Rapper and singer, Raoul John Njeng-Njeng, better known as Skales, tells OLUSHOLA RICKETTS about his sojourn in the music industry
Did you achieve everything you set out to do last year?
Yes, I did. Most importantly, I put out my first studio album and worked with top artistes I have always seen as my idols. Last year was great for me, but there is always the desire to do more.
Since last year was better than 2017, I expect this year to be better than last year. I have started this year on a bright note already. I just released a new single, Feposi. I plan to do more songs this year and put smiles on the faces of people who have been supporting me from day one.
Why did you release a song so early in the year?
For me, when it comes to music, I don’t relax. At every point, I must have one or two fresh materials that I can release when the need arises. Of course, I have my time for relaxation but it doesn’t stop me from putting out content.
Why have you not held a major concert like most of your colleagues?
I was very busy last year. I was hardly in the country; so, there was no time to plan but I should have a major show this year. For a concert, you need to plan well. If you fail to plan, you will plan to fail. However, I have done some shows in Lagos in the past. If I set out to do something, I like to do it well.
Have you really made money from music?
Obviously, music has made me who I am today. I have travelled to different countries and I wouldn’t have achieved that without music.
Music is a business and for you to get into any business, you need to study it well and know what people ahead of you did that worked for them. The music business is very lucrative for those that understand it.
What has changed about you since you came to the limelight?
I am a star now. When I released my first single 10 years ago, nobody knew who I was. I have more exposure now and I have grown in my music too. As we speak, I don’t think there is any music-loving Nigerian who doesn’t know Skales.
At the outset, did you know you would become a star?
I am a believer. I even think I should be in a better position now; but I am thankful to God for where I am today. The truth is that we all venture into one thing or the other to win. I ventured into music because I believed I would succeed in it, though I didn’t know how and when it would happen.
You said in your first single that you would win a Grammy. Do you still think that is feasible?
We shouldn’t forget that Rome wasn’t built in a day. If it happens, it’s okay and it is also okay if it doesn’t happen. People will always remember that I had a dream to win a Grammy and at least, I tried my best. I believe that one day, with the way our music is growing, a Nigerian will win a Grammy. If it happens to be another Nigerian musician, I will still be happy.
Was there a time you wanted to quit music?
No, I have never thought of that. I do music because I love it, not for profit. When I retire from the mainstream, I will still be doing music for fun.
Have you ever experienced any form of depression?
I can’t be depressed to the extent of thinking of committing suicide because I am always surrounded by people that love me. I share things with these people a lot. Whenever you are in a terrible situation, you should speak to people and visit experts on mental health issues. In the university, I studied psychology. I know that once a depressed person is left alone, suicidal thoughts set in.
I advise people battling with depression to surround themselves with people who love them. The truth is that even the richest man on earth gets depressed, but when you surround yourself with people you can talk to, it helps. In most cases, the people who committed suicide didn’t have anyone to talk to.
What role do your parents play in your success story?
I was raised by a single parent, my mother, and she did a lot for me. Everyone knows my story. Now, she always tells me that she is proud of me.
Where is your dad?
My parents separated many years ago when I was a kid. I don’t know who my dad is; I don’t know if he is alive or dead.
Don’t you feel the need to look for your dad?
I believe that it is the work of a father to look for his child. I am about to start my own family; I don’t know if I care about that. Having a mother who has played a fatherly role in my life has made things easier for me.
Have you forgiven your dad for abandoning you?
Of course, I have put that behind me. I am called Mr Love; I can never be bothered about anything. But if I meet him, he needs to tell me what went wrong.
Does your mum mount pressure on you to get married?
Yes, she does. She has told me many times that she cannot wait to be a grandmother and carry my children. But I keep telling her that I am not ready for marriage. I am more concerned about my work. Music is like a woman; it takes all your attention. It is hard to give music and your wife equal attention.
Does this mean you cannot combine music with marriage?
For now, it will be hard for someone like me who travels a lot. When I start a family, I will have to cut down on my travelling. We also need to understand that despite being an only child, I am still too young to get married. Marriage shouldn’t be my priority right now.
Which of your songs is so dear to you?
My new song, Feposi, is dear to me because I sampled the legendary musician, Faze. When I played the song to him, he fell in love with it and asked me to release it. But the most important song of my career is Fire Waist. When I released the song last year, it became accepted all over the world. It is presently more appreciated in other countries than even my country, Nigeria.
How do you get inspiration for songs?
I have been doing this for years and I am always in the studio. When you are always around people who love music, you can never be short of ideas. I get inspiration from people around me and experiences of life.
What is your major concern about the music industry?
I feel there is no love in the industry. That is why people always have issues with one another.
How would you describe your personality?
I am cool, calm and collected. I am passionate about music.
What are those things you would like to change about yourself?
I have been trying to lose weight for a while now and it is really hard. I have said to myself that before this year ends, I must have achieved my goal. Apart from this, there is nothing I don’t like about myself.
Are you not proud of your body?
Trying to lose weight doesn’t mean I am not proud of my look, but I need to stay healthy. I am not a fat man though.
How would you describe your relationship with Wizkid at the moment?
Everything is okay between me and Wizkid; we are family. We are planning to do something together soon.
How do you relax?
I like to stay indoors, watching movies and other progammes on television.
Does your girlfriend feel insecure whenever ladies seek your attention?
She is also into entertainment; so, she understands this. But that doesn’t mean I take her for granted.
Do you think it is wise for an artiste to marry from his or her industry?
If there is an understanding between the two persons in question, there is no problem. I think it has to do with maturity.
How do you feel whenever you remember that you started from nothing?
It makes me proud and inspired to do greater things. I am where I am today because of prayers and hard work. The fact that I don’t want to return to where I used to be has made me to work even harder.
What are your regrets in life?
A major one is losing some good friends because I couldn’t make time for them any longer. I became busy and they became busy too. I still try to reach out to them occasionally, but we cannot hang out as we did in the past. They are working as well and we live in different cities.