Meet rapper on that "9 to 5" grind nurturing his music ambitions

The witty lyricist is one act to look out for as he patiently waits to take his rightful spot in the Nigerian music scene.

He gets talking about his love for the music art and everything in between.

The multi-talented lyricist has been writing songs and performing them from his university days.

He recalled starting off recording a cover of Jay Z’s ‘Run this town’ on his laptop just after leaving secondary school, an effort which a fellow artist saw in him and encouraged him to head on to the studio, which saw both artists share studio session costs.

Getting some resistance from family about the music path not going to lead anywhere, Shakez got discouraged for a while, but the love for the art got him back up.

Hip-hop was a brewing culture in the University of Nigeria Nsukka, (UNN) Enugu, the eastern part of Nigeria, where he gradually built his confidence doing music. Shakez talked about how he would be spitting in Queens English sliding in a bit of pidgin when everybody other musician was going in with their native Ibo tongue.

An engineering student graduate with a second class upper, Shakez in 2014, to sort of summarize all his experiences in the university released a mixtape titled “CollegeBoy Fame.”

Outside of school, Shakez decided to get on with a “9 to 5” white collar job, to support his music dreams, and tried to balance both endeavors.

He also sees the job as an experience and inspiration to get stories out for his music.

Shakez is currently an indie artist and his own manager owing to not having yet found a structured label and management.

In 2017, he released the smash single 'Sauce' produced by Seven, which he has performed at notable events such as The 90's Baby Sound Off and Lucid Lemons' Curd 2.0.

The rapper packs quite an energy during his performance, as he demonstrates his witty lyricism and wordplay.

Shakez talked about the demands of the white collar job and how it hasn’t afforded him the time to be present in the music scene as much as he thinks he should be. According to the lyricist, he believes people in the music industry will respond to you when they get to see you more.

He does end up going for music events after closing from work in a suit and tie, so much that they call him the guy with the suit and tie, and then we joke with him about that possibly becoming his brand – “The artist with the suit and tie”.

Shakez listens to a lot of music ranging from rock to reggae and Afrobeat, referencing Lagbaja as his favorite Afrobeat icon because of the way he used the vocoder on the Afrobeat tune ‘Gra Gra’.

‘I try to listen to a lot of music because you never know where the spark may come from.” he says.

On the reception of the new and emerging acts, Shakez feels the older guys aren’t showing a lot of love to the new ones if they are not signing them, so when he sees these new guys like the 90’s baby artists not conforming to just one sound, he is inspired.

“Don’t be like the old guys, learn from them, we are the new face of the culture, let’s help each other bring it up,”

“We are making the kind of music we want, so it’s not like we are trying to conform, we are putting out the positive vibes, even the negative ones, because there’s someone we can relate to,” Shakez remarked.

“We are not waiting for them to put us on, people are organizing their own shows, growing the fan base organically as opposed to paying someone to generate some spam followers and I feel that’s important asides the music being dope,” he added.

Shakez describes his music as life, how he feels, and talked about how he can always trust the music.

“Music to me is just life, how I feel and hoping somebody can relate,”he says.

About what true rap music entails, the lyricist believes you can make conscious rap that is not telling a story, which shows how creative and witty you could be. He also thinks melody is key in the music.

“Feed the people with a melody so they will be interested in hearing what you have to say,” Shakez said, talking about how Nigerians still want to hear the melody in a song.

Shakez talked about how cramming his lyrics as that helping in his delivery. He says 2017 is the year that is seeing the transition of music when we asked him about there being a breakout music star this year in the Nigerian music industry.

The transition he talks about is about how the emerging artists are changing the soundscape and how the old ones are recognizing the changes and trying to collaborate with the new ‘cats’ while also mentoring them along the way.

Shakez would like to think Niniola, Ric Hassani, Mayorkun, Dremo, Nonso Amadi, Johnny Drille, Bella Alubo deserve nominations for Next Rated artist at the Headies 2017.

To make that transition into the mainstream, Shakez thinks the underground artists are already on that path to breaking out while adding that the God factor cannot be overlooked.

The rapper believes the consumers should also support the movement of the culture by streaming and buying the music instead of looking for free downloads.

He also believes the artists need to be more knowledgeable about the music business and industry - how they can monetize their music in the digital world.

For up and coming artists, Shakez advises them to keep their heads up when they tend to be looked down upon., advising that they should work their way up to get their music popping and making it too good to ignore.

“Never ever feel like you need an artist because everything is on you,” Shakez said about looking out for collaborations.

Shakez intends to put out an EP that sells him as an artist, work on a visual for ‘Sauce’ and grow the fan base organically.

For this budding rapper and singer, he believes a musician should have the end in mind, defining what they want out of music.

For Shakez, he tells Pulse he wants to win an MTV Africa Music Award (MAMA) in the Hip-hop category and Best Street Hop at the Headies just to show he can.

On winning a Grammy, the musician is of the thought that if the artist is not changing the music soundscape, he is not going to be winning a Grammy award.

Shakez would also like to set up a label with his team someday.

Watch out for his next project, a follow-up song to ‘Sauce’.

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