Nigerian Sounds: Let’s start from the beginning. To a non-discerning fan or first time listener, how would you introduce yourself?
Payper Corleone:- I’m Payper Corleone, real names Asikpi Tombra, from Bayelsa State. Born and raised on the west though. Oregun, Ikeja Lagos. Currently, I make a living off making music. I’m a professional rap artist/songwriter. I consider myself an easy-going guy. I am also a graduate of English & Literary Studies from Niger Delta University. The second child of 2 and the only son.
N.S:- You were born and raised in Bayelsa, a state that has contributed a significant quota to the entertainment and arts scene in Nigeria and has produced successful artistes like Timaya and Timi Dakolo, but not much has been heard from BY on the hip-hop front. Can you give us a glimpse into what it is like for a young man growing up in Bayelsa state?
P.C:- I wasn’t born and raised in Bayelsa, I went there for my University education. It was during that time I started making music and fucking with the mixtape game heavy… That explains the reason for my large and loyal fan base out there.
But I can tell you, growing up in Bayelsa is nothing like these other parts… it’s easy to make the wrong decisions because a lot of these kids are ignorant about life outside the state/city.
N.S:-This is why interviews are important. All along, we believed that you were born and raised in BY because you rep for the city hard on your records. Most Young Nigerians were introduced to Bayelsa state by Timayas Dem Mama Song, and even though he grew up in PH, he was able to shine the light on the brutal massacre of innocent civilians by some men of the Nigerian military, which took place in 1999 in the town of Odi in Bayelsa through his music.
You are a university graduate, and there are a few Mc’s with Msc’s today, word to Super C, when did you decide to pursue a career path as a professional rapper and what challenges did you personally face?
P.C:- Well bro, I made the decision in my 100 level. I always knew I wanted to make music professionally because asides being able to put words together, I lived a life and had a sense of style/fashion that synchronizes with the kind of music I was making and influenced by.
The major challenge remains finance. You can make the best rap music or be the best lyricist, it all wouldn’t make sense if you can’t reach a wider audience with every new release.
And also pay your bills off rap money. To get to that level, a lotta promotional work has got to be put in.
N.S:- That’s quite an interesting point. Speaking of finance, you have released all of your music under your independent label THG. What has it been like juggling CEO duties and rapping at the same time?
P.C:- I’m a founder of the Trap House movement/imprint but I’m not the CEO… my childhood friend “Umejesi ‘Cesar’ Ebuka is… He handles the executive decisions/affairs of the team. I’m able to move/progress at such impressive speed because I have a team that makes sure I’m never lacking behind in getting things done musically. We all have a role to play and mine is to apply pressure on the neck of these industry dudes.
N.S:- On Raw, your collaboration with Erigga, you rapped “Call me rude, I don’t get along with industry dudes“. Tell us P, who would you consider an industry dude, and why don’t you get along with them?
P.C:- Industry dudes to me are people that are more concerned about the end profit than the creation process. You feel me?. They are rip-offs but come in the form of intellectuals…. and trust me, they everywhere. I’m not perfect myself but I don’t respect people like that.
N.S:- You have consistently incorporated American-Italian Mafia themes, movie dialogue and imagery in your lyrics and musical presentations. could you tell us more about the inspiration you derive from these themes, and how they co-relate with your music and artistic expression?
P.C:- For a start, my favourite movie of all time is “The Godfather (Trilogy)”… Obviously. Lol… I’m a fan of any movie or article on “organized” crime & every motion picture Martin Scorsese’s ever directed. Cartoons never really did it for me. I mean I enjoyed watching them but not as much as watching Gangsta Movies because I could EASILY relate it to the real world… The Godfather, GoodFellas, The Sopranos, Irishman, Bronx Tale… If you listen/watch close, there are a lot of life lessons to learn from these movies. Take away the drug dealing, I always admired their way of doing things, how they settled disputes and handled situations. The principles they upheld… High Family Values- Loyalty & Honor, and not to mention, the grown man fits. Put it like this, I learnt to read and write in school but Rap music and Gangsta movies thought me how to get here… Feel me?
N.S:-You have released a slew of impressive mixtapes and Eps over the last 6 years. Could you give us a full list of your complete discography, and tell us which project had the biggest positive effect on your career so far.
P.C:- BARS, BARS 2, Everything Is a Target, Everyone Is a Target 2, Winter’s Here: It’s Cold Outside, Love Loyalty Respect (775). Notable mentions – Friday Flight Freestyles & Love & HipHop EPs. Not to mention my most recent release, Fly Gangsta from the 90s.
I’ll say that’s the project that has done the most for me as I earned myself a Headies nomination for Best Rap Song, courtesy track 2 on the tape. Featuring the genius Alpha Ojini and was produced by Pro Beats. The song title is “Sacrifice”
N.S:- That’s impressive. A Headies award nomination is a big deal. What did it feel like getting validated by a prestigious award of this calibre?
P.C:- You can liken the feeling to Burna Boy getting nominated for the Grammys… Lol. I mean, it’s my first time. I was excited as fuck. Mainly because everyone involved in that record was on the come up, from me to Alpha to the producer Pro Beats, it was our first nomination so we were really really excited about that one. Shout Out to the bro XYZ-Of Str8buttah-for shooting the visuals and bringing our idea to life.
Bayelsa went bonkers too… being the first Rapper and the 3rd artist from there to be nominated for the prestigious Headies was everything to them. Shout out to Falz too, he took home the award for Best Rap Song.
Editors Note:-Timi Dakolo and Timaya are the first and only two artistes from Bayelsa State to win the Headies.
N.S:- You have often leased instrumentals and beats from American rappers, most recently Jhalil Beats who has produced for American superstars like Lil Wayne, Cam’Ron, Juelz Santana and Wiz Khalifa. Could you explain that aspect of your creative process and expand upon the technicalities of creating music collaboratively in an unorthodox manner that has seldom been explored before in Nigerian Hip-hop.
P.C:- The music world is changed my G. The internet makes it easy for you to find and interact with people that match your creative train of thoughts at a given time.
N.S:- you have constantly mentioned SinZu as your primary inspiration, which other rappers are your musical influences home and abroad.
P.C:- Home base – Sinzu, Naeto C & Da Grin… now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy music from other artists as well as other genres but the above names are people that painted pictures just how I wanted them to be and inspired me to pick up the pen one time or the other.
Abroad – Lil Wayne, Jadakiss & LOX, The Game, Fabolous, Griselda, New York Rap and the entire battle rap scene…. to name a few… FunkFlex Freestyles, Sway Freestyles and all that.
N.S:- Still on Sinzu, you featured him on your latest record, and that is one of the few collaborations he has done since he was released from prison. How did this record come about and what’s the impact on your career?
P.C:- It’s easy to get along with people who are cut from the same cloth as yourself. If you listen to me and you listen to Zu, there’s no way you wouldn’t find similarities of his influence on my style
So it was pretty easy to lock in with him and make music… We basically were just in the studio playing beats and catching a vibe. It’s easy to make music when there’s a mutual level of love and respect for each other.
N.S:- that’s dope. You have developed a reputation as a battle-ready rapper and you have taken shots at Cassper Nyovest and AKA, both from South Africa, way before AKA got cancelled in Nigeria. You’ve also dissed BlaqboneZ and had a few words for his boss M.I. When you go at rappers on records, is it strictly business or does it get personal sometimes?
P.C:- It’s never personal for me. The AKA and Cass situation was just me talking my talk trying to prove a point that I was better than both niggas somewhat, 5/6 years ago… with that being said, that was all fun and games. With the MI and BlaqBonez situation, that’s me checking both dudes because their pattern or style of public relations more often than not, entails going against the culture or belittling the efforts of active emcees. We saw that with YRSFUYL & BRIA…. but it is what it is. It’s never personal for me neither is it business… It is what it is.
N.S:- Could you elaborate more on your assertion that MI and BlaqboneZ have been belittling the efforts of active MC’s. Some people may argue that they are only trying to make the game more interesting, what do you think?
P.C:- If that’s the case, then I guess my input/responses makes the game interesting as well… Loool…. “belittling the effort of active MCs” that’s as regards to the YRSFUYL song. I felt, instead of complaining, why not start by bigging up the MCs that did their bits to keep the game in shape while you were away?
N.S:- Was that why you sided with Vector in his beef against MI? You appeared on The Purge as well. Could you break it down?
P.C:- I never sided with Vector in his beef against M… What those grown men have going on is bigger than who and who was on The Purge. I appeared courtesy of myself, addressing things on my behalf not because Vector asked me to.
N.S:- What’s your take on Nigerian hip-hop fans who posit that “Gangsta rap”, “street rap” and hardcore(Drugs and Violence) reality rap have no space in Nigerian hip-hop.?
P.C:- It’s funny I will say because asides myself, it’s a few other MCs talking that G talk, shuffling it with making pop records and still have their fan base in check. Dudes like Erigga & Hotyce. There’s more than enough room for everyone in the industry, you want more fans? You know what to do. Collaborate & experiment more.
N.S:- Most people would think you just came out of nowhere in 2019, but to most discerning fans, you’ve been around, grinding and working since 2013, what advice would you give to any artiste, especially outside Lagos, who is currently striving to get heard nationally?
P.C:- Lol, nobody became/becomes successful overnight. I’m here because of God’s grace, my team, how much work I’ve put in and my faith in the hustle. Keep doing your thing and most importantly, make a name for yourself where you are BEFORE moving down to Lagos. That way you don’t show up on this side of town a “nobody”. Lol.
N.S:- Last year, you made the maiden edition of our artistes to watch in 2020, how does it feel getting that recognition from us?
P.C:- It felt really good you know, Rappers don’t get that much recognition so it’s always a good feeling being recognized by a platform that’s known for preaching the gospel and doing good by upcoming musicians.
N.S:- You have worked with veteran rapper Terry Tha Rapman over 4 times, you have also collaborated with mainstays Erigga, Ycee, Sossick, Yung 6ix and more. You recently received endorsements from Modenine and even M.I with whom you have a slight disagreement. do you think Co-signs in the industry are important and if so, how have these Co-signs helped you?
P.C:- From my point of view, Co-signs are important and mean much. It’s a sign of mutual respect for creativity regardless of your status in the industry. When you get a co-sign from people or someone you grew up listening to, it gets you charged up/pumped for the next verse you finna write, the song you’re about to record or industry move you about to make.
N.S:-Recently, Kenyan rapper Khaligraph Jones released what I consider to be a Gimmicky record titled Best Rapper In Nigeria, and you were the first rapper in the country to reply to him. What do you think about his record and how important do you think it is to always respond to any shots taken against you or your country as an MC.
P.C:-I knew he wasn’t that serious about the song and calling himself “The Best Rapper In Nigeria” but just like in real life, will you let an outsider come into your home and shit on you? Not me… No… We put them in their place quickly. Whether is jokes or not, I want a piece in all the action. Nothing moves unless I say so. Ha! Lol…
N.S:- Which artistes do you admire musically and would like to work with in the future.
P.C:- A handful, BujuToYourEars, Tems, Goodgirl LA, J Hus, Wizkid, Davido, BurnaBoy, Sarz, Wurld… to name a few.
N.S:-Are there any other artistes are signed to your label THG? And what’s should we expect from you as an artiste this year?
P.C:- Presently, I’m the only active recording artist in Trap House, but in a matter of months, our in-house producer/singer “Baby Lu” will be putting out materials both collaborations and solo pieces. Y’all just stay put.
N.S:- any final thoughts or shout outs for your fans out there?
P.C:- – I will like to thank my fans, both new and old for sticking with me from the jump. I know a lot is expected of me but keep the faith, sooner than later we will get to where we deserve to be. Easy Money!