I’M THE BIGGEST RAP ARTISTE IN NIGERIA –RUGGEDMAN
With two albums selling like hot cake, shows within and outside the country, a N4.5 million jeep and pretty girls flocking around him, this is the world of Ruggedman.
Lots of guys his age will not hesitate to swap places with this rapper. Correspondent, Kemi Yesufu, caught up with the artiste fans call "Rugeddie Baba" for this exciting chat. Excerpts:
How has your career beensince the release of the album, Ruggedie Baba?
It's been great, it's been wonderful. I have been able to do something most Nigerian artistes have never done. After the release of my album, I actually did a tour of seven states. I stopped for now because I want to shoot some videos after which I will go back on tour.
How was the response in the seven states you toured?
They don't even call me Ruggedman any more; they call me 'Ruggedie Baba' the title of my album. The response has been wonderful, I have not heard one negative thing, everybody loves the album and each person has a song they like. This album is more mature than the first I dropped.
You say your music is more mature, how did the maturity come?
Basically, the content or concept of the album is not all about beefing somebody or fighting; I have two conscious songs. I did a song on HIV/AIDS, I have songs for my cousin, who died a couple of years ago, and I have inspirational songs in the album. It's a well-rounded album.
Why have you stopped beefing? Is it because you are now a celebrity?
Anything you want to do, do it. There is no rule that says do it this or that way. When I came out, I had something on my mind and I had to let it out. That was why I did the Ehen! song. I did not know it was going to go the way it went. It's not like I came out wanting to "beef" anybody, because even before I dropped the Ehen! song in 2002, I had already dropped two songs in 1999. Then I realised that a lot of mediocrity was being cerebrated. It was either I drop the whole rap thing, move to something else or fight for what I love, which was what I did with Ehen! And it worked.
If you had dropped rapping, what else would you have done?
Apart from music, I definitely would still be in entertainment one way or the other. Because I love advertisement, I love coming up with concepts.
People call you Ruggedie Baba now, what's the idea behind the concept? Are you saying you are the Baba of rap in Nigeria?
Something like that; you hear a part of the chorus that goes in English when translated from Yoruba language, "Rugged the frame of rap, just keep looking at them". Because, if you check it, from 2002 when I came out till now, I am still about the biggest rap artistes in Naija.
Aren't you courting controversy by what you just said?
There is a difference when you say you are the best and when you say you're the biggest. Before I came with my album, obviously to everybody Eedris (Abdulkareem) was the biggest. And the biggest rapper is someone that does almost all the big shows within and without. From when I came out till now I am about the only rap artiste that has done everything that comes to Nigeria and outside. I did Germany, Dublin, London; I was nominated for KORA in South Africa. So, I am not saying I am the best rapper, but I am the biggest because of my achievements.
What is happening to your cloth-line – the Rugged clothing line?
I am taking it one step at a time; almost every time you see me on stage I am wearing my clothes. Now, I have started giving them out. I am going to have a fashion show in Lagos very soon to officially launch the clothing line. I am taking it one step at a time b>ecause I am doing everything all by myself, this is just me, Ruggedman, Rugged Records, doing these things.
Who is marketing and distributing your album?
T. Joe marketed my first album, Obaino marketed my VCD; Obaino is a very strong marketer, he's marketing my new album and he is going to market my VCD.
You just bought a N4.5 million jeep; it means Ruggedman has made loads of money from music?
Yes, Ruggedman has made money, trust me, he has.
Apart from buying cars, have you invested your money elsewhere?
Oh yes, only a stupid man would make money and not invest it. I have been and still would be investing.
What's your most valued asset?
Talking about most prized possession, it has to be my family and my life.
Did your family support you when you started music?
They did not know how serious I was taking music. I was always in my room, blasting music, my door locked; they did not know how far I was into it until they started seeing the likes of Paul Play Dairo, Trybesmen coming to my house. But as long as it was not disturbing my academics, as long as negative report was not reaching them, it was fine with them. Most especially now that all they hear is good stuff.
When you first started, you used to hang out with guys like Nomoreloss, but you don't do that anymore. What happened?
The most constant thing in life is change. We were all recording at Silver Point back in those days. We are all men; I believe everybody has moved on. But it does not mean we are not friends, just recently Nomoreloss and I had a show together in Ikeja. We need to move on. If you stand on one spot things would pass you, the only spot I know I have been seating in is Rugged Records. My first album I worked 80 per cent of it with OJB (Jezreel), but now I work with I.D. Cabbalas, Jah Mix, Mr. Sef, JJC in London, but we are still friends.
How would you rate rap music in Nigeria now?
Rap music, like I complained then, was done wrongly. But now, everybody has taken correction. Thanks to what I did. Now, not just rap music, music in Nigeria has improved seriously. If you check it, more people now listen to rap music. What I am fighting for with my new album is to let the people know where you come from. Like in the song I said, "wetin go make people know where you come from/ in the long run/na fusion of grammar, your slang and your mother tongue." If you try to rap like an American nobody would know where you come from. But when you speak Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba, then they would ask what language is this? We need to give Nigerian rap music a face, South Africans did it, they have Quito, Ghanaians have Hip-life, for Nigerian rap? Nothing!
How did you guys, Dat Nigga Raw, 2Shotz got together for the Abia anthem song?
My manager is crazy. He is very adventurous. He and Dat Nigga Raw thought 2Shotz is from Abia State, I am from Abia State, Nigga Raw is from Abia State. We are under the same management – Now Music. Why don't we come together and do something for Abia? Then we came up with the song, it was supposed to be a project, and actually it is – Abia's finest album we are going to go back to later.
A lot of girls have been making amorous overtures to you since this interview started, how do you cope with them?
It's not easy, but you need to do your best because you can't chase everybody away. You cannot chase everything in skirt; the easiest thing in life is to mess up. You just have to keep girls at arms length and know what you are doing.
The saying is that a man must either like drink, women or smoking, which is your vice?
I put my hands in too many things at the same time. That's my problem. I don't smoke at all, but I drink occasionally.
But hip-hop is married to hard life – lots of smoking, drinking and womanising.
That's where you make the mistake; a lot of Nigerians see hip-hop through the eyes of America. Nigerian culture is different from American culture, American culture is drug, sex, gun, but in Nigeria, our culture is respect your elders, dress decently. You don't see us doing drugs in the streets. hip-hop culture is about you; it's how you live your life that should be portrayed in your music. Be it hip-hop, reggae, fuji, a lot of people want to get it mixed up, Tupac is Tupac, the way I live is the way I live.
When is Ruggedman getting married?
When God says so.
So, what kind of wife do you expect to find?
She doesn't have to be a Miss World, but she should have a good head on her shoulders, a good sense of humour and be ready to understand and respect what I do.
Would you say you are as romantic?
When I want to be.
Aside rapping, what other things do you enjoy doing?
I am into play station TV, comedy, cartoons, watching movies.