‘Out of sight is out of mind’ might be a really popular saying, but it doesn’t apply in the case of 4Korners and his roots. Although from Trinidad and based in Canada, 4Korners never flinches when it comes to him expressing his love for Africa and her music.
“ I grew up with Caribbean music of course, but somehow I feel my ancestry is from West Africa. Because historically, it only makes sense that my family is from West Africa. I don’t know if my ancestry links me to Nigeria or Ghana, but either way, the music speaks to me because it’s in me,” said 4Korner who is the official DJ for the Toronto Raptors, an NBA team.
His real name is Kirk, but ‘4Korners’ came from him speaking into manifestation his desire to travel round the world. “I believe in vision boards and speaking things into reality. So I told myself that if I named myself 4Korners, I would see the 4korners of the world. I will travel around the world and do everything that I want to do. So far, it has been working for me.”
Over the years, 4Korners has been able to build for himself a reputable brand as a DJ and a lover of diverse music. As a DigiMillennials Original, we have interviewed him about his love for Afrobeats, his music journey and how he wants to leave a legacy that promotes black culture.
Have you always wanted to be a DJ?
Definitely not. I mean, I have always played music. I did piano lessons and competitions as a child. In school, I was in a band. I played drums, baritone and clarinet. I always played instruments. I had no interest in Dj-ing until I got to the university and I discovered nightlife, club culture and DJ culture. I discovered the party scene and how some of the DJs were becoming very popular. They had their own brand and it was such a big deal. That really spoke to me. I don’t remember music not being in the house. Music was always in the house.
So it was music first before the NBA?
Well, music was always there. Dj-ing came and then I got an opportunity to work with the Toronto Raptors because I was Dj-ing. They came across a DJ from the Miami heats called DJ IRIE, the only team that had a DJ. They liked the energy and they thought it would be good to have a DJ for their team, but they didn’t know anything about the Dj culture. It just so happened that one of the companies that I was working for at the time booked me for a DJ gig and someone from the raptors who was at the event loved how I was mixing the music from all corners of the world together. She had the idea that I was the right guy because at the games, it’s all kinds of people. You have to be able to satisfy everyone. You can’t just play Hip-hop or rock. You can’t just play any one thing. You have to be able to play everything.
“I want to be able to say that I created something or some things that will last forever and influence others to follow their dreams.”
Tell us about the creation of Ogwula.
First of all, I love Afrobeats. I was introduced to what is now known as Afrobeats about seven or eight years ago while on tour. Specifically in Dubai. Afrobeats was hot there. Artistes like P-Square caught my attention. A lot of DJs were playing their records. I just started digging deeper, learning about the music more and I fell in love with it. When I started making music, I had always tried to create sounds from everywhere that I have been influenced from. And as for Ogwula in particular, I was listening to a lot of Burna boy and I was like, let me make something that I can imagine Burna Boy being on. Actually, I was pitching that record to a bunch of artists, trying to build different versions. Some people were feeling it while some others weren’t. Then I had a relationship with the artist that is on the record, EverythingOshauN. He is Nigerian-Jamaican, but he lives in Canada. I sent it to him and he sent an incredible demo that sounded almost like a finished record, and I knew that was it.
As a DJ in Canada what are some of the challenges you face?
I faced a lot of challenges on the way to getting to the place that I am right now. Various challenges ranging from people not understanding what Dj-ing is, to trying to prove that what you are doing is a valuable asset to the music industry, to the nightlife culture. In Canada, especially earlier on, racism was a lot. There were many situations where I was told I couldn’t DJ in a club because they were afraid of the crowd that I was going to bring. Meaning they didn’t want too many black people. Thankfully, I worked through all of that and I have broken down a lot of barriers. I have established myself globally to a point that everyone now knows and respects what I do. So now I am working to help make it better for other DJs. Black DJs specifically. I am always trying to make sure they don’t have to go through what I went through while trying to come up.
Tell us about 4Korners and Friends.
4Korners and friends is a concept that I have always had in mind. I have always carried this with me that wherever I am Dj-ing or performing, if there are artists that I know in that city, I would like to have them hop on, or do a song during the party.
Are there African or Nigerian artists that you look forward to working with?
Too many! Not necessarily in any order, but Burna Boy of course. I really like Ayra starr. I love her music a lot. Of course, Wizkid. I would like to work with Buju who we now call Bnxn. I think he is incredible! I actually interviewed him on Instagram in 2020. That’s how we met in the first place. I don’t know mehn, too many! Tems, Mr Eazi. I did a remix of ‘Nobody’ by DJ Neptune featuring Joeboy, and Mr Eazi recently. An artist that I recently got put on to is Black Sherif. I have never gotten so many requests for one specific artist. I played one song at a game and now my DM on TikTok is crazy. Everybody wants to know the artist. I played ‘Second Sermon’ at a Raptors game and now everybody wants me to play ‘Kwaku the Traveller’. I mean, that’s one of the biggest stages that I play. At every game, there are like twenty thousand people there. Plus, on TV, millions of people can see it. I always make it a point to play a lot of black music. Specifically Afro music and Caribbean music. I wanna make sure that people always know what’s hot and what’s new. I mean, it’s my job.
At the end of the day, what will be the benchmark for fulfillment?
I mean, right now I am already fulfilled. I am doing what I love for a living. I make a really good living. Living and breathing music; I can’t think of anything more fulfilling. Living and traveling the world. Like, I am already blessed! But ultimately, at the end of my career when I look back, I want to be able to say that I created something or some things that will last forever and influence others to follow their dreams in whatever it is that they are doing. I just wanna make the world a better place through my music and through my energy. I encourage everyone to chase their dreams.
Itty can be caught studying African pop culture, writing about it or hosting a relationship podcast. When he's not doing any of these, then he's definitely at a bar, getting mocktail.