When Manitoba Bisons running back Somto Anyadike isn’t producing touchdowns on the field, he’s producing and writing beats off of them under the alias of Kingsley – his given middle name.
Anyadike began writing music in 2014. His biggest musical influence was Kanye West, due to his versatility and willingness to speak openly on his tracks.
“[Kanye’s] not afraid to speak his mind and have his own thoughts. I look to him as a way to carry myself,” says Anyadike.
Up until grade 11 in 2015, Anyadike would travel to studios downtown, paying $50 an hour for professionals to produce his music. It didn’t take long for him to realize this wasn’t a viable long-term option.
“I wasn’t satisfied with the quality and the time that was put into my songs,” Anyadike says.
“I was 16, and [the producers] just looked at me like a kid who just wants to do music for fun and was going through a phase, so they wouldn’t really put the time into producing my beats the way I wanted them to be. Eventually I thought, if they can do it, I can do it too.”
Not long after, Anyadike had his own set-up in his basement, complete with a mic, interface, MacBook and speakers. He admits that learning how to mix and master his own songs wasn’t easy at first.
“That took a while. A lot of YouTube tutorials, and a lot of trial and error.”
Anyadike wasn’t alone in his musical ventures however. His close friend Ben ‘Lavi$h’ Tshibamba was also a writer and performer, and played a big role in motivating Anyadike to pursue such a venture.
In May of 2017, Tshibamba came through Anyadike’s studio with a track known as No Friends. He had recorded it at his house originally, so the quality wasn’t great, and he was going to scrap it. But Anyadike connected with the lyrics.
“[Ben] was talking about how some of the people in his life are fake, and how he’s been through ups and downs and how music is his only way out. I related to that personally,” Anyadike says.
“We’ve been through those stages in life where everything isn’t happy, and you can’t really trust people anymore. I always wanted to rap about something like that, so I was like, man I’ve got to be in this track, I really relate to this.”
Once the track was complete, the duo decided to take their partnership a step further, and make a mixtape.
“We’d been making music before we made the tape, so I was like, man why don’t we just work on a tape together,” Anyadike says. “We probably made 20-plus songs, and only eight of them made it onto the tape.”
Kingsley and Lavi$h released their mixtape Sweeter Life in October. It’s gained traction quickly in the local music scene, with numerous songs being played in the clubs.
“Hearing your songs played at the club, it’s unreal, especially when people start dancing to it,” says Anyadike. “You know you did a good job when people don’t just stand there.”
The tape offers a little bit of everything, from the sombre and reflective No Friends, all the way to the confident and cocky 40 Million. Anyadike and Tshibamba show their breadth as artists, with powerful vocals as well as impactful lyrics.
Another song that stands out for Anyadike is Show You, a track that offers a little taste of the duo’s culture.
“We wanted to bring out that African side of us,” he says. “Ben is from the Congo, I’m from Nigeria, and the Afro-pop style we really relate to, so we thought that should be on the tape too.”
Anyadike is currently in the process of debuting his solo album. His plan is to keep it local, with his brother and other friends helping on the production side. Based on the success of his first project, there’s no doubt that the name Kingsley will be well-known in the industry in no time.