If you haven’t heard about the song Limpopo, it’s either of two things; you’re not a music lover and have allowed the rave song pass you by or you are not a fan of Kcee and so don’t care whatever comes from this young man. But whichever side of the divide you fall into, the Limpopo King, as he prefers to be called sure deserves all the attention he is getting right now. In this interview with MERCY MICHAEL, Kingsley Chinweike Okonkwo, better known as Kcee, opens up on his ‘hustle’. He’s not ashamed to say his success didn’t come easy, much hard work has earned him a place in the map of music titans in the industry.
WHAT is it with KCee and white trousers?
It means nothing but fashion to me, just a clean boy.
How many of those white pants do you have?
Too many, that I have lost count. I can’t deceive you.
Honestly, you look rich from your head to your toe. How rich are you?
Haaa, I wouldn’t want to say that. The truth is I’m a very simple young man. I work hard, trust me. I don’t like settling for less. And I don’t want to beg. Everyday of my life I work towards being successful. I don’t even have time to rest. I work so that I don’t get to beg because I have suffered. I have tasted both worlds. I have tasted poverty when I was in Ajegunle and right now, I’m out of poverty. I am where I am right now and I don’t want to go back down there. So every day of my life I work hard and I strategise to keep moving higher.
It’s almost unbelievable that a clean boy like you has tasted poverty…
I was born in Ajegunle. I was in Ajegunle when I won Star Quest. I left Ajegunle like twelve years ago. I grew up in AJ.
What was it like growing up in AJ?
In Ajegunle there is hustle. You need to fight for yourself. In the ghetto you need to hustle for yourself. My parents tried training me in school, but of course it was beyond that. I saw other young people hustling and I had to join the trend. It is either you hustle or you die in the ghetto and like I said I didn’t want to beg, so I had to hustle for myself and today it’s paying off.
You sound like you were driven more by comfort than passion?
Of course, it’s passion, that’s why I had to fight. And of course getting to where I am today, I don’t want to go back to where I’m coming from. If you ask me, what is your phobia? Or, what do you fear? I fear poverty. I have phobia for poverty. And what I do is what I do and I don’t want to take it for granted. In the cause of not taking it for granted, I’m making the best out of it. And I’m trying to do the best that I can do.
If you were to choose between your years of being a group act and years of being a solo act, which is better?
Honestly, if you ask me, I wouldn’t say my years of being a solo act pays better. I wouldn’t say that. If I say so it’s not going to be too fair because as a group we won Star Quest which took me out of AJ. As a group we made several hits. We made Siopon, Segemende, we made so much money. We made so much fame. We travelled far and wide. But I’m excited because I’ve been able to prove to Nigerians that I can stand as an individual. I’m excited. Each time I remember my journey, it gives me joy.
Was it your desire to prove to your fans that you could stand alone that made you split with your half?
Not really. It just happened. We never saw it coming and when it happened, the only thing you had to do was to fight and make sure you get your own ground.
It was a major split in the industry. Did you take your fans into consideration at all before you decided to split?
Yes, our fans may have liked us as a group but they didn’t know what God has in store for us. We all are young and God has plans for everybody. He has time and season. This season, we never saw it coming. Each time when they interviewed us we said we were going to be together forever. We said our children are going to take over from us but we never say it coming. One thing people should know, life is not about you, God has a plan for everybody and I think His plan is what has happened.
So it is a blessing in disguise?
Yes, it is a blessing in disguise. I wish and I pray for my partner too that he gets his feet back.
But how do you feel that you are the one being ‘heard’ right now?
Me, I can’t be comfortable if I’m not making my own impact. I can’t be comfortable. And for the records, my success today didn’t come easy. I dropped eight singles before Limpopo. Limpopo was the number eight and it was the sixth video I did. Some came out and some didn’t come out. I’ve been hustling. I’ve been working. At a point I had to go look for fund. I ran out of funds. I wasn’t comfortable. I needed a breakthrough. Sometimes, it is about the individual, it is about your hustle, your dedication, your passion. So for me, this is my life. This is what I love to do. This is what I pray to do every other day. So my success story is about dedication, passion and commitment.
Did you ever envisage Limpopo was going to be the ‘highpoint’?
No, but like I said I have been working. One thing about Limpopo is, it’s a sweet music. When I recorded Limpopo, it took me less than 40minutes.When we were done with the beat and the song, I started partying in the studio with my crew. We popped champagne. I gave everybody food and all.
You said you didn’t know it was going to be a hit, so why were you merrying after you did the song?
As an individual I felt the song. It sounded different and immediately I finished it I travelled. I sent the song to my brother, E-money, who is the president of Five Star Music. When he heard the song he was like hmm, we need to start travelling to shoot the video. We went to SA and we shot the video. In less than four days we came back and we released the song. The song blew up like two days after the release and before we knew what was happening, it became an anthem.
Tell us about the gains of Limpopo
Limpopo has proved itself as a good song and for me Kcee, one thing I know is Limpopo is one of those successful songs because I remember I’ve performed in the Villa like four times. And I will be performing in the Villa on Thursday for the President and the First Lady. I’ve done wedding for about four governors’ children, I’ve done big events in and out of the country. It’s amazing. It shows the song is good, people love the song. I did a show on Saturday in Port-Harcourt, a very big one with some Makossa troupes that came in from different parts of Africa. I did Limpopo twice, everybody was on their feet. They didn’t want me to leave. I did it over and over with my band, it was massive. Even the Makossa troupe, they were all like who are you? They even know the song. When we boarded the flight to Port-Harcourt, they were singing Limpopo and these are people who don’t speak English. And I was like wow! This song has travelled far and wide. When I got on stage, it was a ‘statement’. Every show I do right now the love is massive. They want me to do Limpopo over and over and I give praise to God.
What inspired the song? And what is the meaning of Limpopo?
It is divine. I say that everywhere; I can’t explain it. I just say it means ‘let’s have fun’ because that was what I meant when I was singing the song, “baby make we go Limpopo”, “let’s go have fun”. It’s about fun, let’s have fun. But away from the fun thing, when that word dropped into my heart, when it came in, I was recording in the studio, it just came, it sounded very nice. I put it on the song and that was just it and the title of the song became a hook.
Most of your titles are very unique and different. Is it deliberate?
Yes, it is deliberate. That is the way I want people to perceive me, the way I want people to see me. I love my culture, I love Africa, I don’t want to be like every other person. Most titles here are mostly English and that is not me. More is definitely coming after Limpopo. Already there is Okoso which I dropped last week.
Tell us about Okoso
Yeah, that’s the single I dropped last week. Okoso is what we played with then, if you remember. It is about winding and dancing.
So, what is it about you and winding your waist?
I’m doing what I know how to do.
How do you handle your female admirers?
Well, I’ve been able to handle it. I’ve been handling it for so many years, I’m still handling it the way I can. But the truth is this people show you love. They get excited when they see you, so the least I can do is to show them love and make sure they are happy anyway I can.
Now that the love is massive, what more can you ask from God?
What else can I ask for? I’m just praying for long life, prosperity and more songs to come that will make people dance. I just pray that God gives me more inspiration that will take me to a higher level. As far as I’m concerned I’m just starting and I will never relent. I will never stop playing good music by the grace of God. I just pray that God should just take me from one level to another.
How is the home front?
Yeah well, most times I like to keep the home front away from business because they are two different things. I’m exposed already, so I need my privacy.
Do you believe in the maxim ’till death do us part’?
Of course I do, and having a partner is important. You need to share your life with someone and share ideas together and grow together. It is important.
When was the first time you fell in love?
Haa, e don tey. I remember then when I fell in love I used to buy a lot of short bread. I tried to make sure she was happy. You know, it feels good to be in love. Everybody knows when you are in love. It feels good. Sometimes some people don’t know when they are in love. Some people don’t know who loves them. Some people take love for granted. Some people love you deeply but you don’t know because you are carried away and that is because you have specie of the kind of girl or guy you want. You need a guy with big car that has all the money and you forget that that guy can cheat on you, do anything to you and get married to ten other women. But there is the other guy who loves you, maybe he doesn’t have that big car but he can give you happiness for the rest of your life and you guys can be happy together. Sometimes people misunderstand love for lust. They don’t know their left from their right.
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