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Peruzzi: Rum, Heart, and Boogie
In his final year of medical school, Peruzzi abruptly abandoned Ukraine for a shot at stardom in Nigeria. The DMW creative powerhouse is finally on his best run yet.
“Finally! I don finally meet you!” Peruzzi stands up from his chair—it actually does look like a throne—and hugged me. He’s been seating at this his favourite spot in his second living room, texting friends and colleagues, playing FIFA, and fielding calls from music industry professionals facilitating his extensive sophomore album rollout — Rum and Boogie. It’s been a long road to making this album, he says, turning on a gigantic JBL speaker to play the unreleased album for my benefit. The 31-year-old singer has spent the past few months working feverishly on this project. And when the pandemic hit in 2020, he seized the day, throwing himself at his grounded colleagues in Lagos, and finishing off recordings.
Here in this bright Lagos afternoon, Peruzzi has the only available copy of his album stored away in a secure server. “I no wan hear say anything leak. I dey fear all these leak stories. My album sef no even dey my phone.” He pulls open a Macbook, inputs a complex password, and launches into downloading files. He’s lighting up a blunt, a white shirt is hugging his frame, his nails are painted black, a stick of Benson & Hedges Gold cigarette is on the table, and he’s got people all around him. Peruzzi tells me he’s satisfied with the quality of his music, the trajectory of his growth, and his place in the industry. “Underground, I dey friendly, with every artist. Na for internet wey dey just dey think so,” he says, passing the blunt. I agree. He picks up the cigarette and light, moving them closer to his mouth for engagement, and continues. He’s having the best run of his career so far, he says. His record, ‘Southy Love’ featuring Nigerian singer, Fireboy DML, has been widely received. The bookings are flowing in. The numbers are rising. And that run of success has influenced his creative process for good. He’s churning out records with “that same ‘Southy love’ vibe.”
Peruzzi, born Tobechukwu Victor Okoh, is a hypermasculine, hyperactive, macho-presenting, generational talent. And even though he vehemently denies it, aspects of his life and celebrity throw up evidence of his swashbuckling approach to wielding celebrity. His recent past throws up a number of public squabbles, a controversial contract disagreement, and the bizaare allegation that he’s been sleeping with his cousin, and boss’s babymama, Chioma. “Till today, Davido has not asked me about it. He didn't ask me anything about it because he knows me. People don't understand it, but brother, that's just how we are,” he says. At home he is surrounded by friends and staff members he regularly engages with his high-octane disposition, and thrills with near-constant loud music. With Peruzzi, nothing is linear, and life is to be lived large, but with commonsense and respect for your fellow man. One moment he might be drawing from memory to regal you with a story about stopping midway through a concert to square up with a fan who spat out an insult at him. The next, he’s helping a less privileged person with a hand up. And when a new, unfamiliar record comes up on his speaker, there’s always an interest to collaborate. “Somebody just put me on to Cavemen, I was surprised that they were young men. They make matured music,” he says.
Where Peruzzi stands tall is in his ability to find the most melodious interaction between sound and words to create moving art. His pedigree as a hitmaker is proven. Check your charts. His songwriting acumen has often been the spine of multiple successful records on the continent. And when he gives himself to guest collaborations, he powers the record into his artistic image. Peruzzi’s first mainstream hit—Amaka, a song by 2baba—was a collaboration. After stunting on ‘Mind’, a DMW label posse cut hit, rumours swirled through the local media that he was handling a portion of Davido’s songwriting. It’s a tale, he has since embraced and thrived with. His songwriting credits make up a litany of hits, including 2Face's "Amaka," Davido's "FIA," Larry Gaaga's "Doe" and Ecool's "Ada" in 2018. He’s also contributed to top albums, including Davido's A Better Time, Tiwa Savage's Celia and Olamide's Carpe Diem.
All of this success came at great personal risk. In his final year of medical school in Ukraine, Peruzzi abruptly left science for music. Named TC Peruzzi at the time, the former rapper moved between Lagos and Abuja, looking for structure and a deal to stoke up his chances of success. After multiple failed attempts to fly, the singer finally struck gold in 2017 when his single ‘For you pocket’ earned a remix with Davido. The next few years were like magic. Davido and Peruzzi fell in love after a meeting. Peruzzi moved into Davido’s home and signed to DMW record label. Now living together, they bonded over early morning smoke sessions, recording new art, and vulnerable conversations. “You know when you meet somebody and then it just feels like this person is another me. David showed me that--because we spoke about almost everything. He lost his mom, I lost my mom. He's the only son, I'm the only son, You get me. It was a lot of things going on. I wanted to make it so bad. He saw me and he could see himself back then, how bad he wanted it. He comes from a wealthy family, I didn't come from a poor family, you get me? That's why I don't sing about struggles. I don't really know all those P.”
He continues: “I know I met somebody that I would wake up in his house, I can't wait for him to wake up and come outside. He can't wait to see me in the morning and be the first two people alone in his parlour upstairs. Smoking and gisting and just talking and commenting. Nobody had the opportunity. I had the opportunity, I made use of it, we connected. He knows who I am, he knows how I am, he knows what I can never ever do. And this is just in the space of how many years? Just two years living with him. That's why no matter what comes up, David knows what I can do and what I cannot do.”
2020 gave Peruzzi new life. As young Nigerians protested an end to police brutality under the #EndSARS movement, he became a surprising hero on social media, after he bravely foiled a robbery attack with his personal armed security. He’s ridden that newfound goodwill on social media by getting over his unwillingness to be vulnerable online, and enhancing his connection with fans. By December, his collaboration with Fireboy DML, ‘Southy Love,’ had started the climb to smash hit status.
Peruzzi’s latest trick is a 20-track double-sided album titled Rum & Boogie. He tells me the new record is a reflection of two sides of his artistry. “Rum signifies you drowning or you trying to take away something that's bothering you. When you're going through something, you drink. Then you forget for that moment till the alcohol clears from your eyes,” he says. And as for ‘Boogie’? It is what it is. Songs to get you to move.
Alternating between cigarettes and blunts, we talk about his transition from obscurity to stardom. He speaks freely, gesticulating through his responses as his eyes light up with laughter. How much has changed since he shared his gifts with the world? How do you hold on to yourself even when the world tells you different? Why does legacy family and respect stand above all as his crowning ambition?
People consider you an original. Do you agree with that?
I agree and I wish everyone else would agree. You know the problem? For example, I heard what you said earlier, like it might be like the same sound I'm giving. But the reason why it's sounding like the same sound is because it's me. It’s the same person. You can never tell me that the progression of this song is the same with the progression of the other song I made. It's a lie. Because I don't jump on beats. I do it from scratch. So when I say I agree, I know, I agree. But I really wish everyone would understand that yo, it's sounding the same because obviously, it's the same person. But I'm telling different stories. You're ignoring the stories you're supposed to be focused on and listening to the voice and the vibe. The vibe has to be the same. It's me.
How important is storytelling to your creative process?
That's the kind of person I am, so it's very important to me. Very very important to me.
Where do your stories come from?
From things I see, things I imagine can happen to me. Things that have happened to me. Things that happened to my guys. You get me? Things that I imagine can happen to my guys because of the way they behave. I sing about almost everything, but it all surrounds me.
You're considered very hypermasculine...
(laughs) I seem to be.
...But that's how you present yourself to the world.
No o. (laughs) First of all, the record label I'm signed to has played a huge role in that. Everybody feels automatically, you're signed to Davido. You know how David is, hyper na. And me, I learn a lot from David, you get me? So I tend to act like me, know how he would act, know what he would say in certain circumstances. Know how he would go about certain things. Because, guy, I lived with him for two years straight. He signed many artists before me but I don't think anybody lived with him for two years straight.
Normally, all these going out, squad squad squad, me I'm not used to it o. But bro, I met different people on my journey to where I am now. And there are people that I'd rather choose with all their flaws, than go and start a relationship with someone you don’t how e be. For example; Femi now, I know that okay last last Femi will high, he go drink. But it's not like when I need Femi to do something, he would not do it. The devil you know is better than the angel you don't know. Me, I know the people around me. And me, I chose. These are the people that would be around me, because I know that whatever wahala they want to bring, is not something I can't handle.
Why do you have so many people around you?
First of all, there's no way in this life that I would be by myself. Not in this house. I'm saying not in this house because that's the first thing you'd check. Not in this house. How? How do I do it? Secondly, I might have what I know and what I'm very good at or what I'm very good in. But I know that life doesn't revolve around me or around what I know. There are many things I'm supposed to know that I can't even know. I don't even have the time to pay attention to it. I don't want to know. But I need people that know it. Do you understand? So all those things, if I know someone that can, 'abeg this thing that is coming up, abeg help me..' and he knows how to do it. I'm okay, because I know that one would cover up the lapses that relate to that part of my own life. So it's normal. I need it.
How does the world react to your hypermasculinity?
They've shown that 'ehn, shebi he's on a Davido P'. But it's not a David P o, me I need it. I'm happy with the way it is because nobody can call me from anywhere and come and whine me. Even if you know I might never get to see you. Me, I know that deep down, before you post that thing that you want to post, you would think twice. You thinking twice alone, means I've won. Don't worry, because it's your phone. You can definitely go ahead and do what you want to do. But for you to think twic...and I'm sure you would think twice. And the reason why you think twice is because of the way I do my P.
So, your hypermasculinity serves as a defence mechanism?
It's important. Every artist needs it especially in the society where we find ourselves. The community, the country, the continent.
What changed for you when you became famous and had a hit?
I've always seen myself as a star. Even before I met David, before I met anybody in this industry, I used to act like 'omo, people are watching me.’ It's only Balo that can relate because we used to stay together where I was staying then. I used to act like that. I didn't have no drip, but I'd make sure that I'm not wearing any fake Gucci, I'm not wearing any fake Versace. I'm wearing plain white shirt. Like, I had my P, I had my way that I'm going to be something. I didn't know how, but I knew that, ‘guy, I'm going to be something.’ So I was already acting like I was. When David met me, I was branding myself already. I had my wave. When he met me, he met me in some type of wave. He knew that there was a wave. It's been like that because I always felt like if you know you want to get somewhere, just start now and start preparing yourself for it.
You faked it till you made it?
Yeah, exactly. Wasn't really fake fake, 'cause I didn’t rock no fake shit. But I faked being a star.
What effect did that approach have on the people around you?
Of course I met people that I showed this P, and they did not take me serious. I met them. But I made sure I was able to classify everybody I met on my way here in different groups. Like this one; unserious, but he can do this. Make we just dey. This one; no need. Cancel. This one; manage am. This one; dey. So I was able to differentiate. All the people that were not serious, I freed them. They write to me till today, and I've stopped replying actually. But when I met David and they started writing me, I used to tell them that shebi I told you.
'Cause me, when I left everything I left, there's nobody that would tell me that he's getting ready to enter his final year in uni and then he would now decide to leave. When you're studying medicine and surgery. Which parent—leave parent, I know the influence of parents—which child does not want to be a doctor after getting to the fifth year? Nobody. Trust me, everybody would feel like, ‘let me just finish first.’ But I knew that if I had stayed back to finish first, I might not get what I have now.
True. You saw the chance and you took it.
Yes. Regardless of the risk or whatever people were saying. ‘He's stupid.’ ‘You're dumb.’ ‘You're olodo.’ ‘You don fuck up.’ I chested everything because me, I knew where I was going to.
When was the first time you knew that success had happened for you?
I'm not going to lie to you, it was when David said I should come to the house the next day. It wasn't even when he posted my song. Because when he posted my song, I didn’t know him now. I didn't even know Chioma. I didn't know there was anybody like Chioma. I knew there was Chioma, but Chioma and David? How? First of all, it's not that serious. It's not like she's from one family that we know that this person is going to grow, and then her parents—because of their influence—would make her meet one big person. Nobody knew her. It wasn't like we knew that once David likes your song he would message you and he'd tell you to come to the house. It was until I met him gan gan gan. Until he said, ‘carry am come house tomorrow na,’ that he wants to see me again. That was not even complete. But that was what told me that okay, guy. Someone like Davido will not say someone he knows—that knows his house—should bring you tomorrow if he does not feel your P. So that was the moment that I knew that, omo, something is about to happen. I've met Davido na. That's Davido na. Do you get?
When do you think the world saw this success?
I feel like the stepping stone was 'Amaka.' When 'Amaka' dropped, everything just worked correctly. 2face was not in Nigeria, he was on his US tour. I was the one here. So I got all the bookings because people wanted to hear 'Amaka'. It was a lot. That was it. Everything just worked well. It's not as if 2face was suffering in America, he was doing his tour. He was messaging me because I kept posting videos of me performing 'Amaka'. He would see it. And he was messaging me like 'e be like say that song dey.' So that was the thing for me. I had all the time. He had already collected shows. He did like 30-something days in Yankee. He just dropped the song and travelled. So I had like almost a month to enjoy and actually show people that yeah, I'm here. It's me that they featured o. That's what changed everything actually.
Beyond art and recording music, what's the dynamic between you and David?
You know when you meet somebody and then it just feels like this person is another me. David showed me that--because we spoke about almost everything. He lost his mom, I lost my mom. He's the only son, I'm the only son, You get me. It was a lot of things going on. I wanted to make it so bad. He saw me and he could see himself back then, how bad he wanted it. He comes from a wealthy family, I didn't come from a poor family, you get me? That's why I don't sing about struggles. I don't really know all those P. So, it was similar stuff. And I feel like asides Chioma, that was what brought us together. That was what made us stronger. E get wetin me and David dey yarn wey Chioma no go know. Chioma no fit know because na me and my guy.
I know this relationship extends into creativity. When people try to make that sound like a bad thing, how do you feel?
I feel good. You know why? Because I feel like David does all the work. For example, there was a time somebody said I was sleeping with Chioma. Till today, David has not asked me about it. He didn't ask me anything about it because he knows me. People don't understand it, but brother, that's just how we are. Me, I don't even know how we even got there. But I know I met somebody that I would wake up in his house, I can't wait for him to wake up and come outside. He can't wait to see me in the morning and be the first two people alone in his parlour upstairs. Smoking and gisting and just talking and commenting. Nobody had the opportunity. I had the opportunity, I made use of it, we connected. He knows who I am, he knows how I am, he knows what I can never ever do. And this is just in the space of how many years? Just two years living with him. That's why no matter what comes up, David knows what I can do and what I cannot do.
How did blowing up that affect your relationship?
I would say it limited us having more time to record in the studio. We don’t have more time like we used to have. That time, the studio was the next room. But asides that, nothing. We still dey.
You did a lot of collaborative work that got blessed into hits. People try to use interpret that negatively. ‘Peruzzi is a collaboration artist.’ Did that affect you in any way?
I wouldn't say it affected me but I noticed it. But it didn't affect me. And I feel like they didn't just get it. There's no way somebody that has been singing since and watching and paying attention to the music industry would not have people that he would like to work with. And then he would now come in the industry. And then he now gets the opportunity to work with them, and you feel like he would not do extraordinary? He's supposed to do extraordinary na. 2face feature me, 2face wey get all the fans for this world. I no go con show myself more than I go do for my song? That's other people's songs. I went to their table. But on my own, I'm building something. I'm trying to make you understand the type of artist I am, that's the same time I just came out. That's the same time I was trying to show them that I'm about some love P. That was the brand I was trying to bring out that yo, I'm on a love P.
I was versatile. I was always versatile. I started rapping, you get me? I know how to rap. But I didn't bring all those P. I knew what I wanted them to see. It would get to a point they would hear me rap. But I didn't want it to be at that time. So I was doing my own thing on my own songs. Painting pictures and telling stories. Go and check the songs I dropped then, "Heartwork" EP. Check the songs I dropped then. You'd see that it was not nonsense. I was actually painting pictures and telling stories. So that people would know that this person, when you hear that he has dropped a song—before you play it—you know what to expect.
That "I know say he go don yarn something funny wey, or maybe one babe go don do am bad thing or e get one girl wey e dey die for. But something funny. E go give you one funny lyrics, go play with one or two, go give you melody, go give you sweet progression". I just wanted them to know that okay, this is that type of p. But no be say person no fit run any other thing. So that was me doing me on me. But collabos, 2face wey I don dey watch since, I no go con scatter him song? Na normal P.
Where do these melodies come from?
They come from my mum, my dad, the family I was brought up in, church..
You were a church boy?
Yeah, Assemblies Of God. Choir, play keyboard, that P. At Assemblies of God, acappella. If you're not playing instruments, acapella. If you're playing instruments, it has to be the full thing. Everybody is singing, everybody is backing up, harmonizing. Treble, alto, tenor, bass. Everybody is doing everything. So that was what I learnt. I learnt to harmonize everything, I learnt to make music sweet. So that was where it came from. Childhood experience is the foundation of my whole life.
You still go to church?
I haven't gone to church since I met David. I haven't been to church in like four years (laughs). But yeah, I believe in God.
You've weathered contract disputes, having your name being dragged in like the most vicious way. Including Chioma. What's the learning for you from that experience?
It has made me understand that the higher you go, the more challenges you face. And the challenges you face would be on different levels. That is, if you're on level one, you're facing the challenges of level one. If you're on level eight, you're facing challenges of level eight. It has now pushed me to the point that there's nothing that can happen to me anymore that I can't conquer. I'm still here. I'm here. Everybody is waiting for my album. If I fell off, nobody would be waiting for my album. Do you understand? I would not post my tracklist and everybody is waiting for it. No. So I understand that it's normal.
Somebody told me about this. David yarned me a lot of things like 'guy, the higher you go, the more challenges you face'. It might be just one. But that one that you'd face, it's not something you faced when you just came. And I understand that. So if there's any other thing that wants to happen to me, I just see it as, ‘ah omo, let me just chill till I overcome this then I know I'd be good.’ Even before I become good, I always know I'd be good. I just feel like as long as you didn’t do anything, you're okay. And I know how I've been living my life, so...
You’re using social media in an improved way. What changed last year in your fan interaction?
I learnt a lot from the me and Teni thing. Because obviously, before the whole wahala, there's no way you'd say I didn't know Teni. And I liked her. Why did I like her? Obviously, she had like funny stuff. She was posting her funny side, like her normal side. I'd say normal side, but those normal sides were funny. But I was too shy to do all those things. And I'm saying it because it was her. She's the only one I can use as an example right now because that was somebody I paid attention to.
So I noticed that people were always commenting that 'this guy too dey frown for pictures'. Why? Because I think a lot. I might be with you now and my mind is somewhere else. I'm thinking about something serious. I might even be writing a song. And then I didn’t even know how my face looks and then someone is taking a picture somewhere and then I might even be doing peace but I'm not really there. So you feel like I'm there but I'm not smiling. So I noticed it. And then the whole #ENDSARS thing now gave me an opportunity to make like one post. 'Cause I was going for a show and then we got to Third Mainland Bridge. coming down Third Mainland Bridge, there was mad traffic and then we saw cars turning back. I asked what happened and they said they were robbing in front. And I was with like security personnel you get me? So, I just told them to move ahead and just start shooting and stuff.
Basically just let those people know that yo, there are officers around since they are robbers. And I put my head out for like two, three seconds - just the two, three seconds that I put my head out to tell them to move, one or two people just saw me and said I was the one that saved them. Because obviously when they started shooting and we were moving forward, those guys ran away. So I finished my show at the shrine, checked my phone and then I'm already trending. Like, you people are yarning many things. IG of Police, someone already edited one picture, put me in a police uniform and stuff. It was so funny. I'm like, okay. And I just posted something. I just said 'I go address una tomorrow morning.’ I remember posting that on my IG, with the picture I got from Twitter that the guy edited. And yo, before the next day, the engagements eh were on a different level. Like people were yarning different things. It became a thing. People already saved the picture, started using it for something else and then I liked the reaction.
So the next day, I already said I was going to address them the next day, so the next day I had to do something. So the next day, I went for #ENDSARS movement obviously, and then I posted pictures from the #ENDSARS. And I said, 'okay, we don’t have an office yet but we don start to dey work.’ Some people actually chop the thing again. I was like ‘ahn ahn what's going on?’ Because I had not had such engagements ever. So it was a lot for me. These are the normal things I say. These are the normal stuff I do, so let me just start giving them, since that's what they like. So I just started and they liked it.
And then the 'I no want wahala' p. Obviously, that was the third post that I don't want wahala. The second night, our guy from Abuja in the Force headquarters called me and said, 'we hear say you don be IG of police now.' So I said 'ha, no o'. I now posted that I hear say commissioner dey find me o, I no want wahala o.' So that's how that one just went. So after that, I'm like these people like to see who I really am. And there's nothing there, that's just who I am. Just keep posting. So it got to a level where I can just pick up my phone and decide to say anything. And just post it, and it would work. So I knew that guy, just show them how you are. Let them know. Because I feel like you can't love somebody you don't know...
Okay. But who are you?
I'm a very happy guy. I just like to chill. I hate stress. I hate wahala. I just like to chill and just enjoy myself. That's who I am. And I like to make music. Write songs. create.
This risk-taking, where does it come from?
I feel like whatever stresses you—before it stresses you—you must have processed something in your head. And for something to stress you, you care about that thing, it's important. If it's not important, it won’t stress you. It's like saying Arsenal and Man Utd are playing now. Bruh, who cares? (laughs). But if you tell me Arsenal and Liverpool are playing, even if I don't pay attention to it, I care. So it's in my head. It's not about me showing you guys that I care. It's about what I'm thinking 'omo, Liverpool should better just win o.' That type of thing. Because it's not easy. So that's why I mean, good things don't come easy. I understand it gan gan gan gan. Nothing good comes easy. It must not be from your comfort zone, you have to stress. So that's what I believe.
So understanding that life involves some sort of struggle and unpleasantness. Does that reflect in the way you have gone about music? You made three projects before this. Why do you make projects instead of singles?
I feel like singles are singles in the sense that people can enjoy one song you drop. But then, I feel they are meant to be able to classify you. That is to say 'he knows music.’ Before you say someone knows music, it can't be by one song. It can't be because of two songs. It's not by songs, it's by genres, it's by bodies of work. It's by what you tell us. That's why I try to put it together albums, projects or bodies of work with different themes that I can do. What I do on any body of work is showing themes. If it's one theme, I'd make it known that it's one theme.
Like for example, the "Heartwork" EP. I had a heartbreak and everything. So it was more of the sad love P. But then, my "Huncho Vibes" EP was more of different things, 'cause I feel like in an album, you have to show them. That's why they have things like album fillers. You have intro, you have interlude, you have outro, you have all those types of things. Because if I open your album on my phone now, when I press play, I want to be in the mood. I want to know how you'd make me feel. I'd start from track 1. I don't know how other people listen to albums o. When I'm done digesting it, maybe later later, I can be going to my favourites. But when you hear that an album is out, obviously you want to know what this person is trying to tell us. That gives you the opportunity to make them know that I'm about that, I'm about this. That's why I prefer albums to singles. Because singles, it might just be one side.
How important is watching the market? What does it do for you?
Why would you want to be selling something and you'd not first check wetin dey go for the market. I feel like it's very important. You cannot sell what people don't want to buy now, except if you want to deceive yourself. Or you cannot sell what you have in a way that people would not buy it. So watching that market is important. I might want to sell this phone to you. Somebody would now come and have the same phone to sell to you. Now that's a market. But for me to make you choose my own phone, I have to package. That means I have to know what you will like before I bring the phone. It's not when the guy has brought his own phone, and I've brought my own phone, that you'd now be telling me that your screen has cracked.
I'm supposed to know that the people in that market would not like to buy a phone that the screen has cracked. They'd not like to buy a phone that does not have a charger. They'd not like to buy a phone that goes off every time. They'd not like to buy a phone that the camera is not clear. So before I even go to that market with my product, I go don make sure say omo, that phone wey I go carry go, the person wey go win me, wey them go pick him phone on top my own phone ehn, him phone gats baaad. So watching the market is very important because you have to know what they want.
And how does this intersect with your originality?
That's where the word balance comes in and that one is left for you. You have to know how to balance it. I'd jump on 'Amaka' today for example. Tomorrow, I'm jumping on 'Aza Man.’ That's like two different types of audience. One is street, one is a matured p. People that are paying attention to music, the beat, the harmony. While the other one, the people are paying attention to the vibe. How they feel when they listen to all those type of P. Except if you want to be one-sided. Someone like me now, I know that when I do 'Aza Man,' I have to go back to do 'Twisted.’ I have to go back and do a song like 'Lagbaja', I have to do 'Gunshot', I have to do 'Majesty'. All different. Because people like different things and music is wide. It's you as the artist, you have to know how to balance it.
All of this information, you think it gives you an edge?
Even if it doesn't seem like it does now, in the long run it would be very obvious. People that I've studied, that's what they did. It has not failed anybody except people wey never blow. people wey don blow wey do am...
Beyond music, in what other way do you express your individualism?
Like I said, my life in general I always like to be transparent. I'm always that guy that if something is not going to affect me, I don't care. You want it to go this way abi? If you give me a good reason why it should go this way, if I can do anything to make it go this way, I'd make it go that way. For you, not for me. So I always stay transparent. If I don't like something, I always make it clear. If I'm not down for something, I always make it clear. That's why I might be sleeping and somebody would call or somebody would come to the house and be like 'we need Peruzzi to ...' They already know what I'm going to say before I come down. They would not even let me come down and be saying, ‘why didn't you tell him, no.’ They know, this one, he'd not go. He'd not do it. He's not going there. He'd not even listen to you. He'd change it for you. They know because I've always been transparent. Like guy, this is how I am. Up to like three days ago, shebi we have a group in the house. We still talked about many things because that's how it is. If you want to grow, you have to make people understand how you are so that they would not be delaying you. That one-two second of delay can affect the whole thing. so yeah, transparency is just the key for me man.
Let's talk "Rum & Boogie". You're presenting two facets of your current artistic expression to the world. One part is rum, the other is boogie. What is rum?
Rum is something that makes you think about something, when you're by yourself. Whether good or bad. That moment where either, 'I like this person so much, this person doesn't like me' or 'this person loves me so much, I don't like this person.’ It's that moment where it's just you and you have to reflect about something; 'yo, this thing is not going right'. Like I said, rum signifies you drowning or you trying to take away something that's bothering you. When you're going through something, you drink. Then you forget for that moment till the alcohol clears from your eyes. So that's basically what rum signifies. That self-reflection moment. It could be anything. Doesn’t have to be love. That's what rum is.
And the boogie. Why did you decide to create boogie? What led to boogie?
Boogie is because there's always boogie. The fact that boogie means happy, dance, or anything. You can dance to take away stuff from your mind. You can dance when something is going on because omo, fuck that, I gats ginger. So that boogie is there because it's important. If you can have a down part, of course, you need a part where you are uplifted somewhat. Turn up basically.
And turn up works in this market a lot.
Of course. That's what they play in the club.
During the pandemic, how did that affect the way you made music? Did that affect your creative process?
I wouldn’t say it didn’t. Instead, I'd say it was a good thing for me. Normally, I'm always in the house. As long as I have my internet, my game, my food and my weed, I'm good. So it didn’t change anything. Instead, it even made me happy because it gave me time to work with people. I was working on my album obviously, it gave me more time. I wasn't playing shows, that means weekends I still had time. Every day was like weekends to me. It was a good thing for me. I was able to link up artists, get their verses because of the project I was working on. It was a good thing for me. It didn’t affect me o. We didn’t play shows sha, but it didn’t affect my creative process.
From what I've gathered you are a man on a journey. You're enjoying the process of course but there's a destination. What does that destination look like?
Like my mum used to say: ‘Even if you no know where you dey come from, no forget where you dey go. I feel like you can’t just be existing. You have to be living. In the sense that, you have to be about something. And me, I've always known where I want to be, I can tell you where I want to settle down; Malibu, California. I just want to be there smoking my weed in like six years from now with my wife and my two kids. I already know everything I want in this life. I know because I feel like you're supposed to know. If not, why are you living? Why are you working? Why am I even singing? Am I singing because I want to be singing forever? I can't be singing forever now. I'm singing because after singing, I have to do something. I have to be somewhere. I have to say 'yes, this is what my life turned out to be.’ From going to primary school, going to high school, going to uni, it has to result to something. It would be no use of me living, if I don’t have a destination.
What's most important to you that you've done so far? What do you look at and affirm yourself in your journey?
I feel like, there's a lot of things sha, but I'd just say one. The fact that it was when I came people started accepting the fact that there are songwriters in Nigeria. And songwriting is a thing. It became a thing when I came. People started accepting the fact that there are songwriters in Nigeria. And songwriting is a thing. It became a thing when I came and made it know that 'yo, I write'. David made it known that this guy writes for me. It became a thing because nobody was saying nothing. They were leaving it for anyhow wey e be. We made it a thing; me and David. That's one thing I know I did for the industry, asides my type of vibe. I know that obviously, people started arranging songs the way I arrange songs.
Would you consider yourself an emotional guy?
I am. You're emotional as long as you're original. That means you're able to speak about good stuff, you're able to speak about sad stuff. You're able to speak about embarrassing stuff. You're able to speak about awkward stuff. You get me? Yeah, I feel I am. And me, I'm somebody that loves love so there's no way I can't be emotional if I love love.