Unlike his peers, rapper Iceberg Slim, thinks it is beyond unprofessional for artistes to name drop American acts they have worked with.
The rapper, who is currently dating actress Juliet Ibrahim, sat down for an interview with Sunday Scoop, where he talked about his music, childhood, rap career and more.
Read excerpts from the interview below:
How did growing up in America impact the man you have become?
Growing up in America has had a huge part to play in the person I’ve become. Although some may see it as an advantage, living in America isn’t a bed of roses. I’ve fought many battles; socially, economically, mentally, and even physically. It has made me strong and resilient.
You once said you were introduced to the sounds of KSA and Shina Peters at a young age; was your father a musician?
My father wasn’t a musician, but he loved music. He played so much music around us, and if he wasn’t around, you would notice his absence. I had a genuine love for music because of him. Consequently, when I was seven , I decided that I wanted to join the church choir.
Since you started as a chorister, why didn’t you become a gospel artiste?
I was a chorister and an instrumentalist in the choir, I don’t think that classifies me as a gospel artiste. Once I developed a liking for hip hop, I was automatically drawn to it, and that’s when I started creating my own.
Why did you drop out of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice?
I decided to leave college because of my passion for music. Most of the time, when I was sitting for lectures, all I could think about was making music. I always knew I had a higher calling. It was a hard decision, but I followed my instincts.
You used to write poetry; what themes did you usually write about?
When I was writing poetry, I’d often write about the outside world as I saw it, or I’d write about life from a perspective other than mine. I enjoyed writing sonnets the most.
Why did you stop writing poetry?
I stopped writing poetry when I started writing my rap lyrics. Although in a sense, they’re one and the same.
When was the first time you knew you wanted to do music?
The first time I knew I wanted to do music was after the first song I ever recorded. After playing it for several people, the general consensus was that I was ‘very talented’ and that I should continue. At that point I knew it was my calling.
Your name, Iceberg Slim, is gotten from an American pimp; why did you choose that particular name?
The name was given to me when I was 16, by my cousin, Bleu. He said I had so many girls around me that I should be called a pimp. At that time, I had no idea who the original Iceberg Slim was, but the name sounded cool, so I stuck with it.
Why didn’t you decide to pursue your music career in the United States?
I didn’t want to pursue a career in the United States because I wanted to stand for something bigger. I was seen as a typical African-American aka Black guy; however I am a Nigerian. I want to be known as a Nigerian musician, not a Black or African-American musician. But in order to do that, I would have to connect with my people; my fellow Nigerians. That was what influenced my decision to move to Nigeria.
How exactly did you get into the entertainment industry?
I got into the entertainment industry simply by listening to and following instructions from my cousins. My cousin, Wole Olowokere, aka Bleu, was an intern with the music group, Ruff Ryders, back when DMX was topping charts. He gave me a lot of pointers and advice on how to set myself apart from everyone else, and how to master my craft. Wole’s elder brother, Tunde, aka Buck 3000, was a producer and engineer for Murder Inc. Records when Ja Rule was arguably the biggest artiste in the U.S. He took me around a lot, and I learned so much just from watching and listening to many professionals. I later started to apply the things I picked up, and people eventually started to notice me.
You once attended the Institute of Audio Research; in what ways is that helping your career?
Attending the Institute of Audio Research is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I learned so much about production, audio engineering, editing, and even how to score movie soundtracks. IAR has given me indispensable knowledge about film and audio.
How would you define your sound?
My sound is unique and rare. I’d define it as one of a kind.
How many songs have you produced?
Once I moved to Nigeria, I actually stopped producing. However, I’m always involved in the production of any beat I record on. I like working hand-in-hand with the producers. I produced the song, The Game Needs Me by Sauce Kid, which was on his African American album.
Some people say rap music is not profitable in Nigeria; how do you intend to thrive?
Fortunately for me, I don’t only rap; I sing as well. I actually started singing before I even knew how to rap, from being in the church choir then to being in my high school choir. Nigeria, however, is evolving in terms of the music and the sounds that are being accepted, so I’m hopeful.
What do you consider the highlights of your career?
One highlight of my career is that I recorded a song for the hit American crime-drama series, Blue Bloods. The song was used in Season One, episode two of the series. That’s a milestone in my life; not only my career!
What are the challenges you face in the course of your career?
Over the years, the major challenge I faced was trying to find my niche in the Nigerian music industry. The first hurdle was me trying to fine-tune my sound and style to be relatable to the average Nigerian. I then had to learn pidgin English, as well as improve on my Yoruba to infuse those elements into my music.
You once had a collaboration with Jarule; how did that come about and what was the experience like?
The collaboration wasn’t planned. I was in the studio with Buck 3000, recording a remix to Plies’ Plenty Money. When we were done, we sat there playing it back, Ja Rule walked in. He was singing along with us while the song was on playback for about five minutes, then he looked over at me, and in his deep husky voice, he said, ‘Yo Ice, can I jump on this joint with you?” And the rest is history. It was a humbling experience, and I’m forever grateful.
Apart from Ja Rule, which other American artiste do you have any form of relationship with?
Over the years, I’ve been privileged to meet many American artistes. It would be unprofessional to start name-dropping though.
You’ve worked with 2face and Tiwa Savage; which other Nigerian artiste would you like to work with?
I would love to work with Lara George, Wande Coal and Simi. I’m probably their biggest fan, and they don’t even know it.
You have not been so vibrant in the Nigerian music industry, what’s responsible for this?
After getting everyone’s attention, I was still in the process of finding my own self. Even after all the love Too Much Money featuring Banky W got, I was still unsure if Nigeria was ready for that type of sound. I then began to experiment with different sounds, styles, and beats, all while trying to perfect the Nigerian accent and swagger. It was an uphill battle.
Do you think you have been accepted by the Nigerian music industry?
By God’s grace, I think they are finally starting to accept me. The love I’ve been getting all over the country, following the release of my latest single, Oluwa has been nothing short of amazing. I’m thankful.
How active are you in the Ghana music industry?
I was on Tiwa Savage’s Shout Out with Sarkodie, and I also featured Shatta Wale on the remix of my single, Wave. These songs received good airplay in Ghana, although I haven’t done any formal promotion over there.
Apart from music, do you engage in any other business?
I have a few investments back in the U.S., but music is my main focus.
What’s the motivation for your unique hairstyle?
The motivation behind my hairstyle is simply the reflection of my being. I’m unique; one of a kind and rare. It’s something different that sets me apart from everyone else.
You have a wonderful relationship with Juliet Ibrahim; what was the point of attraction for you?
Juliet is an amazing woman. When we first met, I was intrigued by her peculiar choice in music. After we spoke for a little bit, I was blown away by her intelligence, ambition and kind heart.
How would you describe your relationship?
I don’t think there are words to describe the relationship. To say it’s incredible would be an understatement.
Do you consider yourself a romantic man?
Yes, I’d consider myself a romantic man.
What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done?
The most romantic thing that I’ve ever done was to get matching tattoos with the woman that I love.