Y1nka is a talented Rap musician from Lagos, Nigeria.
The artist recently released a single – Shalaye – that has received rave reviews from all corners.
Hi, Y1nka! Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How are you coping with the lockdown?
I’m doing great! Well, the lockdown gave me a lot of time to myself which I actually appreciated. I got to do a lot of writing, thinking and explored pieces of content. Although I did start going to work in May on a one-week-on, one-week-off basis.
What was growing up like for you?
I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia. My dad was an investment analyst working at a bank then and we lived together with my mom and sister. We lived in a compound of apartments where we had 2 courts for soccer, basketball or skateboarding, a swimming pool, and a playground with see-saws, swings, and more. So I used to swim in the evenings and play soccer or basketball with the guys at night. We stayed there till 2003 when we finally moved to Nigeria.
What kind of music did you listen to, growing up?
The first memory that sticks out in my mind was Eminem’s ‘The Way I am’ video on MTV. There’s a scene in it where he’s falling and rapping at the same time and I’ve always stuck to that image. I was then introduced to Rap – and basically did a rap history course – at my cousin’s place in Yaba barracks where we were bumping stuff like Biggie, Pac, DMX, Jay Z and Nas.
Did your early music experiences influence you to start creating music?
Probably. I grew through creating stuff – when I was a lot younger I used to draw wrestlers and name them as animals [laughs]. In secondary school, I drew sneakers at the back of my notes. I also joined the school band – which I feel is the major factor in my doing music now.
When did you start creating music? When did you start pursuing it professionally?
Well I’ve always been a songwriter, but I started making music officially in 2017, when my first song ‘Rebel’ came out. It was always at the back of my mind that I could be a rapper but I decided to do it when I came back from youth service in Abia. There, I bought a notebook, started writing again, and then I released Rebel.
Who & what inspires you to make music now?
I’m inspired to make music by my innate desire to create. I draw inspiration from the things I like to consume and enjoy – music, food, fashion – and try to create variations making them different and unique. My inspirations change all the time, but right now – Eminem, DMX, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Asa, 2 Face Idibia, Burna Boy, Yanni are some of them.
How would you describe the kind of music you make? What genre?
I’m a rapper, so I always attempt to make Rap and Hip-Hop Music. However, I like to try to fuse Rap with other genres of music like House, Afrobeats, EDM, and other forms of traditional Nigerian music with lots of musical instruments like the sax, trumpets, flutes, etc.
Do you play any musical instruments? Can you produce and engineer yourself?
I played the flute in secondary school, and I plan to go back to it. I can’t produce or engineer myself yet, but I just bought recording equipment so I’ve begun my quest to learn them. However, I can be quite specific with what I want in a beat, so any beat I use is a result of lots of discussions between me and my producer until we reach a middle ground.
Do you make music for yourself or does your audience influence your direction?
Is it possible to do both? [laughs]. I make music to satisfy the vision I attempt to create and because I listen to a wide range of music, it could be almost anything. Eventually though, I always hope there will be an audience for what I do, and I factor in the current landscape of music in Nigeria to make a balance.
Have you ever performed on stage? How did it feel?
I have o! And it’s a steep learning process with hits and misses. Sometimes I do well enough to get reactions from the crowd and they sing along – which is a beautiful feeling – while some other times they just look at you all the way through, which could make one very nervous while performing.
How is support from your family regarding your musicy?
The family support has been alright. I just went with the music dream and I didn’t give them a chance to influence it. However, they know I’ve always been really into music so it didn’t surprise them.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your career as an emerging artist?
Creating consistently. I feel like to reach success as an artist, you have to put in work on your craft all the time, and sometimes life happens and I’m not always working on my music. I’ve countered that by buying recording equipment and that has increased my desire to create and develop the consistency required.
Will you rather be independent or sign to a record label right now? Why?
Right now, I’d rather be independent till I reach a level where I would need additional investment.
What have you learnt the most so far in your music and life journey?
Learn as much as you can. What you don’t know, you may have to pay for it.
Many artists have distinctive visual brands. What would you say is your fashion style? Do you have a stylist?
I like wearing Danshikis, Ankara trousers on t-shirts, and Ankara tops on jeans, shorts, and chinos. I’m also a sneakerhead but they’re expensive! I’m developing that style for myself. I don’t have a style yet but I’ve been working on that with someone.
How frequently do you release music? What influences your decision on when to drop music?
I don’t necessarily have a schedule. I just create and when I feel I’m ready to push music and find a new audience, I’ll drop stuff.
What is the idea behind your next project?
The idea for my future project I plan to drop before the year runs out is to discuss life experiences in Lagos. It’s not done yet but that’s what it’s gonna be about.
If given the chance, would you: Reinvent the wheel or build a new chariot?
I’d rather develop and reinvent the wheel consistently over time.
What’s the goal for you? What would a successful career for you look like?
The goal for me is to live off my passions, which are music, food and fashion through my own creativity and inspirations. I also aspire to be a businessman with several stakes in various businesses.
Would you take a 9 to 5 job to supplement your income – do you currently have a job – or do you do music full-time?
I’m currently a banker, working as a Relationship Officer at Jaiz Bank. I feel it is more sustainable for me to have my own income to supplement my music so it’s more self-reliant and not dependent on any outside sources of income.
Where can people reach you on all platforms ?
Music platforms: Y1nka