In Talks With Ladipoe: “Providence is not an introduction, it’s the ownership of who I am”

Afoma Andrea

By Afoma Andrea

Afoma Andrea

19 Nov 2021

If Ladipoe could be described in just one word, the obvious choice would be intentional. Eloquent and charming, every sentence is fused with a casual intensity that is almost entrancing. Heralded for his adept songwriting, witty one-liners or as he calls them -‘Lifelines’ populate our conversation. “Lifeline is the feeling, Lifeline is the gift.” Poe clarifies when asked about the term’s meaning. “It’s the thing that sticks with you, that’s the lifeline. I also call my friends my lifeline.”

A wordsmith with a flair for melodies, his rise in prominence among the Afro-Rap fusion world is unsurprising. Following the release of his new EP Providence, we sat down with Ladipoe to discuss global recognition, fashion and what it means to be a ‘leader of the revival”

One thing I think a lot of listeners are gonna leave the album with is your knack for melodies. When it comes to like crafting a song, what comes first to you the lyrics or the melodies?

Originally it was always the lyrics I would always write first. I hear a beat, and I will sit down to like, write it out. In the last couple of years, I’ve been accepting and allowing that spontaneous part of myself to take place. كيف تلعب بينجو So now if somebody sends me a track that they want me to jump on, I’m not going to listen to it until the day I’m in the studio because I now understand the power of the first listen. The power of the first feeling, I have to document those things. So in other words, they coming hand in hand now. That early freestyle that I just hear the music, the first thing that comes to my mind is going to be a combination of melody and lyrics. A lot of times it’s mainly just the melody and for rappers, we use this term called cadence like the kind of bounce that I want on the beat. That first listen gives like the purest connection to the music and I feel like I can no longer waste that. So I think it’s both these days, the cadences, melodies and lyrics are coming at the same time.

You have previously mentioned wanting fans to view you more as a songwriter. Do you feel that has now come into fruition?

Yes, but at the same time, no. Yes because I dropped some of these songs and they liked the songs. They sang along to these songs and eventually got the lyrics. Yet their second brain, the brain that when that stops to think [pause]. Now not everyone but maybe the rap heads or music journalists or even just some listeners – will say but he is a rapper though. Why is there so much melody in this music? Why is the bridge there? Rappers are meant to just do this one thing. I feel like some listeners feel like those things are in conflict and that they shouldn’t be together, it makes me laugh a little bit sometimes. Then if I realize okay oh damn, this person is not even joking they mean it then I’m sad because I’m like, how can you not see that? How can you take the phrase if I tell you I’m a rap artist and ignore the part of the artist? Because that’s what an artist should do is to make songs. I really want to make songs, a song is more than a verse more than a rap verse. It doesn’t matter how elite that rap verse is, it’s more than just that verse. So I’m embracing that in my career and I hope that everybody does too. Rap music has a very stigmatized history here in Nigeria. It’s good but it has this weird baggage that comes with it. So I have to deal with that as well but I think people are ultimately overall embracing it.

So that’s where your moniker comes from, leader of the revival. You’re basically leading the revival of Rap In Nigeria

So from Talking about Poe, the very last track is called revival and that is around the first time I called myself the leader of the revival. I remember I had a show that ended a year in December and for the first time on stage is when I said, I’m Ladipoe and I am the leader of the revival. It just made sense to me and you hit the nail on the head, that’s really what is reviving. The fact that there’s artistry in this and that box it can’t fit, it can’t work. Providence to me, as I said that definition really holds true for me, I feel like that’s been my career, timely preparation for future eventualities. I will also add eventualities that may never come to pass, they may never happen but being prepared regardless, I feel like that’s what my career has allowed me to be. You know, in a way I’m really grateful for not having instantaneous acceptance in what people consider the mainstream. I forced myself to take the mentality that my fan base is my mainstream. I probably started saying that at first to make myself feel better but it really does make sense if you really approach them as your mainstream, they begin to feel that way and evangelize for you. When you do break into the mainstream, they start to like, correct people, or at least introduce people to what it means to be a lifeline, what it means to be a Ladipoe fan. So Providence really is the growth, I want people to know this is where I’m at now. Talk About Poe was an introduction to how I am and how I think. Providence is not an introduction, this is me it’s the ownership of who I am, take it or leave it.

It’s a statement on your artistry.

100%. I really think that you get it personally [laughs]

Absolutely! In regards to your point on instant success, what advice would you have for upcoming rappers who may be frustrated in their journey?

You really got to identify and celebrate the wins because that’s the one thing that kept me sane. I would say, okay at the end of this year, I’m done but then something will happen. Something small that would make me say, let me just keep going. If you’re not able to perceive those things, you’re not able to proceed that little step, you know you may give up. I feel like I was lucky enough to at least have the right people around me to point it out or me myself just to be in the right headspace to see it. Especially here in Nigeria, where if you are not in a mainstream way then it’s not clicking for you at all. That’s how people see it because there’s no other real space like the niche audiences are really still in development. There can be a soul singer from the UK and there’s a massive soul audience or in the US that can show you that you are connecting. That’s it, that’s millions of people but in Nigeria, the niche spaces are still very very tight. You do need some extent that level of mainstream penetration to really start to see your music being amplified. It is hard but I would say being able to identify the wins, regardless of how small is key and then having the right people in your corner. I can’t stress that one enough, like it can’t work out. I don’t care who you are, you ain’t doing it alone.

You strike me as someone that leads with intention. Every move made is calculated.

If you said this to me maybe three and a half years ago no but now 100%, the intention is very important. I noticed that whenever I speak, people always say I speak like I’m rapping or I speak in a very passionate way. I can’t help it because I know I have a very clear vision of how I want to be musically perceived. I have a very clear vision of what I want. How I want to position my brand. and I don’t see it getting done without intention, and ultimately consistency, which I’ve always struggled with in my career, but I banishing now, yeah 100%

We got a few collabs on the project, Rema, Amaarae, Fireboy DML. One of your followers referred to your collaboration with Amaarae as like beans and rice which perfectly describes how well you matched with each other. Is there a specific reason that you chose these artists

Um I mean yes and no in the sense that I used to always have a list. I want to work with this person I want to work with that person but I’m really comfortable now letting the energy lead. Another thing that’s like key criteria for me is the mutual desire to work. Like I want to be in the studio with somebody who wants to be in the studio with me. I think more than anything and I feel like one of the things that makes a successful collaboration now in my experience is the person loving the song just as much as you do. You know that’s super key!

Is that Dolapo on Law of Attraction

[Laughs] Did you know that already or like you saw the credits?

Nahhh it wasnt in the credits

Yeah so for the features, they definitely got the credits. Dolapo came on for additional vocal so in the full credit list which I’m posting sometime this week, her name is there. So for the law of attraction that is Dolapo voice. I wrote the song but Dolapo helped me sing parts because I felt like I needed that support because I had a vision of how I wanted it to sound in my head. Yeah, she’s got an amazing voice, it is beautiful.

Your female collaborations are favourites among your listeners. I especially loved the Love Essential track with Amaarae.

That song in particular, I don’t think I would have done that song with anybody else. Like I was saying on the radio the other day there’s no other human being you know, so I’m really happy that she liked the record. I’m happy she jumped on the record and blessed it. المراهنات على المباريات It’s funny in the arrangement of the song, when I sent it to her I didn’t send it with any space. So by the time she needed to reach me to send a version like an arranged version where her space was cut out for her so she knows where to jump on. She couldn’t get to me on time to record it. So she kind of just took a little loop, looped it and she just dropped a part in the beginning and sent it to me to arrange it how I wish. Yet I just loved the way it was already arranged. I liked how she started the track and there was even some talk about maybe we should move it and I was like no. I just like how she introduces the song and then I come in halfway. You know a lot of artists I think, want their voices to be heard immediately but I felt like that was the only way that song sounded good to me. So I’m very happy about the collaboration. I’d love to do more stuff with Amaarae.

One thing I’ve noticed is that your a very fly person. Do you place importance on your image or is just natural?

Definitely the second half. You’re not gonna phrase it like that and I’m gonna say no [laughs]. I would definitely like to believe that is part of DNA but hey man, I’ve seen some old videos or pictures on my wall [laughs]. You know I’m a visual artist, I like my visuals to be a certain way but at the same time – I always hate when I say this,- but I like to just feel comfortable, I’m not going to rap if I don’t look a certain way. العاب ربح مال حقيقي It’s all interwoven into it but in general, man I just feel like you know, be tasteful. I want to have a brand that shows my own personal taste. I feel like it’s just showing all aspects of my brand, music, fashion. Anything that I’m doing, the art direction, everything should have some level of taste, because I think of it as another medium in itself. The music is just one part.

Would you say Providence as solidified your brand? Now we know who Ladipoe is.

That doesn’t sound like a question. That sounds like a statement of fact [laughs]

That’s my statement.

Well okay, there are two parts of me right now that are at war with themselves. One is the part that is the humble guy but then the other part is what I call patiently aggressive. I know I’m here for this thing, you know let me in the door. This is a global thing that I’m after, if you let me in the door [pause] I’m going to push that door wide open. So while I see it’s a statement of fact that actually should be tattooed on me at the same time, I feel like Providence was intentional. I arranged it in a particular way, starting with LGR to ending in Providence. If you came from Know You and Feeling then you leave Providence knowing the caliber we’re operating on. So when you receive the album, you know how to make sense of it. You know how to make sense of the songs that are big and at the same time, you know how to make sense of the songs when I’m trying to express something to you. You know that duality is okay to have. Artists live in duality because these days, I just want to create a safe space for my lifelines to understand that I’m going to be more than just one thing, and don’t be afraid. It’s okay.

Be open minded basically.

Yeah, I needed to push their tolerance a little bit. I needed to push their tolerance for what they feel a rap artist is capable of or just an artist is capable of coming from Nigeria.

Oh no that kinda wraps up our time with you.

100% I’m a big fan of Mixtape Madness. You know, you have been supporting my stuff, like writing about me and I feel like we’ve taken our relationships to another level with this. It means a lot that people are listening and not just playing the song!

Check Out Ladipoe’s Latest EP, Providence Down Below