The first time I heard Diyo Matalo was his verse on O G Mage’s On My Way. Immediately he finished his verse, I knew I had to invite him on to the JJC segment.

The 29-year-old Abuja-based emcee has a way with words that just leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction. His rhyme scheme, wordplay, punchlines, and smooth storytelling leave you in awe; he sure takes his time delivering his verses.

It then added up when I realised at one point or another in his life, the FUTMinna graduate has lived – born, raised, school, and worked – in Yola, Jos, Minna, Lagos, Kano, and Abuja. That’s not all, he says he was influenced by “Eminem, M.I Abaga, Linkin’ Park, Lecrae, Sho Barakatop; and my top 3 rappers at the moment are Andy Mineo, Ladipoe, and Kendrick Lamar.” Fam, are you seeing the picture already?

Anyways, I hit him up and the rest is history. Ladies and Gents, meet Diyo Matalo

First Encounter with Hip-Hop

I can’t really pinpoint a particular encounter. I grew up with an elder brother, a couple of my cousins used to come around a lot, and they listen to a lot of rap music. They listened to a lot of Missy Elliot, Eminem, and Timbaland.

If one song struck a chord, it has to be Eminem’s Cleanin’ Out My Closet. I don’t know the reason why, but weirdly, it was the first hip-hop verse I learned how to rap.

Writing Hip-Hop

In the university, I was part of this group in a fellowship called the Press Unit in Fellowship of Christian Students. I used to write poetry then, but I started out with articles, which later translated into poetry; then into spoken word poetry, and I performed it.

Later on, I discovered that “See o. If I take this thing that I do basically and put it in a rhythmic pattern, just structure it and conform it with beats, it sounds like the rappers I’ve been listening to”

The first proper hip-hop verse I ever wrote was Jesse Jagz’s Greatest. I was listening to the song while seated in my room in school, so at the end of the last hook, there was a 16-bar gap before the song concluded. I simply picked up a pen while listening to that bit and started writing whatever came to my head. [Laughs] I can still remember the verse sha, it’s very whack.

Hip-Hop Head to Emcee

Well, I’d already been performing Spoken Word on stage, while writing my hip-hop verses on the side, then a poetry colleague, J.J Jones then invited me to a club, WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?). I sha went, and they were having this show, Crux, where I saw some guys; Soul Flame and they were rapping. I was like “Yoooo! I want to be able to do this.”

I spoke with the guy that invited me later on, and he told me WWJD? had a version of that, In His Name (IHN), so I joined. To join, there’s an audition process where the entire crew is present, and you do what you do best after which they all give their individual feedback.

That was the first time I rapped in front of an audience, and it felt really good and exciting because I could finally share what I had. Before then, I was the only one that believed I was dope, now there was proof (criticisms) that I was good enough to commit to it.

Most Slept on Verse/Song

Right now, I’ll have to say that is Ahead. It’s a song I recorded and released in September 2020. [Takes a deep breath] The thing is, mehn, that song, it came from a very (very) deep place. I think I was at one of the lowest points in my career, I just picked up the guitar and started playing and the hook just came into my head. I started singing it until I sat down and wrote it.

For me, it’s a very (very) inspiring song. Anytime I sing it, anytime I hear it, anytime I listen to it, [kisses teeth]I feel like, mehn, at all (at all), no matter what happens at the end of the day, we will get this thing.

I do think because it’s not proper hip-hoppy; it doesn’t have all the pizzaz, all the flashing lights, and all that, it’s not really attractive to a lot of people. Plus it’s a very (very) wordy song, so you’d have to actually sit down to listen to what’s going on to get it.

It’s my most slept-on song, right now, that people aren’t paying a lot of attention to.

Worst Verse/Song

On my debut mixtape, Crowns and Other Fancy Headgears, there’s a song titled Crowned. The beat! When I finished producing the soundtrack for it, in my mind I was mad [chuckles]. I was so excited about it. I wrote the verses and everything, but that final product, I could not deliver it for whatever reason.

At the end of the day, the mix came out all jumbled up, the verses sounded rushed and haphazard. I have wished for an opportunity to redo the song, especially now that I know a lot better. I love the song so much, but I think the delivery, mixing, and mastering of the song killed it.

It was too late to take it back, so I pushed it out like that. So, it’s out there for the world to see my shame and embarrassment [laughs].


Currently, I’m working on an EP. I’m currently in the production phase of the project; finished with all the writing. Other plans are to create, collaborate… Simply building my catalogue as an artist.

Personally, I understand the value of marketing and all that in the music industry; I don’t want to make it look smaller than it actually is.

But at the end of the day, if you want to market, you have to be able to show that you have something to market. So I want to create a proper (proper) catalogue; like something that gets people hooked and listening over and over again.

Those are my plans at the moment; I’ll do shows or outings as the opportunities come, but that is not my priority right now. I’m prioritising building and growing myself as an artist. That’s what I want to do.

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  1. Pingback: Rhyme & Reason® – Editor's Note: The State and Future of the New Hip Hop Industry in 2022.

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