Words by:- Nonso “Nonni Wyldwolf” Obiorah
The year 2019 was an interesting year for Nigerian hiphop. We witnessed an array of rappers go head to head in fight for supremacy and bragging rights. Ranging from veterans to, mainstays, emerging, and underground cats.
Nigerian hiphop was top of the mainstream topics, piggybacking on the potent virality beef creates. Back to back diss records churned out. Beef fuelled by egoistic claims and the plot to capitalize on the frenzy to score cheap publicity. Blaqbonez being at the center of the whole fracas, christening himself, Best Rapper In Africa, infuriating other emcees, each having a Punch packed reply. This ushered in the discovery of the young rapper, Meji. With lyrics like, “Yinka Ayefele rapper you can’t stand on your own” from his scathing diss Blaq Out, heads were impressed by his skill. A question left on the lips of a couple of us was — who is Meji?
On our first installation of the NS NextGen series, we caught up with Meji to have an expository dialogue into his space and music career.
Name: Oladimeji Adegbamigbe
Date Of Birth: 1st of November 1995
Place Of Birth: Lagos
Origin: Ondo State
College: University of Agriculture Makurdi
NS: Can we get to know who Meji The Rapper is?
Meji: So Meji is not just a rapper. He is a 2D and motion graphic designer, video editor amongst other things. He’s basically an overall creative. First son in a family of 5 kids with two brothers and two sisters.
His full name is Oladimeji Adegbamigbe, and Meji is a shortened version of his first name.
Meji is someone that likes to entertain people through different mediums. He loves cooking, Playing video games, playing the Piano, Playing chess, Innovating, Talking, and Flirting.
NS: Lets talk about your stage name. It’s a shortened version of your government name. There are very few rappers who go with that. Any reasons or intent for sticking with that?
Meji: Well. I’ve always loved the idea of having my real name as my stage name. But because my real name was too long I worked with a shortened version.
NS: It’s usually hard to pinpoint most times, but how did you discover hiphop, first set of rappers you listened to?
Meji: This question is hard. But Eminem made me love rap, and listening to MI Abaga made me want to rap.
NS: Can you really say their influence is littered in your style?
Meji: Yeah. I can. Especially MI, and in recent times Juice Wrld has influenced the melodies in my music.
NS: When did you start rapping? And at what point did you decide to chase a professional career?
Meji: Started rapping in 2012, I was 16 at the time. I decided to take Music as a career after my final exam which was in 2016.
NS: How has it been since your sojourn into this cut throat industry?
Meji: Well, It’s Cut throat. I’ve been doing researches and paying a lot of attention to not make the same mistakes as my predecessors.
NS: So tell us, is Meji signed to a label, independent, or affiliated to a collective?
Meji: I’m an independent artiste but I’m affiliated with WeTalkSound, The biggest music community in Nigeria.
NS: How has working with a collective helped as against working solo?
Meji: So working with a community like WeTalkSound has helped me garner more fans than I would easily get solo. For example, the recent music I released in collaboration with WeTalkSound on the LOFN 3 project may not have gotten the numbers it has if I had released it on my own. Also members of the community has various relationships that one can tap into and utilize.
NS: We are aware you’ve got a 9-5. How do you juggle both careers?
Meji: It’s not easy to be honest. I usually write music when I’m not working and sometimes i do while I’m working.
I also piggyback on the resources and relationships with people that I work with to improve my music career. For example everybody on my team and in my department know that I make music. Even the GMD and CMO where I work have listened to my music and watched my videos.
And one thing the CMO does is, anytime someone in or affiliated with the music industry walks into the office, she makes sure she introduces me to them and and gets them to hear my Music. So in as much as the 9-5 steals time I should use for my music It makes up for that in funds and relationships to push the music.
NS: The track that brought you to the hiphop community consciousness is your Blaqbonez diss. What prompted the reply. What irked you about his BRIA claim?
Meji: The claim didn’t irk me. Infact I wasn’t triggered at all. And the diss wasn’t personal
He asked rappers to come for him he wanted more attention I wanted attention too.
I knew that if I had dissed him I’d get the attention so I went for it. And I knew that in the end I couldn’t be dragged critically for doing it because he got what he asked for.
NS: And here you are being mentioned in hiphop conversations, getting recognition from seasoned industry folks. It was worth it right?
Meji: It definitely was worth it. In an unreleased song I even made reference to this “In recent hiphop conversations I see my name along with the greats”.
NS: Talking about unreleased songs, what are we expecting from Meji. Are you working on any projects?
Meji: A lot of Collaborations. My first project. Maybe E.P. collaborations too. From the feedback Overkill got there’s going to be a slight change in the style of my music There’ll be more singing although this doesn’t mean I’m going to stop rapping but I’ll most likely sing in almost every rap song I put out.
NS: The singing you pulled on the hook of overkill was lovely. We’d love to hear more of that.
Meji: Yeah and you’ll be getting more. My new songs would be giving off that Juice Wrld vibe on the hooks.
NS: Are there artistes you would love to work with? Probably a dream come thru?
Seems you’d have hoped to work with Juice Wrld considering how much you mention his name? May his soul rest in peace.
Meji: A lot of artistes The list is too numerous to list.
Funny thing Is I didn’t know juice Wrld till he died.It was when he died I started listening to him. A colleague of mine, Afeye Put me on to his music and I got hooked.
NS: That’s the impact…..still inspiring people even after death.
NS: What do you think about the state of Nigerian hiphop, playing second fiddle to afropop? Rappers switching to stay relevant. What is the issue if you were to analyze?
Meji: When you say switching. What exactly do you mean?
NS: Fully giving up rapping.
Meji: So I won’t shame or blame anyone that switches from rap to another genre to stay relevant Bills don’t pay themselves.
About the current state of hiphop, Afrobeats is like the hottest genre right now. Even artistes in the US want a bite of it.
For rap music to steadily get more attention in this country Rappers need to put their ego aside and collaborate more with each other and especially with Afrobeat artistes and also make better music.
Witty punchlines are cool but they don’t just cut it anymore.
Songs with great melodies tend to have better replay value. Rappers that can sing should sing more in their rap song and those that can’t should get someone who can to give them a melodious and memorable hook that hold the attention of the listener and also make them pay attention to the verses or bars.
NS: If you could change or improve anything in the Nigerian Music Industry what would it be?
Meji: Piracy law. Piracy has robbed a lot of artistes a lot of revenue. And also setting up a structure to improve the music Industry as a whole.
NS: Any last words for your teeming fans?
Meji: I’m grateful for the love and support they’re showing me and I hope they never stop. Cause they’re ones paving the way.
NS: Thanks for having us. We wish you good luck in your career.
Meji: Thank you.