Before we got into talking about music, I decided to get friendly with the young talent of the day “YungAce”, get to know a few things about the skilful artiste outside music and his background. As the conversation went on, I found out that YungAce had quite a number of names but the few he could remember were Sokan Oreoluwa Samuel Pamilerin Boluwatife, apparently, his family likes to give a lot of names. He grew up with his grandparents and moved around as a child, he moved from Lagos state to Ogun state with his grandpa after his primary school education but soon got bored and moved back to Lagos for his senior secondary school education.
During this period, YungAce was a dancer and a drummer (taught by his grandpa), he also played the keyboard and hadn’t even thought about doing music. He says he was the head boy (senior prefect) both in primary and secondary school so, his guess is that he was brilliant at the time but he doesn’t know about that anymore. #laughs…
Funny right? But what more would you expect from one who describes himself as playful… After a few shared jokes and laughter, we got into the interview where he spoke about his music, new projects, the difficulties of being an independent artiste and how he got the name “YungAce”.
- Who is YungAce in 5 words?
YungAce is talented, playful, special, skilful and prayerful. Yeah, I am not super spiritual because I don’t even know what that means but I believe you can’t do anything without God. You always have to put God first, prayer has helped shape my life.
- Where did the name YungAce come from?
While I was in school, everyone called me “Ace”, my teacher called me that because I used to sing, play football, act and play musical instruments, he said it meant “being skilful in different aspects”. So, on the day I recorded my first song, I took it home out of excitement and played it for everyone to hear, they all loved it, although my grandma had an issue with it because it wasn’t a church song. So, I went into my room, listening to the song with so much excitement that I didn’t hear her calling me. She used to call me Ace like my friends but that day she called me “Young Ace” and to an extent, I look younger than my age so, it stuck. When I got back to school, I told my friends to call me “Young Ace” and they liked it but I felt it was too long and the same teacher who named me Ace, changed the spelling from “Young Ace” to “YungAce”. It was just a pet name at the time because I wasn’t an artiste yet.
- When/how did you start music? Professionally?
I have always been around music but I never thought that I’ll take it professionally because I was more of a dancer at the time and I played football. I thought I was going to be a footballer at some point but in 2009 I became part of a group in the church, I used to play the keyboard in church then. We were four in my group and the others sang while I played the keyboard because I use to be shy, I couldn’t stand in front of a crowd, I loved to be behind. One of the guys in the group was a singer outside the church, he had a studio session one time and wanted me to sing back up for him because I wrote the song. That was my first time in the studio. So, I sang backup for him and also got the chance to do a freestyle.
Asking when I started music professionally is kind of dicey for me because all along I was just doing covers and playing around, it wasn’t anything serious. Then I got into Unilag and did this Ice Prince – Aboki cover and it practically blew me from my fresher’s night. So, I might say 2012 but I first did a proper song in 2015, after I won coke studio in 2014.
- What inspired your love for the art?
I’ve always been around music, so its something I have always loved. Even while I was dancing or playing the instruments. I’ve always loved music. So, it’s safe to say I am Music myself and that is why call myself YungAce Orin (Orin means music in Yoruba).
- Since the beginning of music until now, how would you say the journey has been?
It’s been like a flow because it wasn’t what I saw myself doing, but it’s been great. It’s been exciting but it can also be crazy, especially when you are not getting your expectations. The love and passion one has for it, however, keep you moving. It’s been interesting all the way.
- If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?
I’d be playing football or acting. I always thought I’d be an actor because back in school, I used to act.
- You’ve jumped on different sounds, a vibe with Teni, Yoruba rap with Chinko Ekun and a couple of others, including the freestyles. So, do you have a preferred sound or are you’re a commercial artiste?
I see myself as versatile, I don’t know if being versatile in itself can be called a sound but for the sake of interviews, I just say Afro-Pop because basically, it’s a mixture of African sound and the Western sound. However, I am so in love with African sound that you always get to hear an African feel in my songs, majorly African instrument playing on the soundtrack.
- Are you an independent artiste?
Yes, I am very independent. I was signed to a record label in 2016 but ended my contract last year. I’m the kind of person that likes to get things down myself, I don’t wait for anyone. My team knows me if you are supposed to do a certain thing but you’re delaying, I don’t have a problem, I’ll do it myself. I don’t mind doing stuff myself because I hate being held back. So, I am independent, the only issue is funding but aside from that, it is fun. Over two years of me being signed, I didn’t drop a song and I had a number of already done works but now, I can make my own decisions.
- A little bird told us about your performances in the Nigerian prison system, tell us about it…
First of all and importantly, I have never been locked up in prison, for those wondering. #laughs!!! When I brought up the idea of visiting the prison system, I had about three scared friends who asked if I’d ever been locked up before, I haven’t. I am the kind of person that likes to give back, even from the little I have. I’ve been visiting the orphanage all my life, especially while in school but this time, I wanted a switch. I’m sorry to say but orphanages these days are balling and I wanted to do something different. I just wanted to do what no one was doing.
- How long you’ve been at it for, where have you visited and what was your experience?
During the three weeks at the NYSC camp, the only lecture I really listened to was the one on security and the talk on prisons came up. I started to wonder, “we have prisons in this country, what are they like?” So, when we got out of camp, I and a friend (presently my manager) got talking and I suggested we visit the prison. He was scared and I needed to convince him because I didn’t want to go alone. Anyway, I made my research and found out that outside the country, even in Africa, they do not neglect their prisoners, they still show them some love. I saw something on twitter one time, a lady in the Kenyan prison won “miss prison”, which means there was a beauty pageant and she was in prison for life for murder. A lot of other countries do things like this also and I thought “if we don’t show these guys love in any way we can, what’s the assurance that they won’t go back to their old ways or even be worse when they come out”. So, I decided to have an event with them, we went there as corps members and had a meeting with them. They had a football match that day and wanted me to perform Adura because I played some of my songs for them and that was the actual reason we went there. So, I performed the song and got some prisoners crying, the DCP asked if I could come around whenever they called me but he had no idea what I had planned. I told them of my plan and they accepted immediately and in September I did a show with them. Those guys live a normal life in there, they go to school, they acquire skills and so on. I couldn’t spend so much time on the day I had my show because their WAEC exam was happening the next day. I reached out to brands and they refused to work with me but funny enough, these brands are involved with stuff happening in prisons outside the country. Most recently, we had another session with them and a prisoner came up to me and said that he had never felt so loved. The only set of people they get to see are from churches and another prisoner made me promise to come back sometime.
People are in there for different reasons, some guilty and others not so guilty. I just want to change the mindset of people about the Nigerian prison system.
I started in September 2018 and I’ve had my own event there twice. The second time I went, I went with my studio and had some of the prisoners freestyle because they have really talented people in there. I want to give them the things they do not have the privilege to enjoy and I’m trying to see how we can help those that are in there wrongly, I’ll be working with my church and hopefully a group of lawyers.
We are starting with the Ikoyi prison.
- Is there a pattern to how you write your songs?
I mostly freestyle but when I write, I write about stuff happening around me. A song like Adura, I wrote with my feelings. I recorded that song in 2016, I wrote it at a time that I was frustrated, I didn’t plan to release it. There are some songs you just do for yourself and Adura was that song for me but it turned out to be a song everyone wanted to listen to
- Who do you look idolize in the music industry?
Myself, I idolize myself. I respect everybody, we have really talented people in the industry and I respect every single one of them but at the same time, I idolize “me”.
- What’s the plan for the year 2019?
2019!!! I’ll be dropping a lot of songs, dropping a lot of materials. I want to drop a lot of content online via my social media platforms, I’ll be dropping visuals to songs I have recorded and am still recording. I’m trying to merge my drama life and my music life, so I might get really dramatic with my music. I do not want to do the regular back and forth. I want to make my social media platform like a TV, grow my YouTube channel and work really hard on the “prison project”.