from your life you put in your music?
G.P: That’s a good question. One of the tracks on the new album, “When I’m Older” is actually that song. I released it in February for Black History Month and one of the lyrics was about police killing people. That really made me think about how a lot of things are different now. The lyrics say, “Look at our skin and see how beautiful”. I just want people to know if you’re white, black, pink, yellow, or whatever, see your skin as beautiful. Don’t care about what people think about you because once you know your skin is beautiful, then you know how to love yourself. Then you can love other people. People that don’t love themselves, don’t love anyone and that song was a freestyle. It was just a lot going on in 2020, George Floyd, transgender people getting killed, just crazy things.
L.L: 2020 was definitely a tough year for all of us but now things are getting a little better. With your album coming out March 18th, what song should listeners hear to get to know you a little better?
G.P: Welt, the first track me and my sister did together and it was actually the first original song on the album. “I will be there”. It’s like me opening up, all a cappella no instrumentals. My sister even joined me after I literally sent it to her when she was in class. So yeah that one. She harmonized with me on the hook.
L.L : So March 18th, we finally get to hear about all these moments, are you feeling nervous?
G.P: I feel great! I feel at peace. I feel happy because this album is like a diary to me, like a love diary. You will definitely get a lot of tea, a lot of hot tea….you guys just got to listen. I made sure that my vocals and my lyrics were really out there.
L.L: Well, it sounds like all fun and games with no challenges?
G.P: Well yeah but the most challenging part is that I’m independent so I gotta push myself or get people to push me. But first I got to believe in myself before anyone else can believe in me. Believe it or not I did have two major record labels come up to me, but I wanted all my masters. I didn’t want to sign to a 360. I’m good where I am. God has a reason for me to do what I’m doing.
L.L: What advice do you have for other Black LGBT artist looking to make it?
G.P: Believe in yourself. That’s it. Nobody believed in me. Some people still don’t believe in me because I’m still not up there like Nicki Minaj or Cardi B all those artists, even Sam Smith. I’m not on their level yet but I don’t have to be on their level yet for me to believe in myself. I gotta be better for me. When you believe in you, someone else will believe too, then someone else and then someday everyone will believe in you. Everything starts with you.
L.L: G.P you are absolutely right! Thank you for those last words of encouragement and for speaking with us about your new album.
G.P: Well, Thank you so much for having me. I love you guys. I love what you’re doing, so thank you for making this happen!
L.L: You’re welcome. I can’t wait for March 18th, I’m ready!