Pryse broke into the mainstream of the Nigerian music scene as a rapper, when she was signed to one of the biggest entertainment companies in the country, Chocolate City group, which is home to A-list artistes like MI, Ice Prince, Brymo, Jesse Jagz etc. In this interview with Rotimi Ige, she talks about life’s lesson and her sojourn into rapping as an art form, among other things.
How did you become a ‘choc City girl’…
I did a remix of Iceprince’s ‘Oleku’ which I sent to M.I’s email address. He heard it and immediately went online and listened to everything I had ever done. Then he sent me an email saying, “Pryse, I think you’re the best thing out right now. I want you to join the Choc Boiz. What’s it gonna take?” I nearly died!
Do you write your songs?
Yes I do.
What kind of music do you do exactly?
It’s rap with an infusion of that African sound/style. It is good music, sincere music.
When did you discover your talent for music?
I discovered my talent the way most artistes do; in the church choir. It was a kids’ choir though and we were pretty good. I wrote a rap for a song we were doing and I became the group’s rapper at age 10 or 11.
Who would you say influenced your love to grow?
Actually, haters did.
How did you begin?
Well in 2002 or thereabout, our family’s media company, Frontline TV Ltd, acquired a state-of-the-art audio studio. My older brother, Big H, immediately started experimenting with music production and I always used to follow him, so I started begging to feature on his songs. We formed a rap group called All-out Squad with some other friends around. At first they did not like it at all. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t mind me playing around with music but they had a dream of me graduating and coming back to be a director in our family business. I’ll just have to prove myself to them. That’s all.
Have you done a single? How did it come about?
I have yet to put out my first official single, but I’ll tell you about the first song that I ever recorded (after All-Out). It was freestyle, purely for fun on Beyonce’s Diva instrumental. I’m ashamed to say that I took shots at some other female rappers. A friend of mine sent it to Notjustok.com without my knowledge and they posted it. The comments that followed were horrible, but a lot! So I told myself, “How dare they say I can’t rap?” I like a challenge though. I went back to the studio and did another cleaner song where I just rapped and the reviews were great. A few more songs and M.I contacted me.
Your first stage performance?
I first performed as a child in our kids’ choir. I would come out and rap and the whole congregation would go wild. I always looked for reasons to be on stage in school; drama, mimes, dancing, etc.
How have you grown since then?
Well, first of all, physically (obviously) and also in confidence and presence.
What is your relationship with other members of Choc city (MI, Ice prince, Brymo)?
The person I’m closest to is M.I. He’s my mentor. Iceprince, Brymo and Jesse are my brothers.
Are you under any pressure in the label?
I’m under a lot of pressure to continue the outstanding Choc City legacy. I have to deliver or get torn apart by critics.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I plan to be firmly on Nigeria’s top 10 list of entertainers, and on my way to Africa’s list.
How do you intend to break into the mainstream of the Nigerian music industry?
By making good music. People are ready for it. If you listen to artistes like Burna Boy and Blackmagic, you’ll see that they are thinking outside the box. I think Nigeria is ready for good music.
Any album in sight?
I am currently working on the album. I have my fingers crossed for 2013.
Well, videos will follow the singles I put out.
What challenges have you faced and still face in the industry?
As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I have to work twice as hard to get even a little credibility. People tend to make assumptions about me because I’m a lady. I also hate the way people expect girls to be at most ‘ok’ rappers. They refuse to judge them with the same standard as their male counterparts. The truth is that I probably rap better than most guys and I’m proud of that. Put me on a song with any rapper and I’ll hold my own. I already proved that with M.I’s ‘Notis’, I hope.
What is your relationship with other artistes in the industry?
I don’t have a lot of industry friends apart from my family and affiliates. I don’t have any enemies though (as far as I know) which is good, I guess.
Tell us about growing up?
Growing up was really just there. I am the last born so I was always getting bossed around. I was never really popular although I would perform in school whenever I got the chance. My parents were in between strict and liberal. They let me go and see a friend once every other weekend and of course I had a curfew. So I was kind of locked away from the world until I went to the university.
What would you have been if not a musician?
I would definitely have been a TV producer. It’s in our family. I still will, in fact.
To be honest, I’m only just learning to dress ‘girly’. I used to be a tomboy. Right now, in my stylist (Ify IOLA) I trust.
Favourite fashion accessories?
What can’t you be found without?
Last word to your fans?
I love you guys. Thank you. You are the reason I am.