Raoul John Njeng-Njeng aka Skales is an international Nigerian artiste, currently in the new season of Coke Studio Africa music show. He gets candid with Alfayo Onyango
It is not your first time in Kenya. How do you feel being here?
The feeling has always been amazing and it’s great to know that Nairobi is part of my journey. The people, artistes and culture inspire me and Kenya is like my second home.
Most of the times I’ve been here it has not been even to perform, but this time the experience has been a little different. The weather has been so good, the people hospitable and I think we can both agree that the most beautiful women in Africa come from the East.
Which international artistes are you working with currently?
There are a bunch of them, but I cannot let the cat out of the bag yet. I’ve been in studio with Major Lazer, who recently dropped a documentary that I was a major part of. Afrobeat has become a top 10 genres globally, so expect the element of surprise to do its part.
Who are your biggest music influences?
Fela Kuti is number one because to me he is the greatest of all time. You can’t do Afrobeat and fail to recognise the great contribution by this great musician. I am also a great lover of dancehall sounds.
How does it feel to participate in the new Coke Studio Africa season?
My manager got a call and I didn’t have to think twice. It’s a dream come true because I follow the show on TV and YouTube. To be part of it now and get to collaborate with other African stars is a huge chance to shine.
What pushed you to pursue music despite studying Business Administration in college?
I was born and raised in a northern part of Nigeria called Kaduna. I was the only child and my mum owned a music store where she sold cassette tapes. I never watched TV a lot; I just had my Walkman with me everywhere I went. Moving forward, I discovered music was what made me happy and decided it would be my tool to make money.
Thereafter, I won a singing competition and was crowned the Northern champion then moved to Lagos. I got signed by Banky W to Empire Music Entertainment and later started my own label, OHK Music, just to make sure business was running smoothly. I have frankly never looked back since then and I’m now mentoring young talent and just making good music.
How hard or easy is it to break out of Nigerian music industry?
Honestly, it’s not really hard. Basically, it’s about your presence being felt and making the right kind of music. More than music, it’s about networking because you want people to feel who you are. Nothing big.
Do you regret not pursuing a white-collar job?
Not at all. I found my happiness in music and I’m content.
What are the pressures of being a recognised artiste?
To me, it is just competition with other artistes, so you have to keep raising the bar for yourself, which is not a bad thing. You have to stay challenged and that’s how you can keep yourself working. Other than that it’s a hard work-commitment kind of thing.
What inspires you into making the music?
For me, it’s all about the vibes. I talk about my experiences, things I want happen and I can even talk about my needs. Just trying out different stuff and experimenting is always fun for me.
Currently, what’s your favorite Kenyan song?
This is funny, but I love Lamba Lolo.