Naeto C tells Adewole Ajao and Adaeze Anaekwe about his music, marriage and magical moments
Marriage has not completely altered everything about Naeto C. Months after tying the nuptials with his sweetheart Nicole Chukwueke, the award-winning artiste is sitting on top like the title of one of the songs from his first album U Know My P.
"It is not big deal," he disclosed at the interview venue in Ikeja. "You just have to accommodate it and what's important."
The year has definitely been a busy one for the fair-complexioned rapper and his comments on growth are better appreciated via a comparison of his strides in the industry. Changes have followed swiftly since he first came out in 2008, and apart from his music, his looks have also changed.
"I don't know. I was shy then but there is growth. Maybe I am not as shy as I used to be," he said with a hint of diffidence.
A hat trick of albums form a significant part of his repertoire which has recently been joined by a tune he and M.I. forged for this year's Hennessy Artistry. Tagged "Bartender", Naeto C did the chorus and some rap in a song that took a lot of effort to get ready given the time constraints. Fortunately, the hard work paid off.
"It was kind of challenging but we managed to pull it off. I also did the chorus because that is how TY Mix and I work. We worked with some wonderful producers but sometimes you never find that magical moment when the hit comes."
The track itself has been hailed by fans and critics who tagged it the best ever Hennessy Artistry song. With M.I. hinting on this recently, Naeto C also agreed that it would take a lot to push their current offering to the sidelines.
"When we were working I told them it would be the best song ever. You never know what will happen in the future. Someone might listen to our song 1,000 times and say he is going to outdo us."
With both heavyweights proving their mettle on a song that also had the Clarence Peters touch on its video, it seems to have opened the door to further collaborations between a duo that have worked on a handful of songs. Naeto C said this could soon become a reality since he and M.I. had been talking about it for a while.
"We have spoken about something like that, even touring together but we have not come out. The intention has always been there but opportunities were scarce until now. But we have a stellar [Bartender] video. I am sure after this we will find an opportunity and do other stuff."
With a discernible African flavour taking root in his music in the second and third albums, he revealed that he was getting closer to the destination for his music which has been evolving over the years.
"I am definitely closer than I was on the first album," added Naeto C. "There was cohesiveness in the album but it was not as African as it needed to be. That was understandable because I just got in from the [United] States.
"My second album was Nigerian but did not hit the spot. The third album signifies growth as an artiste. For every album there should be some improvement. The most important thing is not to go overboard. We tend to do that and people have techno over Afrobeat. A very small market likes it. If you are going to do techno, let it be the real one and don't spoil it."
A song like "Ten over Ten" was followed swiftly by the tune "Five and Six" and "I Gentle". Apart from the tendency to include popular slang in his music, there was a noticeable flair for numbers and rap on love songs.
"It is just being creative. You mix songs from nothing and get a magical moment. When I did 'Ten over Ten' and 'Five and Six', to the audience, they could take it literally but for me, it was beyond that."
With his MSc in the bag, Naeto C would not be averse to further studies. While explaining the "only MC with an MSc tag" in his "Ten over Ten" song, he added that given the right ambience, he would return to school for another degree.
"If the time is right and the setting is okay, I can take that risk. It would not be bad. In our genre, you tend to have a shelf life after some time. You have people like Jay Z still rapping. But do I want to continue at that age? I feel that I have other skills and challenges to explore. That is part of the reason I still went back to school to develop my academic interests."
The storm Records rapper, who wants to see an improvement in the business side of indigenous music, is following his advice by restructuring his record label for the future. This will be his contribution to a sector that is improving by the day.
"I would like to see the development of the business side of it. Once you have that, artistes can move to the level of being entrepreneurs," he said.
"I have some people I am giving the leg up and there are people I have contributed to their careers. We can last for a long time. What is most important is that people understand what you do."