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UP CLOSE WITH DJ NEPTUNE

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Award winning international disc jockey and producer DJ Neptune’s single ‘Nobody’ sparked a viral global takeover across all online platforms with 40 million streams and counting. Neptune teamed up with emPawa’s Mr Eazi and Joeboy to give us this hit single, which is the next single off Neptune’s yet to be released project titled The Greatness II [Sounds of Neptune]. 

We had the pleasure to get Up Close and personal with Neptune where he talks culture vultures, DJ’in during quarantine and the status of the African music culture.

Talk us through the creative process for Nobody and collaborating with Mr Eazi and Joeboy?
Firstly shout out to my producer Magic Sticks he came up with the beat, he sent it to me on a cold chill evening, I was home he hit me up and was like “hey boss I sent you some beats I want you to listen to”, so I  get into my studio and download the 4 beats he sent. Nobody was the first beat I played, I listened to it halfway through it caught my interest I then listened to the other beats but Nobody was still ringing in my head so I came back to the beat and played it from the beginning to the end on repeat for 20-30 minutes non stop on my studio speakers, while listening I was thinking in my head what artists to feature on the song and who to work with. Joeboy immediately came to mind, I called him up “Joeboy I  got this lovely beat I want you to listen to I think you will you will love it”, I shared via whats app that same evening. I woke up the next morning with a message from Joeboy saying big bro check your email, I listened to the track and it was a banger, straight away I messaged Mr Eazi, he said if his not on the track we will fight he was somewhere in Europe when I sent him the record, within one week he sent his verse and we had Nobody the audio.

What’s the story behind the video?
We recruited TG Omori, we actually sent to a few directors but TG came up with a very interesting storyboard that we liked and went with. Prior to that we were discussing possible locations in Senegal and Sierra Leone but taking logistics into consideration it made sense to shoot here. The video was shot in January – shoutout to TG Omori he did an amazing job!

Nobody took the world by storm, was there a heavy budget to push the song?
I’ll be honest with you for Nobody there was no budget spent, everything that happened with the song was divine. No doubt it’s  a good song from when I was sent the beat I actually tweeted that I am working on my next single and it’s going to be a smash hit. I already had that feeling that people will love Nobody but had no idea it was going to blow up. The truth is the timing was perfect right before lockdown as it was released on 6th march. We had no idea that the world was about to go into lockdown but I guess it was a divine connection. I was able to do a full week of radio rounds and club activations just before the lockdown came into effect. The first week Nobody had already done a million views on youtube and over million streams on audiomack. 
We are currently on 13 million views on youtube and 40 million streams across all music platforms. 
Nobody blew up more on Triller as well as TikTok, I was not paying attention at first but on Triller it was huge right now we have over 6 million views on Triller videos to the point that 4 weeks ago the CEO of Triller stated in and article “That Nobody is by far the biggest Afrobeats record that made an impact on the app on a global scale.”

What is one experience in life that, without it, DJ Neptune wouldn’t be the DJ you are today?
It’s been crazy as while I started this whole journey into becoming an entertainer and DJ people around me did not understand what I was doing they thought I was crazy and I remember leaving my comfort zone for two years. It was not easy but I told myself “you can not afford to fail” with that at the back of my mind, that I must succeed and then convert my success story to an inspiring one not just for me but to other young aspiring teenagers out there who want to do what they love but their folks or friends around them do not understand their vision. I am forever grateful I took that bold step, if I did not do that there would not be a DJ Neptune that everybody loves and is celebrating right now.

You have a deep love for putting on new artists, who is Runda?
 So what happened with that is I’m currently working on my next project which is done but I am still recording – so I tweeted a few weeks ago that I needed song writers I put my email address saying if you are a good songwriter let’s talk. I received over 800 emails. It was so crazy, I couldn’t go through everything. When looking through I came across Runda’s email he actually did not send anything about songwriting he sent a song and was just so confidence “ DJ Neptune I need you to listen to this song I am a young artist you will love it” I hit download and heard the song and was blown away with his talent. I responded to his email to send me more stuff and told him I want to work with him, so there is going to be a collaboration with him. It’s his track we have already recorded. We were in the studio together last night, amazing track produced again by Magic Sticks. We are also talking to TG Omori  for a video so that will be dropping soon. I have been blessed to come this far so I should be able to extend the blessings to the younger ones, this is my way of giving back to society. I am very positive he is going to blow up.

How is performing live and producing in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally?
It’s always a good feeling to perform to the audience. There’s that sense of achievement when you’re performing and people are vibing, loving what you’re doing. Shout out to everyone that came out to support me for my debut concert SOUNDS OF NEPTUNE it was amazing, it was dope performing alongside artists like Teni, Mayorkun, Tiwa Savage, Skibii, Peruzzi and a lot of guys. I was surprised by the way my colleagues came out to support me including the DJ’s as well Jimmy Jatt, Big N, a lot of DJ’s. Everybody came and we were all together in one space at Muri Okunola park. Shout out to everyone who attended, and to you as well Stefi K cos I mean you also worked with me on that day to make things smooth. It was not easy considering it was my first concert but it was a huge success.

You always have the dopest drip, who styles you?
So I have a personal shopper who I work with and a couple of stylist. For me I’m not really big on designer clothes as long as it’s dope and fits well and I’m comfortable those are the things I look out for but shout out to everyone that has styled me from Eko Moses, Maban to my personal shopper as well.


Music from the Continent is receiving world wide recognition, what would you say changed the game?
Afrobeats is the next big genre of music for attention of people across different parts of the continent. There’s a big eye on what we do in this part of the world, the sound is fresh from instruments to the artists, producers, engineers and directors, everybody putting in work. I feel that it’s our time and I’m happy with what is happening; before the pandemic our guys are already doing festivals and have their own shows in different parts of the world selling out and making good money for themselves. As an African DJ this is the next level, we are getting to the stage where promoters will start looking into our markets. It is a good feeling, things are changing, shout out to everyone putting in work with the help of social media, streaming platforms like Apple Music who recently launched Africa Now in more African countries shout out DJ Cuppy bringing the spotlight onto us. We may not have proper structure but we have the numbers now it is about converting the numbers to revenue which is already happening. We are putting in the work for the next generation. This is the time for us to have one voice. The western world wants to come into the market to take advantage and create the mentality of this person is competing against you.
With Nobody I have so many offers to re-license the song all over the world. Myself and the team have single handedly taken Nobody to this level so they would have to come with an amazing offer before I even give that a thought they want to reap from where they did not sow.

How are you coping during the Quarantine, what advice can you give to others on how you stay positive and active?
It’s not making sense at all but it is what it is. We need to stay safe, lockdown is eased off with curfew but the economy is still suffering as entertainers are bearing the cost.
I love to perform its not even about the money, with the success of Nobody I can’t even imagine the places I would have been to perform I would probably be on world tour right now, but it is what it is we need to keep safe and play our part while the government is fighting this covid-19 battle. Hopefully very soon life can go back to normal.
Doing online live parties is what the world is adapting to now the only constant thing in life is change. So you need to be ready when people are moving at a different pace, I have  performed live for a couple of brands and platforms.
We have to stay positive and stay strong for ourselves, keep working, and keep being innovative. There are so many avenues, before now these platforms have been there but we have never taken advantage of live performances, events etc.
So this is an eye opener to a lot of us, after the pandemic this will be better.
Capitalise on all these  platforms utilise it positively and see how you can benefit from it, it’s not easy but we all have to stay strong together.

What are you looking forward to most post isolation?
I would like to travel to an island to meditate by myself, just to get away for a week just to refresh.

Please recommend two artists to our readers which you feel deserve their attention.
Two artist I recommend would be Omah Lay and T Classic, check them out on IG:
Omah Lay: https://instagram.com/omah_lay?igshid=1a5evs3qwcftl
T Classic: https://instagram.com/tclassic_mne?igshid=1jvjwwsglxn0g

What is next for DJ Neptune? What do you want your supporters to know about you?
I am working on my next project which should be out sometime in September. I am also working on a remix EP for nobody so remixes from different parts of the world which is planned to be out in August and apart from that  just working on music while we wait out the whole pandemic.

Download & Stream Here: https://empawaafrica.lnk.to/Nobody

 

 

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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