Skaa reflects varying shades of positivity. And rightfully so, why shouldn’t he feel great about his music? His first release since returning to Nigeria in late 2020 was a success, his latest single “Dubai” is doing tremendously well. Skaa is slowly carving a niche for himself, one with a name you might find curious.
Born to a Nigerian father and a Filipino mother, Skaa beams with pride as we catch up. We focus on his Nigerian heritage throughout our conversation. He’s also proud of his sound which he returned to the +234 to push. He dubs it “Afro-Hip-Hop”.
His Buju assisted single, “Right Back” helped introduce him to a mainstream Nigerian audience. A feature he told his team was the only way to go last year. He had called this Buju run. Skaa bought in on it last year, long before a Buju feature became an essential hit making ingredient and long before “Feeling” with LADIPOE was released. The song boasts of a perfect blend of catchy melodies and laid-back rapping over a mid-tempo Afro-fusion instrumental.
Millions of streams deep in a short space of time, Skaa is not looking at stopping anytime soon and has a lot more come.
As he sets his sights on the next stage in his career, we talk about his music, his idol Drake, we zone in on the GOAT conversation, Hip-Hop in Nigeria and more. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is set out below.
Melvin: Skaa how’ve you been since you got back?
Skaa: I’m chilling man.
Melvin: You came back and off the jump you gave us “Right Back”. “Right Back” is your first release since you came back Nigeria, yeah?
Skaa: Yeah that’s my first single.
Melvin: How did that come together?
Skaa: Actually we recorded “Right Back” last year, we had a totally different hook for “Right Back”, it was just one of those tracks that we weren’t even thinking of putting out but we were like okay let’s just use this to test the waters in Nigeria. My team wanted us to get a Nigerian singer on it and you know they had a couple of names they wanted to reach out to but I was like “let’s put Buju on it” cause I was already listening to Buju, so I knew his music and I felt like he had big potential. You feel me?
Skaa: My team wanted us to to reach out to other bigger artists but I wasn’t really trying to work with the super big artists, I was like “nah let’s go with Buju”. I reached out to Buju, I DMed him and he liked it. He was rocking with it. I sent him the track and they sent it back in like 1 or 2 days. And that’s how we did it..
but I was like “let’s put Buju on it” cause I was already listening to Buju, so I knew his music and I felt like he had big potential.Skaa on the Buju feature
Melvin: That’s fire! So basically, you saw the vision and saw the kind of impact his voice would have or could have to decide to bring him on board.
Skaa: Yeah, exactly. Facts.
Melvin: That decision definitely paid off. That was like my first introduction to your sound. I was on a certain playlist on Apple Music, I think it’s the Alté playlist and when it came on and I was like “woah” this is heavy! I remember telling some of my guys “have you heard this Skaa record? this is like the next thing” and before I knew it, it was everywhere. That’s amazing you know, the impact of good music.
What inspired you to do music in general? How did that start off?
Skaa: I’ve been writing raps since I was 16. So since I was 16, I just wanted to be a rapper man, I just wanted to make music. Cause when I was younger, music was just a way for me to free myself and just be in my own space. So I made that decision at 16 that I want to make music, I want to rap. It was a really straight decision for me.
Melvin: That’s interesting. Listening to some of your older records before right back, you’ve been doing good numbers and making such great music. So why did you decide to leave where you were to come back to Nigeria to do music.
Skaa: First off, I’m Nigerian too. I grew up in Nigeria and spent some time in Nigeria. Yeah, so like Afrobeats, Nigerian music has always had a huge influence on me. So it just got to that point where I felt like I’m not just trying to do Hip-Hop, I’m trying to fuse Afrobeats, I’m trying to do “Afro-Hip-Hop”. That was the main decision where I was like if I’m going to do this kind of music, I might as well just come back to where it all started from. It won’t make sense for me to be out there and do Afro-Hip-Hop, Afro Music so I decided to come back and push it here.
Melvin: How long where you away for.
Skaa: A long time bro. A long long time, over like 15, 16 years.
First off, I’m Nigerian too. I grew up in Nigeria and spent some time in Nigeria. Yeah, so like Afrobeats, Nigerian music has always had a huge influence on me. So it just got to that point where I felt like I’m not just trying to do Hip-Hop, I’m trying to fuse Afrobeats, I’m trying to do “Afro-Hip-Hop”.Skaa on his heritage
Melvin: Do you think that has an influence on your sound?
Skaa: Not necessarily, cause I was still connected and kept in touch with both places.
Melvin: So best of both worlds?
Skaa: Yeah. I just kept in touch, I just kept myself updated with everything, so it didn’t necessarily influence my sound but it just gave me a wider perspective of both places.
Melvin: Who inspires your music?
Skaa: I wouldn’t necessarily say who, because I think there are a bunch of things that inspire my music. First of all I would like to say it’s my personal experiences, you know, my dreams, my motivations, my goals, like these are the things I like to put in my music, so these are the things that inspire the kind of music that I make.
Melvin: What are you trying to tell people with your sound?
Skaa: I’m trying to motivate people, cause like sometimes I like to get personal with my music, I like to make music people can actually relate to and I feel like if I can motivate the next person, if I can be relatable to the next person, I feel like I’ve served a purpose with my music. I want it to be like music with a purpose, I want to motivate the next person, and I’m trying to do music for a living (laughs). That’s a motivation for me too, I’ve got to make this happen for myself, I’ve got to be a at a certain level.
Melvin: Talking about your personal music, you’ve made deep rap cuts like “Escape”, that’s one of my personal favorites.
Skaa: Thanks man, appreciate it.
I’m trying to motivate people, cause like sometimes I like to get personal with my music, I like to make music people can actually relate to and I feel like if I can motivate the next person, if I can be relatable to the next person, I feel like I’ve served a purpose with my music.Skaa on his music
Melvin: a lot of rappers around here talk about a need to dumb down their music or lyrics to be a lot more commercial for the Nigerian market, has that ever crossed your mind?
Skaa: I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s dumbing it down, I would use the term adjusting to the market. Cause the way I’m gonna rap on Afrobeats instrumentals isn’t the way I’m gonna rap on straight hip-hop instrumentals. You know, I’ve gotta be in sync with the bounce, the beat, and I’ve gotta make the people follow. So I would say it’s me adjusting to the audience, so it’s not necessarily dumbing it down.
Melvin: Hmm. So Certified Lover Boy or Donda?
Skaa: CLB Man (Laughs).
Melvin: (Laughs) So I take it you rock with Drake?
Skaa: Yeah. I studied Drake. I started really rapping because of Drake.
Melvin: One thing you always here from the biggest artists is having to sit down and take notes from the greats in early in their careers, you can always hear guys like J. Cole referencing that.
Melvin: If we bring it back home, Burna Boy or Wizkid?
Skaa: Burna Boy man (laughs).
Melvin: Is it the style or the music, what exactly is the attraction?
Skaa: Everything. I feel like he’s the GOAT coming out of Africa, the melody, the style, the cadence, the subject matter, like just everything, the whole package, I feel like he’s really the GOAT.
Melvin: Hmm. Since coming back to Nigeria what is the one special thing you feel you missed the most back when you where not here? Is it the ladies? The food? The culture? Is it the music?
Skaa: (Laughs) It’s the food man. (Laughs) It’s the food bro.
Melvin: What’s your go to food around here?
Skaa: I would say okra man, I like okra and poundo.
Melvin: No Fufu for you?
Skaa: (Laughs) I mean I can still eat that pounded yam is my preference but if you bring fufu I could still eat that too, I don’t mind.
Melvin: What have you been working on?
Skaa: I’m working on my EP right now, it’s about to be crazy. You know I’ve got collaborations on the EP. I’ve got new tracks, I’ve got new visuals coming out soon.
Melvin: Can you give us some details that would make your management want us to end this conversation right now? (Laughs)
Skaa: (Laughs) They’re already on me man, it’s confidential information at the moment. But when its time to put it out, you guys will be the first to know.
Melvin: But are we gonna get some new stuff from you before the end of the year?
Skaa: For sure, for sure. I’ve been shooting videos, I’m about to go crazy dropping content real soon. I’ve just been laying back trying to strategize and make new stuff, so I’m about to drop real soon.
Melvin: That’s interesting. Looking at how we have a lot of young artists doing a lot of great stuff, we have Buju doing what he’s doing, we have Tems, Blaqbonez. What makes your style and sound stand out?
Skaa: I would say the way I rap, I feel like I’m bringing my own style to the industry, my flows, my subject matter, no one raps the way I rap.
Melvin: Facts! (Laughs)
Skaa: Big facts man.
Melvin: And that would really be interesting to see, how the market would react to this kind of sound. It would be beautiful to see how it all plays out.
Skaa: Yeah. For sure, it will.