Shola Idowu, popularly known as Weird MC, is Nigeria’s pioneer contemporary female rapper who is renowned for hits like ‘Allen Avenue,’ ‘Ijoya,’ and numerous awards.
Three years ago, an incident forced her to move to the UK and not much has been heard from her in recent times.
The artiste, who is also called the Rappatainer, is currently in the country, and in this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, she speaks about her career, personal life, and the state of the nation.
PT: Are you fully back in the country?
Weird MC: Nigeria has always been based on foundation, this is the mother ship, this is where everything sprouted up from.
I was partly raised in the United Kingdom and in Nigeria, so I have always gone back and forth. I always had that opportunity to embrace both cultures. I was born abroad; I am British – Nigerian. My parents are in England. I’ve been away for about three to four years.
PT: Was it a deliberate decision to go away for a bit?
Weird MC: It was a deliberate decision, I wanted a breakaway. I had suffered a major loss in the person of my friend, Nomoreloss. I think that really affected me so much as well.
But I also felt like everything was working out for my good. It pointed to something else and it brought me to my creator, getting to know the Lord Jesus. It just took me from my place of pain, darkness, and confusion and brought me into a place of light. It gave me that opportunity to just keep back shame and reprioritise what’s next for me.
It was a good time to spend away, and I was able to pick a new skill, learned some things. There was a period of pruning, of unlearning when I was away and it was a brilliant time for me to also look inwards, to reflect and redirect my priorities and just come out fresh again.
PT: Did it afford you the opportunity to rethink your music career?
Weird MC: I have never ever thought about rethinking my career. Music will always be the mothership, the base foundation, and other things sprouts from that, movie, everything.
And it is really funny, I did a Scrum Master when I was away, it also a way to acquire new skills that I could bring into the industry to also impact behind the scenes, not just working at the upfront as a performer or artist, but to be able to bring about a dynamic change as well.
I am not somebody who just wants to be performing, I have always been interested in upfront and behind the scenes in the context of music, movies, writing of books, and others.
PT: You said after you moved back most recently, you drew closer to God.
Weird MC: I drew closer to God years ago, like three years.
PT: Okay, so do we expect to see that rub-off in your music?
Weird MC: Absolutely. It is already rubbing off; you know right in the midst of it. It is only natural, therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, naturally. The prayer that I pray every day is when people see me, I don’t just want them to see me, I want them to see Christ in me.
So what I do in terms of music, movies, writing of books, and I even interact with people, it’s my prayer that it will always rub off.
PT: Will you do gospel songs or deeper songs?
Weird MC: Definitely deeper songs, songs that edify, songs that will pull people away from darkness into the light of Christ. Definitely yes, it is only natural. In fact, that’s the new normal for me. These are tools, capacities which have been given unto me, so it is only natural for me to use them in that direction.
PT: You did mention that you are into movie making.
Weird MC: I think what also pushed me further was I appeared in a recent movie which was an academic project. Someone really inspired me to go for it, the truth is movies have always been my first love but the music just happened first.
I mean how they make movies, it’s a brilliant storytelling tool, you get to tell stories and there are tons of stories which we haven’t told. Africa is rich and we need to tell our own stories, so, the film is a good medium to put those stories out.
PT: So, will you be producing, directing, scripting or acting?
Weird MC: I will say more of scripting and producing. I have somebody on the side directing. Acting once in a while.
I am somebody who has always been interested in working both behind the scenes and in front of the camera or on stage.
PT: Let’s come back to the present. Having been away for three years, a lot has changed in your industry. I’m sure you are aware of some of the new entrants. Thoughts?
Weird MC: I’m absolutely abreast. I think we haven’t even scratched the surface. There is so much that we are going to do, I love the fact that all eyes are on us now, it’s amazing, all eyes are on Burna, Wizkid, Davido. You now hear our artists doing things, like going to the Grammys, doing international projects, and the rest.
We haven’t even started. The potential is enormous and it’s hard not to be part of those who will be the beginning of the story, the evolution. There are beautiful things to see, even 2021 is going to get better.
PT: Do you have any favourites at the moment? Do you see yourself working with any one of them?
Weird MC: I love everyone, but I have a soft spot for Burna boy, and Teni. The good thing about music is that anything can happen. Music is a universal language, anything can happen. But I’m open to collaborating, most definitely, collaboration is good.
PT: Your classic, ‘Ijoya’ is 15 years, if I’m not mistaken?
Weird MC: Yes, that gift. There is something I noticed recently, I just feel that the song will get played every day. When I go on Twitter, I see one of two radio stations play it and I’m still wondering, what is it about this song.
That’s why sometimes I feel it’s a gift beyond the surface.
PT: Will I be right to say ‘Ijoya’ is your biggest hit yet? I mean asides ‘Allen Avenue’.
Weird MC: Hmmn… Asides from Allen Avenue. Yes, yes, it’s definitely my biggest yet. Because I’m still a work in progress.
But it is more than a hit for me, it has just taken a life of its own.
PT: Why do you say so?
Weird MC: The reception from people, even not within Nigeria, outside Nigeria. People across all spheres, I don’t know what it is about the song.
PT: Perhaps, because it was produced by Don Jazzy and JJC Skillz.
Weird MC: No, I think there is a sound, it is not just a song, it is sound. That we are merging talking drums, the garish sound and it was a song that started as a vision. It didn’t start as a song, it was a vision that I had to merge the west and Africa together. I also feel that is what makes it. It was a sound I had in my heart that I was able to translate and explain to producers.
PT: 15 years after, do you think you want to drop a remix?
Weird MC: Oh no. I truly believe that there are some songs that you don’t touch. So, I won’t do it. Some songs are classic; you don’t touch them.
PT: You haven’t recorded an album since you dropped ‘After the Storm’ in 2006.
Weird MC: I have not recorded actively after that and I just went into hibernation but album-wise, hibernation is over. but I have not been hibernating for 15 years, technically. I have been doing things, performing, touring, collaborating. I did a collaboration with PSquare on ‘Bizzy Body’ and others.
PT: Talking about the collaboration with P Square, how do you feel about their disbandment?
Weird MC: It broke my heart but I sincerely know in my heart that they will come back. I always tell my friends that this feels like a time of refreshing and I believe that something big will come out of it. That’s my conviction.
PT: I do know that right now, you really do not have female rappers. I mean Sasha, Eva and Blaise have moved on to other things. So, is there something peculiar about being female in the hip-hop scene?
Weird MC: I think the time has changed, the time we came on, it was like we are going to be the gatekeepers, like the founders and there is always a price to pay when you are a gatekeeper, pioneer. By the time I was coming out, there was a lot of resistance, it was like war and I had to stand my ground like I’m not going to go away, you are going to hear this.
PT: Were your parents supportive of your music career at first?
Weird MC: It was not like they were not in support, they were worried. My mother was very worried. Like I don’t understand what you are doing, how are you going to cope. But at the end, I was fine, I was doing well. They didn’t know where to place me, I remember that year, there was an award ceremony and they didn’t know where to place me. That’s the beauty of what I do, you cannot place me, but for the purposes of categorisation, you can put me in hip hop, you can put me in a box but I’m more of fusion. I’m fusion, a coat of many colours, that simple.
As a woman in this industry, you are young and you need to have that conviction to have what it takes to survive.
PT: It was reported that you turned 50 last year.
Weird MC: I don’t know; I don’t know where they got that from.
PT: Oh, so it was a wrong story?
Weird MC: As I said, I don’t know where they got it from. I have never ever discussed my age; I don’t know where they got it from.
PT: Going forward, do we expect songs, new albums?
Weird MC: Yes, songs contents, books. I will like to tell my story, there are some things I feel like people have not been able to grasp. It will be a good thing to just share my journey, I truly believe that I appeal to a wide base of people, male and female, cut across different age groups. It will be good to just narrate my story, share the challenges, the wins, the experiences, just tell my story.
PT: What are the issues that still linger in our music and entertainment industry?
Weird MC: I feel that we should just be really careful with our words and lyrics because we are held responsible. Children are watching, they are listening and music is a very powerful tool. When you are listening to a song, it goes straight into your heart. We need to be more responsible in terms of our videos and lyrical content.
PT: Since you say you are evolving; will your sense of style also change? Or you will still remain tomboyish Shola?
Weird MC: No, it will get better. All those things are labels but you know we are spirit beings, we shouldn’t lock ourselves in a box, you know.
I will keep saying it, I am a work in progress, I am a divine work in progress. I am in the hands of my creator, he is the porter and I am the clay, I am being moulded daily into his image.
PT: I do know you have successfully kept your private life under wraps and not much is known about your love life? I’m curious to know if you are dating?
Weird MC: I feel I am not for open public confirmation, as I said, my focus right now is growing and just evolving ways to leave good legacies behind, to impact. I am crying and praying for a new Nigeria, I want to see a new Nigeria, that we have lived for one another and the pandemic of tribalism will be removed.
PT: Do you have plans to mentor female artistes?
Weird MC: Absolutely. I will like to do music consultancy work, you know, take them under, show them the ropes. And as we have been in the bush, toiling for ages, we will show them the way, what to avoid, the pitfalls, what to do, and all that.
PT: What are your thoughts on the state of the nation? You weren’t around when the End SARS movement began but I’m sure you followed it. Thoughts?
Weird MC: I just feel like Nigeria is such a great nation that has huge potential. We just need to sit down- contesting what has happened, dialogue, and think of ways to actually fulfil that potential.
The human resources, the people, the emerging technology hubs, natural resources – we are blessed. I sincerely feel we need a national dialogue, we can’t keep doing things the same way, else we will move in circles. We need to be the giant; we are the giant of Africa.
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