Why I Sing Indigenous Rap – Da Emperor
He was christened Mobolaji Fasasi, but notably known as Da Emperor on the entertainment scene. This artiste has carved a niche for himself with his rap music, which is a fusion of his native language, Yoruba, and English. Penultimate weekend, he premiered the video for his hit song, Paramode at the Silverbird Cinemas, Ikeja. BUKOLA BAKARE was there and spoke to the budding rapper and actor on his muse, music and influences.
How did your foray into music start?
Well, it started about six years back, 2008 precisely. I am an indigenous rap artiste as well as an actor. I get motivation from things that I see around me. These inspire me to write songs, so I decided to give it a try and started with English rap. Along the line, I decided to go into more of what people would like to hear, fusing my native language, Yoruba, with English to produce a unique sound.
Did you, at some point, get influenced by the likes of 9ice and the late Dagrin?
Yes, Dagrin was a source of motivation to me and he was someone that I really believed in, although I was never opportune to meet him before he died. I’ve always been motivated by him because he believed in doing things his own way. I realised that if there is hip-hop, then there must be hip-hop for the grass roots, so I decided to give it a trial and found it interesting.
You released a promo CD back then?
It was a promo CD in 2010/2011 with a combination of four tracks on them. I worked with a couple of Nigerian and foreign artistes such as Slim Joe, Gabriel Afoloyan who is Ade Love’s son and a Jamaican artiste, Chisquo. I was about recording a track with Fatai Rolling Dollar when he passed on. I have also worked with Shifo, who produced some of 9ice’s tracks at some point and Indomix, who also produced tracks for Sound Sultan and 2face. I am planning something with Whizkid at the moment.
Recently, you launched the video for your new single, Paramode. What informed the song?
Paramode stems from things that have been happening around me. Sometimes, DJs don’t want to play the song of an artiste, yet there are challenges from every nook and cranny. I thought about these things and wrote a song. It was just me speaking my mind on the things going on in the industry.
Do you believe that DJs are choosy when playing songs on air?
For now, no comments (chuckles)
Apart from Dagrin and 9ice, do you have other musical influences?
Yes, foreign influences though. These include the likes of the late Micheal Jackson, T.I, Snoop Lion and a couple of other foreign acts. I have been on top of hip-hop charts in Lagos for months now as number one and have also been on top of some other music charts. I discovered that foreign fans are interested in our music than Nigerians. For instance, I am one of the artistes on Triple clix.com and I get foreign fans on a daily basis. This is not supposed to be so because when you look at the kind of music that I do, you expect more Nigerian fans.
Who are those you worked with on this video?
I worked with a couple of people, majorly Prince Jinex who directed the video, Indomix who mastered the song and Justice who produced it. It was so challenging but we had to do it.
Sometimes, people hear a song on radio and like it instantly. However, when the video is released, you cannot match the aesthetics of the video with the song. Is that perhaps the director’s fault?
Sometimes, it depends on the storyline. Some directors don’t believe that it plays a crucial role in the video, they believe in doing something out of the ordinary. Thus, they bring in a different concept and the video falls short of the peoples’ expectations so it all boils down to the concept for the song being spelt out in details.
What’s your take then on artistes spending huge sums to shoot a video?
Truth be told, churning out a video is very important in every artiste’s career. It’s like an identity card, if you don’t have a video, then, you have no identity card. It’s like laying claim to a song and they don’t get to see you on television. Videos help artistes to keep pushing their fame
Any other thing in the works for Da Emperor?
Da Emperor is an unstoppable moving train, if I can put it that way, so there is still more in the kitty. That’s all I can say for now.
Are there certain memories that have helped to shape the musician in you?
There are lot of memories and challenges where you get frustrated. Sometimes, I think about my past write lyrics based on it. Recall that I mentioned earlier what brought about Paramode. I thought about the things happening in the industry and penned a song; I am inspired by life, what I see and what I learn on a daily basis. It’s a normal phenomenon whereby you think about your past to shape your future.
As an artiste, what’s your driving force?
My driving force as an artiste is indigenous rap because that’s what I find very easy. I have carved a niche for myself in that genre. I strongly believe that you have to keep learning because the moment you stop learning, you are dead. For now, I am into full time music, I was actually into acting but that has been on the down low for a while.
It was time consuming, so I had to stop and focus squarely on my music. I featured in Youths in Politics, Akila and a couple of other movies.
When you juxtapose music with acting, which comes easy?
Music has always been it for me so it’s always easy. Recently, I performed at Fashion Fusion at Oriental Hotel and at a bank’s party where I performed alongside Davido, Tiwa Savage and J-Martins to mention a few.
What informs your dress sense as an artiste?
Nothing in particular, I just look through my cupboard, join things together and keep moving.
Word of advice for artistes who are already established and those who are just coming up?
For artistes who are already established, they should keep doing their things and keep showing those who are coming the much needed love. To the upcoming ones, they should keep putting their best and they should never get frustrated because music is all about movement. Once you stop moving, then, your career is dead. You can jog, walk or run but never stop. For those who aspire to become musicians, if it’s something you love doing and you believe in yourself, why not? Give it a push because you definitely don’t know if you might be the next Micheal Jackson, you might be the next global star. Just keep giving it a push and with God on your side, you’ll get to your El-dorado.