Fiokee, a.k.a Iffiok Effanga, has been taking the African music scene by storm. In the past 10 years, he has played on more than 500 songs. He’s recently become one of the most in-demand guitarists of the year, with his unique and recognisable style being featured with acts such as Yemi Alade and Reekado Banks, as well as producing his own solo music that you can find on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. One of the things that makes Fiokee so successful is the ability to write guitar parts that really connect with the music, no matter what style. He’s great at collaboration, which is extremely important when it comes to African music.
Who is Fiokee?
Fiokee hails from the Nigerian state of Akwa Ibom and is the fourth of six siblings. Like many, his interest in music began from singing in the church choir as a child – he learned to sing Solfa notation with ease. His first guitar lessons came from a taxi driver, however, these were short-lived due to financial restrictions. Fiokee continued to play guitar though and mastered his own style and techniques that helped him become an accomplished player. His acoustic guitar technique, which is similar to finger picking a classical guitar, helped him quickly master a lot of the rhythmic afrobeats patterns, which do have some similarities to classical guitar playing. This gives his style a unique tone and quality. Fiokee’s dynamic musical career really took off when he entered a television music show called Star Quest — he won, playing in a group called Diamonds.
It is for his collaborative work that Fiokee gained his outstanding reputation for. He has worked heavily, not just on afrobeats music, but also in developing his own afrofusion style, that joins together hip-hop, jazz, makossa, R&B and highlife. Fiokee is particularly famous for working with Flavour, his music on the Thankful album was incredibly popular and in heavy rotation on YouTube. Fiokee has also collaborated with Tiwa Savage, Simi, Kiss Daniel and Yemi Alade amongst others.
What’s next for Fiokee?
In the last four years, Fiokee has been going from strength to strength. In 2016, he began his own record label, Fiokee Records and has put out a new catalogue of music through the label including tracks with DJ Coublon, Teni and Ric Hassani. He has said in interview how much the music industry is changing, particularly in Lagos, where instrumentalists are beginning to get as much recognition and respect as singers are. It shows that a good song isn’t just about the melody, but about the music and sounds that underpin it. Fiokee has also been working hard to gain the credit on tracks that he has played on over the years, gaining a greater understanding of performing rights, particularly in the UK and the US. Building his brand and marketing is key to breaking into the mainstream music industries in other countries.
When you hear Fiokee on a track, his unique tone and style of playing is instantly recognisable. It is certainly possible that he’s Africa’s best modern guitarist.