Rising Hip-Hop artist Senibo, hailing from Nigeria drops his latest album ‘Memento Mori’. We catch up with him to learn about his music influences and the process behind it.
Listen Here to Memento Mori’
Tell us about your early influences when it came to you wanting to make music?
My early influences are very varied in genres beyond hip hop. Growing up in a very musical household, having both parents and two siblings as choristers, and everyone 6 of us played the grand piano growing up in the living room. However, our musical taste was definitely not classical alone. One brother played Diddy, the other played Boyz to men. One sister played pink, and the other Backstreet boys. This diversity attests to my diverse body of work, and my general approach to music. But if it’s one thing I can do, I can rap.
My influences in rap personally stem from Diddy ‘shake your tail feather’ for the Bad Boyz soundtrack, to Nelly, Usher (because of my sisters infatuation with him, I got hooked on the smooth singing vibe). Later on in adolescence, at around 16, I heard Lil wayne, I was blown away. I knew there was something above average, something special some people have harnessed from childhood with love and creative masterpiece creation as intentions. I was blown away to say the list. Then I couldn’t resist the urge to want to be that exceptional, then I started going to the studio.
Although my first studio session was when I was 11 years of age, I’ve never stopped, and I have mastered my craft with over ten thousand hours of ‘serious play’ as I call it, and in turn, naming my 2019 EP by this oxymoron ‘serious play. This process of musical and self-discovery has grown into this body of work ‘Memento Mori’, which I consider a masterpiece to say the least.
What is the Hip-Hop scene like in Nigeria? Is it easy for artists to be heard?
The Hip Hop Scene in Nigeria is quite Niche, because Nigerians like to dance, thus Afro Beats, However, the Hip Hop scene is really hot, because in other for a rapper to be heard in Nigeria, the rapper has to be so good that its just inexplicable and incredibly magical to say the least. We have the likes of MI Abaga, that just dropped a song with NAS, Sauce Kid The Nigerian American rapper known as the African Rap Ambassador. These fellas are so good, however, their climb was steep, because Nigerians are mostly Afro Inclined. Thats why I took out years to just master Hooks that I sing, Harmonise and sound like an actual feature from a singer that could pass for Burnaboy in terms of skill and range. On songs like ‘Vibing’ and ‘Waiting’ on this project, I brought in singers, but on the rest, I’m taking it, and it comes out correct.
So I would say, the only way to be heard by the Nigerian Music Scene as a rapper, is to fuse singing, and drum patterns, that replicate the sonic scenery of an Afro track, so when the rap comes in it is actually a nice spice. Fusion is the way.
Congrats on your second album ‘Memento Mori’! What is the meaning of the album and what can we expect to hear?
You can expect to hear healing sounds. Let me explain. I learnt that the intention of the artist regardless of genre is the outcome of any track every time. We could be talking about smoking weed, or girls, or something banal, but the sonic intention is to heal the listener, and have them have a psychedelic experience of the being God with a big G. These intentions, cut through the frequencies and alter them to be the intended.
So what you expect to hear are songs about Love, Brotherly, Existentially, Sensual and Sexual. However, the frequencies are ulteriorly motived to effect Nirvana to the listeners.
Burnaboy is my favourite, because we met when he was just kicking off, we smoked joints, watched a movie, and I watched him in deep contemplation, thereafter, watch him take over the world. Although its length is interlude by duration its one of my most loved. I converted it into a viral clip reel format, and cut it into one minute as luckily my words stop at one minute dot.
Lyrics (first 8 bars)
“I lead from behind, go ahead and shine
Just wanna be, Burnaboy jealousy wan make me burn the boy
Who burn the boy mama Afrique
That brother reaching the peak,
I be watching from the side line guess I’m a freak
A Stan my man
The dichotomy and gate keepers no longer exist
So what holding my feet
Now I’m ten toes to the ground like he always says
Put the mentos in my mouth now spitting fresh”
Another song I hold dear to me is ‘Vibing’ featuring Arlene FL. This joint was actually executive produced by CEO of Square Ball Records. His company created Burnaboys very first Video ‘Like to Party’, and his record label currently has the likes of 1DA BANTON, also a Port Harcourt breed from my tribe currently making waves. Adasa Cookey The CEO, asked my to rap on a song, and bring in a female to sing the hook, and the beat should be Alternative Afro.
So I got to work, I got the beat done, got the female vocals, and dropped one of my best verses so far.
Then Rock God is just a song that sonically brings me back to source every time.
We are so sorry to hear about the passing of your producer. As a result of this sad news, you had to produce this album yourself. Tell us about the process behind the production?
This part, is the reason why one should love what they do, because it’s so much work. From making the instruments individually, mixing them individually, having a mastered quality of the beat in coherent combination of blended instruments, Then writing or free styling the verse and or hook. Because the approach to every song is different. You don’t write all the time, and you don’t freestyle all the time neither do you freestyle a whole song or write a whole song every time. The tides change at every stage moment and spiritual ambience of the Track. After capturing my vocals, I mix every inch of it in intrinsic detail, every four bars mostly requires a different touch to the general mix, volumes, backups, reverbs and Echos etc are also unique to each song so a needle drop antenna is required here.
Finally the master.
The master is quite easy on my DAW because of the presets, and my extensive experience with it. What is required is due diligence in cleaning up every micro portion of the track while making it holistically meant to be together.
Tell us about a time where Hip-Hop saved your life?
When my mum passed, without Music I would have passed with her because she wasn’t due. Putting the emotions into music took me out of the funk and the energy was utilised in a productive way as opposed to total self destruction. With my newly developed strength and confidence, the ability to climb a stage, and give a hypnotic and enchanting show takes a certain level of courage that has led to even more self awareness, and thus more courage as well as steadily increamental belief and power. Mastering music the way I have, I have watched the power of music, and its uncannily identical to the power of God. I’ve watched people finding me irresistible, and finding myself as mystified as the listener. Now I understand why Kanye said, “no one man should have all that power”.
What else have you got coming up?
During the festive periods, I usually get linked to shows organically. However, I will be touring Port Harcourt Eagle Island 24 and 25 December
This is a show I did for Healing Whispers UK based mental health NGO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JG_oKOO6Zhw
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