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The Innovative Past, Present & Future Of Afrobeats Star Tekno

As the night grows longer at Balneario de Carolina, there is still no sign of Tekno. Hours before the Afrobeats sensation is scheduled to perform at Afro Nation’s debut evening in Puerto Rico, I receive a text that Tekno, along with budding Afrobeats artist CKay, is on the same delayed jet. According to his manager, Mario, aka Rio, Tek is coming from Atlanta where he had linked up with Toronto producer WondaGurl. It’s one of the very first things I try to ask Tekno about when he arrives but he’s tight-lipped about it.

Hailing from Nigeria, Tekno’s work with A-list American artists is nothing new. His ability to whisk melodic harmonies and live instruments into something that sounds familiar and unknown at the same time is unmatched. Clearly, it doesn’t go unnoticed. In 2019, Drake and Swae Lee tapped in with him for “Won’t Be Late” and Beyonce infused The Lion King: The Gift with Tekno’s essence on “Don’t Jealous Me.” With the Afrobeats sound taking over the globe, more collaboration across nations is expected. However, a chance to be part of a Beyonce-anything is no small feat.

“Well for one, I didn’t meet Beyonce yet,” he reveals when he arrives. “It was just this camp in LA and we know everyone is coming here. This is the meeting point where we all meet together and make music. For me, as an artist, I freestyle music. I just literally went in there and listened to the songs they had. I really liked that beat. I did my thing on it and somehow, I made the album. There was no personal sh*t where I was involved with Beyonce or something. But hopefully, I will do that.”

Beyonce and Drake aren’t the only high-profile artists that are keen on the sounds of Tekno Miles. Grammy Award-winning musicians Elton John and Billie Eilish (who really loves Tekno) are entranced with his futuristic musicality, too. As an acclaimed, musical innovator of the current Afrobeats era, his colorful signature soundman-ship is a vibrancy that cannot be tamed — as it is meant to be admired.

“These people that you mentioned are people that are making music on the highest level,” he says. “They do their research, and as an artist, you listen to a plethora of sounds. These people are all saying that they like my sh*t? All I got to do is keep doing what I’m doing. It’s not like I try to prove a point to nobody. It’s a good thing to know this kind of people f*ck with your sh*t. I don’t have to come out and try and tell nobody, ‘Oh look, I’m the best. I’m this, I’m that.’ It speaks for itself.” As the saying goes: real recognize real.

During our interview, Tek relaxes on a small couch inside of his trailer, conspicuously adorned with a black Balenciaga tee with diamond-encrusted chains on top of diamond-encrusted chains, accessorized with a black and red Dolce & Gabanna bucket hat and dark shades. The small space is filled with people taking pictures, greeting each other, and buzzing with excitement. Eventually, Rio clears nearly everyone out of the trailer. CKay’s “Emiliana” can be heard booming across the festival grounds, which means Tekno is up next.

However, there seems to be a problem. The festival’s organizers are running out of time and wondering if Tekno will be available to perform tomorrow. The festival is getting clowned on Twitter for replacing Burna Boy with Rick Ross and now because CKay and Tekno were behind schedule due to the delayed jet. The organizers were stressed and pleading with Rio. Rio’s answer to them is a flat no so a rush to the stage commences.

Through the rain and midnight sky, the crowd is still packed. Explosive energy overflows from the audience, surrounding Tekno as he jams through a string of his popular cuts like his breakout hit “Pana,” “Mufasa” and his self-appointed North Star, “Skeletun.” Soon, the stress from the night washed away with the rain. The platform turned into a party. Randomly, Michael Blackson was all up on stage dancing and singing to every single song.

@uproxx

ngl #tekno is really the 🐐for pulling this off rain and all 🙌🏽🔥 @tekno miles #livemusic #afronation #pana #afrobeats

♬ original sound – UPROXX Music

“I feel like whoever is trying to get to know Tek more, I feel like you need to listen to ‘Skeletun,’” he suggests after the show. “Everyone got their preference and I have a plethora of music out, so they’re going to choose for themselves. But, I feel like ‘Skeletun’ is a good way to get in. It’s different. It’s unique. It’s one of the songs I made with my eyes closed.”

Tek also performs his melodic summer-ready vibe “Jinja” — which is part of a collection of free-spirited singles that are not tied to any specific project. Tekno is making music in freestyle mode, rather than working toward a full-length project. “[‘Jinja’] is another way of saying someone excites you or when you see them, they make you smile,” he said of the song. “Jinja can be however you decide to describe it. It could be like how LeBron James plays and it gives you ‘jinja.’ It depends on how you want to put it.” The song indeed gives “jinja” and should be a no-brainer add to summer playlists everywhere.

@uproxx

spotted @CKay + @tekno miles fresh off the @Afro Nation stage ✨🙌🏽 #fyp #afronation #ckay #tekno #teknomiles #afrobeats

♬ love nwantiti (ah ah ah) – CKay

Tekno’s exit from the festival is just as chaotic as it was getting to the stage. Loads of black service cars and sprinters are waiting for us to board them as we step off the stage. As we walked towards the black fleet, Tekno and CKay crossed paths. Quickly, cameras begin flashing to capture a special moment between two trailblazing artists representing the now and future of Afrobeats.

“That’s actually the first time I met CKay,” he told me. “We just literally flew to play the show. So if anything plays out in the future, we’ll let y’all know.” With Tek — if you haven’t learned by now — the music will come when it arrives. For now, he’s just giving the fans something to vibe out to, giving them “Jinja” — both the song and the feeling.