It is no news that he is one of the best rappers in Africa with a successful streak in what he does best over the years. Now, he has awesome albums and hit singles to his credit. He is still dazzling his fans with the best of rap till date. Though so many rappers have come and gone in the Nigerian music industry, but Olarewaju Ogunmefun popularly called Vector is still standing tall and his rap is still ’’killing them’’. He has shown tenacity, resilience and consistency against all odds. He spoke with OTEKUNRIN OLUWATOMI in an exclusive interview.
Come along as we journey into the world of this soft-spoken, cool, calm and collected rapper and a graduate of Psychology.
Did you set out to do music initially?
Music wasn’t intentional. My first proper contact with music was with my sister (Aunty Shola). She taught me tonic solfa and that was the first harmony I heard. Actually, that was the harmony I made with my voice. She said that it was called Tenor. Since I have been singing and later became the lead tenor in my mass choir, it was because of my note of tenor, which I learnt first from my sister. She transformed my knowledge of music and thank God I am from a musical family. My sister has a band. She actually left creative art for music. My elder brother is a DJ. He plays guitar and sings. My younger brother is a manager in the music industry and he knows a lot about online sales and publishing, marketing, copyrights and he is also a rapper.
So, who did you all take after? Your dad or mum?
Both my parents are gifted. You need to come for our devotion and see how my mum would sing on tenor and later form soprano. For me, music is abinitio, meaning music is in my DNA.
News had it that you never lost a rap battle. How did you achieve that as a greenhorn then?
Yes, I never lost a rap battle for 3 years non-stop in UNILAG. I had people come in from other schools to contest with me too. I remember a guy who came from UNIPORT (their best rapper, I guess). He went home disappointed because I won. For me, I just like to be better every day as a rapper even at that time and I didn’t allow that get to my head though.
So, many rappers have moved from English rap to the indigenous rap because they feel the street rap sells more (Vector cut-in)
Street Ti Take Over (street has taken over)
How have you been able to stay on top through your kind of rap for years?
My parents always told me that before I do anything, I should think about what people will say. I discovered that once the other person has a hit, some artistes will go to a producer and tell him to give them the exact sound that was a hit for that artiste, but I can’t do that. You must realise that the gift God has given everyone is different from person to person, all fingers aren’t equal. Ultimately, there is no one who came from the street that would want his child to be on the street. So, who are you fooling? Everyone who came from the street are putting their kids in private schools if they could. I grew up at Lafiaji in the barracks, I went to St Gregory’s College and the University of Lagos. I could have gone to schools that were not as prestigious as those schools. See, I am Ibile because that’s already who I am. A lion doesn’t need a complimentary card. So, why should I come and be telling you that I am an Ibile, I am a Yoruba boy already with a global mindset and singing for Yoruba audience at the same time. We all can do Shaku Shaku at the same time now.
No doubt, your journey in the music industry must have been full of challenges. Was there a time you felt you couldn’t take it anymore and you wanted to quit?
The only time I felt like quitting was when I had my court case.
When was that precisely?
My court case was 2013-2014 or there about it lasted for a year or two years
What was the court case about?
I had a misunderstanding with a record label (YSG) for some time, but the twist now is that we are even working together on a project. We are all good now. No hard feelings.
Meaning there was no time in your career when you felt like quitting?
There were times when I thought what the hell is this? In fact, at a time I took my last $4000 to buy mini-studio equipment and anytime anything happened to me I just go and record music even when I’m angry the music will be good. In the course of my journey, my money was stolen by someone I did business with and I didn’t do anything about it. But, I never considered quitting because I believe in every situation no matter how bad it is, I know: “This too shall pass” if people start taking the Bible in the true sense of the word, they would understand that it is not just a spiritual reference, every time it is more of your individual references, but to boost your own spirituality and the Bible says: “Many are the affliction for the righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all. Though the process of passing through the affliction is not a joke at all before the Lord would step into the situation, knowing all these things, I will now break one cupboard that life has thrown at me when I know there are people out there that my music sustains their true reality.
What is the inspiration behind your unusual albums and singles titles like Kingkong, Lafiaji, Teslim and many more?
Life is all about ideas. A lot of people think life is all about materials. Like Kingkong, for instance, in 2015 we were in the studio trying to create a hit and I suggested we should mix some sounds to get a new sound and that was how we got the beat of Kingkong. I wondered why life was throwing all these things at me, but I realised I was meant to go through them so that I can be the King, so the idea could come to life and we made the hit Kingkong.
Are you the king kong you are talking about?
Yes, in my life, I have looked at all the things life has thrown at me, so let me say my own life is a big city. Amidst this big city, I have the power to crush, but then again my intention is not to crush. You are putting me where I have to crush and I would show you that if I have to. But pretty much I don’t like war, but if I have to, I don’t mind, so I faced my war. I know a lot of people who didn’t come back from a serious court case because I know some aristes that didn’t come back from court case but I am not mocking them. I am just saying I am grateful. God gave me multiple chances. Yes, for you to have multiple chances, you have to be a Kingkong. You have smashed strongholds in your life like no matter what their intentions were if they were frustrating you. Lafiaji talks about my neighbourhood, where I grew. Trust me, I don’t forget my roots. Lafiaji was shot in my area. All those uncompleted buildings places, I visited whenever I am on the Island, Lafiaji is just a reality of a young man from that background, but with a global mindset.
So tell us about your fashion style of no dreadlocks, no piercing and you recently had a tattoo?
Yes, there’s a craziness in the industry. I have not been piercing because I don’t think I can stand the pains, but if I can deal with the pain of a tattoo, I might as well do it, if I want to go through that pain, I will because I think I have experience. One important incident in my life was that of the loss of my father that changed a lot of perspectives in my life. See, this body will rot away. There is nothing in life my sister.
How old was your dad when he passed away?
My dad was 68. My father lived like a very old man because he had done well for himself. After his retirement, he went into the church because he was always a man of God. I saw my dad in his painful moments when he didn’t necessarily have money and he wasn’t going to do anything. He would say “God forbid let it not be in the future. Don’t let his children come and suffer for what he had done today”. My father was a complete gentleman, who couldn’t hurt a fly. My father as a Policeman never collected bribe from anyone. He was always looking out for his children. When he died, I thought of having a tattoo in his name, “TESLIM’’ even my daughter knows I have her grandfather’s name on my body, since I am from that angle, my life has to be different, I am not perfect, I just live my life.
How did living in the barracks shape your life and career?
There is a reality of me on Lagos Island that I will show all my kids. A lot of people may see the barracks as a place where the children of criminals are trained and where they harbor criminals, but on the contrary, the barracks is the kind of place where you are not assembled by tribe or religion or culture. The barracks experience gave me the most awesome exposure. It is the best Nigerian experience, I think, I could ever have. That’s the place that’s the only place, I can meet a lot of members of other ethnic groups and try to understand them. I remember my mum’s best friend in the barracks was from Taraba, so we used to go with them during festivities. We used to eat some special food and I love good food.
Do you know how to cook?
Yes, I can cook very well
How have you been able to keep your private life in the midst of stardom as a celebrity?
I respect myself, so you must respect my family. I try not to get myself involved with talking about people’s family, kids or wife because I understand life is dynamic. I just live my life and I try to practice what I preach, I am not a saint though. I love peace. I am not in competition with anyone, I am OLANREWAJU no matter how awesome I am, not everyone will like me.
Tell us about this your amazing daughter and what it feels like to be a daddy? Do you see her going into music as well?
Though you won’t ask about her (smiles) my princess is amazing just as you described her even without knowing her. Her going into music, I am not sure, but she is obviously from a music family. So, music is in her DNA, just like I said when she was a baby she enjoyed me singing for her to sleep. I am sure she is going to be a good writer and funny enough. She thinks rap music is loud and when I play music, she would jump because she could relate with that. She would be 4 years by December. She is fun to be with. She likes watching behind the scene of reality shows and for me, I can’t trade her for anything.I love being her dad. We are so cool. You should see us together, we are best of friends. I love her a lot. Sometimes, when I put her video on Instagram, I see what people say you need to see the way she tackles me like this (smiles). We spend quality time together.
You are a philanthropist, but not everyone knows. Why hide this part of you?
Recently, Matthew Ohio posted something one day that made a strong sense. He said: “How will you feel that you asked me for money as I was giving you the money I brought a camera. I was recording my giving you the money “how will you feel? For me, I prefer the Godly reward, not the social media accolades. Even the Bible says if you do that, you have received your reward and I am a strong believer of God’s word. Not everyone should know everything you are doing to help humanity.
What is the eligible, young, rich and handsome Vector still doing in the midst of the bachelors till this time?
Because I am not marrying based on societal definitions. When it is time for the bells to ring, you would know. So, never marry for the wrong reasons, so check properly. You see, those two persons coming together in Africa especially Nigeria, where I am from, most people are marrying because society says it is good and believed in the saying that he who has married has found a good thing, forgetting the fact some men and women’s lives are destroyed because of the saying that “they found wife or husband’’. So, what am I saying to you, the ratio of people who complain in marriage is higher than the number of people who don’t complain in marriage? They are making marriage look like a bad thing, whereas I think it is people doing a bad thing with a bad motive. Why do we want to pressure ourselves into marriage? Soon, you people we know when the time comes for my wedding.
What is one fashion accessory you can’t do without?
For me, fashion is an expression. The fashion accessory I can’t do without is sense. Imagine that you have a package and in all the packages and there is no sense to complement it.
In the industry, there is a common saying that when I started no one supported me, what is your take?
People support people, they just support people at different levels they want. If you have 100 fans who are appreciating you and are following you, but you want 1 million fans, that means you don’t want to grow, you want what someone else has if you are not contented with what you do. I know the rap I do, we aren’t many doing it the way I do, right? The fact that I have followers who have grown means a lot. I know when my Instagram followers were only 500. As I see it’s now 1 million I am like thank you all because you are interested in my trades but it doesn’t change anything. I am a rapper, you want me to post something outside the block what if my fans don’t feel it? In this life, we have one life and many kinds of the world according to BARRY J. He is a Yoruba guy, who sang about life and Phyno is an Igbo boy who sang about another life.
How have you been influencing the young generation?
I don’t aim to influence the young generations; I aim to be the best, I can be in my life, if it inspires them then it’s fine. I don’t have a role model or somebody I am looking up to because you don’t know who the person is behind closed doors
How did you come out of your court case after some years and you came back with a hit song, King Kong, at that time?
You see, the story of David as the man after God’s heart. I believe that I am a representation of that story. There is no album I have dropped that has not reached its maximum potential because I learn every day. In my own case I know, later we will do business together and I told myself don’t go on social media to insult or talk carefree because, at the end of the day, nobody is perfect. I knew I didn’t want to come out to talk dirty about the period, but it was traumatic.
How you did overcome the trauma?
I just went through it, I can’t explain exactly because there is no way I would talk about it that I would not make other people look bad, but that is not my intentions. However, that was my reality even though my CEO was totally clueless about what was happening. I went through my moment and I am stronger now.
If you are not doing music, what would you be doing?
I will be trying to awaken the minds of Nigerians.
I probably will be speaking or writing.
So how religious are you?
I am spiritual. I was born in the Celestial Church of Christ. I love being called a spiritual person other than a religious person. Take it or leave it, I am a prophet…. I don’t need to wear a collar.
What do you have in store for us as the year is coming?
There is a record entitled: Oja (market). There is a record entitled Mind Games. There is a record entitled Vector’s Vibes a.k.a (women and sex). The record is not seeing women as an object for sex, but they go hand in hand. It is me showing and expressing how I feel about the woman. Also, a record entitled: Fear and Fearless.
What do you want to be remembered for in this industry?
There is nobody they will not forget, I really don’t care about what I will be remembered for or not because that is what causes tensions like let me quickly do this, so I could be remembered for it. Most people in the church do good, not because they want to but just because they don’t want to go hell. To answer your question Tomi, I want them to remember my life.
What can you say about the industry in general?
It’s a growing industry.
Do you think rap is appreciated in Nigeria?
I honestly, don’t care because Jesus was not appreciated on earth. Even after his death, some still felt it was just a story. There was a group of people claiming that before Jesus was born, there was a man who had 12 disciples and he looked like Jesus and did things he did, so they felt like it once again, the white man has hijacked stories from somewhere to come and represent to them like is their story. But regardless, I will still do good rap music whether they appreciate it or not
Can you describe your kind of woman?
Understanding, I am not a conventional kind of man, I don’t know how to call people like I can go a week without calling my girlfriend and that doesn’t mean I didn’t love her. Trust me, I loved my girlfriend that when there was a gunshot some years ago, I shielded her, I would have died in her place, that was how much I was crazy about her. Though it didn’t work out eventually, but all I want is an understanding woman. Someone who would give me peace. I don’t like girls stressing me.
What do you want to tell your fans?
I love them a lot and you guys should continue to support my music and I want to thank you too for coming. I appreciate you, Tomi. God bless you.
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