COVER STORY : Skales crossing the baseline
“I style myself, I don’t use a stylist. Whatever I do, I style myself. I shop myself. It’s not like I go there, sometimes I see it online and I send someone to get it for me”
Raoul Njeng Njeng better known as Skales joined EME the same time as Wizkid. He started with Swit Noiz Records before switching camp. “Heading for a Grammy” was a thumping rap single released by Skales in 2009. “I was going through a lot as at that time. Basically, what I mean by ‘Heading for a Grammy’ which a lot of people misunderstand is I wasn’t talking about going for the Grammy; I was talking about being the best and going to be the most incredible. What I was saying in the song was that I was going to be great; I was going to be that person.” The song gained Skales a lot of praise within the rap community and many rap critics earmarked him for greatness.
Skales was destined for greatness but not in the way most rap heads expected. He released two singles “Mukulu” and “Keresimesi”. While the latter was a rap track dedicated to the Yuletide season, the former single (and the main single) “Mukulu” raised a lot eyebrows. The rapper was singing, not only was he singing, a lot of people expected him to come out blazing, spitting metaphors, double entendres, smacking similes and powerful punch-lines but he took all by surprise. And so began his quest to convince fans and critiques that he was multi-talented and more than a rapper.
“At the end of the day, I’m just trying to bring something new to the table. Of course, it’s just normal for people not to understand you until you prove it to them”, says Skales on the initial shock people had when he started harmonizing. The initial feedback didn’t hold him back. On the Empire Mates Entertainment LP, he continued singing and this time he was better and convincing. He rapped on “Baddest Boy” featuring Wizkid and Banky W but on his solo cuts he rocked the house. “Komole” proved the doubters wrong and on “My Baby” he established himself as a rapper-singer hybrid in the mould of Drake and Kanye West. “A lot of people are beginning to get it. It’s just life. If you say you are going to be the next president, no one is going to believe you until you campaign and win. That’s how it is.”
Speaking of Kanye West, Skales is highly inspired by the American rapper/producer/aspiring author and fashion designer. “Heading for a Grammy” was actually inspired by one of Kanye West’s greatest tracks – “Jesus Walks”. “If you listen to that song properly it was inspired by ‘Jesus Walks’. Like I said, I am Kanye’s number one fan in the world.” Yeezy’s influence on S to da K goes beyond the world of music. Skales is regarded as one of the most stylish artists. He rocks the latest gears, sneakers and is always trendy. “I like Kanye so much that I follow everything he does. It’s not like I try to act like him but I mean to be greater than somebody, you have to follow that person’s footsteps and that’s what I do. I am always on the internet. I go through all these designers, I just figure out what to do. And sometimes I try to be creative, I hit up my own designers and am like – look I want to buy this material, please do this thing for me.
“I style myself, I don’t use a stylist. Whatever I do, I style myself. I shop myself. It’s not like I go there, sometimes I see it online and I send someone to get it for me”, explains Skales on his sense of style.
Today the half- Cameroonian, half Nigerian rapper is one of the fastest rising music acts in the country. After chilling on the bench for a while, Skales is playing his position well both for the game and his label. We will undoubtedly see his anticipated debut album this year. While he hasn’t revealed the title yet he sheds some light on what it will be about. “I’m going to have songs where I am just singing and I will have songs that I will just rap.”
Skales is already balancing his act. After waiting on the sideline for a while and polishing his pop sheen, don’t expect this rapper and singer to fall down. Expect him to touch the sky.
Despite the fact that we see new artistes everyday with hits or breakout songs , some of them have lost the hits formula they used , there are still a few who keep presenting us with hits after hits. Lagos based artiste SKALES is just what we need to give us good songs that could fit into any genre.
Going from being a young aspiring artiste to an established act who is now under the baseline umbrella, the success is visible and it all points to the winning streak “Shake Body et al” and more about to be unveiled.
He has been featured in so many songs in the past few months , all these releases as his singles or other artistes songs he was featured on, has helped build a credible buzz for SKALES.
At what point does someone like SKALES become the it dude? It almost happened overnight , he is here with a recharged vibe for the music industry.
VOM: Congratulations, on your new signing with baseline , what is the feeling like?
SKALES: Thanks. It feels good, the label, Saeon, Chidoo and Aramide have been very supportive.
VOM: Your song (Shake Body) is always at the top of playlists in the clubs, can we conclude that you are back on your grind and we will be getting hits on hits?
SKALES: Yes definitely. I have ‘Obi’ and ‘Give it to me’ out right now; and recently we dropped the French version of ‘Shake Body’. I am working day and night on my debut album, which drops in January 2015, and it’s going to be legendary. I can’t wait to share all I’ve been doing with my fans.
VOM: Having a trending song is great, can you take us through your first experience in a recording studio?
SKALES: I was like 13 or 14, really young. I can’t remember the exact details but it was with Praiz in Kaduna.
VOM: “ Heading for a Grammy “ was a song that the rap community approved and loved, we thought after that track a rap album was expected from you , what happened?
SKALES: First off, I am a musician, I write, sing, rap and soon I’d be producing and playing one or two musical instruments. Yes, my first major track was hip-hop but the thing is that I actually did release a 2nd song with ‘Heading for a Grammy’; it was titled ‘Be Mine’ and I sang on some parts. I have never wanted to be tagged as a rapper or a singer, but as an artist who makes good music.
VOM: From being a rapper we saw you singing, what necessitated that change in style ?
SKALES: Like I mentioned earlier, I am an artist who makes good music, so I can actually do different genres of music, it all just depends on how I feel at the time I’m making the track, what the current musical vibe is and what my fans want.
VOM: Tell us what you were doing after your exit from EME, before being signed to Baseline?
SKALES: I was working as always, recording, planning the next steps of my career and business.
VOM: How did the baseline deal happen ?
SKALES: I met Howie T at an interview and he invited my manager and I for a meeting, and after a couple of meetings, reviews, negotiations, I signed a deal with Baseline Entertainment.
VOM : What is / are the advantages of signing to a record label ?
SKALES: Well, you get funding and a well-structured team of experts to work with and advise. The down sides would be having to wait for approval for stuff.
VOM : Are we going to hear some type of “ Heading for a Grammy “ kind of rap single from you anytime soon ?
SKALES: I have quite a good number of rap verses out on collaborations with other artits, such Wizzy Pro’s Emergency, DJ Spicey’s Ball Out to mention a few. I’ve got a few surprises on my album, which drops early next year.
VOM : Tell us about OHK ?
SKALES : OHK Entertainment is an outfit I had set up before I got signed. It’s a production team now led by a very talented producer, Drey Beatz. His first single, Umm Ahh features Iceprince and he’s got more great tracks dropping next year and on my album too.
VOM : What is your relationship with timaya?
SKALES : He is like an older brother. We cool.
VOM : How do you go about choosing a single for release?
SKALES : I am a perfectionist so it takes some time for me to decide on what to release. I also record a lot, so at every point, my team and I go through options and then decide on what’s best for release at that time.
VOM : Do you write your song before hearing the beat or do you hear the beat then write to it?
SKALES : I do both and more. Sometimes I get a melody in my head then sit with a producer to create music with that melody. Other times, I hear a beat and start singing to it without even putting the words down. It all really depends on the moment, but I’m all music.
VOM : What is your album recording process?
SKALES : I record everyday, unless I am traveling and sometimes even when I travel, I always find a producer to work with or I’m writing on the flight. I may have recorded about 6 albums and more since I started making music lol. I’m currently rounding up my debut album and it’s been rather hectic, choosing songs off the many I have recorded and oh yea I’m still recording.
VOM : When is your album coming out?
SKALES : Very early next year.
VOM : What type / genre of music are we expecting in your album ?
SKALES : Let’s just say good music from the first track to the last track.
VOM : What artistes are you featuring in your album?
SKALES: I have worked with quite a number of artists for the album; Davido, Iceprince, Olamide just mention a few.
VOM : What producers will be working on the songs on your album?
SKALES : I think the producers I have had to work with on the album are like the best part of working on this album. I have worked with Jay Pizzle, Drey Beatz, Spellz, DJ Coublon, Uhuru and many more.
VOM : What is the formula for shake body , from beat to concept ?
SKALES: Jay Pizzle and I were trying to create something different, a totally different sound from what was out and what everyone was used to hearing from me. And that’s pretty much what we did and ‘Shake Body’ was born.
VOM : What challenges have you faced and overcome in the music industry ?
SKALES : The grace of God oh. That’s pretty much how I rise above every hurdle I’ve faced.
VOM : What advice will you give to an aspiring artiste who does not have money for studio session?
SKALES : Find someone who believes in you enough to give you a chance and keep working – keep writing, keep recording, keep getting better daily
VOM : Many artistes all over the world are branching into other business ventures, do you have anything in the pipeline?
SKALES : Well, there are several businesses that I am involved in but when the time is right, I’d make it public.
VOM : Are you planning to get into the movie industry anytime soon, any script you checking out?
SKALES : Nope. Not at the moment, but who knows
VOM : What advice do you have for upcoming artistes?
SKALES : Stay focused, keep getting better at what you do, and pray.
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