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Brian Soko – Keeping It African In The US

It is not every day that an African brother climbs the ladder of success and is celebrated internationally. Meet a 25-years old, Brian Soko who has become famously known for having panel-beat Beyoncé Knowles’ 2013 hit, ‘Drunk in Love’. The talented producer has been long coming, from the days when he was a hip-hop artist to finally making a decision to only focus on music production. But who is this young music genius making a remarkable mark in the international music industry?

Born in Chiredzi, Bulawayo Zimbabwe, Soko was first hooked into the hip hop movement through his brother, Prince whom he currently runs the Anashe Media Group – management, marketing and Production Company focused on the African music sector. After many attempts in the rapping game, Soko realised his passion was more into the beat-making than jotting lyrical content.

The talent didn’t waste any more time and before the dawn, Soko was already selling his beats online to generate some cash. After his family moved to America, after a brief stay in South Africa, the producer of note went on to polish his music production skills by studying sound engineering at Tampa in Florida where he graduated in 2012. It was during his studies that he saw fit to team up with other young talents who shared the same vision with him and this is where The Order – a four man music producer team came to life. The Order is made up of Soko, Andre Protor, Rasool Diaz and Kae Lou.

After collage, The Order were lucky enough to be discovered by Detai – a songwriter at Young Money Records, an imprint of Cash Money Records owned by brothers Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams. After this, the group started producing for big names such as Rich Gang, BOB, Nikki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Future and Drake to name but a few. Talking about his taste of success and how he managed to walk into the world stage, Soko said his plan of action was to team up with minds alike individuals to achieve his dreams. “Being part of a group is the smartest thing I did in this industry.

Working as a group has helped us grow because we have different talents and can delegate different tasks based on our different skills. Also, we keep each other focused and challenge one another to always do better than yesterday.” Even though the ‘Drunk in Love’ producer has no problem with those who do things solo, he reckon it’s a lot easier to get pulled down and lose focus when working alone.

Like those that have tasted success, jotting songs for A-list artists meant that the talent was now dinging with industry big guns – a turning point for Soko who would spend sleepless nights horning his production skills.

Shooting for the sky, the Zimbabwean born producer’s beat was picked for what has become famously known as Beyoncé’s ‘Drunk in Love’. This is the song that further exposed his production talent and also opened more doors for him. Come Sunday, 8 February 2015 along with The Order members, the four happily took to stage of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California to collect a 57th Annual Grammy trophy – Best R’n’B Song for the outstanding production work on Drunk in Love. The smashing hit also granted Soko to be honoured with another award at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards for Top R’n’B/Hip-Hop Song.

Accepting the Grammy award, Soko said: “I just hope the people of Zimbabwe are proud of me for this achievement and that this sends a message to young African creative professionals around the world that anything is possible if you work hard on doing what you love.”

In line with his future plans, the talent plans to continue producing in the US but also has established Anashe Media Group that focuses on the music, videos and entertainment in the African region. Already, Soko is hard at work in Africa filming a documentary which has been going on for the past two years and recording with the likes of Cassper Nyovest, and a number of Zimbabwean talents.

Keeping the hits coming, the producer also worked on the first compilation album by Young Money and Cash Money crews as the super-group Rich Gang. Soko is credited as a writer and composer of a song 100 Favors which features Detail, Birdman and Kendrick Lamar. As part of The Order, they produced the much acclaimed hit song, Tap Out of Rich Gang. As a producer and songwriter, Soko helped breathe life into ‘E.F.T’ by Chad (Formerly Known As Chad Da Don), ‘Phumakim’ of Cassper Nyovest, KO’s ‘Mission Statement’, ‘No Worries’ by Lil Wayne, DJ Vigilante – ‘Sgelekeqe’ and ‘Pretend’ by Tinashe. He also took part in producing albums such as Blacc Hollywood of Wiz Khalifa, The Pinkprint by Nicki Minaj and Teyana Taylor’s Maybe.

With all the accolade, Soko believes that working in the US as a music doctor has helped him grow his talent. “Everything in the states moves very quickly compared to Africa. At home, artists and labels tend to take their time and don’t have the same pressure compared to what the US artists and labels do. The US market is way more saturated and new music drops every day. Also in the states, they are very good at tracking and paying out royalties quarterly, I haven’t had much experience with royalties in Africa.”

Certainly, Soko is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with. With the long list of songs that he has jot, there’s no doubt that the producer is destined for greater things in the international music arena.

Touching on how he chooses to work with artists, Soko said it’s always about the connection and energy. “If I am excited about the artist and can relate to their music, then I will definitely work with them.”

After all is said and done, Soko is a proudly African music talent that believes that he needs to do his bit to help further uplift the Africa music industry. But it is through the lessons that he learned over the years a producer that keeps him grounded and see the need to help where he sees fit. “You can expect more songs from next year in the South African market and also Nigeria. In 2014 I did ‘Phumakim’, in 2015, worked on EFT, so next this year I’m planning to do a minimum of four or five songs in South Africa. You can also look forward to hearing my voice often as a featured artist.”

There’s no doubt that 2015/16 have been a great year for this Grammy award winner. At this young age, there’s only greatness that can be expected from the rising star. It is that obvious that the young producer is winning many hearts and has already established himself as a hit maker of note. We wish Soko best of luck going forward. It is people like him that continue to position Africa’s music industry in the global market.

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