What was your first CD you ever bought?
I remember the Confessions album being really significant. I was in love with it, and I read the lyric book so much the pages tore. I borrowed it from my aunt and got in trouble because she thought I didn’t take care of it, but I just listened to it a lot. I loved it so much needed to listen all the time.
What about your first concert?
My first concert was pretty late; I was in high school. I went to a Big Sean concert and it was amazing. I’m super inspired by him, and I later ended up opening for him when I was in college. I love his story and appreciate the way he got to the top.
You’re from Nigeria but grew up in the DMV area – how did those places affect your taste in music?
It impacted my music taste a lot — both have super diverse music. First is with Afrobeat. Nigeria is at the forefront of that, and I grew up listening to old school, fuji music, like King Sunny Ade, Lagbaja, then 2Face, Styl-Plus and D’Banj. Now you have this new wave of Nigerian hip-hop with people like Wizkid and Burna Boy. There are three distinct eras of Nigerian music I grew up listening to.
On the other hand, I grew up in Prince George County, Maryland with Go-Go, which is very drum heavy. One thing I noticed is that unlike Afrobeat, Go-Go is super area-driven by the DMV. Most people hear Go-Go and don’t really understand it unless it’s offered in a palatable way. Amerie and Beyoncé have had Go-Go influenced songs, but when it comes to real Go-Go, you have to be from the DMV to understand it.
Do you have a go-to pump-up song that always makes you happy?
“Shawty Is A 10” by The-Dream. It feels so good — I’m smiling as I think about it. I don’t know what it is, maybe the notes he hit, maybe how light and bouncy the song is... I love it and always have. It brightens up my soul. The subject matter isn’t even deep, there’s just something about it that clicks.
If you got to the end of your life without seeing a certain artist, who would it be?
I’m going to reverse that question and answer with an artist that got to the end of his life that I wasn’t able to see — Michael Jackson. He was really influential to me as a kid. He was so talented, and everything he did, he was good at. I just loved his music and his performances and his impact so much. I really wanted him to hear my music and be a fan of mine.
What was a moment in your life you realized how important music is to you?
I know the moment I realized I could be a musician, but not the moment I wanted to be one.
My musicality came later, but I realized I wanted to be a rapper when I was in fourth or fifth grade. I was a really shy kid. I still am, but when I was a kid I was one million times worse. I saw other kids on the bus rapping and they were battling each other with so much confidence — everyone was looking at them. I was writing poetry at the time, and I knew rapping wouldn’t be that much harder, so I went home and wrote my raps, came to the bus stop the next day and told them I wanted to rap. No one believed me. I probably hadn’t spoken a word up to them until that point. I did it and no one could believe it.
What concert will you be thinking when you’re 85 years old?
I love a lot of artists and I’d love to see a lot of artists, but I’ve gotten to the point where when I go to concerts, I’m just thinking of what my concert will look like on that stage. When I’m 85, I want to look back on the greatest concerts I’ve done.
Do you have a dream collaboration for one of those concerts?
As of right now, it’d be with Kendrick Lamar. I think he’s the best rapper, and if I’m trying to be the best, I need to rap against the best. Beyond his rapping ability, I really do respect him for his overall artistry; from his videos to his performances to the music, everything is top notch. He doesn’t slack anywhere. Collaborating with him would only enhance my skill set, because he has access to everything now. Kendrick, Beyoncé, Kanye — they all have access to everything, from the best graphic designers to directors to every aspect. I’d love to be in spaces like that.