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Nigerian rapper Skales talks about his background, love for music and last album

“This is what I love doing and I don’t see me stopping any time soon just like my single says ‘am just gonna ‘feposi’.

Skales is a Nigerian rapper, singer, songwriter and businessman. He started writing songs in  2000 in Kaduna. His well-known songs include “Shake Body”, “Mukulu”, “Keresimesi”, “Komole”, “My Baby”, “Take Care of Me” and “Denge Pose”. He has recorded over 200 songs and collaborated with numerous artists, including eLDee, Jeremiah Gyang, Banky W. and Knighthouse.

Skales established his record label, OHK Music, after departing from Empire Mates Entertainment in May 2014. Skales’ debut album, Man of the Year, was released in 2015 and he followed up with The Never Say Never Guy in 2017.

In his latest album, Mr Love, released in 2018, he featured Tiwa Savage, Sarkodie, Afro B, Phyno, Cassper, Phyno, some of the best artists from the continents. In this interview with PAM, Skales talks about his background, love for music and his album, Mr. Love.

What inspired your latest song ‘Feposi?

Basically, it’s just me going towards a phase of nostalgia, where I am reminiscing songs that built me up musically, like songs I used to listen to as a teenager. So basically, it was just a way for me to afrobeatalize those songs. First of all, we started with me listening to ‘Kpo kpo dipo’ by Faze. I told Faze I have this idea, I want to infuse it into the song and Faze was like ‘oh oh oh,  do it let me hear’, so I did it and sent it to him, he was like ‘wow! this is dope’. ‘Feposi’ is just me going back to songs I grew up Listening to. 

It is interesting to hear about Face of Plantashun Boiz and the sounds back then, how much do you think things have changed since then?

I think the music thing has catapulted into a new level, you know, the barkeep getting raised every age and year after year.  I don’t like to compare, for the respect of craft and artsmanship but I will say it keeps growing.

Let’s talk about your single with Davido ‘Currency’ for have you two been working together on this, is it a one-off thing or we should be expecting more from you two?

I don’t know man, for real, it is just how the vibe goes. We’ve had several collabos together, so I just feel like it is a connection or something, but we have great respect for each other.

In your latest album, Mr Love, you featured Tiwa Savage, Sarkodie, Afro B, Phyno, Cassper, Phyno and other artists, you think that contributed to the dynamics of the album?

To me, that album was more like a love play,  that is why I called it Mr Love. It is also just me telling people, ‘I like this person’s work, I like that person work and  I like all kinds of music’. I feel like the album is a Pan African album because I featured artists from every part of the continent.

What was growing up in Kaduna like?

It was a fun experience, I was under the roof of my mother, I went to school there, Kaduna is musically inclined, everybody that knows Kaduna knows that the great musicians from Nigeria mostly have roots one way or the other in Kaduna or Jos, they have been touched by those places. For me, it was really fun, it built me musically because I was surrounded by a lot of great musicians, the popular ones,  the ones not known, and that really helped catapult my goals in music.

So do you think the music and the vibe coming out from Northern Nigeria is being under appreciated?

I don’t feel like it is under appreciated, I just feel it has to do with time. When it is your time, it is your time, when it is not your time, you have to keep trying. I just feel like maybe artists from the north need to put in more work as they say, ideas rule the world, they need to think of brand new ideas, think of things they can do that are not out there. The internet has made things easier now, it made the world a small global village, the world is now a small box and from anywhere, you can make things happen. 

You were working with Jeremiah Gyang and Jesse Jagz in Jos around 2007 and 2008, how did this period shape your career and music?

First of all,  it really inspires me because these people had more project that I used to bounce to every day,  getting to meet them and becoming friends to them was overwhelming to me but I got used to hanging out with them,  going around with them and making music with them. It was a learning process for me, these are people I feel like they are really great.

And after that, you moved to Lagos?

Yes, I moved to Lagos. I won a competition back then which I was crowned as the northern champion, then I decided to move to Lagos.

Do you think you will be where you are currently in your music if you didn’t move to Lagos?

Honestly, I really don’t know, but I want to say everything happens for a reason, you know.  If I didn’t make that move, maybe I won’t be here. If I decided to stay in Kaduna maybe I wouldn’t be known or heard,  maybe I would have stopped making music by now. To be real, as a businessman, I would say this is where the industry is, Lagos is where the music industry is. This is where different kind of trade happens musically, and every kind of trade happens here, so definitely, that is why I made that move and I don’t regret it at all. 

Talking about the business part of music seriously, you left EME to start your own label, OHK Entertainment in 2014 but you are currently signed to Baseline Music, can you explain the reason behind this?

Yes, I started my own label, OHK Entertainment,  there is no business that will prosper without good capital, which is something I did not have at that time, I just have a dream and plan, but there was no fund and then I got an offer from these people, we both agree and we both had a good time and I signed to them and it has been great so far. My record label still stands, we have been working, it’s just a matter of time.

Can you tell me more about your plans for the label?

Yes, definitely man. I want to make it one of the biggest things that have happened in Nigeria, but you know, they say everything is with time, there is no rush, so we are taking it step by step.

Who are some of your musical influences?

Number one, of course, have to be Kanye West, everybody knows that, if you know me, you know that I am a Kanye West fanatic, I really love him, I love everything about him, his idea, his creativity. There is also Jay Z, businessman, a great man, great musician, great rapper, and there is Drake, the list is long man but those are my top three,  Drake, Jay Z, and Kanye West, Yes.

For someone who started out rapping, was that switch to singing easy?

That is another confusion I am trying to shake, I didn’t start out rapping, I have always been singing, it is just that there is rap track that caught attention and after that, I was rapping, singing and doing everything. People just labelled me a rapper, but if you check it, all my hit tracks are not rap. Right now, I  label myself as an afrobeat artist.

If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?

I will probably be a businessman ‘cause I love money mehn, everybody loves money, I will be trying to make money by fire by force.

Were there any moments in your career that you felt like giving up?

Yes, there was a lot of moments, every time I want to, my team always inspires me and there is that fact that I am not just doing this music thing for money alone, it is something I really love. This is what I love doing and  I don’t see me stopping any time soon just like my single says ‘am just gonna feposi’. (Laughs).

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