One on One with Vector Tha Viper
Christened Olanrewaju Ogunmefun, popularly known by his stage name Vector tha Viper is a Nigerian Hip Hop cum Rap artist, Since entry into the mainstream music industry, Vector has already to his credit two studio albums, State of Surprise (SOS) and The Second Coming. He is also the voice behind the Sprite commercial that has aired on most radio stations across Nigeria since 2009. In this interview with Acada Magazine, he speaks about his upcoming album amongst other issues such as his relationships with other artists in the industry, ability to diversify into other genres aside rap music.
What is the situation of things with Vector Tha Viper as we speak?
The Lord has been good to me, my family is fine, my health is 100% and I just dropped my latest offering “Was Dat’’ for my fans listening pleasure.
There is been so much noise about Lafiaji from your team in recent times, can you enlighten us.
I was born on Lagos Island and Lafiaji is where I grew up, I just feel it’s time I do a rebirth. Many a people know Vector tha Viper but they do not know about Vector the Lafiaji boy. Lafiaji area is not far from the palace of the Oba of Lagos so I grew up experiencing culture and tradition, you can imagine the music and the beauty of the Eyo Festival, the lifestyle of the Lagos Island people so I believe it is high time I used the stardom I have acquired over the years to expose people to the lifestyle of where I grew up.
You are now an independent Artist and your record label is Grap Music, what does Grap Music entails?
Grap Music is the acronym for “Greatest Rhythm and Poetry”. The truth is my music overtime has grown beyond just rap; it has left one phase to become larger, so music for me now is “Grap”.
I grew up studying proper music from the church so how dare I restrict myself to just rap when I have the knowledge of percussion, playing instruments and music composition so my music now is beyond rap.
Tell us about your Album.
I call it the “Rebirth” and since my birthday month is August, I will let people play around that.
What are we to expect from your third studio effort?
Everybody knows Vector as the cypher bad guy, but most people do not know about Vector the Producer; though my fans know that I sing to an extent but not that deep. So “Rebirth” album is about recreating my identity with a statement (No be play play o!!).
The album will be music about Lagos Island from a rap perspective; no matter the singing my fans will still enjoy the punch-lines et al. It’s a whole body of work that everyone can relate with. Shout outs to Isale Eko and all that. People will experience me rapping in a way they have known me to be but I am creating scenarios on a CD. You guys will experience Vector playing the guitar. I am just bringing everything together: rap music, hip hop music and it is going to be an enjoyable offer, no animosities, no hostilities, just me and my music.
Which artists are featured on the album?
There will be a few up and coming acts like I always do. We have Falz the Badt Guy, Vanessa Mdee from Tanzania and finally, the wait has ended, Olamide is jumping on a track off the album too.
You sure have an easy way of getting out of beefs all the time, how do you do it?
I just take them as they come, nothing else. The truth is “Na only person when no dey visible, dem dey forget am’’. Its gives credence to the fact that they notice me to even aim at me in the middle of a thousand other rappers, that means I am the man (laughs hard)
But most times you never raised an eyebrow, why?
When I and Reminisce had our back and forth tussle way back, it was crystal clear what I stood for though we are supercool and close now anyway, I quote like in one of Reminisce’ spunch-lines “Tohba grade toh, tohba lo diss me, Kosi reply”. If you are not tight enough and you try to diss me, I won’t reply. Why would I try to clap back, it’s not just worth it. It’s funny with all this guys at times, how could you slap me in public and later come to me to say you are sorry that I just want people to know that I am hot too.
To be candid, it’s really weird but I just have to deal with it. You give them the attention they wanted when you clap back. Vector has always been their target because they want publicity; my response gets them more followership so keeping mute keeps them where they are. So, their PR strategy failed and I just laugh out loud.
In reality, try and be famous for your works and not the news because news fades away but your name stays, it’s too much fakeness and I don’t like getting involved. Beef will come; you just have to let it go because it is not good for business. Learn to put people in their place.
Vector has over the years refused to join the bandwagon when new craze in town like Shoki, Konto and the rest were popular.
In music, when it comes to mediocrity, I believe every artiste should add an input of creativity, for example “Shiga” by me was a party song though it was simply drums but there were still solo guitars, konga drums even it was Alujo, you can still hear the talking drum (Gangan). When people take to the left or right in the music industry, I will advise you look both ways and stay in the center, you are not going to the right neither to the left but the people going either direction take note of you so you are at the equilibrium point. It’s immature to make music because Wizkid is doing a kind of song and people are loving it that doesn’t make it an easy way out to sing like Wizkid because there can never be another Wizkid; he is what he is and he is known for his sound.
It is normal to borrow inspiration from him but when you do his style of music, the DJ will play it though but such music has a very short life span. The fact is whatever formula that works for artiste A or B, he should stick to it that is why over the years, I have been able to craft my style and stayed on my own lane. Following the bandwagon sometimes do pay because party music pays no doubt, it’s a well-known fact. People want to see you when the speakers blare your music and there is alcohol in the system, but do not sell your soul for mediocrity because you are who you are. No matter how much Vector sings, if you listen deeply, you will still hear lyrics from a rapper’s perspective. We all can’t be too serious all the time, Lamba music is needed but we should learn to dilute it most times, we can’t be talking about bad economy, societal ills in our music all the time, it has to be balanced.
Some people rise, some people need to continue what they are doing for those of us who don’t do it to continue being respected. Be wise, you killing your longevity doing lamba music fulltime. Most times, you listen to an artiste album and it feels like one is playing a Dj’s mixtape. Nobody wants to dance from track 1-15.
What’s your advice to upcoming Rappers?
First, learn to stay true to yourself, the moment you feel you don’t want to rap proper anymore, come to terms with yourself and move. If you feel the urge to continue, do not stop, there are so many ways rap music is done. The way fabulous raps on his mixtape is different from the way he does on his album. Jay Z’s flows on the song “Moment of Clarity” is different from his vocals on “Dirt Off your Shoulder’. There is always a way to have fun in rap music too, it’s dynamic, you can make people laugh, dance and think deep with rap music, it’s not all about the punch-lines all the time but making sense while doing good music. “Lean Back’ by fat Joe is one of the greatest hits of all time and it’s a rap song. “Go Shawty” by 50 cent is a party song; young rappers should just try and understand what rap is all about before jumping into it. Know that there is flavour rap like Trap Music and Garage Music, Hardcore by the likes of Mode 9 and Bounce. Just put God first,
So many issues with artists and contracts these days, you have also been a victim too, what do you have to say to musicians?
First of all, get your own personal Lawyer and listen to him all the time, let him explain to you what you don’t understand, I have made my own mistakes too. Know that contract is contract, friendship is friendship but they are two separate things entirely. Breakdown every terms of the contract and digest it. Don’t think you can play on the intelligence of the people that invested in you because you noticed some loopholes.
We have all met one or two people in the struggle for relevance, those who ignored; those who supported to the best of their ability. Like myself for instance, I will forever be grateful to YSG Entertainment as arecord label. The contract did a lot for me in my career in spite of all the uprisings, appreciate the people that supported you no matter the fight, be grateful, know that there will always be issues but the truth of the matter is, someone believed in your dreams and invested in that belief and to me, that is priceless, no amount of money can repay that deed because they could have put that money into something else.
However, be vocal from the start, don’t develop wings because things are now picking up and if you ignored your lawyer, there are consequences. The conditions that surrounds why labels and artists fight most times is beyond the contract; Most of these C.E.Os do not care about the contract, ego, feelings, ineffective communication, pride and human nature. Learn to relate your concerns in the most subtle ways. There are no perfect record labels but remains grateful to your record label in your heart at all times.