Rebelwav is one of the most consistent hip-hop acts in Nigeria – 4 projects in the last 3 years. She continues to churn out songs and projects in her quest to set a legacy in the industry. Haven’t met her personally by chance, her tenacity and never say never attitude have continued to be traits I continue to be in awe of. She continues to ride the waves of challenges that continue to prop her up toward success.
After 10 years of honing her craft, Rebelwav finally shares her story; the ups and downs of her personal life, her pursuit of happiness, growth, and appreciation for the fans. She also preaches touched on self-awareness and the audacity every creative and innovator needs to possess regardless of their societal norms.
Here’s her Rhyme & Reason® interview.
To kick it off, let’s talk a little background; family dynamic, siblings, etc.
My name is Patricia Oghenetega Mowarin, and I’m from Delta State. I was born in Lagos on December 6th 1996. Yeah, so school. I really don’t care about school. It didn’t really make me who I am. So, we (every graduate) all went to school… We went to school in different places.
Well, I’m from a military family, to start with. And I think that goes to say you’re from a place where it’s either ‘their way or the highway.’ I’m the first child of 4 boys. We’re 5 and I’m the first and the only girl in the family. My mom is late, she passed in 2014. My dad is good, he stays in and around Abuja, and Delta as well. My grandparents too, (are) military family and they stay back in Delta State. Good people. My grandpa died last year, she was [sighs]terrible. I actually grew up with my grandad for most of my childhood. I went to school in Ghana when I was 13, I think. That was in 2013.
I think that’s about it for (the) family dynamic. I really don’t like to talk about my family, because it isn’t a very easy topic. Let’s leave it at that.
What got you into rap music?
Expression! I love to be asked this question because Expression is like the main reason. And I feel like, that’s a bunch of people’s… A bunch of kids like me had that problem growing up. So, yeah, I like to talk about why I got into rap because I love for kids or adults [scofff], anybody really, to be able to express… Like I feel l like that’s something I’ve struggled with for a very long time, and I still don’t know how to express myself except through music. That’s where I express myself aptly. I’m not very apt when I’m speaking [scoffs], as you have probably noticed from the beginning of this conversation.
Expression! It’s not really Freedom of Expression because when we write music, we have Poetic Justice. It’s this kind of freedom that already comes with being an artiste, being able to say whatever you want to say, and having this justice, freedom, to put it as it is. But, if you’re not an artiste or a poet, there’s a Freedom of Speech law. But you don’t exactly feel free to speak, especially if you were shushed a lot as a kid. So, it just helps me express myself and bar anybody’s thoughts or feelings. Expression should be Expression. Whether it’s the wrong type of expression or the right type of expression, you should be able to express yourself. Because when you speak to… when you say it out you understand it better.
Expression! That’s why I started to rap, because of playaz like 2Pac. They wanted to talk about something, they wanted to express themselves about either the police violence or the hip-hop culture… Whatever it was though they just… The need to express yourself and express it in a very like “You need to listen to me!” [Laughs]. When you sing, there’s an expression, but people are just listening to the melody and… My dad asked me once, he said… I played him my music from the For Kattegat project, and he said “How are you supposed to dance to this?”, and I’m like “You’re not supposed to dance, you’re supposed to listen to the expression, get moved by it,” and the… Feel this need to express yourself regardless, because we have mouths to spare. Some people can’t talk and they want to… I bet they’d want to say so much. I feel like talk is cheap and expression is not [Laughs]. Yeah, I just have a big ass love for expression. Real as writing down your feelings stuff.
How long has music been a part of your life?
I have been making music for… professionally, I touched the mic 10 years ago. I’m not sure which of the months this year, but it’s been 10 years this year. Since 2013, I’ve been professionally making music. I’ve been writing music longer. I’ve been writing poems since I was like 11 years old, and I’ve been singing since I was 3. There are milestones, but for me, the one that really matters is the professional one. Because when I picked up a mic for the first time to record in a studio in Ghana, that’s when I knew I’d do anything to learn everything about this thing and just be patient with it. And I have – 10 years bruv – been very patient, and it’s been an amazing journey, and I am proud of being here; not even at the level of Davido or Wizkid level, or Nicki Minaj level or a J. Cole level or a Kendrick level, having put in ten years. It’s amazing to me to do that from behind the scenes, and when you come into the game you’re almost like an alpha, because, everybody who is anybody knows you. After all, you’ve been doing this for quite some time. You’ve been putting in that work and they know you already.
I met M.I the other day at the Hennessy Artistry thing – M.I, Vector, and Ladipoe – and they felt like you’re so amazing. These guys know me now, all the work I’d been putting in led to this. I probably… we’re not friends or we’re not gonna jump on a song together, but, you (M.I, Vector, and Ladipoe) know me, and it just makes me want to work to the place where they look like “Oh! My God! That’s that girl from the Hennessy Artistry. Bruh we know her.” So, it’s not like yesterday! It didn’t happen yesterday, it didn’t happen one year ago, it’s been on the cook for double figures, and that’s like my proudest thing today as I record this voice note. It’s a thing that I look back to and I feel like, “You made a decision and you stuck to it,” and I’ve got 15 more years to get to that point where I want to with music.
If it wasn’t for music, where would you be now?
I would probably be a lawyer or a soccer player [laughs]. There are two different… If it was career-wise, I’d probably be like a lawyer, because music was first my hobby before it became my job. I tend to go towards things that make me happy, make me like get my blood running. That’s the kind of person I am, so I wouldn’t go to… I was gonna study law at one point, I was in love with Law, I wanted to argue – bruh -, I felt like opinions, you know. But, I also know that having no opinion – not like having no opinion, but about knowing everything… For instance, you could be talking about cake. Some people like chocolate cake, some people like strawberry cake, but you could be the person who likes both. I’ve always been the person that likes both chocolate and strawberry regardless. I might not eat both – cos my favourite is chocolate – but I’ll have that conversation from both sides knowing very well what they both taste like, instead of having just one side. So yeah, I was just a person with more to offer than just one thing.
Either soccer or a lawyer. I like to fight for what’s right or what I think is right and argue for it too – I’d die on that hill. That’s what I’d have done if it wasn’t music.
How did you come to realise that music was the way forward for you?
To be fair, I wasn’t making music to go forward for a very long time. I think this year, like the 10 years in the game thing made me realise “Ahan, you need to start making money from this,” and I think that will be because I feel like it’s a business now. All the time I spent learning – it was like a 10-year internship – and now I’m about to get the job. That’s what it feels like. But (I) realised music was the way forward a very long time ago – in the way I think you’re asking the question is [scoffs]… Bruh, to be honest, I’ve loved music for a very long time.
The way forward… if it’s not business sense and more of “You’re going to be doing this for the rest of your life,” I really don’t remember when. I’ve always known that… Maybe when I was in school, I had exams and I wouldn’t write my exams and I wouldn’t write my exams, I would rather be in my room recording or be at the studio, or be at the show. When I started to pick music over everything, that’s when I knew that was it. I just picked it over everything. There was nothing more important to me as music; not a person, not an entity, at that point, not even Jesus Christ – Do you know what? I found Jesus very recently. There was nothing that came first in my life. It was music and me.
I can’t remember at what point that started to happen, but I’m going to say when I started to pick music over health [scoffs]. Health! Bruh! Like music over everything. It was ‘music, then me’, it wasn’t even ‘music and me.’ Music then me because I gave everything to it, unconditionally. Music has taken the most. I don’t know when, but I’m gonna say business-wise, this year, and the point when I felt I can’t stop doing this was when I started to pick it over everything; I’d say the first year of college (university) like immediately I touched the mic and knew ‘this is it.’
How would you describe your style of music?
A lot of people would say aggressive, but, I’m like 2Pac. If you listen to 2Pac you’d think it was gang music. I don’t think it was gang music, I think he was trying to preach but, people don’t listen [laughs]. People don’t really hear you when you’re subtle. They hear you, but they’re just like “[mock laugh]It’s ok. Yeah we get you, come on, yeah the world is ending, just chill.’ But if you yell, like “Yo the world is ending, and everything is…” and say it in a way that sounds regressive, they’d probably listen and be like “Why are you yelling? The world is ending?” They’d probably hear you better then and want to have a conversation. If you’re not yelling no one wants to have a conversation.
What I’m saying is my music is conscious; it’s the type of music that gets you talking, the type that gets you wondering “Who is that? What is that? What is she saying?” I’ve been lucky for my music to touch the ears that it was meant to touch over time, so I’ve understood it better. Because when I write my music sometimes, I really don’t get the picture, or, how God had intended for me to understand these words. Then my music touches some people who come to me and be like “This song did this for me.” Basically, people understand the music differently and it makes me understand it more. I’ve been very lucky to be in touch with fellow Rebels that listen to my music, they want to be a part of the journey, and they’re going through exactly what I’m going through, but in a different life as to mine, in different shoes.
How do you put words to paper? What’s your creative process like?
[Laughs] I heard this question recently from one of my friends, and it was because I was just in the studio, I just heard the beat and… It starts from the beat. I feel like it starts from the beat and then if God wants to talk to me at that time, cos I really believe in everything that I write down are just like God’s whispers into my ear. Nobody else can hear it but me; in my ear, in my heart. I don’t know but, I just feel these words from somewhere and I just write them. There are times when I write down words that I’ve never used before, then I’d have to go to the dictionary and someone it’d fit into my rhyme. It’s literally God and the music. It’s the sensory, the central feeling the beat gives me when I like the beat when it’s something that I was meant to speak on.
It is literally not a process that I can ever tell how it comes or how it goes. I could be sweeping my house and something just hits me, doesn’t have to be a beat on. I just literally come up with a rhyme in my head I don’t come up with it, of course, God whispers this thing to me ‘Write this shit down, I just thought about this,” I write it down. So it’s like a whole-ass conversation between me and God trying to figure out things that I’ve lived through and they were sipping in my skin. I feel like they’re just experiences that are in my spirit, and he’s like “Oh! this is time for you to put this down.” And then he goes further to find a way to help me express these things.
For my creative process, I’d say it’s God and my producers [laughs]. They (producers) always come up with something. I think the beauty of music is everybody has their own feeling about a sound. I started to work on this new project recently and it’s called To Exonerate Stigma. I’m working on it with Kabizzy. He’s a very good producer – so good – and it’s supposed to be like a mental health project. He came up to me with this idea because we were in the same headspace. What I’m trying to say is when both the producer and the artiste are trying to make the same concept, they’re in the same state of mind with the music, the beats and everything; when he sends me beats, immediately it’s that concept we’re writing to. He doesn’t send me an amanpiano beat to a hip-hop concept. When everything is in line, the beat, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, you, God were all like in one line, it’s like ‘march’, the greatest song in history always gets made. Like every time we’re all in the line, we make great stuff in my history. [Laughs] I don’t know the history of the world, but in my history, when everything is aligned like that, I always… And I’m so lucky because it’s always… It’s probably not all of us aligned all the time, but most of the time you hear really good songs from Rebel, it’s because there’s this really straight line that’s been drawn with all of us… I wish I could explain it how it’s pictured in my head right now. It’s just this agreement between me, God and, the music – it’s like “this is what we wanna talk about and you’re gonna try your best to get it right, to express yourself on this topic, tell the world about it.”
It’s not like a process, it’s more like a responsibility to create.
What’s your favourite project so far, and why?
FK (For Kattegat)! I wanna say FKD but FK first. Let’s start from FK because it taught me a bunch of stuff. First off I would like to say officially for the OBpushingP listeners and readers… I recorded FK myself, like entirely myself, in my house in Delta State, back home in Warri. I recorded FK in Warri, in my dad’s place. I was home for a few months. I was having some downtime, to be fair. FK started off initially – because my first project was Cactus EP – as Cactus Deluxe, that was when I started to compile it as, and then as time went on it started to become FK. This was because I was dealing with stuff after the Cactus EP dropped. I was performing a lot [shrugs]… Anyways, a lot of shit happened after the drop of the project, and it just slowly turned into a new project and I let it. I started to record new sounds, I started to fuck with the drill, the darker sounds, and yeah I was watching Vikings [laughs]at that time too. I was really in love with Norse mythology, how you’re just born to fight and die, and if you fight well enough you’d go to Valhalla; you go to heaven. In a wonderful sense, I love to put it in today’s world where you wake up every day and you just have to fight well, if not you’re not going to get what you want. It might not be about Valhalla or heaven, it’s just about fighting well to get what you want. You know, fight very well. Fight with pride. Whatever you’re doing, just do it well. That’s what I grabbed from the Norse mythology concept and I put it into FK.
FK is my favourite because I recorded it myself. It was born, mixed, mastered, and released out of very (very, very) tough situations. I think I was on my friend’s couch when I dropped FK, and I didn’t have a phone. I was using my friend’s phone to post and promote. It is impossible to think my last project went like that, but it’s the truth and it made me realise that “Oh my God! I can do this.” Like, I made these things happen when they were so impossible, and that’s why I’m Rebel because I can do impossible things. I can do stuffs that are great, and make it look simple [laughs]. It’s amazing because I alone know what everything leading up to that drop felt like. I didn’t sleep for 3 days after that project was dropped. 3 days up, no lie. Like, 3 days straight I was on this project because I didn’t even plan to drop it. I had like 9 months off the grid and I’m like “I have to put out something in December,” because that’s when I like to drop my projects – in December. It was a really overwhelming period, it was the hardest drop for me to put out. All the drops are hard, Cactus EP was hard but not as mentally and physically draining as FK, and it’s my little baby. I’m not even done with FK, y’all haven’t heard the last of FK.
I’m not putting out a new project now because I’m going back to promote that project as fuck.
If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
To be fair, I don’t have a place to perform at. I have social anxiety, so it’s not something I dream about, like being around so many people. I think I would say, I would dream of performing in front of my true fans. People who understood and knew me even without saying a word to me. Who listens to the music and feel like they know this person. That would be the best performance because it would mean I have expressed myself correctly, and I have touched people’s lives in a way that I would have wanted my life to be touched with these words that I wrote. Because me (I) and God didn’t write it for me. I learned through writing them because I had to go through things that I write about, but the rest was for people like me. It’s not about you, it’s about people like you. What can you do for the people like you?
I would want an entire stadium packed out with Rebels [laughs]. People who were told “No” and went and found their “Yes.” Because “No” everywhere doesn’t mean there’s no “Yes” somewhere, it just means it’s hard to find and you just keep going until you find it. I want a stadium packed with people just like that. Folks who were told “No” and they were like “Fuck You!” amma (I will) find mine. Anywhere in the world, I don’t mind where they are, I’ll go meet them and perform.
Who are your biggest musical influences? Would you say you’re at all like them?
I would say Nicki Minaj thought me how to rap. Like I knew all of her lyrics at a point in my life; not the new stuff. I think I stopped listening to Nicki when people started to tell me I sounded like her. I didn’t stop listening to her, it was just like Billboard shit, like singles… like I just keep in touch with the master. My genesis of rap music was born with Nicki Minaj and after that, I think it boiled down to a lot of different rappers. To be fair, I can’t even say one or two… I would say, Kendrick, J. Cole, Jay Z – the Js [laughs]. Beyonce… I think Beyonce is after Nicki Minaj, because, if it was the rap and the singing. I would say Beyonce and Nicki Minaj. But there is a plethora of artistes I listen to, genres of music that I listen to that influence my sound because I don’t like to have one sound. I like to grow, I like to switch it up and as time goes on, you’d know that.
Am I like them? No! I wouldn’t say so because I wasn’t given the same opportunities that they were. At a point, I thought I was going to be a star at 16 years old just like Justin Bieber. It’s been a long time coming for me, this dream. And at a point, you realise you’re not Justin Bieber or have those opportunities as Justin Bieber does. So you can’t actually be anything like him, you can only fake it [laughs]. I would say that’s something I’ve really struggled with, faking it. I’ve tried to fake it a few times… everybody is trying to fake it for peer pressure or whatever. I don’t know how to be someone I’m not. So, No! I’m not like any of these artistes I’ve mentioned. I would take fashion advice from them, maybe [laughs], and I’d probably take technique. Oh my God! I didn’t say, Eminem! Sheesh! EMINEM BRUH! I’m happy I didn’t forget that. Eminem, Tech N9ne, Royce da 5’9, like I go back deep rap, like bruh. But, I would say, Nicki, Beyonce first, because all these other guys came at a stage when I started to learn techniques like fast rap and all of that. Fast rap is my thing, like, I really wanna be the fastest female rapper in the world someday.
When I started to learn more about rap like the technique, flow, cadence and all of that, I started to dig deeper into the old rappers. Guys who started to bend these words and create pictures with their words and it’s amazing listening to those guys. I would take everything that I could as a music artiste from them, but I wouldn’t say I am like them. I think the people that I look up to, as I will, have made mistakes. Nobody has the answers, so I don’t think I want to be like anyone, I wanna be myself and learn from my own mistakes because they will be different, and learn from theirs as well, in case stuffs like that comes my way.
Who’s your fashion icon, and why?
Do I have a fashion icon? I’ll take Chris Brown. I like Chris Brown a lot. If I was a dude, which I’ve thought about a lot of times [laughs], I would be Chris Brown. His fashion sense is peak. I feel like he wears what he wants to wear and it turns out great. Like I don’t think he has a stylist, he might have a stylist because I don’t know Chris Brown, but it just gives that vibe. He has his fashion line and he’s really creative. I think he makes his clothes too. I would look up to someone who makes their own clothes and dresses themselves. That would be my fashion icon. I don’t know who that person is in particular, but I would say, Chris Brown. He don’t (doesn’t) do too much, I feel like he’s always comfortable, cos he’s a dancer too – boy you got to be comfortable.
I would say someone who dresses themselves up and still kills it. I think I have a great fashion sense, we all need money to boss out our wardrobes.
What makes you different from other rappers in the industry?
That’s a good one. I would say apathy. I think there are a lot of people in the industry that… I mean, I did it too, but if you choose to go on that’s like a problem. When you come into the industry you have to pay your dues, and by ‘pay your dues’ they mean “eat their ass” and “lick their balls” for the longest time. I have paid my dues and some people want you to keep paying your dues. You don’t get to say what the dues are, when the dues get paid or how much the dues are. I would say I’m different in the sense that I have dignity. Some people are here without dignity, and I feel like it goes a long way to have some dignity. “Everybody wan blow, everybody wan blow,” but guy, no be everybody be bomb. Not everybody can be the bomb and that’s the difference between me and other rappers. I know I’m the bomb and I act like it. Pay your dues and all of that, but mehn, get off the streets though. Straight up get off the streets when you’re done paying your dues. It doesn’t mean because you’ve been in the streets paying your dues you’ve got to live there. I think what makes me different is I want rap to take a step up.
Rappers are slaves in this country, bruh! PRINT THAT! This shit be (is) getting me pissed off a little bit too. Rappers are slaves, like if you pay your dues, like nigga you know yourself, like, you rap bruh, like, you rap as fuck, so just keep doing what you do and forget about these people. If you (have) got 10 fans… like, fucking pump up the price of your shit. If you got 10 fans, sell your merchandise at 5 grand, you make what? 50 grand, easy. Just be content and have some dignity. It’s hard enough for rap music in the country, and we know that. Rap is dignity. I feel I’ve probably not expanded too much on this conversation because I have a lot of rap friends and I don’t wanna piss anybody off. All I’m saying is “Pay your dues and get off the streets.” That’s it.
Look at the rappers abroad. They ain’t on the streets after they’ve paid their dues. Just keep your head up. They want you to stay there cos they want you to think rap music can’t sell, but it can – if you get off the streets. Rappers get themselves used and it’s not fair to the culture because rap culture starts with music. It literally created all of this so you need to have some dignity in the words that you’re saying. So yeah, I think that’s the difference between me and other rappers. I know I was meant to do this, and some people just need someone else to figure it out for them – not Rebel.
Where is your career heading? What’s the vision?
The good Lord knows. To be honest, I’ve had a really huge dream since I was a little one, a kid. I don’t like to talk about my goals openly. It’s not like an African thing, it’s just a thing where I’m taking it a day at a time. I know what my goals are, but, one day at a time. Making those passes, getting into the opposition’s net, because to get to your goals, you need to get past the opposition. So I’m not telling the opposition what I’m coming with, but, I’m just gonna say that the world is gonna have to wait and see. I’m coming, that’s for certain. I’m already here, as a matter of fact, bruh. I’ve been here but I’m still coming, because where I’m at is not where I’m supposed to be at.
The vision (in my country) would be to make rap music as fruitful as Afropop. I’m saying this in the sense that Afro music is number one in this country, but other genres can also survive even if it isn’t at the level of Afro music. Rap music shouldn’t be expensive to push because rap music is conscious music – like we tryna (trying to) help you [laughs]. We’re tryna (trying to) change how these people think. I feel like my country is in a state of unconsciousness. Like we are all so unconscious; unconsciously waking up every morning, going to work, coming back from work, accepting everything as it is, when you actually need to be upset, you need to be angry. You produce so much dance music when there’s nothing to dance about, there’s nothing to be happy about. So much pop music when there’s nothing to pop about.
In this country we need to talk about the hard things, we need to talk about “Nigeria jagajaga, everything sca…” Like we need to talk about it, and it starts from me talking about me. The change starts from inside yourself and if you wanna change a whole country you need to talk about what’s wrong with you first. Then you use that to talk to the people; talk to one listener, talk to another listener and that person will be consciously awakened slowly. I think the vision would be to awaken my country from this pop sleep. I don’t know what it is and it’s crazy to me to even think about it. I do know change has to start from within me because I dance to this music too, and it’s not a problem to dance to this music. The problem is that it’s the order of the day, it’s what we’re always listening to, so that’s our mind state. Our mind state is dance and pop, and that shouldn’t be the first thing you put on when you wake up in the morning. When you wake up in the morning you should be hearing some [beatbox]“I gotta go get it” and be conscious; open your eyes, bruh.
So yeah, it will be to awaken. I feel like the whole country is asleep, and we have been for a very long time.
What is the one message you would give to your fans?
I think this is a very Gen Z thing to say, but coming off the last thing I said, is to “stay woke.” Staying Woke is not as dumbed down as they’ve made it seem, but more like opening your eyes and seeing. No let anybody kan dey ride you. Just be alert, read the signs, and express yourself. You have the right to express yourself because that’s the one thing they won’t let you do out there. Express yourself in a way that it hurts because it’s hurting you, so you need to express yourself.
I do want my fans to stream Rebelwav aggressively. I’m taking you all on a journey and I hope it helps you on your journey as well – because that’s why I’m doing it, it’s not about me. If it was about me, I’d still be making music, but once I realise it’s more than me I’d start to grow, and I’d start to become a part of this life. I want everyone to realise that it’s not about you, it’s about each and every one of us. Spread love, spread care even to people you don’t know. Be kind. Everyone, everybody is going through something – even the niggas in the jets, cars. Everybody (is) going through something, it may not be your something but it’s relative. It could be worse than yours and look better.
Just be kind.
You can keep up with Rebelwav on Twitter and Instagram.