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 OG 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, OG 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.
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.
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’.
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.