I never knew I would be this big —Nigga Raw

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    Nigga Raw

    Okechukwu Edward Ukeje also known as Nigga raw is popular for his unique style of rap. He raps in his mother tongue of Igbo. Despite this, he has fans all over the country. He got married earlier in the year, and recently dropped a song that is hitting the airwaves at the moment, ‘Spiritual Kongi’. He spoke with Hazeez Balogun at an event recently.

    What’s the meaning of Spiritual Kongi
    If you listen to the song very well, you will understand that the song is an advice to both young men and women to abstain from sex. You see some men who chase women up and down. You also see some girls who will not be happy until they have slept with just anybody. In such a case, it is easy to tell that it is more than the ordinary. It is spiritual. So I warn them to desist.
    Now that you are married, is it that you are talking out of your past experience
    (Laughs) No. Please o. I was not a player, neither did I keep more than one woman. But when I look around and see young men and women indulging themselves, and they don’t know when to draw the line. I find out that it is the devil at play. I am a married man, so I don’ have to fear.


    We all know you are from the East, where exactly are you from there?
    I am a native of Okoko Item in Bende L.G.A of Abia State. I am the third born in a family of eight . I graduated from the Institute of Management and Technology Enugu, where I studied Business Administration and Management.
    What was growing up like?
    Growing up was fun and my parents were actually very supportive. My dad would always advise me on my moves and even when I won my first keyboard, they were happy and we even celebrated it. So, every night I would be on the keyboard, turn it down and try to write songs. My mum was always praying for me and I had this support from them, as they knew I was working hard and supported me and their prayers have actually helped me. So, growing up was fun and I heard I was very stubborn, I said I heard because then I was very small and I didn’t know. This was all in Enugu where I was born and bred.
    Who were your influence?
    I started by listening to foreign acts like Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, BDP, Nice MC, Eric B & Rakim, Chubb Rock, Heavy D and the Boyz, K Solo, Def Squad, ED OG & the Bulldogs, Nice & Smooth, Kid & Play, 2 Pac, Special Ed, Ice MC, Grand Puba, Poor Righteous Teachers, Public Enemies…. The list is endless. Then I began writing my own lyrics in 1992, and since then till date I’ve always believed I can do better than I have done already. That has really helped me a lot. My break was when in 2002 I participated in a music competition organised by Benson & Hedges tagged “Grab The Mic” Competition. I eventually won it after battling with different artistes from other parts of the country. The grand finale took place in Abuja at the Old Parade Ground where I was crowned the winner.
    Why the name Nigga Raw?
    My name is Okechukwu Edward Ukeje, also known as Dat NIG.G.A Raw. I got the stage name “Dat NIG.G.A Raw” years back when I was still in the secondary school. I used to be very vulgar and blunt (though I’m not anymore, then I was acting my age). So my friends started calling me “Raw”. NIG.G.A. My stage name is an acronym for Nigerian guy Anakpo. “Anakpo” means “called”.
    Rapping in Igbo is unique, why did you decide to go that way?
    Well, like I said, I started like any other person in English rap because I was listening to some American rap artistes and my songs were also in English. Later, I started adding pidgin but there was one person we called Mr Goodnoise, he was a DJ, and one day while we were at a show he grabbed the mic and started doing freestyle in Igbo. It was so much fun and I was really moved because it gave me a kind of new feel about music and I am being very sincere with you. You know it was the pidgin era popularised by Junior and Pretty but the Igbo thing was unique, although he did not write it down, it was just a freestyle session. I later started improving it and people were feeling it so much; as I was actually using their dialects to tell stories of happenings in school. It was so much fun and I decided that if people here like this so much then I can stick to it and that is what I have done. Initially, though, it was like impressing my Igbo brothers and sisters. I won’t tell you that I had plans to make it a big time and all that. I kept doing it and actually did series of competitions and I excelled because I was using Igbo to rap but it was really while I was doing my youth service in Owerri that a couple of people started telling me “bros, how can you just leave it after all these achievements?” And I decided I would go into music after the youth service.But I did not know I was going to make it this big; I won’t lie to you, God just did it for me.
    Are you on any label?
    My album “Everything Remains Raw” was released under Eastside Records, but I have a record label called Rawdeal Records, where we’re working towards releasing and promoting some upcoming acts including my younger brother, Hype MC.
    Is music all rosy?
    Musically, one major business challenge we all face in the industry is piracy. But one day, we’ll get there. I’m also trying to learn new things and invest, because I’m aware that I won’t do hip-hop the rest of my life.
    Were your parents supportive of your music
    My parents are understanding and supportive. I had already won awards from talent hunts so they knew what I was capable of. After I won those contests, I got invited to perform at shows . The money I was making from these shows was more than I was getting paid at Asonet Technologies. So it wasn’t a hard decision to make.
    Tell us about your marriage
    I got married on 21 October, 2009 and have you not seen the answer already? Marriage is good and I am enjoying it and living up to the challenges. You know a lot has changed and for instance, I can’t just travel like I owe nobody any explanation because I am not alone anymore and all such issues. I love it.
    A lot of people have got the talent and drive but things do not just seem to be working for them, what have you got to say to them?
    They should just put God first and not give up; they have got to keep pushing because like people say, some people don’t know how close they are to succeeding when they give up. Everybody cannot make it at the same hour or minute but rely on your inside determination and remember everybody has got his own way and period of the time, so be positive and work hard.