#FlashbackFriday: “Fantastic Man” – William Onyeabor

Earlier this week Apple released a new, eye-catching commercial for their iPhone 7 Plus, illustrating the phone’s portrait mode capabilities. Shot in a black barbershop with the magical ability to transform the appearance of customers, the commercial is a fun, engaging watch. Other than the unique visuals, a strong component of the short is the background music which is, “Fantastic Man” by William Onyeabor, featured throughout the video.

For those of you who may not know, Chief William Onyeabor was a trailblazing Nigerian musician. Originally from Enugu, in Southeast Nigeria, William’s popularity as a musician began in the late 70’s and went on throughout the 80’s. During this time William Onyeabor proved to be truly ahead of his time by self-recording, printing and pressing his 8 albums at his Wilflims Limited printing press in Enugu. Other than William’s business acumen he also proved to be ahead of his time with his actual style of music. William’s Onyeabor’s music is truly one of a kind, featuring heavy synths in a time that African musicians had not yet started incorporating this sound. William’s sound is as funky as it is futuristic, and yet it still infuses traditional elements of Nigerian music. His sound is so unique that it sparked a new wave of interest in the 2000’s which led to the highly ranked compilation album, Who is William Onyeabor in 2013. This album, in turn, helped to spark Noisey’s excellent Fantastic Man documentary on the elusive figure that was William Onyeabor.

William died earlier this year at the age of 70, on January 16th. Honor his memory by learning more about the genius that was William and his music.

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