Lovin’ the crew
Childhood bond, talent propel R&B group Nuzzcrew to campus success
Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 22:12
It’s a brisk weekday afternoon and junior biological sciences major Uwaoma Silachi is relaxing in his apartment at the Villas at Chestnut Ridge. As he opens his MacBook and plugs in his keyboard, he explains he’s not really in a music-making mindset, but creating songs isn’t necessarily something he can get away from.
It’s an art form that has been built into him since he was a young talent in his Bronx church choir. Creating pleasant instrumentals, singing those ethereal vocals and his poetic lyrics isn’t his job – it’s his stress reliever.
So it wasn’t a surprise when Silachi composed an entire instrumental in about 20 minutes. He started by quickly making a melody on his keyboard, even though he said he never had formal training with the instrument. Then the percussion kicks in with the effects following right after, and soon, Silachi has a well-crafted beat on his hands. But the ambitious artist said this beat is only a start – a foundation – much like the current hype for the music group he’s a part of, Nuzzcrew.
Nuzzcrew, an R&B/soul group from the Bronx, is composed of Silachi; his lifelong friend and cousin, Nnabu Eric Enyia, a junior pharmacy major; and Justin Johnson, a Sanford-Brown College graduate. Together, they’ve accomplished what many other college artists haven’t.
Many in the UB community have praised Nuzzcrew’s amiability and raw musical talent, which is apparent through the 1,015 likes its Facebook page has gained.
In addition, Nuzzcrew can claim something few college musicians can: they have hits. “Don’t Die On Me” is the trio’s most well known song and it has earned well over 35,000 views on YouTube. “Mysterious Girl” – a song that borrows the instrumental from Rick Ross’ popular “Diced Pineapples” – is receiving coverage from Cleveland radio station Z107.9 and is also a hit with local fans.
But Silachi and Enyiaare still hungry. To them, their current accomplishments are only a start.
“Who we want to be and where we are now are nowhere close,” Silachi said. “If I don’t see the buzz, if it’s not in my face, there is no buzz.”
Enyia and Silachi aren’t the type to flaunt their talent. Both carry a humble and quiet personality, which juxtaposes their larger-than-life vocal performances.They don’t crave to be the center of attention, either; Enyia’s only performance at UB was at an open mic night at the Perks coffee shop in Ellicott Complex.
They’ve had this calm demeanor since they were boys in the First Igbo Seventh-Day Adventist Church in the Bronx. Silachi and Enyia were the first youths to join the small church’s choir.
They were soft-spoken, but Akunna Chika-Akogu, the church’s youth director, remembers their performances had the power to inspire.
“They’re all right. They’re quiet, but when they perform, it’s different,” Chika-Akogu said. “If you see them in church or the events we go to, they look really quiet and really soft-spoken – like they can’t hurt a fly. But when you see them perform – when those kids perform – oh my God. It’s something else.”
It was as if their voices were nothing short of angelic. Silachi and Enyia were tenors in the choir (the highest-pitched male voice), which was a very important position because of the small size of the church. However, the cousins filled the job well and encouraged other youths to join the choir with their performances, according to Chika-Akogu.
Silachi and Enyia grew along with the church’s size. After spending years singing as a proclamation of their faith – and their love of music – the duo was able to take part in a landmark event for the First Igbo Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
In 2010, the church was chosen to be a representative in General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists – an event held every four years that features performances and lectures from churches worldwide. The cousins were the only youths in the choir to perform.
“It was the very first time the church got invited, and it was the very first time any youth from our church was part of something that big,” Chika-Akogu said.
The church’s appearance at the conference marked the high point in the relationship between the lifelong friends and the church. But like right after a fire’s peak, Chika-Akogu said, the bond started to decline as the duo went off to college.
The Nuzzcrew members didn’t completely sever their ties with the church in the years since they’ve moved on.They still sing at choir recitals when they get the chance and even performed at the church over Thanksgiving break this year.
The church, like music itself, is an important part of the cousins’ way of life. In fact, they said they’ve been able to remain humble in the face of hype because of prayer.
High school and Blessed
Enyia and Silachi were recognized as incredibly talented vocalists in the church. In high school, they were regular students – or “chillin’,” as Enyia calls it.
Enyia became more known for his athletic abilities at Saunders Trades and Technical High School in Yonkers, N.Y. He specialized in the 400m and 800m races in track and field. Silachi was somewhat known for his singing ability, but it was average compared to the other talents at New Rochelle High School.
“I wouldn’t lie. I wasn’t the best singer in the school. There was people who can really, really sing in the school,” Silachi said. “I was up there, though, but because of the fact there were people that can really, really sing, they looked at me like, ‘He could sing, but he’s [OK].”
But Silachi continued in his musical endeavors. He took advantage of a Mac laboratory in his high school to teach himself how to produce instrumentals. At first, he started experimenting with GarageBand (a popular music application found on Mac computers) and started recreating popular songs, like “I’m ‘n Luv (Wit a Stripper)” by T-Pain.