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One-on-one with Selassie

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Fast rising singer Selassie, whose real name is Richie Selassie Okonkwo, has proven that he’s prepared to fight for a space in the already crowded music industry. In this interview, the Geological Engineer from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, spoke about his career and future plans.

How has your journey into the Nigerian music industry been?
April 1, 2019 marked exactly two years since I debuted with my mix tape titled, Anywhere Belle Face. It’s been amazing and exiting. I’m exited about April because good things usually happen to me in April and I thank God for everything.

Most recently, the Nigerian music industry has been excellent and challenging and artistes are stepping up to the challenge now. Back in the days, you release one song a year; you feel that you’ve done something. But nowadays, artistes are consistent and we’re trying to keep up with the pressure.

What’s your target for 2019?
This year, we’ve been in the studio working on songs; we released one of those songs titled YAPA. It’s been great being accepted in your environment, but you need to grow more than your surroundings. So, we’re pushing it to international boarders as much as our resources and God will take us.

What inspired the song YAPA?
It’s a funny story; it wasn’t even the song we planned on releasing that particular day. On this day, I was in the studio with my guys and Ozay, whom I featured in YAPA. We were chilling and my producer just ran into the studio; he didn’t even pay the bike man. He was like, ‘Yo men, I have this melody in my head; I got it while on the bike. I just have to play it before it escapes.’ So, he booted the computer and played it pampam-pampam and that was it. Later on, we developed the lines and choruses for the tune; it took us about 30 minutes from start to finish. After recording, we kept on playing the song for five hours from that point.

What are your plans for the song in terms of promotion?
YAPA is a prophetic, people-friendly and radio-friendly song. In the Nigerian music industry, you plan and you pray. I feel our plans are all right; we’ve tried to cover every angle – the clubs, the local DJ (Disco Jockey’s) associations, print and electronic media, the internet –instagram, blogs, twitter challenges. And we have a very strong WhatsApp community, in fact, the social media as generally. So, we’ve dropped the song and it’s hitting the people and making them happy and making them look forward to more good things from us.

Have you shot the video?
We shot YAPA video on March 2; it was directed by one of Nigeria’s very talented young directors, Dera Pictures. He did a great job; the shooting lasted over 14 hours. You know when you shoot for such very long hours, energy drops. But he kept our energy up. He was strict about his idea; he had a vision for YAPA and he stuck to his vision and made sure that he executed it the way he scripted it.
I’m expecting crazy visuals.

Who are there people you look up to in the industry, any plans for collaboration?
The number one person that made me come into music is M.I. In fact, back then, I knew every of his songs word for word. That was how I actually started music. Back in secondary school, YCee and I loved miming artists’ songs. YCee was a Lil Wayne freak and I was an M.I guy; we put up shows and YCee would do Lil Wayne stuffs and I would do MI stuffs.

I look also look up to Wizkid, to Burna Boy. I look up to Sakordi; his dominance of Ghanaian music industry is something else. I like Davido a lot; he’s doing a big thing for the Nigerian music scene and Africa as a whole. Like M.I said, Nigerians make the best music in the whole world right now; everybody is coming to Nigeria to get inspiration. Being a Nigerian musician is a blessing and it’s a blessing to be part of the industry.


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