The Hip Hop culture has never portrayed a soft image where one can take one smooth journey towards a successful career. It’s been proven over & over again, that the mistakes and setbacks that one goes through are all there as lessons to learn from. How many artists have risen and fallen to make a mark within the industry? You either have to fail or succeed within Hip Hop, it’s an inevitable selection of choice. The triumphs and defeats have all tagged themselves throughout history. Never has one found a gentle flow when trying to make their dreams come true and as cliché as this may sound, we all have to find ourselves in-between challenges.
One artist that has proven to being an unstoppable force, acting as a true pillar that represents true hardship & success, is none other than Nigerian artist Emmy Gee, who has managed to truly tell a story of both triumph & defeat in his career. We had an exclusive sit down with the Nigerian star, prior to the release of his “Rands & Nairas” Remix, to get an insight on how he got into the Hip Hop game, how the classic R&N joint came about and who he got to jump on the remix.
Take us through your story, when did you first realise that you wanted to have a musical career?
First of all my family is musically inclined, so I grew up in a family where music was loved by everyone, my mom even did gospel for her church, so I would always follow them to the studio. I started writing my shit, writing my stuff & doing my own thing.
Your first major single ‘R&N’ is probably one of the most recognised songs out there, could you give us an insight on how the song came about…did you ever expect it to be as huge as it is today?
First of all I’ve known AB Crazy. I’ve known him for about 4 years now and every time he would come through to my place while I was doing a song, I would be like “Let’s chill, let’s wait for the right time”. So we got to that stage and I got the beat from my friend in Miami, Christian is his name. After I got the beat I was like “AB come listen” and he listened to it, thought it was dope & asked me what I wanted to do with it. I was like okay let’s connect Nigeria & South Africa together, come up with something about Rands & Nairas and he was down. So he went home, wrote for it and came back. When he came through, he played the chorus for me and I was like “wow this is a beat banger”. A friend of mine told me the song was going to be big and that I should put a DJ on it, I told him I didn’t know any DJs and he introduced me to Dimplez. I sent the beat to Dimplez and he was like “Yo my Naija boy, how are we gonna go forward with this?”. He felt the movement, went to the studio and came up with the song.
Now you’re about to release the remix, what more can we expect from this version? Could you shed some light on who you got to jump on the remix…
I got Ice Prince from Nigeria to jump on it, I hollered at my boy Anatii and he came through…Cassper came through as well, then I got Phyno from Nigeria, AB is still on the hook & Dimplez came through and we just did it together.
Now the Hip Hop industry is considered to be a very competitive playground, internationally we see the results of this, locally we see the evidence of this, when analysing the values of what Hip Hop represents today, what are your opinions on the standards of our African Hip Hop industry? Have we reached our prime or do we still lack?
I think Africa is still like 10%, not even up to 50%, just 10%. Musically for me, they good, they just don’t have the people/organisations to handle it proper for them. You can see right now in the Hip Hop industry you get people trying to beat each other down, like who’s got the hottest song & so…I know that’s part of the whole culture but I think they should just work together, try to push Africa ahead because you can see what these Americans are doing, they the best when it comes to Hip Hop and you can see it, you can tell by the way they line up their tour dates & everything. Things like that should be done in Africa, like you got an artist in America who’s done so many shows abroad in Australia. How many african artists have gone to perform in Australia? You understand? So we still learning. I’m not saying we not able to, we’ve got the talent and we can do it, but we just need to know how it works and try to expand. Africa needs to be united as a nation, I want to see South African artists perform in Nigeria, I wanna see South African artists performing in Uganda. It should be like that. People should be united, like a united people of Africa.
So what does Hip Hop mean to Emmy Gee?
[Laughs] Hip Hop for me is like a way of life, it’s a culture for me.
One would be correct in saying that you really refreshed the idea of successful collaborations between artists from different nations with your ‘R&N’ track, because originally you’re seen as a Nigerian artist who featured South African artists to create a collaborative success. Do you think African artists work together enough or is it still a weakness we are yet to overcome? What are your opinions?
Right now I think they started connecting with each other. You can hear like Davido connecting with Mafikizolo doing a song together and I came through with my ‘Rands & Nairas’ with Dimplez & AB. And it’s good because right now sometimes Dimplez would trend in Nigeria, people would be like “who’s Dimplez!?” And some people would ask me who’s this AB guy. That’s how its suppose to be and sometimes they ask Dimplez who’s this Emmy guy. We just need to connect and let everybody know.
You’ve worked closely with African artist, producer & friend Shizzi for awhile, to the extent where you founded a company known as Teamtalkless, could you tell us more about it & what its all about…
I started Teamtalkless in 2009, I just wanted to be about action, I didn’t wanna be talking too much. I’d tell people I was dropping a song and for a whole year people would say I was talking too much and sometimes they’d tease me at a party and say they don’t think I’m dropping a song & that I stopped making music. I told them that’s Teamtalkless. I’m not going to talk, so I just had to prove to them that it has to be like this. So we started Teamtalkless and I hallad at Shizzi and Shizzi was like yeah his down, then Shizzi told Davido and Davido started twitting about it. He liked where we were going. Then from there I hallad at my friend Nosa. Me,Shizzi & Nosa started making music together and we started the label. Shizzi is the producer, we got a beat studio in Nigeria, a full studio. Teamtalkless is a big thing and its going to have its own apparel. We got proper clothes coming from Asia, they working on it. It’s a culture, a way of life and a movement.
Who would you say is leading the Hip Hop game right now?
[Laughs] Right…I don’t need to mention names but I’m impressed with a lot of people like your Casspers, AKA, K.O and even us. Everybody is making a statement now.
Any advice you could dish out to upcoming artists really trying to make a mark out there?
It felt like a movie when I started. Just keep working hard and also put God first because that’s what I always do. If you work hard, trust me people won’t see your work in vein. Keep pushing no matter how long its going to take, because when I started writing, I tried so many times, even got boo’ed on stage. I remember I was performing after Skwatta Kamp and the crowd boo’ed me & told me to get off the stage, but fuck it I didn’t stop. After a couple of years, I came back and made something relevant.
What’s on the cards for the rest of 2014 for Emmy Gee?
Right now the remix is gonna drop and then I got my second single, I’m gonna drop that one soon. Its just gonna be only me on the song, I’m still working on the title but its gonna be something like “I Don’t Give a What..”. I just want to give the attitude, for people who just need encouragement. Then I’ve got a collaboration with Davido, so I got a couple of singles coming up.