It was no surprise the first time I watched the performance of a magnificent emcee was at a Hip-Hop Conference in November. My attention was drawn away from my phone (an addictive distraction) when a series of flows were laid into the microphone. Could have sworn I was at the wrong venue only to realise he was the one at the wrong venue. He deserved a sold-out audience at a stadium to witness said performance; from his lyrics, flows, wordplay, down to his delivery was impeccable and gave me the assurance that the Boom Bap rap is in safe hands.
David Kolawole Shekoni also known as Skode was born and raised in Port Harcourt held his own while he thrilled the audience with his skill set at LoudBase Africa‘s Hip Hop Conference (2022 Edition) at the Mike Adenuga Centre. His confidence and stage command not only showed he wasn’t new to stage performances, but he has found his zone when facing the audience. It was only a matter of introducing myself to the 27-year-old, University of Benin International Studies and Diplomacy graduate, to lock down an interview.
The interview has been edited for clarity.
I had a fun childhood growing up I guess. I grew up in the south, Port Harcourt precisely. I came from a very humble and polygamous background, so it wasn’t really easy growing up as we didn’t have all the necessary things we needed as youngins. My family prioritized education above anything and that was what they were able to give us.
My family was kinda strict, meaning I couldn’t go to places my friends would go with the permission of their parents coz my family thought it was unproductive. Hence, I would sneak out to attend concerts and parties. Sometimes I got caught when I returned and I paid dearly for it….lol. Other times i was lucky enough to evade the eyes of my older brother and dad.
I grew up listening to a lot of RnB and hip-hop especially from one of my uncles. He had a lot of Tupac, Biggie, DMX, Eminem and co. So yeah, I got locked in quite early.
The way I grew up I wasn’t taught to question things but I was always curious about life, and I believe that curiosity got me where I am today. I love to explore and I’m a very big pioneer of self-education. I’m constantly seeking knowledge!
Your First Encounter with Hip-Hop
So like I said earlier my uncle used to play a lot of hip-hop, I just enjoyed the feeling and energy that came with those songs and I loved RnB too – Mario, Aaliyah, Usher and co – but at this point I wasn’t even thinking about being a musician.
The first time I really fell in love with hip-hop as something I’d wanna do is the day I heard Make It Rain by Fat Joe and Lil Wayne. I was in secondary school then. I don’t know why I really felt that song, and when I saw the video of the remix with all the other rappers like Rick Ross, T.I, Ace Meazy, that was when the whole love for the game started!
So I started paying attention to rap lyrics, wordplay, flow, delivery once I heard Make It Rain. Infact, I wrote the lyrics of that song down by ear and was rehearsing it till my classmates would call me out of the dormitory (I attended a boarding school) to give them a live performance and I always killed it…lol. I started listening to a lot of rap songs that period, mostly Eminem, Lil Wayne and Nas. I would jot all their lyrics down by ear and practice all these songs – that was how I understood rap. Then I started writing my own lyrics, most times I got carried away during classes writing verses. That particular year, it messed with my grades, but I had found my love so it was cool.
Hip Hop Head to Emcee
I made my first song immediately I was done writing my waec. I called it Prom Night, and everyone that heard it was amazed coz; it was very lyrical for someone of my age; my accent and delivery was top notch; my homies rocked with it from the go. When my dad heard it, he couldn’t believe I was the one who wrote it. He was impressed and that made him reduce the restrictions on me –even though I’d still sneak out anyway; especially when I said I was going to the studio.
I was really inspired by Lil Wayne and Eminem, and then at some point it was strictly J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. I sounded so much like J. Cole at some point, that my course mates called me the Nigerian J. Cole. I eventually found my own voice. I also listened to M.I and Jesse Jagz during the Chocboi era. I especially liked Jesse Jagz‘ music, and I still do.
During my university days, I performed a lot. I was well known in my department and faculty. I battled a lot and even got a deal, which went sour later. From the get go, people actually accepted my music, although I used to get some criticism about how I sound. Some folks would say there’s no place for what I do in Nigeria, that I sound too foreign and I should try blend my bars with pidgin. I tried it at some point, but it didn’t work for me.
Your Most Underrated Song/Verse
My most underrated song would be Feelings. That’s one of the deepest songs I’ve written. I was really in a messed up state when I wrote that song and it inspired me creatively. I just let out my feelings on that track.
There’s this song I made called Out In The Wild. I went hard on this particular jam. The lyrics were on point, delivery was tight but the production was really poor. So I won’t call it a bad song, but it could be sonically better.
I’m working on a mixtape right now, it’ll be out this December. I’m gonna call it Paranormal Activity, and I’m working with DJ Teck Zilla on this one. So it’s gonna be a classic hip hop mixtape and after that I’m gonna be dropping a hoard of singles next year by God’s grace!!!!
Thanks for having me!