Who Is DJ YK? Meet The TikTok Star Powering Nigeria’s Street Afrobeats Scene
In 2019, a catchy melodic instrumental hit social media platforms in Nigeria.
A year later, it emerged as a groovy soundtrack during lockdowns induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, and afterward on dancefloors, across parts of Africa and the African diaspora.
Simply titled Dance, the beat had no vocals. It indisputably bore the marks of Nigeria’s blossoming Afrobeats music genre but an overwhelming majority of those who liked it had no idea who its producer was. Until November 2019 when its creator, Lagos-based Olayinka “DJ YK” Lawal, uploaded a street dance video for it on YouTube.
The virality was evidence of the enigma of 29-year-old Lawal, a relatively unknown act in the mainstream Nigerian music industry but one with a massive presence on Instagram and TikTok.
He also has a large following in the street music scene across Lagos, the continent’s de facto entertainment capital.
The Globalization Of Afrobeats & DJ YK’s Influence
Last summer, “Essence,” a song by Nigerian superstar duo Wizkid and Tems, peaked at the ninth spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and “Love Nwantiti” by their compatriot CKay became the most Shazamed song in the world.
Those moments, alongside the 2021 Global Music Album category win at the Grammys by another Nigerian, Burna Boy, are seen as seminal landmarks of Afrobeats and its arrival on the global scene.
And if we scrub Afrobeats of its Western-approved sheen, Lawal is one of its powerful engines. His producer tag – “DJ YK Mule” echoes across Lagos alongside his catchy beats. DJ YK is powering many parties on the streets.
On social media, DJ YK’s influence is huge. The hashtags #DJYK and #DJYKbeats have 14 million streams and 50.5 million streams respectively on TikTok. On Instagram, he has an average of 50,000 views on his reels.
His beats have become the soundtrack to viral challenges on both platforms and YouTube. Popstars Naira Marley and Ice Prince have also given him shout-outs on social media for his influence on today’s sound.
Is DJ YK Currently The Most Popular DJ On The Streets?