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Emcees all over the world usually have a backstory where hip-hop took a back seat in order to pick up a job that pays the bills, studio sessions, and music marketing.

Samuel Ogaba or O G Mage as he is known is also one of these emcees. The 26-year-old Benue rapper who is also a senior software engineer is more than ready to bring his hip-hop career to the front seat and shoot for the stars.

With the release of his first ep, Alter Ego, O G Mage made his introduction into the industry. The project is a smooth cocktail of hip-hop, alternate hip-hop, afro, with a garnish of introspection. Owe Dem Money, a song (off Alter Ego) that made it to number 2 on the Nigerian iTunes chart shows that the emcee is making his mark and he will not be ignored.


Encounter with Hip-Hop

I won’t say I can remember the first encounter with hip-hop, it was more of… Well, growing up, the kind of songs my dad played were mostly gospel songs and the likes, which was all my siblings and I were exposed to. But then, unlike normal TV, we watched stuffs like Nigezie and Music Africa. Back then, I just liked music and wasn’t specific on genre, but I did listen to Modenine back then.

Also back in St. Francis College, Benue (Boarding student), as a member of the Social club (miming), I listened to House Party on Joy FM every Friday for new songs I can mime too. I used to listen to make it rain a lo(ooo)t! Especially the remix. I can rap it from the beginning to the end, and even backward if you want me to [chuckles]. This was in Junior school, and I stayed in touch with music with my friend’s mp5 device. We used to leave school and go load new songs (audio and video) on the device for a fee back then.


Writing Hip-Hop

In SS1, I came back to Lagos and switched to a day school, High Hope Academy, Satellite Town. Made friends with a guy called Lucky Onwuchekwa, who was a member of a music group called Sat Boys Young Boys (SBYB).

SBYB had 3 songs out then and I wasn’t sure they were serious about it, but the song sounded so good I looked forward to working with these guys. Since I loved listening to different types of music – rap, pop, R&B, gospel – and the 3 artistes I listened to a lot back then were M.I, Lil Wayne, Eminem, I figured it won’t be a terrible idea to make one.

I never really considered writing a song until I met those guys (SBYB). I was like, let me just see what comes out of it. I did write something and it was good that they offered to have me on a song of theirs, early 2010. The song never happened, but it did make me realise I can actually do this (write my own stuff). By late 2010, I was writing verses that I never showed anyone, but I kept writing and couldn’t tell if they were good or bad, I just did them for me.

Hold up! my first written song wasn’t in SS1, it was in my junior school. I wrote it at the other end of a notebook. I remembered submitting an assignment,… The song was called Angel Eyes, which I recall correctly because I was sketching something that was inspired by the song on the same page I wrote it. 

When the teacher returned our notes, he asked why I wrote a love letter at the back of my note [chuckles]. I was like, ‘It’s not a love letter Sir. It’s a song’.

He said ‘Who is it for? Is it my sister?’ [laughs]

I remembered vividly. That was the first song I wrote.


Hip-Hop Head to Emcee

Well, I left High Hope Academy in SS2 for Zenith International, Ogun State. I returned to High Hope Academy in SS3. Being an introvert, my songwriting and love for music weren’t really known until a particular incident.

I joined the Social club; well, the meeting was held in my class on Wednesdays, and I just decided to stay through it. One day, the coordinator (a teacher) said I’d have to leave the meeting if I wasn’t going to contribute.

Before then, I’d been listening to presentations and performances from the club members, most were mediocre, but I kept my feedback to myself [chuckles], I digress.

Anyways, I came out and did a song. It was No Love! It was No Love by Eminem [wide smile]. It was a song I had on repeat for a while, so I knew it from top to bottom. I wasn’t going to do a song that I’d fumble.

One thing that is stronger than my anxiety is not wanting to see myself flop in public. Even up till now, no matter how anxious I get, I always make sure I bring my A-Game.

I came out, did my thing. In the end, everyone was just shocked because I was the Senior that didn’t talk, represented the school in academic competitions, and here I am rapping No Love from top to bottom; even Eminem’s verse.

I caught the Principal with the corner of my eyes standing at the door with his arm folded and in shock and surprise. I was pals with him, we were cool since I repped the school a lot in competitions, but he never knew this side of me. From that day, they all called me Senior Eminem.

Fast forward to Uni, FUT Minna in 2013, I wrote a verse (in 100 level) that was inspired by the Let It Shine movie. Rapped it for a friend, he didn’t give me the reaction I was expecting, probably because he wasn’t really into hip-hop.

Second Semester 200 lvl, I got invited to a WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) meeting, a rep of IHN (In His Name) did a 16bar Acappella that had me going “WHAT! We have people like this on this campus”.

I approached him after the meet that I’d like to learn from him. He invited me to the sub-group (IHN) meeting. I went there, the coordinator, Stridez (Harry), asked me to do something – verse I’ve written or freestyle – so they could gauge my skill level. I did the verse I performed in 100 lvl, and they gave me a slot to perform at their next event.

That’s basically how I entered the world of Emceeing.


Most Slept On Verse/Song

I would say that is the verse on A Piece Of Lovely Cake. My friend Jiya told me that every time he listens to the song, he hears something new. 

A Piece Of Lovely Cake is a very (very) personal song to me. It’s a song about heartbreak – a few years ago -, it was, like, all the emotions that came with heartbreak fuelled what became the song. I wasn’t censoring any part of the song, it was how it was ‘doing me’ was how I was putting it out there.

When I was writing the song, I wasn’t trying to be technical or think of a punchline at first, but you’ll hear a whole lot of wordplay in the song; everything came naturally. If I thought of a line about something, when it formed in my head it formed as a punchline.

I didn’t have any afterthought about any line and by the time I wrote the last line, I was done with the song; no alterations were made until I recorded it.


Worst Verse/Song

God is Searching [chuckles]. The sad thing is it’s already out there. Yeah, that’s the worst [Laughs], because the song is long, and secondly, I was so new.

Even though the instrumental was really straightforward, I had a really basic verse on it. Where I am now, hearing it just makes me ‘Omooo, Cringe’.


Plans

I have about 7 unreleased contents, but a single should be out by November this year, followed by a major project next year; debut lp or a joint lp with TMJ. 

TMJ and I go back a long way, so we have a lot of songs together. We decided to rebrand, individually, in other to have an introduction to the market; my ep, Alter Ego, and his will be out next month. 

So if not my debut lp next year, it will definitely be a joint project with TMJ.


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