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60 SECONDS WITH NINIOLA

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NINIOLA APATA aka NINIOLA is a singer, song writer and performer who hails from EKITI STATE.

Niniola fell in love with music right from when she was a kid. In high school, she had a sort of request show during her free time where her friends will make requests and she will sing to her classmates. This was possible because of her large repertoire of songs and clear vocals – She was tagged “the human radio“.

All Niniola’s songs have topped various charts globally with Maradona currently leading the trend. She has also made appearances on several songs which have made waves too.
Both Maradona and Sicker have topped several charts and are receiving massive airplay. Along with Saro, Oyin, Magun and Magun Remix, their music videos have a current combined 11.4 million views on Youtube alone. With currently over 1.8 million streams on Spotify and over 5.2 million views on YouTube, Maradona reached No. 1 on the biggest charts in Africa including Metro FM SA, MTV Base South, YFM and Beat FM 99.9 Nigeria, becoming the most played song on Radio in South Africa according to RadioMonitor SA.

In July 2018, internationally renowned DJ Snake teamed up with Niniola for a hit single titled “Maradona Riddim” based heavily on her 2017 hit song “Maradona”.

On 7th August, 2018, Niniola became the first female Nigerian artist to cross 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify.

Which artist inspired you while growing up?
I have an endless list of influences like Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, ABBA, The Beatles, The Bee Gees, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin , Beyonce, Sunny Ade, Angelique Kidjo, African music etc

What is something you learned early on in your career that made you a better person?
I have learnt to continually trust the Almighty God and also the importance of having a good Team… Special thanks to my Label ” Drumroll Records” and my management Naijareview.

Do you think there is a double standard in the industry?
I do not focus on any challenges rather I channel my energy towards achieving my goals.

If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
To put proper structure in the industry to enable artistes earn all that we deserve.

What will we see from Niniola in 2019?
Well in 2019 I plan on putting out more music, videos and visit different countries where my fanbase has grown a whole lot…

Interviews

Laycon’s debut album Shall We Begin is a journey of real life experiences, enjoyment and reflection.

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Following the success of his last project “Who Is Laycon” EP, which reached over 40M+ streams across all digital platforms we got up close and personal with Nigerian artist and breakout reality star Laycon. The lyrical rapper is now back with his debut album “Shall We Begin”.

SK: Who is Laycon?
LC: Laycon is a God in a human body. Bold statement? Lol Yes!. 
Laycon is an artist, a rapper, a singer, a song writer who also happens to be the winner of the Big Brother Naija season 5 show. Laycon is a friend, a brother, and hopefully someone who is an inspiration to every young Nigerian aspiring to one day get that big break that ignites their hustle and grind.

SK: What is “Shall We Begin” all about?
LC: “Shall We Begin” is my first studio album, the album continues the theme of my previous body of work  “Who Is Laycon” EP. “Shall We Begin” thematically says “now that you know who Laycon is.. now we have introductions out of the way, Shall We Begin the main journey”. It’s a 12 track album that features some of the hottest young artists in Nigeria. An album that was created for enjoyment, laughs, reflection and a wholly memorable experience.

SK: There’s a lot of music out there right now… what makes your album different than everything else on the market?
LC: What makes “Shall We Begin” different is the diversity and the versatility that I bring into it. It’s a body of work that was created to cater to different music palettes. You can hear me fuse rap with other sounds on this project, blending into one body and one sound. It is also relatable and the stories told on this project are from real life experiences.. mine and others, stories that people can connect with and find themselves in.

SK: Tell us about your sound.
LC: Well I’ll say my sound is Afro-Rap. That’s what I like to call it. Cause I fuse my rap with different sounds and I use it to create one sound. The beauty of hiphop & Afrobeats is that they are both very versatile genres and they fit so well with other influences that if mixed right, magic happens!

SK: What are the main themes in your lyrics?
LC: Well the main themes in the “Shall We Begin” album are love and success. However on a general note, I’d say my lyrics are created to bring about dialogue from the listeners. Everything I write about has been experienced by me or someone I know and listeners hear these things and find a part of themselves in them. It’s honest, bare and more than just making words sound nice or just for the shock value.

SK: Is Lagos a friendly city for emerging artists?
LC: Well I would say Lagos is becoming a great environment for artists to grow. But really I’ve always been of the opinion that it’s more about the artist, where you’re from only plays a role in your emergence. But I definitely will have to give kudos to the creatives and young minds creating new opportunities in the city. There’s an energy in the city that is unmatched. Makes you want to do more, dig deeper and achieve more. A perfect place for young artistes to create and thrive.

SK: What does the rap scene look like in Lagos, right now?
LC: Rap music is experiencing a resurgence. New acts with their own fresh take on the genre are breathing fresh air in the game and there are great relationships among rappers. We are collaborating more, challenging ourselves to do better and creating great music. More people now listen and embrace rap than before.. We have a bigger audience now.

SK: Do changes in the political landscape affect your music?
LC: Well for someone who does a bit of conscious music, yes it does, because it affects the society which I am a part of. So yes it does influence and affect my music. I make music for people who are directly affected by the politics and the policies of the land, so I cannot be oblivious of it.

SK: Who inspires you?
LC: Everyone inspires me. From the people I listen to, to the people I learn from and even the artists who are long gone. I listen to music from the 60s – 90s Nigerian vets to the American and European rap and pop G.O.A.Ts. I might absorb the lyrics, melody, message, beat composition.. I always take something from whatever I listen to. So I jam everything.

SK: If you ever feel stuck, is there anything that you do to get out of your head?
LC: Stuck? I mean if I ever feel that way, I guess unwind and find other means of inspiration. And have you met my team? My friends? my family? Never a dull moment with those guys. All I have to do is sit with them for a bit and I’m good. I also like to explore minds and meet new people.. Hearing about people’s lives and experiences always help inspire me and get those creative juices flowing.

SK: You have many connections in the music industry, who was the first rapper or producer to recognize your talent?
LC: I wouldn’t say I have many connections, lol. You can never have enough especially in a career like mine that is all about collaborations and networking.
But yeah, I first started working with producers like Echo, Danny B and Baller Tosh. As for rappers, I wasn’t discovered by any really. Inspired by? Definitely.

SK: Can you give us 5 tracks on your playlist right now?
LC: Five tracks on my playlist right now are:
– The entire Shall We Begin album by Laycon
– Demo by Runnjozzy
– Bank On It by Burna Boy
– My.life by J. Cole
– Seeing Green by Nicki Minaj

SK: Tell us one thing your fans may not know about you?
LC: I say this all the time.. my fans know a lot about me and what they do not know already, I’ll love to keep it that way.

SK: Whats next for Laycon?
LC: What’s Next for Laycon is bigger things. As I achieve, I set new goals. I’m constantly challenging myself. I also have come into a new phase where I am responsible for more than just myself, so I’m looking into making moves that will positively impact the lives of people that look up to me or those that I can influence their thinking or actions. But as far as music is concerned, the “Shall We Begin” album is out, please check it out.

Stream and Download “Shall We Begin

Follow Laycon on Twitter and Instagram

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Interviews

Meet the young rapper shaping Nigeria’s creative underground – Zilla Oaks

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Fast rising Nigerian rapper, Zilla Oaks has released his third body of work “NO ZZZZ 2”. 
Following the successful release of his 2018 mixtape “NO ZZZZ” the self-proclaimed Abuja rapper and Apex Village member releases the sequel “NO ZZZZ 2”. The mixtape contains 16 tracks including previously released singles ‘NO CONVERSATE’, ‘OGINI’, ‘FOLLOW ME REASON’ & ‘YUU’ which increased the anticipation of “NO ZZZZ 2”. The mixtape is devoted to depict the rapper’s lyrical & musical abilities and to further solidify his presence in the Hip-Hop scene. 

The mixtape is a sonic blend of multiple genres, primarily Hip-Hop, with features from Dremo, PsychoYP, Tay Iwar, PrettyBoy D-O, Marv OTM, Ayüü, Denzel Oaks, SGawD & more.
NO ZZZZ 2” navigates through heartbreak, love, disloyalty & self-awareness; displaying Zilla’s lyrical strength and ability to genre bend.

SK: What does the title “NO ZZZZ 2” mean to you?
ZL: “No Zzzz 2” means Zevolution. It’s a project about my struggles and shortcomings as well as new experiences and wins.

SK: You have a vast range of rappers on the Mixtape, what was the process of recruiting them? 
ZL: The process of picking the rappers I put on the tape was quite easy. I had loads of in-house artistes already, being Apex members. And some hard hitters in Lagos. Mojo and DO were very supportive and they all brought great energy at the studio when we did ‘No Conversate’. 

SK: Could you tell me about track 4, ‘What You Telling Me’?
ZL: What is you telling me came off the ginger my manager Cindy gave me in the previous project to record ‘Enemiezzz’. I just felt I needed to put some people in their place.  

SK: Is there a moment on the Mixtape that’s particularly meaningful to you?
ZL: RIP, because I recorded that song for my dead homies, Tony Zitta and more recently Obi Akumazi. May their souls Rest In Peace. 

SK: There’s been a lot of conversation recently around Hip Hop as a genre in Nigeria. Some critics are eager to pronounce it as dead. Others think it’s alive and well. As a rising rapper, what’s your take on the state of the genre in 2021?
ZL: As a rising rapper my intentions are to revive the hip hop and rap scene in Nigeria together with Apex Village because nobody does it better than us. 

SK: Which artists, brands or creatives are you inspired by?
ZL: Jay Z, Lil Wayne, Travis Scott… Louis Vuitton, Nike, Versace

SK: Who are you excited by in the music scene, right now?
ZL: A lot of people right now are doing their thing but I’ve been loving the growth of my crew Apex Village since 2017… we’re heading somewhere big soon!

SK: What’s been the most defining part of this journey to discover yourself as an artist?
ZL: Opening for Mr Eazi and Burna boy in my Uni, and performing in Abuja with my brothers from Apex for the very first time. The crowd was crazy and they sang our lyrics word for word

SK: What’s your post-pandemic plan?
ZL: Put my head down and make more records 🔥🔥🔥

Stream & Download No Zzzz 2

Follow Zilla Oaks on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Apex Village on Twitter and Instagram

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Interviews

10 Questions with Wes Nelson

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Following his chart-topping debut single ‘See Nobody’ and his latest release ’Nice to Meet Ya’, we caught up with UK reality star turned musician Wes Nelson.

SK: When did you fall in love with music? How has your musical journey been?
WN: Music has been a passion of mine for pretty much my entire life, definitely as long as I can remember. I can remember getting my karaoke machine at the age of 3, it wasn’t really even a karaoke machine, just a plastic box with a rubber microphone. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m constantly listening to music, and now I’m working in music. It’s any person’s dream come true. To be able to bring a passion to light and make a living from it, when to be honest I don’t even really see it as a job but a hobby, is I guess the best way for it to be. If something that’s fun can be work, then in a sense you’ll never work a day in your life.

SK: If you could explain your music in 3 words, what would they be?
WN: Unpredictable, jumpy and melodic

SK: What inspired Nice to Meet Ya? Does it have an overarching message?
WN: For me, nice to meet you is just about giving people that fresh trim feeling, when you leave the barber and just feel 110%, 3 minutes of escapism. I think especially in this time when people aren’t feeling their best and a little down, I wanted to make a song that makes people feel good.

SK: What made you decide to have Yxng Bane on the track, how did you know his sound would blend so well?
WN: First of all, as a person Bane matches that cheeky chappy tone of the song, obviously loves his drip, loves getting out in his Sunday best and that’s what the song is all about, just feeling yourself. I also think tonally, his voice just matches this type of beat, we have seen him hop on tracks like this before and I thought that our voices would be complementary to each other, it was just a no brainer really.

SK: The Afro-Swing sound is getting worldwide recognition, what would you say changed the game?
WN: I think afro-swing is killing it right now, and it’s definitely a big part of my sound. I want to take little bits of many genres in my own music. Since afro-swing is so versatile, and you can combine it with complementary sounds from other styles, I think it is a huge strength for a genre to become more global.

SK: What Nigerian songs/artists are currently on your playlist?
WN: I’m loving Rema, Wizkid and Burna Boy at the moment.

SK: Are there any Nigerian artists or producers you would like to work with?
WN: Yeah loads. Burna for sure, I think he sounds incredible and I think we could do something special together.

SK: What has been the most challenging period for you during lockdown? What got you through it?
WN: I think the most challenging part is not seeing my close ones, I’m a bit of a family guy so that’s been tough. We have facetime and similar things that obviously help, but yeah, just being a little disconnected from them has been hard for me.

SK: What advice would you give to aspiring artists, DJ’s, and producers
WN: I think just to stick to what you like, don’t look elsewhere too much otherwise you copy what’s been done before. Part of the reason artists and producers we love have had success in the first place, is because of their individuality. Trust in your process and your own sound.

SK: What future projects and (or) collaborations are you currently working on?
WN: There is a lot that I’m working on, so many songs lined up for this year… but yeah, I’m gonna have to keep my mouth closed on anything more specific than that. What you can expect from me is hopefully a lot of live stuff, and also maybe a little EP towards the end of the year!

Stream & Download ‘Nice to Meet Ya’ Here
Stream & Download ‘See Nobody’ Here
Follow Wes Nelson Here

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