By Obinna Ifechi-Fred
Exclusive:- Nigerian Sounds Caught up with Veteran MC Cyrus Tha Virus to discuss a Few things, Including his Supposed “Beefs” with Vector, M.I, Wizkid, Yung 6ix and Hip-Hop World Magazine.He also Hinted on his Status as a Rapper after his third studio Album “The Antidote” drops,as well as Acts whom he respects and wants to work with.Cyrus whom I like to call one of the most prominent Independent Rappers in Nigeria took time out to talk to Me,and it was befitting ,and if you never knew him before,Then here you go.
Nigerian Sounds:- Yo Cyrus what’s Up
Cyrus Tha Virus:- I’m good fam, You know how I be.Arrow Gang all the way, Black Gorilla Army bussin slugs your way, Repping the South South Everyday! Ahoooooooooooo!!!!!
NS:- You’ve Been In The Game for a While,and you’re a Nigerian Hip-Hop Veteran, Could you give us a Brief History of Your Run in the Game from the start for those who don’t know
CTV:- (Laughs) Y’all make me sound old men! Well, the name is Cyrus Tha Virus, straight out of Benin city, Government name Damon Joseph Momoh; I started off with the Rap posse Maccabeez comprising me, L.O.D, Cypha and Scientifik.One of the hottest Rap groups (who were) holding it down for the South at that time, then I left to join Knighthood, another Hygroscopic Hip-Hop crew also out of Benin city.We won the second Benson and Hedges Benin zone, and also won the Western zone too.I learnt how to infuse Pidgin English from these two cliques and when we had irreconcilable differences, I had to leave and pursue a solo career, dropped my 1st single and video “We dey come” to critical acclaim and you know, at that time, we never knew Rap music will be this big.All we had was Modenine , Terry tha Rapman, O.D, ElDee Xtra large, 6 foot plus and Solo Dee, was holding it down for SWAT ROOT, Trybesmen, Ruff Rugged and Raw,Ruggedman,Rooftop Mcs,Def O clan,Xtreme The Particular and some other solid Rap cats.We did it for the love, and the Media then showed us love..“We dey come” video topped the very prestigious MBI top ten countdown ( Shout out to Emma Ugolee!!!) for 4 consecutive weeks ( A Feat still unachieved by any South South rapper till date ).I also dropped my “Shelenge” song and video and also “Very Gbofty (Firiri Werere) after then to more raucous and it Really increased my fan base in the South South and got quite a few vocal endorsements from Lagos.My materials got to the ears of HEX RECORDS label boss,Prince Omoregbe, who gave me a record deal and I dropped my very 1st Album “INFECTION” with a supporting single and Video, “1000 Naira”.This got me nominated for the Hip-Hop World Awards “Next Rated category” in 2008 and also the MTV Base/ Airtel(then Known as Zain) Advance Warning alongside M.I, Kel, Terry G, Overdose, Terry Tha Rapman, Kani, Dee, Soty, Blaise, Nikki Laoye,Kaha, Durella, Waje and More.After I left Hex Records, I dropped REBELLION strictly for the streets and promoted/marketed independently by me,and I’m about to put out THE INFILTRATION Mixtape by May Ending or June.yup!!! Its Mayhem, baby!
Cyrus Tha Virus – 1000 Naira
NS:- What has been your Motivation to continue working,and Making That Real Hip-Hop Music despite the fact that artistes that are not Based in Lagos get Less Press,Shows,and Popularity
CTV:- My motivation is the love I get from my people in the South.Money has never being a motivation for me,even though a lot of people don’t see u as a success unless you are rolling big.Making that mark, earning that spot in History has always been my source of strength, and at the end of the day, if only one mind is inspired by my travails, its good enough for me.Timaya blew up from PH, so did Duncan Mighty. I feel I can energize Edo/Delta to believe in their own (Because) if every time we run to Lagos to make the money, who is going to develop their own zones? All those who went to Lagos to get rich, when they got rich, did they ever come to sow back into their hoods? Nope. Presently, I’m now in Lagos, re-establishing old relationships, making new ones, trying to get my foot in that Door, and bring my sound to their Porches, its only a matter of time.I’mma drag the whole of Lagos to the sounds of South South rap.
NS:- When you first started Rhyming, It was The Pre-Internet Era,and you needed a Whole lot of work to break out,Unlike Today,where some Blogs and youtube can make you famous,what is the difference,and how did you adjust to such change ?
CTV:- When it comes to music, I try to keep myself abreast with innovations that can help bolster your Music/Image and Sound in its entirety.I actually do miss the pre-internet era, because meeting OAPs, Presenters, going to Radio/TV stations to propagate your work fostered some good relationships with the media.Most of my friends in the industry today are people I used to know from way back, who have gotten into vantage positions right now.I miss those day-to-day grinds, and I tried to adjust to keep pace with time and it took some getting used to but its all good right now.Talking about getting famous off the Internet is still a 50/50 thing.A Nobody can be famous.If I post a sex tape on The Internet, I’m famous.Fame comes with anything these days so being Famous aint even in the top 10 reasons I use the Internet as a tool for propagation.I use it as a tool to get my message, my sound, and my philosophies to those peeps I can’t sit down with a Bottle of Malt and discuss
NS:- You were Nominated as “Revelation of The Year” at the Hip-Hop World Awards 2008 (Which Wande Coal Won), alongside GT Tha Guitarman, Wande Coal, M.I , Banky W and You felt you were Robbed, Years Later,Looking at Wande Coal,Do you feel The same way ?
CTV:- Aaaaarrrrghhh!! This Question, I already answered this on a track (“It Wasnt Given To Me”) I don’t want to Over Flog this, because it would be reeking of screaming for attention.I’ve said my mind on the issue,and Wande Coal is cool Peoples with me so I don’t wanna over flog,but I feel if everything that was truly mine, was given to me, it would have inspired more minds in the south south to believe more in themselves,because I was just a young rapper in Benin back then and I guess when I got nominated, they didn’t believe I would’ve had the support and endorsement of a full Geographical region and I guess God had other plans for me.Shout out to the HHWA Family though, this year,its gonna be my “Blow Job” Year, cuz the kid is getting a Headie or Three, Lord willing!
NS:- Benin City is Known for releasing some Of the Best Hip-Hop Tracks out of Nigeria, And You, Gino and Sanchez are Clear testimonies to that Fact,but why do you think Benin City is Not yet respected nd Given its due as regards Mainstream success
CTV:- The absence of a lot of multi National Companies to support the Industry here.The tendency of OAPS/DJs/presenters over here to play mostly the Lagos cats ( sorry, but its true) even with the number of quality music we make here,and the notion that if it aint Lagos, it aint popping and also the majority of some Edo cats who choose to put out songs that are formulaic, forgetting the original owner of that style is somewhere making money off it.If the parameters surrounding the industry were evenly spread, I’m sure Benin would have been holding its own with a much bigger presence than it is right now,BUT we are coming !
NS:- It’s Not a Secret that a Lot of Youths in Benin City are Sucked into the street life, and a Lot of Talents and Lives have been lost, what do you feel can Rejuvenate the youth and give them a collective change of Psyche to Chase Their Dreams ?
CTV:- Plain and simple: the Government.They need to support the Arts, not just Music alone, but in general; they need to invest in the craft of the people because Edo state is richly blessed with talented people.We need to be granted more attention by the Government,and they need to invest in it because in the 80′s and before the 80′s Benin city ( then Bendel) used to churn out some of the most amazing Artwork, Movies and Artistes, Felix Liberty, Majek Fashek, Righteous Man, The Guitar Boy Sir Victor Uwaifo, Emma Ogholi, Chris I.D, Evi Edna Ogholi, etc.What happened to that? The people here support their own, the government needs to raise their own people; they need to rally around their own and lift Them up.The Lagos State Governor supports the Arts in Lagos, so why not ours? Edo State used to be a “civil servants state” but now, the Art Scene is beginning to burgeon,and we should be helped I’m sure 2face idibia is more celebrated that all the leaders that came out of Benue State.We have some talented cats out here, and the Government needs to look inwards because we are an Arts State, and the Idia Head Logo of Festac ’77 will always be a Testament to our Arts legacy.We need to get back to before,and entrench Edo Arts (Music, Sculpture and Films) again.
NS:- You’ve Worked with a Lot of Benin City Acts,and I reckon you would be in a good position to tell me if the Bond Between artistes in Benin City is Strong, Is there Unity between Artistes from Edo State?
CTV:- Yeah it is, we are now Unified in our drive to establish and entrench Edo artistes on the industry,because we realised that we are like a full hand and the single fingers can make a poke here or there BUT when those fingers ball into a fist? That’s formidable right there!!! You gotta protect your jaw!!!! There’s a Body, an Association that has unified artistes in Edo State,and my fingers are crossed for them right now because unity is all we need to make that needed full impact on the Jaw of the industry.
NS:- I Reviewed your Debut Album “The Infection” [Read Here] For www.africanhiphop.com,and I wasn’t too Impressed with it,However your Sophomore album “Rebellion” was A Solid Effort and a Huge Improvement,and So Have your Subsequent works,how do you Manage to Reinvent yourself,and Outdo your previous Efforts
CTV:- Thanks a lot.The thing with INFECTION was that it was put together mainly by Me.Young, Raw, Fresh, (with) no guidance; I did everything, so if it was a little rough around the edges, I take full blame for it, but If for anything, I don’t want my music to be static.I may retain tenets of Cyrus’s energetic chant driven tracks, but the production and direction is never static.There’s a world out there of directions to follow and its only a matter of finding what suits you, and adapting it to you and making a mark off it.I strive to be better everyday in what music I put out, In everything I do and That includes re-inventing myself.You never want to be the kid the train left behind so I re-invent myself everyday and as you mature, you lose a lot of your Youthful energy/enthusiasm because other aspects come up that demand your attention and you got to spread your energy but on track after track, I always make sure I don’t sound like a former track I did.I keep the train moving.
Jokolo – Zaga Featuring Cyrus Tha Virus
NS:- Speaking about “Rebellion” You released it for Sale Online Till the end of the year,Before you eventually Made it available for Free,What Informed that decision to give out the album for nothing ?
CTV:- Okay, to be real, I’ve been out of the circuit for quite a while, Rebellion wasnt meant to be a do or die affair, I just wanted to put out some new music to reintroduce my self and to see what songs attracts the new listening generation to my music and formulate a new approach in that direction and when I had fully understood what works, and what adaptations I had to make and recouped the money I spent putting it together, I said “hell yeah, let the streets have it for nothing”.Rebellion did its work, helped me get back into the music grind,and infiltration will solidify it.
NS:- After The Album Dropped, You decided to form a Crew called “Arrow Gang” , Can you tell us more about this Project ?
CTV:- A.R.R.O.W GANG means ALLIANCE for REAL RAP, ORTHODOX WORDPLAY.it is my new crew pushed by BLACK GORILLA ARMY.We are a clique of like minds all striving to put out the Hardest Music on the Streets and I think so far so good, we’ve been successful, I will keep the members secret for now, until the right time, because we are still enlisting people who aint afraid to be different, who aint scared to say their minds.I shall unleash them sooon.Ahoooooooooooo!!!!
NS:- There has Been some Buzz On The Internet Lately because of The Title “King Of The South” and Many MC’s are staking their Claim. You first declared yourself the “King” on your Last Album, What do you feel about the whole Situation now,Going down the path it is
CTV:- If the King of the South aint M-trill or Gino, then the King of the South is me.its as simple as that.
Okay, For a brief Minute, let’s assume I am not Claiming King, let’s assume I’m just another Rapper, BUT show me any other South South Rapper who has put in more work, who has lasted all this while and still remained relevant over the years, I’m not talking about anybody who has 3 singles and thinks he can dine with gods, I’m talking about anybody who needs a Northerner/Middle Belter to crown him king (Ahem!) in the South South, we don’t kiss Ass.The Streets have the last and final word.Not Twitter Junkies who want you to follow them back so they praise you until you do.We know who dey with us for area na and like you rightly said in your question”on the Internet” I’m not an internet Goon, go ask on the streets who holds it down for them.I won’t be drawn into Gay Ass confrontations with Children I birthed.If u want the stripes, earn it, don’t start rapping last year and you want to spit rhymes at the Sky, That shit will fall back to your face.Actually, the situation is volatile,but not from my ends because I’m laughing it off,but it is volatile because I know about two young’ns ( Rappers ) about to go off at (Beef) each other.Its just how the South South is.Mayhem and Propaganda,so for the records I will say this.
If you don’t have an album out and you are claiming king of the South, SHUT THA FUCK UP!!
If you know your sound doesn’t Typify South South doing Moin-Moin Music, SHUT THA FUCK UP!!!! .You can’t be from the Bay Area ( Oakland ) and you aint putting out Hyphy Sounds!
If you know you needed someone who doesn’t even stay in the South and doesn’t know our struggle and all to Crown you, SHUT THA FUCK UP!!! You and your Band of new Age Followers who grew up on Skinny Jeans rapping in Nigeria, who don’t have respect for the ones before you,SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!
Not like I give a cutlery, BUT if the King of the South South Rap aint M-trill or Gino,you know who the next Nigga is. ( We Sure Do )
NS:- We Leaked a Song of Yours titled “It wasn’t Given to Me” , and On That Song,You Spoke about M.I Leaving you out of Illegal Music 2 , and You also took some Shots at Yung 6ix , Is The Beef Serious ? Is it even Beef ? What is going on?
CTV:- Yeah, I’m always known for expressing my heart no matter whose OX is gored.I had all these Demons for a while and I had to say it on Wax for me to move on.No matter what anybody says, MI is still my man, and it don’t mean I can’t say how I feel if it’s a wrong done to me..I’ve known M.I since 2008 at the hiphop world awards and MTV Base Advance Warning.We met up 1st January in Benin City last year and dude was like “Bro, You need to be on IM2 for reals Dog” I was with my man’s Rayconex and Big Tatafo,this was after MI2 dropped and I was like no problems we could hook up and we went over ideas, industry news Shit and he told me to hold my ends to it but IM2 dropped and the god wasn’t on it.MI hollered back afterwards and apologized and we’re cool right now even if I holler at you for a grieviance and you’re my man, as far as what I say is the truth, even you won’t be mad at me.
As for the Yung 6ix Shit.I aint beefing the Kid.I just felt like I’m in a position to advice the young god not to get caught up in the hype of Internet and think he’s invincible.Its too early for all that shit.He needs to focus on his music,and let all that is his come to him,and that’s how we do it in the South South.This aint Beef, this is firm talk.Real matters
NS:- You’re a Very Vocal MC,and One of the Most active Nigerian Artistes on Twitter,Do you feel Twitter Helps the Culture or Destroys it ? What Relevance have Social Networks to the Nigerian Music Scene ?
CTV:- From my Ends,I can say Twitter helps the culture,because I’m always willing to share Hip-Hop Knowledge, trade Bars, Punchlines, talk about Hip-Hop with other Hip-Hop heads and even learn from other Tweeps BUT it’s a sad thing that most “A-list” Rappers don’t even talk about Hip-Hop on their Timelines, all they do is Retweet the Praises of Girls, Hoes, Hoochies and Voltrons and it shows in their Music these days because they disconnect themselves from the culture.How can you represent what doesn’t reflect in everyday/aspect of your life ? Apart from Modenine, Kanebi, Nutty 2,Big T, Mo Fame, Rukus, Rooftop MCs, Illbliss, and B-Elect.I don’t think any other Nigerian MC talks about Hip-Hop that much on Twitter.The rest just wanna RT and set P. *spits on their timelines*
Social media is a very important tool in Music these days, cuz it enables you to connect with some Fan who is Thousands of miles away, on a personal basis.A lot of People used to think I’m a Brute and a Rabid Dog, but when they get to meet me on Facebook and Twitter, they see a more jocular, Humane side to me,plus the Social Media helps in propagating your Songs faster than a CD/Album would.You put up a Download link here, and someone in Brazil is already downloading it and the bad side is, a lot of times, Tweeps could mention you in a disrespectful way.Just because they are Thousands of Miles away hiding behind a peeling QWERTY keypad.People need to learn the difference between being Blunt and being disrespectful,because most Nigerians don’t know the difference
Tony Ross – Club On Fire Featuring Cyrus Tha Virus
NS:- You’ve Never been Linked to any Females in The Industry Romantically, Is That Strategic or do you have a Wifey at home ? Are you single ?
CTV:- Yea,I’m single. I aint really dating right now.I need to be focused for now, when God sends me my agreeable spirit, the goddess who completes me, I will Wife her , and as for being linked to Females in the industry, well I keep my private life VERY private.I haven’t been with any Females in the industry.I don’t need the media all up in my Business, at least for now.
NS:- What Is Your Biggest Motivation in The Music Scene,and what’s the Most Valuable Advice a Fellow artiste has ever Given you ?
CTV:- My biggest motivation is a nice comment,easy and simple.A kind word dat says: “Yo CY, you are doing well, we feel you over here, keep doing your thing,one day” that right there is the motivation I need.Money doesn’t motivate me, the Women don’t motivate me.Fame doesn’t motivate me because if you take away all of these one da in a mishap ,Cyrus will still remain Cyrus.
Most valuable advice anybody has ever given to me is by Evaezi,she said “Beauty is relative,Like Art.Some understand and appreciate.Some don’t and despise it and that’s usually the complicated ones with HIGHER VALUE.Let yourself be ALL.Not One.Don’t let people or even yourself Cage you in the Box that is Cyrus tha Virus”
And the second most valuable is by M.I and he said “Cyrus, fight the Enemies you have not the Enemies you want” because most times, the Enemies we have are in our inner circle,but we are too busy fighting the Enemies we perceive outside to even look inwards at the real Enemies,but dat one nor mean say I nor go yap MI if he fucks up oh!!! (Laughs)
NS:- You Tweeted a While Ago That You are working on your Version of The Track “Export” by M.I and Yung 6ix, should we still expect that ?
CTV:- M.I is just a politician!!!! He’s very crafty (Laughs) Whatever M.I proclaimed on that song actually made South south Emcees say: “whaaaaaaa!!! He gonna’ say dat dude is king???? Nigga I’m hitting the studios” His proclamation has its good sides and its bad sides,and My version of “Export” is called “Import” and it is already recorded but I am not putting it out.Don’t worry you and your Goons will NEVER leak it.I had a talk with my Team and they were like.nah, squash it.no need for all that Negativity and I respect my team.
NS:- What’s The Status of “The Infiltration Mixtape” , and what should we expect in terms of Guests and Production ?
CTV:- Infiltration is 80% complete.We have to finish about 3 tracks then we are good.The Mixtape was produced in majority by Rayconex, I’ve known him for a while,and his sound compliments my style so we clicked.Tony Ross also produced on it, Kraft dropped two beats and I’ve used one on “It wasn’t given to me”.Kanebi from Play Records should produce on it too because he got that Street Mosh Pit Sound and as for Cameos,I wanted to put Cats who are new on the scene,so I got Errigga New Money, Monemsis, B’Robby, Boogey, Innah Man, D’Truce then I had to also enlist Street Generals like Pherowshuz, M-trill, Godwon, Big T, J-Berg and AQ.Reminisce is still on my Radar too.If this isn’t the sound of Raw Hip-Hop, you tell me what it is then!
Beazy – Smash and Grab Featuring Cyrus Tha Virus and Various Artistes
NS:- Which Artistes do you wanna Work with,That You have yet to work with , What Artistes out are you feeling Now ?
CTV:- In the U.S, that would be Kanye West, The Game, Young Jeezy, Ryan Leslie, Slaugterhouse and Rihanna.Kanye West and The Game are my present best Rappers alive.In Naija, I’d say 2face Idibia and Modenine, and then MI.I’ve done something with Modenine courtesy Evaezi’s “I don’t give a Fuck” but I’ll like to go alone with the god Bar for Bar.MI says we’ll do a track soon, so I’m still looking at the possibility,BUT 2face Idibia,he is the Legend, the be all, end all.I don’t give a Hoot about all them huge American Stars when I get 2face on a track, that is it for me
Artistes I’m feeling right now in Nigeria are Pherowshuz, Evaezi, Reminisce, Errigga, Boogey, Tesh Carter.I feel and respect a lot of Artistes right now but these are the ones dat give me an “Oh! Shit!!! Moment” and some Goosebumps.I love Lord V’s Occupy Hip-Hop too.Solid
NS:- What’s a Typical Day in The Life of Cyrus Tha Virus Like ?
CTV:- Wake up in the Morning,clean up and eat then adorn some Fresh Clothes then I hit the streets And HUSTLE, HUSTLE, HUSTLE HARDDDDDD!!!!! *in Ace Hood’s delivery*
NS:- What Do you feel The Future Has In Store for Nigerian Artistes
CTV:- Someone on Twitter Tweeted that “Nigerian Music is the new Bachelors’ Degree” nuff said,Because the Income you can generate from Nigerian Music nowadays will make even Professors dump their Professorial positions! (laughs) Who knew Mo-hits Account were in the Billion Naira range in Assets and Liquidity? You all saw Davido Twitpic a Cheque of 10 Million good bucks, right????!!!! Dat shiit crayyyyyyyy!!! Nigerian music is the new Bachelors Degree.Leave am like that.
NS:- You had a Little Internet Spat With Wizkid a while ago [Read Here], have you guys straightened it out,Or is he still getting Slapped when he comes to Benin City ?
CTV:- The Media will never leave this issue o (Laughs) Me and Wizkid haven’t straightened anything,but I’m passed it right now so much to do, so many Worlds to conquer and besides his Manager Osagie M.etal is kind of like my friend.Skales is very cool with me and so we’ve gone past that spat and if he gets slapped in Benin, somebody give the Police this Interview please,because it wasn’t me oh.
NS:- On Your Track “I Am” You made a statement “Its Easy Like Vector Jocking Jay Z” is that Beef ? Are you and Vector Cool?
CTV:- Hiphop is expression, at the time I recorded “I am”, Vector was jocking Jay Z and everybody knows this but I think he has come a little more into his VEC style.I saw Vector perform at the SSMA 2011 and he is good on stage.He’s been consistent with his offerings and you see, I don’t respect an MC who’s good in the Studio, but can’t rock a Crowd.MCing is not Studio Shit.Can you rock a Crowd???? Well Vector can so it increased my Respect for him.It wasn’t Beef, I was just stating the obvious.
Cyrus Tha Virus – I Am
NS:- After The Infiltration Mixtape, what’s Next for Cyrus Tha Virus ?
CTV:- I’ll put out a video for one of the songs, and see how it goes.I’ll be promoting the Mixtape,performing, touring and all.Then try my hands on some acting because a lot of you don’t know, I was 1st Runner-up in Amstel Malta Box Office 2 behind OC Ukeje ( my Tupac moment! ).Let’s see how it goes,then I will start recording THE ANTIDOTE. and I’m already discussing with Kraft on the direction and shape I want the Album to assume.ANTIDOTE may be my final offering,so let’s hope for now.then get Married! Have some adorable Mini-mes and float a full fledge Record Company , own my own franchise Eatery and in less than a decade from now,I think I’d like to go into Politics.Plenty plans shey? ( Yes, Very Plenty )
NS:- Thanks For your Time Cyrus, Any Last words for your Fans out there ?
CTV:- I don’t have fans, I have friends,and my word to them is “Be different, it is hard, but be different,because being different in the end, makes the difference”Keep doing YOU because nobody can do YOU more than YOU !!!! Thanks and it was great doing this with NigerianSounds! Arrow Gang!!!