From the slums of Bariga to the fast lane of performances, paparazzi, and fandom, Lil Kesh has been a man to take opportunities as they come. Working his socks off as a kid growing up in the hood, the rapper officially threw himself into music in 2012.
2 years later he had hit the jackpot, with a song ‘Lyrically’, giving him his first industry break which led him to YBNL boss Olamide via his friend
Viktoh brought the link up between me and baddoo (Olamide),” He confessed in an interview with Naija FM. “Viktoh knew Olamide before me for over 6years. I was doing my thing on street, going from one school to the other and doing my freestyle.”
Viktoh, already signed to Olamide was friends with Kesh. He did what good friends do, helping another man find a better way through life.
“Olamide came to perform at one of the show I went to do my freestyle, and I think he loves my performance and Viktoh linked us up. ‘Lyrically’ change the story, He heard the music and sign me immediately…I don’t know why God too love me like this.”
With more funding for his project and the guidance from Olamide, the young man was able to get through to mainstream music. In 2014, he dropped the hit song ‘Shoki’, which was made popular as Nigeria got another rapper who powered through a beat with indigenous lyrics. He was young, he was fresh, and he had a dance to go with
Fast forward through the years, and Lil Kesh is ready for an album. Having shed off the ‘one-hit wonder’ tag, via the release of a string of hits he controversially lost out on the prestigious ‘Next Rated’ awards at the 2015v Headies. But that hasn’t stopped him. He is ready for an album.
…how many hit songs does it take an artiste to drop an album. I think musically, the point of an artiste is that you are supposed to drop an album,” Kesh reflects. “You are supposed to drop an album that has a direction.
“You can’t just drop an album, and people in Nigeria will buy. No. You have to give them singles, give them a taste of what your album mighty sound like. If you can have like four hits, I think people are listening to you already. What’s the point of taking so much time, wasting another year because you feel you are not ready? I feel I’m ready to drop an album right now.”
Lil Kesh is widely regarded as a one-dimensional artiste who combines vocal power, basic lyrics and a smattering of English to go along with in the making of pop rap, which is only danceable. He sticks to that script fastidiously, and that has taken him to this height. Also, his songs have the penchant to lean towards the vulgar, with muted complaints.
Throw in the popular argument which has dogged him; Is Lil Kesh even a rapper?
Pulse got a whirlwind of commenters on social media question his art when he made the list in our ‘Hottest Rappers of 2015. Lyrically was his last real ‘rap’ song, which makes for damning statistics for the purists.
Lil Kesh understand this, admitting it to Pulse.
“Different people, different orientation, different beliefs and all that. Some people might be cool with the fact that Korede Bello is doing a love song…at the end of the day, it has some positive things attached to it. At the same time, he did ‘Godwin’.
“I’m an artiste, trust me there’s no point of being an artiste if you don’t know what you are doing, if you don’t know where you are directing your music to. I know where I am directing my music to. I know the kind of people that might call me for some kind of shows. I know what I have to do to gain the right attention I need at a particular stage of my career.”
Acknowledging this is just the first part of it. Lil Kesh might claim ownership and freedom to make pop music, but in reality, that is far from the truth. The rapper is under a lot of external pressure to maintain his act, and stay at the top, hence, he has to stick to the script. It is more a case of ‘being unable’ to make alternative sounds, rather than ‘choosing not to’ do it.
ut he does admit that there’s artistic happiness on the card for the “Y.A.G.I” album. God and all his teachings is even in the details.
“The same me that did some kind of songs, would also have some godly songs, and gospel songs that you guys will be hearing soon. That doesn’t make me anything. If some people are judge-y about an act doing secular and worldly songs, it’s fine. But my own take is that I’m an artiste, and as an artiste you have to be versatile.”.
“Y.A.G.I” album will be out on March 26, and the general hope is that Nigeria will experience other shades of Lil Kesh.