Last week, short clips branded EDashMan, of the global music sensation Drake (and that is putting it mildly) singing covers of Nigerian hit wonders Burna Boy, Asake and Wizkid started trending on social media.
The clips had come from the deep cult corners of the internet where rising musicians, producers and managers waiting for their big break gather around to exchange cryptic banter and trade insider gossip about the umpteenth gatekeeper of the music world that had done them dirty.
The inhabitants of these corners largely spend their time posting and reporting their works, debating internally with themselves what might go viral on TikTok or what could be so bad it might end up a good subject of a Naija PR post asking followers to guess the celeb years later after fame had met them.
It was from this circle that the little-known producer who goes by EDashMan had been bombarding the internet with his AI-generated covers laced with familiar melodies by Drake. By Sunday, he had attracted over 500k views on TikTok alone.
EDashMan’s journey in music and AI
Growing up, he was a bit of what you might call the music guy with dexterity with drums, piano and guitar. “I used to play the drums, piano and guitar but stopped after school,” he told Technext via email.
Then he found himself in the labour market where his skills with musical instruments are not the first items on the calling cards. So he decided that he would spend his time making beats.
“I felt like it would have been a waste to completely stop after all that time so I wondered how I could somehow merge everything together, and that’s when the idea of producing popped into mind. Since then I’ve never looked back,” he said.
Read also: How streaming algorithms have become Afrobeat’s biggest gatekeeper
He studied computer science, so when the AI craze started, it was right up his alley. When contentions started about how AI would affect music and music-making processes, he threw his hat into the ring with his covers. “AI has always been a huge interest to me,” he said. Then he dropped his first cover. It was Kanye West singing Gabzy x Melvitto – 4 Nothin’. “I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” he said.
Kanye West, who now goes by Ye, was not a good choice. In EDashMan’s words, it was “so bad that I scrapped it.” Then he tried Drake with Burna Boy. It wasn’t up to his standard but he posted them anyways.
“I didn’t think much of it though. I felt like it could potentially go viral but I was honestly just posting for the fun of it,” he said.
Then they went viral. “The views started rising slowly and I didn’t think it would go far but then it started jumping like crazy…Next thing I know it’s all over Instagram and Twitter,” he added.
What are his secrets? How does he make these covers? He won’t say. In part, he says he wants to protect his secrets, keep viewers coming to him for one, where fans hold vigils in his TikTok comment section waiting for the Drake covers of Omah Lay. But he also says it’s part of standing in solidarity with “the community.”
“I’m just respecting the wishes of the community,” EDashMan said. “Right now we’re witnessing the worst of AI. Developers are still working on it and the public will know how to do it when the developers are happy with the results. The average person may find it quite difficult to work with,” he added.
As AI-generated covers have gained more popularity, debates about copyright laws and the dangers of unbridled artificial intelligence activities have taken centre stage in the music world globally. The TikTok user Ghost Writer posted a song he produced, Heart on My Sleeve, made with AI-generated vocals of Drake and The Weeknd. The song has been streamed almost 20 million times. It has resulted in critics of AI calling for stricter restrictions on the use of AI.
The music game is about to change
But EDashMan says there are aspects of AI that will be game-changing for the music industry in the future.
Now, his focus is more AI-generated content and more music beats, spending some time in the studio working with artists, dropping what he hopes will become jams.
“More funny AI content that’s for sure. I post beats as well, they’ll be more of that and right now I’m just working with a range of artists and producers expanding my network,” he said.
Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!