#TheYNaijaInterview: “Ranking me at the top of a best rappers list is tautology, people know already” – Rapper, Mode 9 explodes

by Wilfred Okiche

Mode nine (1)

We caught up with rapper Mode 9 recently and he was not shy to express himself on a wide range of issues. From the NotJustOk list of hottest rappers to his collaboration with Don Jazzy, there was no shortage of sparks flying.

Enjoy excerpts from the conversation.

We don’t hear much of Mode 9 these days, is it deliberate?

When people already know what is going to happen and they know how dope it is going to be, to them it’s not really news. But when a list comes out and you don’t know how it turns out and it turns out a certain way, it is the shock value. People are only down for the shock value. Mode 9 puts out an album, it’s hip hop, there is no shock value there because that is what people are expecting.it doesn’t get much hype. But if I do a joint album with Pasuma, it will get so much hype because it is different. It is shock value, it’s all marketing.

The single. “Some more” which you put out with Don Jazzy, was it about shock value?

Yes that’s what it was. I could have done that single with an unknown artiste and nobody would have shown any love but because it is Don Jazzy, someone people respect so much and does not jump on anybody’s song, a lot of people are showing that song love. Don Jazzy is someone I respect and I think he is one of the most gifted producers in Nigeria, alongside dudes like Dr Frabz, Cobhams, Kraft. I am talking about people who are real producers not just beat makers.

How do you handle the hecklers on social media?

I am not bothered about what people say about me on social media even though if you come at me, just know that you are going to get blocked. It is just like me trying to promote my Pepsi and you are bringing your Coca-cola into the mix. I don’t want to see hecklers on my timeline. People who are worried about how many followers they get, that’s not me. I would never buy followers. I follow a lot of people that aren’t following me and if I want to unfollow them tomorrow, it will not be because they aren’t following me back. I am interested in you, then I follow you, simple as that. One of my favourite rappers is Rock ness monster from the group Helter skelter. Igo to his site because I want to know what he is up to. If I do not like your music, I will not even visit your timeline or watch your videos or anything.

Are there any projects you are working on? Albums, videos?

I put out “The Alphabetical order” this year and it is still going on strong, people like it. I was at Shoprite the other day and some dude approached me telling me how he was just bumping my album in the car. I t makes me happy to see that random people have it. I had to take matters into my hands and visit all these states in the east and the album is moving over there. I did a lovely show in Enugu and when I got back, people started calling me telling me the album is now available there.

What kind of album is “Alphabetical order”, is it hardcore stuff or is it commercial?

It is straight hip hop but let me throw your question back at you, what is commercial? If I go to America now and hire the best video director to shoot all the songs on the album and I get Jay-Z to cameo on a track, get Nas on another and we are all balling in the video, the same album will become commercial. The word itself is a variable.

Maybe what I should have asked is, does the album have any shock value?

‘Alphabetical order’ isnt really about shock value it is about hip hop. I was not trying to follow any marketing trends. I have a track with Vector and it is kinda long, I just went on and on and on rapping, that is the song every one is buzzing about now so I am grateful.  Shout out to Vector.

Wasn’t there some beef between you and Vector some time back?

No. the song in question is a very old song, recorded about four years ago. The night it was leaked, Vvector called me and explained everything and I told him no wahala, it does not affect our relationship. He is good people. I don’t even go around wasting my energy anymore, things like that don’t bring anything good.

You seem very cerebral, what do you read and listen to?

Right now I am reading a book “The Dreamer” published by my friend Sage Hassan, very good stuff, kinda poetic. I like to read newspapers, articles on line. When I go online I read a lot. I could pick a word , wikipedia it and find out the back stories and then figure out how to use it for my self.

What is your process like, how does your music come to you?

I won’t lie to you people like M.I, Boogie and Ice Prince that have a fantastic flow, I envy them. I wish my flow was better than it is but the truth is I put too much time into the words, I’d rather have a line not even rhyme but make sense than for it to just flow. Back in the day I used to have a crazy flow but some of my friends advised I should remove some words so they can hear more of what I am saying. Ever since, I try to space it out so you can hear.

The kind of music you have chosen to make, has it come with a price?

No. I am enjoying life, I have travelled different countries, I have done shows in Ghana, Italy, Singapore …

But you could be more popular than you are

I can’t complain. I am doing what I can do with the talent God has blessed me with. It has taken me places, I have gotten respect from people I grew up listening to. LL Cool J gave me props one time when I met him. The late Guru from Gangsta gave me props and that day I felt I could die a satisfied person. These are guys I used to listen to.

Isn’t it ironic that people look at you as a rap god and yet here you are getting excited by LL Cool J

I’m not a god I am a man

Ok they see you as a rap legend

I’m not a legend I am a polymath

Ok. Speaking of, you say you have transcended emceeing, rapping and lyricism to become a polymath 

Yes. From lyricist I transcended to become a polymath.

What does that mean?

A polymath is somebody gifted and learned in a number of things. Somebody like Leonardo Da Vinci who was a scientist, an artist, anatomist. He was good at all of them, like a Jack of all trades and master of all. I am also a professional learner. People joke with the question are you a learner but the answer is Yes I am. You know why? Because to learn is growth. The moment you stop learning, then you might as well be dead so I can learn from anyone.

What are the other things you do that make you a polymath?

I read. I have a quest for knowledge. When you watch the news there is almost always something you can rap about. Soldiers losing their lives protecting you, Boko Haram causing a menace, I go to the North a lot, that is where I used to make a lot of money performing at shows so the crisis there directly affects me and then somebody is worried about a list of 10 gifted rappers. Come on.

About the NotJustOk list, shouldn’t you be proud that Hip hop is getting such mainstream attention? I mean a list about rappers generated this much buzz on the culture.

Proud? A list? Mainstream? A king in the beginning of a movie never turns out a king at the end. Happy that people acknowledge my efforts, yes but I know what I have done. It is what it is.Your putting me at the top of the list is tautology. You are repeating what people know already.

I don’t think everybody knows that. The list certainly let more people know

That’s the thing, those who didn’t know are not supposed to know. And they will never know so you need to understand that in life some people will and some won’t. I am comfortable with that. I will not spend the rest of my life trying to get everybody to like me and what I stand for. I am happy that they put me at number 1 but then again you see what that brings, a whole lot of people have been insulting me. I get a lot of hate comments, block a few people, but it’s all in a day’s work. i just want to be happy.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail