YSG’s VECTOR on Life, Music, The Game and more

I was with VECTOR a couple of days ago and we had a lot to talk about. Have fun reading…

Omojuwa: So is someone says “Vector who?”, what will be your response?

VECTOR: I’m a human being that raps. Or really what do I say? Vector the human being that raps in Naija, and loves to make good music. It’s beyond rap. It’s more, like I said earlier making music, and feeling comfortable with the kinda music I’m making. That is why I am not a conformist. I don’t follow trends.

Omojuwa: What trends have you set if you don’t follow trends?

VECTOR: listening to my songs, you’ll know there is a difference in what my rap is from the rest of the people. If by trend I can say I have set my trends my way and while I haven’t set out one generally accepted dress code or any tangible thing in that respect, my experience around me shows we are making impact. “Kilode” as a track for instance shows signs of trends being set despite it not being relatively pronounced. I don’t wanna be cocky…

Omojuwa (Cuts in): you are trying be humble?

VECTOR: I’m not tryna be humble either. Just being truthful. If yousay what has vector done? He has dropped an album, featured with renowned music people. Has he reached the level of say Dbanj and Tuface? No. but he is approaching that level by coming in with a rap pattern of his own that is being recognized.

Omojuwa: Talking about a rap pattern, a lot of folks will pattern you with Jay Z:

VECTOR: Opinions vary. I take that as a compliment most of the time so it won’t get on the other side. I guess that also shows that as a Nigerian I could also make international music if a fellow Nigerian thinks world class when he listens to me.

Omojuwa: What defines your music

VECTOR: I am kinda tired of using the environment now so let me just say the ecosystem. (laughs)

I haven’t said this on any interview before (Omojuwa: yeah? Good, thank God you are saying it for the first time)

(laughs) sometimes I write a song and I mean to say sing it the way I have written it but I say it in another way that makes deeper sense. For instance “No be say” track 11 on the State of Surprise album, I went into the booth and said … she is tryna be with him cause now he is a B I G B O Y but I had V I P B O Y written before then.

So I just go in and there is an alternation. You know in the naija context V I P B O Y would probably not pass but BIG BOY is a general term (and it is kinda multieffective) yeah that kinda stuff. It happens a lot. There are a lot of times that when I look back at the text I’m like “wow, this wasn’t what I said on that recording” but it happens spontaneously for me. So I’d say my environment and one inner factor that I can’t really place.

Omojuwa: What makes you different from other artistes that look to just sell albums?

VECTOR: well, it Is simple. I definitely will not go to form “sell out”, I definitely will not be from rap to “what is he doing.” (Omojuwa: Like?) oh well I don’t have names to mention. One thing I have come to realize is, it is not decent to say anybody is wack unless if the person is unbelievably weak. (Omojuwa: you are in the game so you may not wanna say so) but it costs money to record, it costs money to produce, it takes effort to make the music so for that one should give kudos to the artiste. May be not the music but the attempt. (Omojuwa: but one may also have the responsibility to make the person see that may be he or she should be selling or doing something else) Third place is still 3rd place but the winner is still number one. So based on that I will definitely not be the person asking “what the hell is he doing, I thought you were a rapper?” I won’t make that kind of statement. As a creative person, I believe my ability should help me find that point from mediocrity to creativity, well in the naija contest what we see as mediocre or what we see as not being music, well why can’t those who think they know music do the right thing. (Omojuwa: but sometimes a critic does not do the job, he critiques) so that’s what I’m saying that in the bid to sell, all I can do is go on the song water it down a bit but not being cunning about it. In my frame of mind, I’d have to be creative as I would but may be not as much as I would rather be but creative as I can.

So it is about finding that balance between commercial and sticking to being real: but if you look at it back and forth, whatever comes out is still real.

Omojuwa: Please don’t tell me you’ve been doing it since in your mother’s womb and all that crap. How long you been in this game?:

VECTOR: In the game, I officially dropped an album last year. Yeah before then I had been doing things, rapping, featuring on songs. The famous Bigiano remix – sings- “I no go fit invite unna come my party make unna no shayo” , songs with Paul Play, Champion remix way before my album. Yeah I have been doing songs. But it basically started for me in the church though.

Omojuwa: Has it been tough or easy for you to take the comparisons with jigga?

VECTOR: I will say it has been like the ying and the yang. Easy for the fact that it now places me on a level they don’t put most Nigerian artistes but then my work now has to be able to speak for itself at that level because I have to be able to do it well. If you think you are the messiah of anything, you better contain the content of what the messiah of that thing should be. It’s been easy in terms of encourage like oh so people actually look at you on that level – minus the haters –(chuckles) then but on the hard work part, I definitely must live up to that because give or take I’ve heard one or two times that people have actually sat with J over (that’s a funny word play though) yeah sat with J over the Vector issue. Like someone took the CD and made Jay Z listen to it. I know the next time he is coming to Nigeria they prolly do the Pype and Sean Paul thingy.

OMOJUWA: Jigga has heard your album?:

VECTOR: well I won’t say that outrightly because you know we are in naija na and people can bobo you now. A whole lot of def jam related people and companies that have travelled have been like “listen to this kid like’ (omojuwa: were those done for a good reason or a bad reason)

VECTOR: Bad belle go carry your song go play for Jay Z? it is def for a good reason. Easy and hard.

OMOJUWA: Where and when did all of these start for you?

VECTOR: Like music proper, minus when I started doing small small rap, I was at St. Gregory’s college (Omojuwa: *KC’s other school?) laughter. Well you mean KC’s rival. I was at gregs and I met this guy Fransics Ishie. He would go to remember that karaoke show that used to air on tv (omojuwa: rendenzvous?) noo, not that way back na. laughter. This one was DBN organized. It was during the period of nite shift. General pype was in that competition if people don’t know o. I remember the song he sang. He sang “savage garden”. We were all super young then. Franscis would go there and rap Sporty thieves’, No pigeon and all and we argued that “ guy it gives you more rep when you rap your own lines” and the guy was like “it’s a lie jor, it gives you more rep when babes see you rapping yankee”. That was the main thing that made us a group. You know myself and Blaze, then Crystal that was born in Germany but grew up in naija all his life. Before then I was in a previous group. It was sort of like, in the land of the blind the one eyed king scenario (Omojuwa: so you guys were blind?) well I don’t know. I’ll get back to you on that but you know what the allegory (Omojuwa: just make it simple, if you guys were blind, who had the one eye?) we were not exactly blind. I was doing too much. I was too active. I was far above that level and I needed to step up. The other group Badder Boys offered the step up.

OMOJUWA: So at what point did you know you had something to bottle and sell?

VECTOR: That was the point after we dropped a single on air as at 1999. As at then we were signed to a record label in the UK ( Omojuwa: a real deal? Yeah. How much?) I sha know that we didn’t go back and forth but then we got on installments pounds. But we left because it was just all money it wasn’t work. Besides we didn’t come from the richest families in naija but we were content with what we had. The money wasn’t the stuff for us, it was the work. We wanted to make history and music like no one had ever done. We had the zeal and the response was cool. I have been at a place where the songs have been rocked and that was like some ‘99 music. So the response was we went to shows and people didn’t know what to say. It was that time when the Junior and Pretty music was everywhere, pidgin music was everywhere, Ajegunle music. Our rap was conc. Super concentrated. We’d go on stage and people would be like ‘wow’ and that response made me know that men you’ve got something to offer. Plus when I started forgetting my lines on stage and I started freestyling. Freestylimg wasn’t something I specifically learnt. I go on stage and I’m like (raps) “Yo, ahn, I forgot my lines, I just try to rhyme so whatever we do this is how we rhyme.” So that kain thing.

OMOJUWA: 3 major challenges on the way and how you dealt with them:

VECTOR: I swear down ba. Thinking of the question yeah, I see that the more challenges have been met, they grow bigger when you think you’ve overcome them. You really don’t totally overcome challenges, so I can’t tell you the top three.

But right now if there is anything I’m trying to fight, you know there is a thin line between how your environment affects your belief in the work. When you drop some type of songs and song type of influences kind of like almost compromise what you feel or what you feeling or what you felt when you dropped that thing. It makes you think and doubt. But then this are factors that have made you you.

That is the whole artiste respect in naija when growing the challenge is recurrent. It is part of it but in naija it is wow. The environmental factor of folks not getting where you coming from?

OMOJUWA: How often do you weed:

VECTOR: weed? (omojuwa: yeah like kpoly) I stopped way back. (omojuwa: how way back is way back?) I started and stopped. I should be in the Guinness World records for the shortest stint in weeding.

OMOJUWA: Why did you stop abruptly?:

VECTOR: it didn’t do anything for me. I was wondering “wetin be the inspiration guy?” and as I was growing up my mum always said “ranti omo eni ti iwo nse o – remember the son of whom you are.” And anytime I go out and get back she smells my hand because I used to hang with friends that were way violent, they were way out there and in my own mind I felt like I was rolling with big boys so she watched out for me. Her warnings kept ringing but I was also wondering about what people were saying inspiration and all but without being disrespectful but common Jesus is Lord. It is a psychological when people assume being under the influence you do better. Emphasis is in you are doing better. I was like guy wetin you dey see for this thing sef and I went dragged, dragged and I looked at myself se u know sey u dey fuck up gaan. Wetin u dey feel now cos I no dey feel jack and the guy was like guy u no be human being. People would say may be he gave me a fake one but again na the same thing way him give me him dey high on na and he was catching trips.

OMOJUWA: Are u one of those artistes that ditched school:

VECTOR: No. as much as I did not like school, I cant also say I hate school. I didn’t like school because I am a very very intuitive person e.g. I think NYSC is just super crap! U shouldn’t force people to go serve. I think u should ask them cause the kids that u sent them to go teach may suffer from the reluctance of the teacher to serve or teach. E.g. some Corps Members could go read chapter 3 and go back to your fathers’ houses. I think schooling here is flawed but I wouldn’t drop school for anything. Because at the end of the day, you are not just a Nigerian but an African, a global citizen and as a human being your territory becomes the earth so you better be able to make music that can relate with earthlings (like global music?) yeah (that is the globalization of music)

So if u think you are hot you better be global warming

OMOJUWA: Tell us about the album and the stories behind it:

VECTOR: I think that is the classiest album recorded in the shortest period of time. Within 3 months we had wrapped it up. May be if we had waited longer it would have been madder but for me the zeal came through. The challenges that came with it sort of resonated with the challenges we faced with the first attempt. What would people think about this track? This line? So I was just arguing for both sides. Well you know I studied philosophy so I had the training to do that.

Try and find the most profitable equilibrium point. Let us do it this way, lets not do it this way.

: What did you consider. A commercial piece or an attempt to make classic music?

VECTOR: See, first off, in the naija context, we are partitioning one thing. Why are you making it like they are two different things? For your music to be classic it must pass a commercial test. What are we calling commercial here? Is it alanta music (or watered down music) the classiest of naija music came from periods when the beats tempo moved from 100. Alex Zito, Alex O, Lieutenant Shot Gun, Ebenezer obey, King Sunny Ade is a giant. Music is also to make money right? Asa is successful but is she commercial in the naija context?

OMOJUWA: Any serious relationship yet?:

VECTOR: serious like how?
Serious like I go marry you; ehn. I’m not sure. There is none. Cause you better be married to the work cause after you marry the woman, what would you have to give to the woman and the baby.

OMOJUWA: Are u d only artiste on the YSG label?

: Yes for now.

OMOJUWA: Biggest influences on your person:

VECTOR: everything I have come in contact with. Say omojuwa.com for instance. It comes even from regular conversations. I learn from every experience and person.

OMOJUWA: Favorite track:

VECTOR: I don’t have a favourite track. If you listen to the first album you’d see no two tracks are alike. So preferring one over the other is like green kola or yellow kola? But the thing is preferring one song over the other must factor in the fact that no two songs are alike.

OMOJUWA: What song is playing in your head right now: it is an recorded song.

I love this your I love you Nigeria song, are u politically conscious: first of all, I don’t want to involve myself in the nitty gritty of politics. By loving Nigeria you’d say what makes Nigeria Nigeria? Well, Nigerians make Nigeria. I am appreciating the fact that you took time out to add to the growth of the success that’s the Nigerian positive side. I am loving the fact that you for instance are from the west and a very good friend of yours I know is from Benue state. That’s love. It is not a political corrective thing it Is just that Nigeria needs to be loved.

: What do you consider the Greatest threat to your career:

VECTOR: myself.

OMOJUWA: How do you keep your haters busy?;

VECTOR: I sort of like put on a porn movie before them, put soap and water and then walk away or Vaseline and leave two of them especially if they are of the same gender. I just remain consistent with excellence and I have seen people come around to say Vector please forgive me for not believing in you before. Those are the tweets that really make me happy.

OMOJUWA: We see artistes show love public but don’t you guys bitch and snithch privately? For real? Are you serious? I am one of those folks who doesn t really hang out with fellow artistes but it oesnt make me less cooler. You have to just show love and here I am speaking to those who do it.

: Eedris started by rapping, Ruggedman showed him up and artistes like naeto c and mi sort of redefined it from there, how long are you gonna be here?

VECTOR: For as long as the inspiration and God exists. And as long as my battery doesn’t run out I’m here.

: If u had to do an international collabo (male and female acts):

VECTOR: that’s tough. I’ll look at Sade Adu and Seal.

OMOJUWA: I personally love beef tracks though so when do we expect a beef track from you?:
VECTOR: (laughter) I swear down and I will be truthful about this, I have never gotten into any beefs but when I find myself in one I will never hesitate to take it and grill. People take shots everyday so.

OMOJUWA: What explains your humility?

VECTOR: I was at a show in Abuja and my dad called and said “ olanrewaju teriba o” (Olanrewaju Be Humble) funny enough there is a musician called Lanre Teriba shei?
See everything happening has not essentially been my ability, it is you people that give credibility and love to this thing. So it puts me where pride is unnecessary. I have nothing to be proud about in that sense.

OMOJUWA: Define the Nigerian hip hop culture:

VECTOR: Radical! Is there a culture first of all, of course. Is there a practice? So then we have a culture.

OMOJUWA: 5 years from now

VECTOR: vector wants to be able to afford all he needs and consider all he wants.

: One Victor sent in this question: how many asses did you kiss on your way to the top and mention names

VECTOR: Well, my joy and happiness from this question arise from the fact that to be where I am today and for someone to think I did funny things to be here means I am at a level where I ought to be grateful to God. I didn’t do any strange things to get here but I’m glad someone sees what I have achieved and achieving and thinks it is big enough to worth all that crap. Thank God

You can follow VECTOR on twitter @VectorYSG

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