Patoranking: From The Streets To The World
On a Friday afternoon, Patoranking walked into the shoot completely full of life and energy. He had his head wrapped in a black scarf, which he insisted needed to be on as he felt it added some “Pato” flavour to the look.
Also known as Patrick Nnaemeka Okorie, Patoranking is a singer and songwriter recognised for his infusion of reggae and dancehall with a Nigerian twist. Having grown up in Ebute Metta, the artist is known to have made a name underground before going mainstream.
Proclaiming his love for Arsenal, Patoranking talks about his similarities with Alexis Sánchez. He says, “I work like Sanchez because every time Sanchez doesn’t score, he is never happy about it…he’s a result-oriented person and that’s me.”
The “Galala Sound”
Patoranking, who started off as a dancer in the streets, talks about his love for reggae as he was primarily exposed to Bob Marley as a child. He says “Shout out to my neighbour” who he thanks for his love for Reggae. The singer goes on to explain the “Galala” sound, which he describes as “our own form of dancehall”. He makes no bone about his love for the music genre, which rules majority of the Lagos ghettos.
“Music for me started at an early age, I started as a dancer,” he says. “I was dancing to many sounds, but most especially the Galala sounds…. I fell in love with it because I was in the ghetto and Galala music runs the ghetto.”
What are your fondest musical memories?
I remember dancing at carnivals and winning mainstream dancing competitions. They are beautiful memories. You have the whole ghetto behind you as a dancer.
How did you get the name Patoranking?
A friend was playing guitar at the beach. He asked me my name. Then he called me Patoranking.
How did you learn patois? Some people have said your own dialect is not the original patois. How would you like to respond to that?
I fell in love with the language. I think it’s a language of choice; I chose the language. I cannot be 100 percent fluent as a Jamaican but when I speak to my Jamaican friends, they understand what I am saying. They also love that I can speak their lingo.
Breaking In With Alubarika
Many recognise Patoranking for his hit singles, My woman, Emergency, Girlie O featuring Tiwa Savage and Murda featuring Seyi Shay. For these hits and more, he has been nominated for and won many awards.
From the 2014 Channel O Music Video Awards Dancehall/Reggae Act of The Year to the 2015 MTV Base Best New Act, his music is known all over Africa. But it was his 2013 runaway hit single Alubarika featuring Timaya brought him into the limelight.
He points out that the song “brought me out of the underground, to the mainstream” after a decade of not-so-successful attempts.
What was your experience trying to break into the Nigerian music industry?
To be honest, breaking into the industry was a very tough one. I conquered the underground scene before the mainstream. I remember having a collabo with artists in different local governments in Lagos State. So I came through the right channel, which was going through the underground. I got my big break in 2013. But before then, I had been recording features. I would say I waited for about 10 years before I made it.
Which of your songs best define you?
That will be Alubarika because I was able to tell people where I am headed and where I am coming from; within three minutes I was able to sell myself to the world. I was able to sell my dream to the world and tell people, “This is me, this is what you can expect.”
Since the song came out, it has been skyrocketing. Alubarika brought me out from the underground to the mainstream.
Underground is the root. It’s a is beautiful thing starting there. It is like planting a seed; many people don’t see the process that goes in, all they see is the tree. I think it was very important to my career.
As an artist, what is your creative process?
My creative process involves me being alone and having a reflection of my environment, trying to think about what the next man isn’t thinking of; it involves me speaking for the other man who can’t speak for himself.
Becoming A Mentor
In 2016, Patoranking was chosen amongst the likes of Waje, Timi Dakolo, and 2baba as mentors on The Voice Nigeria. 2baba was later replaced by Yemi Alade.
Patoranking was the youngest of the mentors. But he is quick to point out that his young age was not a barrier when he says, “I was chosen because they needed somebody that can connect with what they want to hear. I can relate to them easily”.
He talks about some lessons he learnt as a judge on the show.
What was the most valuable lesson learnt from the experience?
I have learned a lot, especially about performance. I have also learned from my fellow judges. I learnt a lot about production. We had great times together; times when we just talk about everything – from music to fashion to family and everything else.
When you select people to be on your team, what do you look out for?
I go for the voice before I hit the buzzer. I ask, “Is this the winner of the show?” I make my ears my eyes the judges and if I am convinced, I hit the buzzer.
As an artist, how do you differentiate yourself from the rest?
I try not to do what everyone else is doing. I don’t follow trends; I just have the Midas touch.
While the Nigerian music industry has come a long way, there are a lot of things to be improved on in order for it to compete globally.
Recently, Mr Eazi talked about bringing in new sounds to the Afrobeat scene, which is now being replicated. Patoranking shares his views on the issue and talks about some challenges he has faced thus far.
What is your view on the recent argument regarding Mr Eazi originating a specific kind of sound which has been replicated by other artists? Do you think there’s a repetition of sounds?
From my little experience of music around the world, if I sound like another artist, I am sounding like that because we are from the same place. This is us. This is our sound. It’s something in our DNA; you can’t change it. I don’t think anyone created any sound.
What are some areas that could be improved upon?
Where the industry is right now is far off better than where it used to be. But we need to improve on a lot of things that we take for granted – for example, the quality of sound at concerts and how the stage and the venue are being set up.
Those little things matter. We also need to put in place a structure that can make everyone happy – from the manager to the artist, everyone that works in the industry.