Sometimes in early 2018, ‘Know You‘ was written during a regular hang-out session between two people, LadiPoe and Simi at the latter’s studio. It was inspired by a conversation LadiPoe had with Simi.
In February 2017, LadiPoe began a journey and it has led him to this material moment with ‘Know You’ featuring Simi. ‘
In 2017, you made a drill song in ‘Man Already.’ That was way before the drill movement even got attention in New York – which its greatest breeding ground of 2020. Did you realize it was even drill at the time?
Of course I did. I am always intentional with everything I do. The other time, I told you that I like to make things that matter and get better with time. That was one of those situations. Shout-out to Altims.. He made an amazing beat and he was part of the vision.’
Were you and Altims really at the back of an Altima when the song was inspired?’
‘(Laughs) No, I just thought it would rhyme well and it did…”
That was LadiPoe speaking about ‘Man Already‘ on April 16, 2020. That day, this writer had a 180-minute conversation with him on Instagram Live. That conversation was not just about a biography – the internet is littered with those. A solid LadiPoe story was documented in a Loose Talk Podcast Episode. That conversation was meant to document what had been up with LadiPoe since 2018.
During that conversation, this writer discovered two things; LadiPoe had intentions and LadiPoe might finally be ready to have his moment. Just a few days prior, he had released ‘Know You’ featuring Simi. A few hours after its release, this writer had a conversation with CityFM OAP, Melody Hassan – a self-confessed LadiPoe stan – about the quality and endearment of that song.
On that day, they both agreed that LadiPoe had something going. In fact, they both agreed that Melody Hassan would come on during the Instagram Live chat and ask LadiPoe if he intends to make more of those songs. In Hassan‘s thoughts, “It’s a love song that fits his brand and ties into a powerful section of his fan base – women. He needs to make more of those – this song could work.”
That was April 13, 2020. Fast forward to April 26, 2020 and ‘Know You’ featuring Simi had made its way up the Apple Music 100 charts to No. 1. LadiPoe was trending and people were gushing about him. Apparently, everybody knew it was going to happen and that LadiPoe was going to be a big star yada yada yada… It’s all lies, everyone just wants to trend on the conversation.
With LadiPoe, it would be impossible to know anything other than his well-documented talent. At some point, these same people who are claiming Nostradamus on Twitter NG had almost christened LadiPoe a cautionary tale in Nigerian rap. In fact, LadiPoe knew all of these, he just chose to ignore them.
In the early 2010s, he could not really focus on the music because he needed money to be in his pocket. For that reason, he had a day job while also being a rapper. “I had a day job at some point, but it didn’t really work out for me. That’s why I wrote that verse on ‘Chardonnay Music.’ So I decided to face my music squarely,” LadiPoe tells this writer on Instagram Live.
Between 2012 and 2017, LadiPoe had a case of sparse releases. Nobody really knew what he was up to other than the odd solid verse, fleeting song or The Collectiv3 project. But through it all, his talent stayed true and evolved right on the money. Now, it might seem like everything suddenly aligned for LadiPoe, but it’s taken work, pain, vision and execution.
Sometimes in early 2018, ‘Know You‘ was written during a regular hang-out session between two people, LadiPoe and Simi at the latter’s studio. It was inspired by a conversation LadiPoe had with Simi. When Poe stepped into Simi‘s studio that day, they were just acquaintances – not friends. They knew each other, but not entirely well. Thus, the song was flipped off that experience.
LadiPoe speaks on the song, “Simi was asking me questions, I was asking her questions but her questions were a bit more personal. So I said, if I was talking to a random person and they asked me those questions, I would be rude and tell them I don’t want to answer those questions. Then, I said that would be a dope idea for a song.
When we got into the studio, we decided to make it about two people who like each other. If you listen to the song closely, it’s a conversation between two people… However, it’s mostly like subconscious because it’s happening in each of their heads. They are saying what they would have said but they’re not saying it.”
The song was not released until LadiPoe felt it was ready. The song had been recorded, but it was rough – it was recorded quickly. When LadiPoe and Simi finally agreed to perfect it, it saw the light of day.
On the process, the rapper says, “It took a while to get it (the song) to where we wanted it to be and my focus was on dropping my album first. I just wanted it to be the right time. A lot of people would be shocked to realized that some of their favourite songs were recorded long before they were released,” LadiPoe says.
Again, in that little moment, LadiPoe exemplifies the vision that could be associated with him, but had been rarely noticed. This was not the first time LadiPoe would be recording a solid female collaboration that ties into his ‘brand.’ In 2017, he had ‘Are You Down’ with Tiwa Savage.
On his album, Talk About Poe, he had ‘Red Light’ with Seyi Shay, ‘Voices’ with Efya Nokturnal and ‘Falling‘ with a little-known Tems at the time. All those songs did not really work as they might have been intended, but they showcased a LadiPoe with vision – he knew his brand all along and he had been working with a vision to make it shine bright.
If not for anything, he featured a little known Tems in 2017. For that reason, the ‘sudden’ value and success of ‘Know You’ and how it might just finally convey LadiPoe from one point to another is not a coincidence. It’s the result of a chain reaction – a consistency and increased appetite to see things happen.
This LadiPoe has been on this wave since 2017 – it’s taken three years of consistent work for this moment. This is not a fluke.
Let’s start with 2017
On February 28, 2017, Don Jazzy announced the signings of Johnny Drille, Ladipoe and DNA to MAVIN Records. The singing of LadiPoe was particularly pungent – he was a rapper. Earlier in the decade, Don Jazzy had made some comments about Hip-Hop and rappers that the Nigerian Hip-Hop community found unsavory.
Innocently, the Nigerian legend looked at the Nigerian Hip-Hop environment and rightly found little inspiration. D’Prince and Dr Sid – two rappers on his label had become singers and lamba specialists to become stars of the era.
Asides that, during an Instagram Live chat with Dr. Sid on April 11, 2020, Dr Sid admitted, “Let’s be honest, I wasn’t that excellent a rapper. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t that excellent either.
The argument for ‘Man Already‘ can be made for ‘Are You Down,’ one of the final songs Don Jazzy produced. It had a Tiwa Savage feature and was probably billed to be bigger than it was, but it was not. Instead, it formed part of a journey. In the middle of that year, LadiPoe released his long-awaited album, Talk About Poe.
To be honest, I didn’t like the album like a lot of people did – I still don’t like it. But in hindsight, I realize that the album was a material part of a journey. It was also in the same year that LadiPoe recorded the now successful song, ‘Know You‘ featuring Simi. Coincidence? I think not.
At the start of 2019, LadiPoe absolutely was featured on the critically-acclaimed Show Dem Camp tape, Clone Wars IV: These Buhari Times. The song was titled, ‘Savage.’ After Tec laid the foundation with a beastly rapped hook, Ghost did what Ghost does – eat verses. After what happened on ‘Double Homicide‘ where Ghost ate Poe, nobody saw what was about to happen coming.
Ladies and gentlemen, LadiPoe had an amazing time and absolutely floored everybody on that song. It was an amazing time, a tone-setter for the year with an aggression that we had seldom seen from LadiPoe. With a unique technique, LadiPoe rumbled with the bass-heavy Hip-Hop beat and produced one of the best verses of his career.
Months earlier on Talk About Poe, LadiPoe had been a victim of 2017 Ghost who was killing everybody on features. The song was titled, ‘Double Homicide.’ While that was a dope Hip-Hop moment on its own, it also birthed the #TripleHomicde challenge. The challenge was launched on January 24, 2019 – just 22 days after his monstrosity on ‘Savage’ by Show Dem Camp.
The man was building his momentum and ramping up efforts, we just didn’t notice. Speaking on that challenge, he tells this writer, “I just thought it was an amazing beat. A lot of people had been hitting me up for the beat, so I thought to put it out there. It was not as much about promotion for the song, but more a moment that I wanted to bring some excitement to Hip-Hop.”
Later in the year, LadiPoe released the amazing pop song, ‘Jaiye.‘ As LadiPoe revealed to this writer, the song features background vocals by Debbie Romeo and it was meant to show the many sides to him as an artist. The song took many by surprise but LadiPoe says, “That was me exploring my artistry and showing that my artistry could be [dense] – that I could do many things.
Yes, he did show that and excel with it. The man finally found his pocket and his intention and he was not about to stop. The song came with an amazing video shot by Seun Opabisi and Kewa Oni. The video was nominated for Video of the Year at the 2019 Headies but lost to ‘Dangote‘ by Burna Boy. It was another material moment with an importance that went over our heads.
Speaking on that loss, LadiPoe says, “I thought we should have won that. I thought we deserved that. The video that won it deserved it, but I thought we shot an amazing video that showcased the many sides of our city with great picture and detail.” Yes, they did – the video was a poetic representation of life in Lagos through the eye of a creative and it was a win – so was the song.
People knew LadiPoe, but did not really know about the personality. MAVIN and LadiPoe have righted that wrong and implanted the rapper in people’s subconscious. Together, they also worked on the rapper’s brand and brand presence.
“I’m quite a quiet and introverted person. I feel like my personality is already niche. People that f*** with me are a bit [arty]. I don’t really speak unless I see a reason to. However, there are different sides to me that people close to me would know. I just like showing the other sides to me when needs be,” LadiPoe tells this writer during that Instagram Live chat.
— Motolani 'priMO' Alake (@OneMotolani) April 19, 2020
Shortly after ‘Know You’ dropped, LadiPoe had a well publicized Instagram live chat with Vector. Since then, he’s also become a trending topic on Twitter NG. The conversations around the rapper might come freely out of people, but the start of the conversation are anything but organic – it’s a result of an intentional push by both the artist and the label.
MAVIN has been patient with LadiPoe and his journey. It understood what the rapper is an artist and as a person. Instead of forcing him to go pop, the label gave him time and allowed him to do things while obviously guiding him and putting him to work. Much of that praise goes to MAVIN Chief Operations Officer, Tega Oghenejobo.
When I asked LadiPoe what he hopes to be remembered for, he couldn’t really find an answer after moments of thought. When he finally found his voice, he said, “Honestly, that’s a tough but good question. I guess I’m just focused on my journey and building my story. I can’t jump to the end yet.”
To that I say… Interesting. The success of ‘Know You’ doesn’t seem like much, but for LadiPoe, it’s a lot. Of course, its meaning will be heavily determined by what happens from here.