With a studio at his bedside, it was a chore for him to pick about 14 to 15 tracks for his sophomore project as he has recorded over 300 hundred songs since when he dropped his debut body of work “Man of the Year” in 2015.
Music to Skales had never been just about profit making and his hunger for more has been the secret recipe to his undeniable consistency. Despite his achievements and the fact that he has had to work twice as hard, he is in no way contented just yet as he believes he is still miles away from his peak. His broad exposure, deeply rooted passion and fans he says, have kept him going.
Breezing through details of how “Man of the Year” was appreciated, he said:
“A lot of people showed me a lot of support. My biggest break out song, “Shake body” was off that album. I have some songs that I still tour with off it.”
That album was number 1 on iTunes effortlessly for about a month without our knowledge and it was quite shocking. I think it was due to my commitment, hard work, motivation from people and a good team.”
Regardless of the other songs he had made, his breakout song was definitely the classic “Heading for a Grammy”; making many classify him under the hip-hop/rap genre. This reason made it seem like he “sold out” when he began releasing songs with him singing more than rapping.
“Kaduna is where I grew up and artistes there are known for hip-hop and rap music. I used to sing and rap and blend both. I am not saying I started before Drake but even before I heard of him, those were things we would usually just do.”
“I had a lot of songs back then but the song people loved was “Heading for a Grammy”. At that time, I wasn’t just a rapper. I was a full musician and that’s what I still see myself as. As a musician, I should be able to do everything that has to do with music because apart from it being something that I love, this is like my profession.”
When ‘Heading for a Grammy’ dropped, it felt like commercial rap music had come up for fresh air and it was definitely a catalyst to his deal with Empire Mates Entertainment.
“Funny thing is I wrote ‘Heading for a Grammy’ on my Nokia phone in a BRT bus… It was like a long ride plus I was going through a lot at that point…
I later went to Jos to record it with Jeremiah Gyang and that’s how the song was made.”
Although the title was more of a metaphor than anything else, Skales believes that he is definitely closer to actually winning one. He cites the quality of his music and the mega world stars on his album as proof.
“When I wrote heading for a Grammy, I meant I was heading for greatness.”
Studio, phone, headset, pair of shades, ‘bling bling’… These were the 5 things Skales named on the spot that every musician must own.
He was definitely referring to himself…octagon framed glasses glued to his eyes, gold necklace, with his phone up to his ear every other second. He made himself comfortable as his Bluetooth speaker blared a playlist that alternated from his songs to diverse genres while he got a haircut before his interview.
As far as role models go, Skales will forever respect Timaya, Donjazzy, Davido and Dbanj. Answering why he has such a long list of working relationships and collaborations, he replied.
“It’s positive vibes. I’m at peace with everybody. I support everybody’s music, I learn from everybody. I have such great relationships because whenever I collaborate, it is never about who sounds better on the track. It’s about making beautiful music together.”
Using his chart topping remix of “Temper” with Burna Boy as example, he recounted how the song came to be.
“It’s shocking that Burna and I were actually just joking and playing around. (He laughs) I just arranged it and sent it to him and he was like oh let’s drop it.”
Speaking on the ‘Skales versus Social Media’ saga, he says he sometimes enjoys it and it keeps him going. He mentions that he knows the trolls behind the negative comments but he will not mention names. His only resolute is to stay consistent and stay successful no matter what.
“I still chill with those people and I still laugh with them and even make fun of my own self.
The funny thing is that people actually have fun, making fun of me”. He chuckles. “But that’s a good thing because it means I am on their minds and they remember me.”
Skales receives quite a lot of actual fan love but once in a while, the madness on social media extends to real life with people asking him funky questions like “Oh, you still drive your Ford?”
Having arrived in the Range Rover he gifted himself for his birthday, he pointed out:
“I am the kind of person that does not show off. Instead, I’ll inspire or help somebody out. I quietly go to my shows and you see me in whatever car I want you to see me in. Trust me, I have been blessed. My life and my story has changed.
According to him, the attacks have been there since EME. Speaking of his stay in EME, he revealed that it was never a case of him being slothful. It took a lot of time and money to push one artiste and by virtue of being signed first, Wizkid was priority.
When his contract expired and it was time to leave, Skales was rather excited; particularly because he regained his long frustrated creative freedom.
“Finally, I found freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. I actually recorded ‘Shake body’ while I was at EME. I remember playing it for them and they passed it on.”
He remembered the words of his very close friend and veteran music producer, Samklef during this trying time.
Samklef: “It’s amazing how you are going through a lot and you have time to still sit down and make music.”
Well, music was the only escape for Skales at that really low point of his life. His reply to Samklef was:
“This is the only way I can express myself. This is what makes me happy.”
Although Skales now currently works with a dedicated team that helps with his content strategy, he still has the final say. Even in the case where his team disagrees on a certain song, if he feels otherwise, he goes with his gut feeling. He once again, used his “Temper remix” with Burna Boy as a perfect example.
Affirming his seeming humility, it never matters to Skales what the status of the person correcting him is as he admits that he is not Mr. Know It All. He listens to the people around him because they inspire him, help him out and serve as his ear out on the street with regards to happenings, trends and new sounds.
“I do not have a lot of yes men around me. I have a lot of people that will say straight to my face- “This doesn’t make sense. Stop recording”.
The titles of his debut and sophomore albums uniquely tie in the story of his music journey so far. Shortly after Skales put out the monster hit, “Shake Body”, he became the talk of town. He capitalized on it by calling his first project, Man of the Year.
“Everybody gave up on me and thought oh after EME it was over but shockingly, not too long after that, I put out a song that was the biggest song everywhere.
“For ‘Never say Never Guy’, I had other issues with another label which was like such a down moment for me. I was really down for like a year. I wasn’t down emotionally. I was down musically because I was battling a whole lot of legal issues with my label and managers. I wasn’t really settled but I was still dropping the music regardless. That’s why I call myself the never say never guy. I just don’t give up. I just keep going.
The whole idea is to preach the gospel of never giving up working hard, and staying focused.”
Sharing exclusive details about his NSNG album, Some of Skales’ favourites include his next single “For You” produced by Echo, “Booty Language” produced Krizbeatz (guy behind Tekno’s Pana) and 2 heavy collaborations: One with Wande Coal and another with PJ Morton of Maroon 5 produced by…well he said to find that out upon purchase. He also hinted a possible collaboration with Diplo of Major Lazer.
Skales agrees that Nigeria is a single based market but at the same time, he believes the quality of the album defines how successful it will be.
“If your album is great, people won’t deny it. If people like Adekunle Gold, Wizkid and Wande Coal could do it, anyone can do it.”
Contrary to popular belief, Skales believes that lyrics have a crucial role to play in the commercial space.
“As artistes we call it lamba. People want to hear what you are saying and be able to relate to it. That’s why you have songs like Olamide’s ‘Who You Epp’. It’s like a street language and that’s why it was a huge success.”
Skales’ personal label OHK Entertainment is still very functional regardless of his current deal with Baseline Music. Artistes under the label include DJ Spicey and his recent signing, Santos.
“I’m a business man (laughs). I needed funds and there was a bigger company that was willing to provide the funds for where I was trying to take my career to which is the reason why I signed to Baseline and they have been doing a good job.
OHK Entertainment still exists definitely. There’s Dj Spicey and a new cat I just found. His name is Santos. I am happy that I can also introduce someone to the world. It’s not like I have all the funds but I just want to be able to put someone on with the small platform and opportunities I have.”
In December 2016, Skales was wound up in a mini baby mama scandal where a certain lady announced on social media that he was the father of her few months old baby.
“I know I have done some things I am not proud of but Since the issue popped up on the internet, no one has reached out to me or my team.I am willing to go for a paternity test and if the results prove the baby is mine, I will take responsibility and the child will be properly cared for “
We then digress into other types of “mamas”.
Vibe: If you could pick a sugarmama from the industry, who would it be?
Skales: It will be Genevieve mehn. I love Genevieve.
Vibe: Everyone wants to be Genevieve’s sugar boy lol. Why?
Skales: I have been the number 1 guy promoting Genevieve since. In fact, she should even pay me for promo(chuckles).
I like the fact that she is decent. To me, she is the perfect example of black and beautiful.
With 10 professional years in the Nigerian Music Industry, the stripes earned and lessons learned have taught Skales to protect his happy place. If a comment on social media gets to him, he deletes or blocks. If you come for his bae on social media, he will address it.
The boy who used to steal school uniforms in secondary school just because he couldn’t afford it, has come too far to let negative vibes get to him. He had survived a rough childhood, a rougher beginning of his career, several cyber-attacks on his self-esteem and even a ghastly accident. Right now, only a few things are of utmost importance to him: His mum, his team, his true fans, God and of course, his precious music.
Story by Cynthia Atagbuzia
Photography by Shutter Wave Fotography
Wardrobe by Kenepisode1
Haircut by Innocent