October 19, 2020

Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!

Olamidé is Nigeria’s voice of the streets, which speaks volumes to his stature in both the music industry and in life. While we’ve recently seen a highly-favored resurgence of the Afrobeats wave, real name Olamide Adedeji has been pushing forward this movement since he started one decade ago. Now currently the #1 rapper on the African comment when it comes to streams, social media followings, and mere influence, the rap icon continues to reach new heights.

Beyond his own solo artistry, he’s a proud record label executive with his own imprint titled YBNL Nation, discovering and mentoring big-time artists such as Adekunle Gold and Fireboy DML. In fact, Olamidé is credited as executive producer on the latter’s most recent album, Apollo.

Boasting 7.1 million followers on Instagram alone, Olamidé returns with his newest project titled Carpe Diem, which merges rap in 3 different languages: Yoruba, English and Pidgin. The album draws traditional elements from Nigeria called galala, a mix of reggae and dancehall, and Celestial, taking pop into the church. His melodic Afropop sound resonates with listeners all across the world, as he finally opens up to do international press beyond his home country.

Flaunt had the pleasure of catching up with Olamidé via Zoom, while he  was in Baltimore visiting family. Read below as we discuss what he was like growing up, the visual behind “Green Light,” new project Carpe Diem, his YBNL label, taking his music global, and more!

Born and raised in Bariga, Lagos State, what was a young Olamidé like?

Bariga is the part of Lagos that’s the ghetto. Growing up for me was fun, a lot of options. Playing football, writing, doing different kinds of things. Unlike now, there’s so much difference because I can’t walk freely on the road. [laughs]

How does it feel to be the #1 rapper on the African continent?

Oh man, all I can say is glory be to God. A big thanks to everyone who’s showing me love, posting my music, streaming my music. It feels great.

Coming up, did you think you would be at this point now?

I’ve always had aspirations and motives to be great in life, in whatever I lay my hands on. Sometimes, good things are way beyond words. I didn’t even know how spectacular or magnificent the artistry is. You cannot paint what greatness in the future is going to look like, it’s a very tough picture to paint. I always knew from the jump that I’d be successful, and always try to be great.

Making music for a decade, how have you evolved since as an artist and individual?

As an artist, I’ve evolved from doing only sounds that I’ve heard and used to hear around me, to learning different cultures, different backgrounds, different ethnicities. I’ve bounced to the Southeast sound to the Jamaican sound to the European sound to the American sound. It’s been a wonderful ride so far. Music helped me learn how to communicate properly with people, how to interact with people, how to show respect under my perspective. Be true to the culture, true to the way of life, show to the sound. At the end of the day, you find out everyone has a reason why they look the way they look, why they talk the way they talk, why they move the way they move. Music made me learn about people’s perspectives and how to relate to people from different backgrounds. Personally, music has changed my life from ordinary to extraordinary. Music made me realize I could never settle for less ever again in my life, there’s no way I’m going to be able to survive in an environment that’s ordinary.

You released the visual for “Greenlight,” what was your creative vision?

Before we did the video for “Green Light,” I had a listening session with my video director. We listened to the whole album, I gave him a breakdown of the pictures in my head and what I wanted the project to look like. After listening, he went back to his drawing board and figured out a way to paint out a picture for me through a moodboard. When I saw it, I was pleased with what he came up with. It was the best of both worlds, both our ideas.

The song itself is such a vibe, bring us back to when you created it. 

Making the song was a fantastic experience for me. Initially, I was done recording my project when somebody from my team sent me this instrumental from P.Prime. When I heard it, I’m like “whoa wait a minute, who’s this kid?” [laughs] They told me it’s a new kid on the block. I invited P.Prime over, had 2 or 3 weeks of sessions with him. I scrapped 90% of the songs on the album and we recorded them again.

When I heard the first beat, it was “Eru,” the first single of the project. He sent me another one, I recorded “Chimichanga.” I thought “man this sound’s way different from everything I’ve been hearing in a long while, so I’d like to take this song to the next level. Let’s both sit down and figure this out,” because I have some experience when it comes to production and sound. We both sat down and made “Green Light” together.

New album Carpe Diem out now! What are you most excited for?

I’m most excited for growth. I’m excited for the new sound I’m trying out. I’m excited for the new heights I’m reaching right now. I’m excited for the new team I’m working with, EMPIRE, for making things a bit easier for me. I’m excited, I cannot wait for the world to hear what I have to offer.

Carpe Diem means “seize the day,” do you live by that mantra?

Oh definitely, seize the day. YOLO, you only live once man!

Where do you see yourself fitting within the US music scene, given that a lot of your big songs are in a foreign language?

For me, it’s not about fitting in. I’ve never been the type that ever wants to fit in, I’m doing my own sound. I know music’s the universal language, you don’t necessarily need to understand what I’m saying for you to vibe with what I’m singing. People like Bad Bunny for instance, people listen to Bad Bunny‘s music back in Nigeria. Nobody understands what he’s saying. There’s also Cassper Nyovest from South Africa, we don’t understand what’s being said in the songs but music’s universal. If you market to the right channel, people are definitely going to buy into your sound as long as it’s good.

Do you miss outside?

I’m actually not the outward type, but I lowkey miss outside. As much as I don’t like to go out the house, sometimes once in a blue moon I do miss outside. [laughs]

What does your label YBNL stand for?

From Lagos, Yahoo Boy No Laptop is the Nigerian version of Bad Boy Entertainment. The literal meaning is a young dude making good money, making good cash. Looks like a drug lord or someone who’s into illegal business and credit card scam, but none of that’s part of his business. He’s flashy because he has mad money. That’s what they call the street guys or gangsters, people who are doing well in their business or in their place or work. If you do extraordinarily well for yourself, always looking fly or flashy, that’s what they’ll call you on the streets. Yahoo Boy No Laptop.

Goals for yourself at this point in your career?

I’ve tried my best as much as possible to get myself up to this level. I didn’t come this far to come this far only, I’m trying to take my brand across the globe. Not just myself, but my label and the artists on my label. I plan to sign more artists and go into music production full-time. I want to make my music global. I want to go to the fashion world very very very soon.

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