INTERVIEW: My feeling having number one song in Africa — Ladipoe

Nigerian rapper, Ladipoe Eso. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Instagram page of Ladipoe]
Nigerian rapper, Ladipoe Eso. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Instagram page of Ladipoe]

LadiPoe Eso, professionally known as Ladipoe (or Poe) has remained a non-conformist, and even when it seemed like his music was not earning commercial value in the early days of his career, he remained true to his art form.

His recent interview with PREMIUM TIMES was nothing short of fascinating. It gave an in-depth examination and insights orbiting his career and the fame he currently enjoys.

“The kind of songs that I have, people told me two-three years ago that nobody will ever buy into this. Keep watching as we are changing this industry from what it used to be,” Ladipoe told me over that phone as we spoke about his music, his deal with Mavin Records, his recently released single ‘Know You,’ which is currently one of the biggest singles in the country and more.

The track, ‘Know You’ which features one of Nigeria’s finest singers, Simi became LadiPoe’s first number 1 on Apple Music Top 100 charts. Currently number 2 on Apple Music, the song has amassed over 1.71 million streams on Audiomack, more than his entire debut album ‘TAP (Talk About Poe) ’ was streamed.

He also revealed how his transition from being an independent artist to Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records, as the first rapper, transformed his perception about the music industry and why he is called the “Leader of the Revival.”

Read excerpts of our conversation below:

PT: How has the coronavirus affected your art form and creative process so far?

Ladipoe: It’s funny somebody just asked me that recently. To be honest it hasn’t really affected the creative side of things. It’s more about how to channel it. I can assure you that every day I am doing something towards a greater goal. More than anything, it’s more about how is it affecting my productivity. So rather than having big goals, I create smaller size goalposts as opposed to big goalposts (he said as he giggled).

PT: How has that worked out for you so far?

Ladipoe: I mean it’s good cos I feel like I’m getting stuff done. The thing about this time is everyone is under pressure to feel like they’re being productive and they’re not wasting time but I feel like that pressure has become unhealthy for me. I’m just ensuring I channel it in the right way.

PT: So basically this period has allowed you to channel your energy into your creative process even more right?

Ladipoe: Yes, I mean it has just allowed me to know what aspects of it I need to focus on. It has helped me prioritize better. I still struggle; I’ve not perfected it I won’t lie.

PT: Your track, ‘Know You’ is getting bigger, how do you hope to keep the new fans? What will you be doing differently?

Ladipoe: That’s the thing, I’m not going to do anything differently. The new fans are here because I made a song that I made, a song that I wrote with somebody else. It is very much my music so all I’m going to be doing is keep showing them more of my music. There’s nothing that I need to do differently except let them see more of me. All that has been missing all this time has been eyes and ears, now we have them.

PT: Do you think working with Simi on that track was a masterstroke?

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Ladipoe: No, I don’t think so. Everything just lined up. Sometimes things just line up. Simi was important, the song was important, the kind of song that it was, was important (he said as he listed out more factors that made the song what it is). There’s not one factor that outweighed the other in the level of importance. The main thing is that we put out a great song and we put it out at a time when everyone was paying attention to the music that they listen to. And good stuff tends to rise to the top.

PT: What inspired the song?

Ladipoe: I was having a conversation with Simi in her studio. We were just getting to know each other because she knew I was LadiPoe and I knew she was Simi and I know she’s a fantastic artist and vice versa. So we were just talking and in that conversation, the idea hit me that it would be interesting to create a song about two people that don’t know each other that well. Just based on the conversation we were having. We are good writers, so we turned it into a great song.

PT: Most people affiliate you with alternative music; do you think the collaboration with Simi will make you focus more on features with more pop artists?

Ladipoe: I have songs with Falz, I have songs with Tiwa Savage, I have songs with so many different artists. To me, I will always make music with the person who can take the song to another level. That will never change.

PT: How does it feel to have the number one song in the country?

Ladipoe: It’s amazing. It feels great to know that you make the kind of music people can love, music that resonates with people. I think the main feedback I’m getting about the song is not just ‘oh I really like this song,’ it’s more like ‘I feel this,’ ‘I’ve felt like this before. For me, that’s the most amazing feeling that people all over Africa right now are feeling this song because they feel they can connect with it. That to me is a humbling feeling. I feel humbled and I feel motivated.

PT: Do you think artistic genius is tied to charts?

Ladipoe: I mean it’s just like saying ‘do you think those who lead a nation are the most qualified people?’ It is not always the people that are recognised to be the number one that really are number one. But the thing is that, as an artist, that is not what you should be in it for, you need to be in it to create impact. If you can create impact and you happen to be charting, that is not just down to you, that’s providence, that’s love, that’s grace on your life. It’s a great feeling but it is not the only thing personally. I disagree that if you’re not charting, you’re less creative. It’s a big lie.

PT: You call yourself the leader of the revival. What is that about?

Ladipoe: The leader of the revival is a role that I play, it’s a title I’ve been given because, in the music space that I am in, there was a lie that was told that people who have the alternative sound or rappers or people who do music that is not considered to be popular music will not make it, will not be seen, will not be heard. I think it’s a lie. Artists like myself, I happen to be a rapper but it is not only hip hop that I rap on, I rap many different vibes. There are artists like myself who are counter-culture who do things from the expected and I’m just trying to let them know that I represent them. The fact that ‘Know You’ is number one is not just for me, it is for all the people I represent.

PT: What has kept you going? Why have you remained a non-conformist?

Ladipoe: I know who I am; I know that type of artist that I am. I am very confident in that and I don’t have an identity crisis. I am a writer and I happen to express myself through rap. Some other people sing while some do some other things but mine happens to be rap. I am no longer afraid to make the kind of music I want to make. If it’s a rap or hip hop song, fine, if it’s a song like “Jaiye,” fine; if it’s ‘Know You,’ where I collaborated with a singer and I sing a little bit too and I rap as well, fine. I am no longer afraid, my role is to create. It is other people’s duty to put them in categories. Because of that knowledge, it is easy for me to focus on what I’m about.

PT: What are the mistakes you want to undo so far in your career?

Ladipoe: You know I tweeted something the other day I think you should check it out. Never be afraid of mistakes. If you only knew how the mistakes that your favourite artists and personalities have made to get them to where they are, you will never be afraid to fail. I don’t want to lose those memories. There’s definitely been a challenge but without a good team and a support system, I don’t know if I would have been able to overcome them. The main challenge for me was identity.

PT: What has been your biggest moment in music to date?

Ladipoe: If you asked me this question two months ago, I would have told you something else. Now, obviously, I’m going to tell you having the number one song on the continent is the biggest thing and my prayer for myself is that each time that somebody like you asks me that question, I will have something new to say.

PT: How would you describe your sound?

Ladipoe: I describe my sound as lifelines because a lot of people describe their sound based on how it actually sounds. I describe my sound on how I rap or how I write because the sound is always changing. Anybody who listens to my music from ‘Ko Ye Won,’ to ‘Let Me Know’ to ‘Jaiye’ to ‘Based on Kpa’ to ‘Are You Down’ with Tiwa, the sound changes but the way I rap is still the same so it makes more sense to use the common status, Lifelines.

PT: How’s your relationship at Mavin Records?

Ladipoe: It’s been great. It’s been a learning experience.

PT: What changed when you moved to Mavin Records?

Ladipoe: Nobody was calling me for free shows again (we both laughed). I think that was important, but also, I realised how much work actually went in to being consistent. I was seeing artists that have done much more than me that have charted several times over, which were the biggest artistes in the country and they were working 10 times harder. I thought I was working hard cos I was an independent artist but now I realise there’s so much to do.

PT: How is your relationship with other artistes in the record label?

Ladipoe: I mean great. For me, that they’re my colleagues and my label mates. I have a great relationship with all of them.

PT: Is there any form of subliminal rivalry or competition?

Ladipoe: All of us are in our own lanes. I have my own sessions, everybody has their own sessions. I want them to win. There’s no artiste in the label that I don’t want to win. I have a song right now, Korede has a song right now, Johnny Drille dropped (didn’t get what he said there). All of us can’t share the same numbers but we all want each other to do well.

PT: Do you ever deal with performance anxiety?

Ladipoe: I used to. Every once in a while when I get on stage I feel somehow. I feel tiny bits of nerves for like two seconds but then when I hear my music playing, it’s over. When I walk on the stage, it’s a different person on that stage.

PT: What has been your best venue to perform?

Ladipoe: I did a show in 2018 in December. It was called Ladipoe Live. That’s been my best so far.

PT: What should we be expecting next?

Ladipoe: I’m definitely working on something. 2020 has shown that no plans are set in stone and so if the opportunity presents itself, there will be a lot more music from Ladipoe.

PT: What next for the music industry after this pandemic?

Ladipoe: I don’t even know how to say this from the perspective of the music industry alone. It’s so much bigger than us. I do think that the music industry will carry on because people will always need to express themselves, they will always want to hope.

PT: How do you think it has affected shows, endorsements, and other aspects of the business?

Ladipoe: That’s a function of the rest of the world. The world is on pause and when it kickstarts again, I’m sure over time things will recover. Mentally, I don’t think anybody will forget this period but I think things will recover.

PT: Any new music coming out soon?

Ladipoe: You guys should enjoy ‘Know You’ (he said as we both laughed). Wow, you guys are already tired. The song has not even been out for one month and you’re already tired. But I’m an artiste, this is what I do. Definitely, there’s going to be new music for sure.

“I want you to keep your eyes on this. It’s not just about the person that has the number one song. Keep your eyes on how the industry is changing,” he said as we ended our conversation.

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