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Ruggedman Talks New EP, Social Activism In Guardian TV Interview

Photo: Victor Oghenevo, Priscilla Emokpaire, Ruggedman and Olaoluwakitan Olasupo during ‘Nigeria at 60’ interview with GuardianTV.

Years from actively making music, legendary Nigerian rapper Ruggedman is returning with an EP.

But unlike his earlier work, the new body of work will be socially conscious.

In the past few years, the rapper, born Michel Ugochukwu Stephens, has focused more on using his clout and relationship with the Nigerian police to help youths who have had ugly encounters with men of the Nigerian police, especially the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

In a country where many artists shy from doing conscious, not to talk of engaging in real-life activism, Ruggedy Baba campaigning seems like a healthy aberration. But it is one that many of his more than 613 thousand followers on Twitter have found beneficial.

“They are now bullies,” Ruggedman, whose younger brother was once arrested by SARS unjustly, said of SARS in a 2018 interview with Guardian Life.

In the same year, a released single, accompanied by a video, “Is Police Your Friend?”, which delivers a scathing criticism of the Nigerian Police.

Sitting for an exclusive interview with Guardian TV recently, Ruggedman made the same point about the police brutality.

It is a sore point for him. But when he talks about it, there is a tilt in his voice: a resolution – or say resignation – to keep pushing the police authorities towards doing the right thing.

Hence, the birth of a five-track EP.

“It is called The Situation EP for a reason because I chose talked about the situation of things not just in Nigeria but also in the world,” Ruggedman told Guardian TV.

“I felt someone of my calibre should be one of those speaking about things happening in the country.”

The initial plan he has for 2020 was different: with a trove of songs including ones featuring the likes of Falz, Small Doctor and 2Baba.

The EP will feature Praiz, and at least, two new artists – Tosin and Specikinging.

To make the project more collaborative, Ruggedman is dropping an instrumental with a chorus on which any interested artist can lay their vocals and send back to him.

“All they have to do is: download it, record their verse and send it back to me. I will pick the best two and they will automatically feature on the EP,” he said.

Regardless of his activism on and off social media, Ruggedman is not the one to dabble into the murky water of Nigerian politics.

His social advocacy comes from a place of responsibility. The failed promises and other vices being perpetrated by most of these politicians wouldn’t even encourage him to do politics.

“I don’t know how to lie that much. So I don’t think I will, especially with the crop of politicians, we have now,” Rugged man said.

“Now, I don’t think because anybody who can be set in a sensitive office or in an office of power and act like he or she doesn’t see what’s happening to the masses AKA his or her constituents aka the people who voted for you and you act like you don’t see what’s happening then I don’t think I can associate with such people.”

Beyond the EP, Ruggedman has been busy recording his own talk show. This show, he said, focuses on the lives of the struggles of the everyday Nigerian.

The Guardian TV interview is a part of the programmes the platform has in place for Nigeria’s 60th Independence anniversary.

In one of the programmes, Ruggedman interviews three young Nigerians on the situation in the country. That interview will be published on Thursday.

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