Moelogo chats about Afrobeats and his ambitions

RnB/Hip Hop | Monday 24th August 2015 | Annalisa

Afrobeat star Moelogo is riding high right now – signed to Island Records, he’s had a string of hits, including ‘Pangolo’, ‘The Baddest’ and ‘My Sweetie’, and his latest single ‘Do You Love Me’ is set to go the same way. He opened for Fuse ODG earlier this year on his This Is New Africa tour and he has also been nominated by the NEA Awards for Diaspora Artist Of The Year. We sat down with him to talk about Afrobeats and ambitions. 

Firstly, can I just ask who’s the baddest?
I’m the baddest. I’m Moelogo, a young guy with so much ambition, I’m trying to reach out to my goals and just trying to do something amazing. Sometimes misunderstood but I understand my vision, so that’s why I call myself the baddest. I understand me, and I’m gonna show the world why I’m the baddest, through my music.

How did you get the name Moelogo?
That was through my manager, he said, “you know what, what are we gonna call you?”, I said “Mohammed”, he said “no that’s too easy, let’s just take out the Moe, and what do you do? Music, that’s what you represent and that’s what represents you, so that’s your logo”. It came together, Moelogo. A lot of people don’t understand like “why do you call yourself Moelogo?”, I have to keep saying the reason why but yeah it’s a good thing.

So what swayed you to make Afrobeats?
It’s always been in the blood. My family listen to Afrobeats, the likes of Fela Kuti, King Suny Ade, it’s been there and it’s just the right time for me to come out with it. I was doing the R&B thing at first and I actually had to find myself and say to myself “what do I wanna do?” and to find my own sound, and Afrobeats was the one, which is a mixture of different sounds put together. Fela Kuti was Afrobeat, that different from what we’re doing now, what we’re doing now is Afrobeats, which can bring a hip-hop beat and then I can be singing something in my language, and that’s Afrobeats because we’re mixing different types of sounds together.

What’s the best thing about Nigeria?
We’re very creative and we never say no to things in the sense that if something is difficult for the next person, we always find a way to succeed, or try to find something positive out of it, and make sure it works. That’s one thing I definitely think about Nigerians, we always find a way to make something work.

So what artist inspires you?
Myself and I don’t mean to sound big headed but myself, 2face, Sound Sultan, those are the ones that actually inspire me for now. I say myself a lot because I kinda kick into my feeling and emotions and my surroundings and try to put that into my music, and if it’s about love or hardship or anything, it’s what I see around me, it’s what I go through, so I inspire myself.

Ok you said that 2face inspires you, so would you want to collab with someone like that?
Yeah most definitely. A collaboration with 2face would be a big deal for me, but at the same time it’s me focusing on my goals and making sure that I get to the right place, and I feel like collaborating with such great artists will come one day. For now I need to get to a place where they can recognise me and be like “do you know what, he is really good and we need to work with him”. I could easily get the collaboration done and speak to people that know him but I want it to be real, I want it to be a thing where it’s meant to be.

Nice. You’ve done an updated version of ‘My Sweetie’, what made you wanna do something like that?
At first it was the label’s idea, big shout to Island, and they said “we think you should try and remake ‘My Sweetie’ by Bunny Mack, RIP to Bunny Mack, and I said “woah, that is a big tune, I can’t mess about with that because if I do mess about with that, that’s like the whole of Africa and everyone else’ll be like ‘what’s wrong with you?’’ I took the challenge, I took a day to think about it and said “ok cool, I’m gonna try to give it my own spin whilst still keep it the same thing”, and that’s what we did.

You have a song, your song of the year, ‘Do You Love Me’, you seem very sprung, is there a Mrs Moelogo?
There is a Mrs Moelogo and that’s my mother. That is number one. The song was obviously from a previous relationship and I was looking for something to talk about that is real. That’s a feel good song but at the same time it sends out a message, which is “do you love me? Do you care?” because a lot of people, we fall in love and we don’t know why we fall in love, so I wanted to bring out that message, that if you’re in a relationship with someone, you wanna know do you actually care about me and the reason why. Not to question them but it’s a good thing to know that someone loves you instead of you giving all that love to that person and them not showing it back.

Is that what happened?
Yeah that’s what happened. I felt like I showed too much love and she wasn’t giving it back, so I just turned that into a song. But it’s good, she hooked me up to create something good, and all the females love it and the guys love it as well. The video’s coming out real soon as well, watch out for it.

You are from South East London, you went to school there, has the crime scene, because it was rather rough in South…
I don’t see no crime scene in South to be honest.

Really? It hasn’t affected you in any way?
Not at all. A lot of people, maybe because they don’t live in South, and they hear what’s on the news, I’m not saying that it’s the best place but I’m not gonna lie, South East London, it’s a nice place. I’m not saying it to try and glorify where I’m from because the truth is it’s so inspirational to be around such an area, it helps you stay grounded. It’s a nice place, I wouldn’t say it’s the best, but it’s a nice place. So come to South East London more!

Peckham yeah?
Yeah Peckham. It’s about your surroundings man, it’s about what you do. I live in Peckham everyday and I don’t cause no trouble and no trouble comes to me, so it’s how you keep yourself to yourself and focus.

You’re from Yellow Brick right? So now with your newfound fame and fortune, do you still live in that area?
I still go round there, I live like five minutes away from there. It’s a nice thing to be able to go around and people recognise you, like “oh you used to live here and now I see you on my TV sometimes, now you’re Moelogo”, it’s a nice thing because I don’t put myself in the position like, “listen I do music now so I’m better than you lot”, no it’s none of that. We’re all the same, it’s just that I’m on the stage and they’re not, so it’s a nice thing to have people in your area loving you for what you do. You have to be humble. I understand that I’m an artist and I’m in a position that some people are not in but that doesn’t make me better than them.

You performed at Ghana Party in the Park...
It wasn’t really a performance, I went to support my little sis Zafi B because I got a song with her. She’s got a song with my called ‘My Love’, and she said “can you be a surprise guest for me please?”, so I went there, opened up with her, it was really nice. And I went to go and the crowd thought I was meant to perform, and they were like “yo, are you not going to do your own song?”, and I’m like “listen I didn’t come here to perform like that”, and I just had to do an a cappella and the crowd was really lovely. The reception was amazing.

Did you like the whole fact that they were singing along to your own song?
I know, it was amazing. There was a lot of people and it was just amazing to see that they actually know the lyrics word for word. It made me feel like just keep going, because sometimes I doubt myself, like “do people actually like my songs? Do people actually respect what we do as artists?” Seeing that on that day was a good feeling, keep going and keep making music.

You’re up for nominations for Nigerian Entertainment Awards, how does it feel to have your work get recognition?
When I saw that I didn’t expect it because last year I was watching it on YouTube. 2face and those guys got nominated and he won, it was a good feeling. I said to myself, “I wanna get nominated for this award”, and I just saw a tweet from the organisation and they said “you’re nominated for best artist”, that’s amazing. Put a good word out there, vote for me! For me, it’s not about winning, it’s the fact that I got recognised, for me I’ve won already, someone from a different country and a different state understands what I do and they appreciate what I do. If I win it’s a good thing but if I don’t it’s not really a big deal. People think winning the award is a great feeling, yes it’s good but you winning is actually being recognised among those who are doing great things.

So how does it feel to have even more lady fans?
It’s good man, I want more! I want lady fans like Drake’s, I wanna be Afrobeat Drake. Joking, but yeah it feels good to have a lot of lady fans, you can never say it’s enough, you want more and more, that’s where the good things are. They love your music, they spread the word, they come to your shows, they get to connect with your music so it’s a good thing.

How does your mum feel about your newfound fame and your music career?
My mum don’t even think I’m famous yet, and it’s the truth because even I don’t think so, I feel like I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m not famous yet. I think when I’ll believe I’m famous is when I can be a change for my community, which is where I’m from, and I can change people’s lives through what I do. Maybe not giving them money or anything but to be able to be so influential to people, that I can say something to make their lives better, then I’ll call that famous. Right now I’m just floating about, trying to find my way. And I’m keeping it real, I don’t believe I’m famous, I believe people know about me but what am I doing to change their life? In what way?

So you still walk though?
Yeah definitely, I still walk through Peckham. Even if I’m famous famous I’ll still do the same thing, it’s about your character. People have to know you for who you are and they’ll treat you the way you show them.

I saw on your Twitter that you are promoting your track that you did with Sneakbo, how do you feel about that?
It’s a good song man, and me collaborating with Sneakbo is something different and new, and we just wanted to give the world something new. We came up with that song and it did well, it should have done better than what it did but it did well, a lot of people know about the song. It’s about working more and we might come out with something new, but time will tell.

I know that your one track that did make you where you are now was your one with Giggs, ‘The Baddest’. You did an original one just by yourself and then afterwards Giggs heard it and did a track. Was it like that, Giggs put you up?
Yeah definitely, I would be so stupid to not acknowledge that. Giggs definitely put me on a bigger scale because most of his fans get to know who I am and listen to my music. I’m not disputing that my song or what I did before was really good because before the remix, a lot of people were feeling the song, but the remix definitely made it better, so I’m grateful for that. And after that I showed people that yes Giggs definitely put me on the map but at the same time I’m my own artist and I can still bring out songs by myself and still have that relevance and keep going.

If you could eradicate one song from the existence of the world, any song, what would it be?
None to be honest. I don’t wanna upset no one man. I’m trying to tread carefully.

Not even like Meek Mill’s little comeback to Drake?
Who am I to eradicate their songs? They’re amazing man. I actually like it. I feel like a lot of people didn’t listen to it properly because they’re on Drake’s side so why would they want to listen to what Meek Mill’s saying, even if it makes sense or anything, because they already decided who they want to be behind. So yeah Meek Mill, holla at me man, let’s do a song together!

If you could perform anywhere, where would you perform?
Mars. They won’t judge me, there’s people there, I’m serious! I believe so. They’ll embrace me. Shout out to everyone on Mars as well! Do you think we’re the only ones? It’s impossible. But I believe that there are other people or other species. I do, I’m serious! I think I listen to Jaden [Smith] too much, but I like them, they’re cool. And I watch a lot of sci-fi as well. You’re gonna leave here like “this guy is weird! He does Afrobeats and he’s talking about aliens!” I might make a song called ‘Aliens’, in an Afrobeat way [laughs].

What is your proudest moment?
Making my mother proud, that I’m doing something positive. Everyone can be against me or maybe I’m not at the place I’m meant to be or whatsoever but where my mum feels like I’m doing something good and growing, that’s the best feeling ever. And I don’t feel like I’m not doing something good. If my mum feels like I’m falling off or I’m off track then I know that I need to pull myself up. I’m a mama’s boy.

Can you define yourself in three words?
God is great. In like me, God is great because he created me, and I must be amazing for God to create me and give me my talent. For you to sit down, write something, sing it and expect people to like it, it’s craziness. Sometimes as artists we don’t understand we’re actually mad, because we go to shows and demand people to love us, and they actually do. So to have that energy and spirit around is a great feeling, and I feel like that is a God-given talent.

What is the worst job you’ve done?
If I say to you I’ve only had two jobs in my life would you believe me? Only two. I worked at a shop in Westfield, at a pie shop, and after that I worked at Blue Inc, and that was it.

Which one was worst?
Blue Inc. I enjoyed working at the pie shop because it was different. Blue Inc was boring, it was just standing there, I hardly did anything, telling people “buy the jeans, buy the top”. I used to go home with pies, give it out. It was nice. But music, I love what I do now, it’s not even a job, it’s a lifestyle.

What are you most in love with right now?
Myself. Sorry I had to say. You have to love yourself. I don’t think anyone can make me feel bad about myself. Like I refuse to believe you can do such a thing. I read comments sometimes on Twitter or this and that, and I’m thinking, “ok but you know about me, you’re speaking about me, so I’ve already won. You love me actually, to talk about me”, so yeah I love myself. Not to the extent that it gets annoying, but it’s the type of love that I respect myself and I love who I am so you can never bring me down.

If you could fill a swimming pool up with anything, what would it be?
Skittles definitely. You can’t be upset because there’s Skittles there, lie down, have some, sleep, wake up and there still there. You can’t get bored of it. Mix it up, different flavours and that.

What would you do to make the world a better place?
You can’t. You can only change yourself and the people that you meet. You can’t change the whole world. There has to be good and there has to be bad, it’s balance. It’s part of the grand design. I feel like you can only change your life and the people around you and can connect with. Change to me is when someone does something by their own free will, that’s change.

Follow Moelogo on Twitter