In a recent interview with Happenings, Limpopo crooner KCee talked about his early life, journey into music, fashion, and many more.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Kingsley Chinweike Okonkwo aka Kcee. I call myself the Okpekete master but right now my fans call me the “Limpopo master/king”. I am your boyfriend and I’m also a potential Maga.
I schooled in Tolu primary school, Ajegunle then went on to Central High school, Isolo before going to UNN (University if Nsukka).
I didn’t study music; my father was a DJ and he used to sell CD’s and records back in the days, so I grew up assisting my dad in his music business. So it helped me build up my knowledge of music. I heard a whole lot of music; afro, rap, r ‘n’ b, high life, so I have a whole lot of brands of music in my head.
While in that music background did you always know that you would go into music professionally?
Not really, I thought I was going to be a footballer, I remember when I was in AJ I used to play for Julius Berger, I also played for Puma. So I thought it was going to be football for me but I always had this belief that I was definitely going to be in the entertainment industry because it’s my love, my heart, my everything. I needed to make sure I get my dreams; it was between music and football. At the end of the day, the God that always writes scripts has written mine, I was just acting in it; I thought I was going into football but I found myself doing music.
Your parents’ reaction when you said you were going to do music
My father didn’t actually support me when I started like most fathers, he was like; you need to go to school. My mom was the one actually supporting my career, financially, morally and other wise. The first time I went for a show and I came back, my father tied my legs, my hands and then he flogged me, he was like “you’re not my child any more, why would you go for a show at night”.
The first time I came back home with money when I performed somewhere, Julius Agwu introduced me to some guys then, I did ‘Oh Play Safe’ rave for Gold circle condom, then they were raising awareness for HIV so I did the performance with my partner and I was paid N20, 000, I went home and tendered the money to my parents, they were impressed. It was at that point my father started supporting me.
Now my dad prays for me when I’m recording or shooting a video; whatever I’m doing he prays first.
Was the support already there from your dad before you went for Start Quest?
When we won star quest he was like that means this boy really has talent, at that point everybody started supporting me.
All the while you’ve been in the industry, do you think it has actually grown?
Yes! Because the Kcee of today is different from the one of years back. The kinds of songs I do now are totally different from the ones I did way back. I think I’ve improved and getting wiser and getting more scope in the business. No matter what you do in life, the more you do it the better you become.
Your style of music
For me I call my style of music ‘sweet music’ because its sweet you can’t resist it. It is a fusion of high life, soul, punk, r ‘n’ b name it.
On Possibility of Collabo with Former Partner ‘Presh’
Of course it’s possible, we can still do music together, we’re friends and brothers and as long as the industry is concerned, we’re still in the same business.
Limpopo is like an anthem now both in Nigeria and beyond, tell us the process that went into creating this hit and how you came about the name Limpopo
First of all it’s an amazing one; one of the biggest I’ve ever done. When I go to the club and my song is been played the way every one jumps on their feet, it makes me feel excited and welcome.
When I was at the studio recording ‘Limpopo’, I did it like every other song, it got to a point when I finished recording, I was already partying in the studio with my guys, this is a master piece a beautiful song, we knew everyone would pounce on the song. Immediately I finished the song I travelled to Spain to shoot the video. I believed in this song and knew it was going to take me to the next level. We released the audio like five days after the video was shot. Few days after the audio the video dropped and just like that everybody started embracing the song. I dropped the song like, 12 am on a Wednesday and I’ve never seen a buzz like that, on my bbm on the internet everybody went gaga.
Nobody said one negative thing and that’s when I knew that this song is nice and then it grew to this point. When I did Okpekete I thought it was going to be big but now it’s not even as big as Limpopo even though it has its own base. For me, Limpopo was divine favour.
Do you see Limpopo having a remix?
Already I’ve gotten a lot of calls from people to do the remix with them; definitely just maybe I might do a remix but I don’t know for now.
If you had to choose between remixing Limpopo with an international artiste or Nigerian artiste who would you pick?
I can do both, together or separately. You know when a song is big and nice, everyone wants to hear different sides to the song.
Which international artiste have you thought of doing a collabo with?
Personally there are a lot of them that I like and it’s not because of music oh, like I just want to see them and get a one on one rapport with them. Would like to do something with someone like Kcee, myself (laughs), Justin timber lake, Ne-yo, Chris brown, Rihanna, if you ask me I’ll call all of them. As for rappers maybe Drake
The meaning of Limpopo
Limpopo simply means ‘Let’s have fun’.
The spot light is presently on you and your fans are expecting something bigger than ‘Limpopo’
That is like putting myself on the hot seat. By the grace of the God that has been giving me ideas I would not shoot myself on the leg. I will not disappoint you my fans; just pray for me that I get it right again. I’m not sleeping; I’m working every other night to make sure I give you guys something nice.
Why did you choose to go to UNILAG on your birthday?
I won’t say anything in particular made me go there. It was my birthday and I had heard that they loved my song so I thought it would be nice. School wasn’t even in session when I went there that day. I went to UNILAG fm, so just before going on air, I decided to go and say hi, it wouldn’t be nice if I just came without saying hi, the girls came out of their hostel showing me love, I love and I respect them. In fact any time they are doing anything they should just call me, I will even come for free because the love they showed me that night was so amazing.
What does fashion mean to you?
I don’t joke with my fashion; it is something very dear and important to me. Everybody that knows Kcee knows I don’t play with fashion. From my car to my apartment, to my clothes, everything, like it sleek, stylish and funky. My style makes me look on point. Even when I was in primary secondary school, my socks were always neat, shoes different even when I‘m supposed to wear material I’ll wear jeans. My style grows every day.
Advice to fans that want to emulate your style
For me I think it’s better to carve out your own style, look yourself in the mirror and be sure of what you’re wearing. I think when you look at yourself in the mirror you tell yourself the truth and if you see that you’re not getting it right, adjust it gradually until you realize that you have your own style.
How have you been able to handle the attention that comes with fame especially the female attention?
I’ve been in this business for some time now and I’ve been managing them and I’m still managing the situation.
Should we be expecting another hit from you soon?
After Limpopo, I’ve recorded over 8-9 songs. I’m not sleeping, I’m working hard. This is my business. This is what I do even after dropping an album I’ll still record, keep creating music that inspire people. Any good musician needs to keep recording that is what I think. Despite the fact that people are still dancing to Limpopo I’m still recording. Infact I’ve had people call me to say that I should not sing another one that Limpopo is okay, they will be happy from now till December; others have asked I do another one.
It depends on what the people want but for me Kcee I’ll continue to work. If you want me to drop a song by tomorrow morning I think by the grace of God I’m ready, or you want me to wait till next year I’ll wait, it’s all for my fans. I know when to listen to my fans. Like right now I’m getting a lot of about dropping an album; a lot of marketers are calling and I might drop an album before the end of the year.
Where do you see the Nigerian music industry and where do you see Kcee in 5 years
The truth is a lot of people like asking about 5 years, it’s far. We should be asking what will happen in the next few months. The Nigerian music industry is one of the largest in Africa; In fact we’re now getting into the mainstream market in America.
The way the American artistes see us then in terms of music is different from the way they see us now. Right now, they want to buy into the African market. I think we’re doing so well. A year from now I’ll have my album in the market.
God will help me to grab some awards to celebrate Kcee as a solo artiste. I’ll also have another song that will keep you going. Maybe I’ll have done collaboration with a foreign artiste.
Advise to upcoming artistes who has struggling to the Top
If you want to come into this business, there’s space for you; there are opportunities. You that you want to be a star what do you have? What can you do to differentiate your music from what is out there? For example, I came up with my own dance step, it has become a brand. So carve a niche for yourself.
Just like when ‘Flavour’ came with his own flavour, the Igbo high life ‘r n b’, he added hip hop now everybody wants to see him. For those who are not sure of their talents, before night go reach look for another thing because time waits for nobody. There’s no time to check time at this time so be sure you know what you’re doing with your time; that is my advice.
Those that have the real talent, you already know, the world is waiting for you just believe in yourself, that is the main thing, don’t be discouraged by any one.