As far back as 2000 when indigenous rap music in Naija was at its embryonic stage Terry Tha Rapman held sway as a member of SWAT ROOT, a rap clique known for its lyricism and hip hop purism. But nowadays The Rapman is riding solo, and the man is not smiling. So, keepsmag hooks up with Joe Spasm and realizes the vet emcee is got envious business sense.
Keeps: Mr. Terry, you’ve been in the game for over a decade though, what will you say is the force that keeps you relevant till today?
Terry Tha Rapman: I won’t lie, there were times I actually thought maybe I should branch into something else, I think the fans have been a major influence on me, they are always asking: Terry we want more. As long as there is fan base to cater for and everything, until the day they say OK we are tired of you or something. And also music has always been a part of my life, apart from the fact that I am making money from it, it’s actually something I love doing you know, so till it becomes boring for me or something, that’s when I can leave.
Keeps: So how will you describe your style today because right now I know the boyz don hammer is a bit of a departure from the usual Terry, how will you describe your new style?
Terry Tha Rapman: It’s not like it has really changed like that, a lot of people that know me, will know that I have this way of talking about reality but I use it in a funny way to just address issues, yes boyz don hammer, the only thing that was a little different for me was the beat, maybe a lot of people were not used to hearing me rap on that kind of beat, it was a little bit high life, I heard it, it was Meka E that actually produced it, he is a J Town producer by the way, he played it for me and I was like wow! this is different? He told me it wasn’t meant for a rap album he told me he actually did it for P. Square, but they didn’t use it. So I told him that I wanted it. It already had potential, you know when you hear a beat and you know this beat even if you say nothing on it, it will go places. And I believe as an artist, we should always try to step out of our boundaries sometimes because if you keep doing the same kind of thing all the time it becomes boring you know, you have to be a little different sometime.
Keeps: Boys are not smiling the realest slogan everywhere now
Terry Tha Rapman: Yes o
Keeps: And you are the originator of that
Terry Tha Rapman: Yes
Keeps: You know it took a while before the boyz are not smilin record came out and now that you have it on the streets, is that going to be the end?
Terry Tha Rapman : No no no the boys are not smiling movement is going to go further at least till the thing expires I guess, we are going into T. Shirts line, I’m making a bunch of T. Shirts because the whole thing started with me wearing the T. Shirt in videos and people like it a lot, I notice there is a serious demand for it, so I hook up with Marco Martinez, the guy that styles my clothes and we designed the T. Shirt, we want to start with 500 thousand T. Shirts for a start and start selling and see how far it goes.
Keeps: The price?
Terry Tha Rapman: It will be around three thousand Naira, that’s the average price for a T shirt. We plan to do tours, boys are not smiling tours and we plan to do a movie, I’ve been discussing with some movie directors in Lagos about the boys are not smiling movie, it’s just basically like my story, Just like 50 Cent’s get rich or die trying, Eminem’s 8 Mile. We are working on that, it’s going to be a little bit about my life but we’ll change little things to make it more exciting, we are trying to push the brand as far as possible.
Keeps: And I love the slogan: boys are not smiling, so what is the concept behind it?
Terry Tha Rapman: Yeah, boys are not smiling, to me, what it meant to me, was me coming from the North to Lagos and the industry was a little reluctant to accept me so I had to go the hard way, you understand, hustle basically, because I had no Godfather, no sponsor, no major record label or anything like that you know I still did it. So it was basically me saying I was being serious with my music, I was not playing, when someone is not smiling, he is not joking around and everything, so that is what it basically means, but over time, it started developing into a bigger meaning, people now have different meanings to it, for some people it’s basically I’m not happy about the situation of the country and I want to do something about it. Boys are not smiling could mean the hustling state of mind, you are a go-getter you are trying to get somewhere, you are trying to make something out of nothing, it now means a whole lot of things but the bottom line is about being serious with your music, your business, your life and everything.
Terry brakes down the boyz are not smilin album
The intro depicted the mood of the album you know, on the intro I was basically just talking about what I went through from 2005 when I entered Lagos till now. I came in I was faced with the whole politics in the industry, critics attacking me, I was just basically saying yo you guys men give me a break I’m just not playing with my business and I’m going somewhere with it, I’m just generally expressing myself.
Keeps: Been there before
Terry Tha Rapman: Been there before is talking basically to somebody that is just new in the game. They say what an old man sees sitting down, a young boy can never see even on the highest mountain so I’m saying all these money, women, we’ve seen all kinds of life and everything and at the end of the day there is really nothing there you understand.
And for those SWAT ROOT lovers, people that remember us, Six Foot Plus, Overdose, Extra Large you know the SWAT ROOT, we did an extra song for them, that was the last track.
Then I had a song with MI, J Town has always been asking for that major collabo, they see us like, me and MI are those two people, J Town representatives and all that, we had to do that song it was really mad (laughs)
Keeps: But would SWAT ROOT do something, maybe as a collective?
Terry Tha Rapman: Yeah, after people heard that track the question on everybody’s lips now is there gonna be SWAT ROOT album? I cannot say right now, I even spoke to Extra Large, it was his birthday couple of days back, he called me from Abuja and he was saying men that people had just been worrying him about SWAT ROOT album, that he is feeling too old but I said dude you didn’t sound old on the track. So if Jay Z can be forty and he is still rapping why can’t you and he is not even forty yet, so he was like ok, who knows, by next year everybody is just gonna come through, I hope they will thank me for initiating the whole idea, bringing SWAT ROOT back (laughs)
Keeps: I also know you are a ladies’ man
Terry Tha Rapman: (Laughs)
Keeps: I know you, forget o
Terry Tha Rapman: (Laughs)
Keeps: Could you share some experience?
Terry Tha Rapman: For me basically I’ve learnt a lot of lesson, honestly, when I first started in the game...now is a different me, when I first started I was...all kinds of girls and everything, I noticed it was really running me down and everything, I had to step back a bit, re-evaluate and all that, so right now I try and deal with them from a distance you know there are a lot of good women and again there are bad women, you have to be very smart about things. We all saw what happened to Wande Cole, it was just a woman that was out for revenge, you know, and for her to be that heartless to set him up, you know, this kind of thing we don’t need these things as artistes, we try as much as possible to be smart about it, with fame and everything you try to be cautious.