From high-profile collabs to cutting-edge tech, how LeriQ is lifting up Nigerian music

August 8, 2023 | By Deborah Lynn Blumberg

LeriQ has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Justin Bieber, Coldplay and Diddy.

But the Grammy-winning artist’s first creative spark came from the sights and sounds of the southern Nigerian state of Akwa Ibom, where he grew up experimenting on an old keyboard. LeriQ would spend hours tinkering in his home music studio, creating beats for friends and family. His sound evolved into an eclectic mix of African rhythms and pulsing electronic dance music.

“Living in Nigeria gives a lot of inspiration,” LeriQ says. “What I see and what I hear on a daily basis affects my music, because it’s a direct representation of what I’m feeling, where my head is at and what I’m trying to create.”

By the time he hit 17, he was getting paid for his beats. Then, while LeriQ was on break from university, fellow Nigerian music maker Burna Boy asked to record at LeriQ’s home. The two shared an instant connection, dedicating two weeks to making music together. Soon both artists signed on to the same record label.

Now the Lagos-based LeriQ spends his days producing music for artists around the globe while also creating his own songs. He released his debut album, “The Lost Sounds,” in 2015, and his second studio album, “The Lost Sounds 2,” will be released soon.

Technology has always been integral to LeriQ’s creative process. For example, the record for which he won the Best Global Music Album Grammy — Burna Boy’s “Twice as Tall” — was mixed over Zoom during the pandemic. “Software, plug-ins and new apps have really cut down on the time it takes to mix a song,” he says. “They’re helping producers work faster and better.”

In recent years, LeriQ has become fascinated with NFTs and how they can help artists connect more deeply with their fan base. He started African Valuables Collective, in which African creatives generate and sell their own NFTs. His Ghost Diamond NFT gives holders access to new LeriQ tracks. His hope is that NFTs will expand the reach of African artists, bringing more African creativity to a global audience.

“I’m a big fan of NFTs,” says LeriQ. “They’re very direct — you can see how your fans feel and you’re able to tell a lot from the interaction.”

Now, as one of five artists in the Mastercard Artist Accelerator — an initiative that helps independent artists harness the community-building power of Web3 — he’s pushing his musical innovation even further.


Building on his early interest in using technology to manipulate sound, LeriQ has learned how to use the AI tool WarpSound to create melodies he can build on. Each Accelerator artist  tapped into the AI technology to create an original song released in July as an NFT in conjunction with a showcase presented by Billboard, and LeriQ has been enjoying the reaction of fans.

“That will shape next endeavors if we’re really going to build on this NFT space,” he says. “I envision an ecosystem where music fans and NFT fans are all intertwined.”

Deborah Lynn Blumberg, contributor