With the support of her close friend and artsy colleagues, Kevwe already remarkably sustains an impact on the entertainment scene with Kevwe and Cam, a popup showcase that curates musical performances and aims to create a platform for emerging artists. Last December, she hosted a Kevwe and Cam opening at Show Dem Camp’s Palmwine Festival with a musical lineup that introduced other emerging acts such as Dusten Truce, Kemuel, Rigo Kamp, Zenn, Sanki and Ortiz.
However, beyond her brilliant freestyles and contagious energy, there is even more to Kevwe’s aspirations. Following the awakening release of her latest single Me and You, we speak with Kevwe about her metamorphosis, inspirations and transition to becoming a musical artist and surging dynamo from underground Lagos.
How has the journey been, coming up as an artist that makes music in Lagos?
I have always loved music. My older brother regularly listened to rap from rappers like Notorious B.I.G. and that certainly rubbed off on me. I started to rap. That was my cradle stage in music and I was in high school when I had my first musical performance. It was mostly me freestyling rap with mumbled words and just having fun, but other people enjoyed it and that spurred my confidence.
I attended Babcock University where music was initially casual for me, and participating in group freestyles and rap competitions was the most I indulged. It took some time and events before I decided that I was going to take music seriously.
In one such event, I was in class, freestyling with some of my friends when I was approached by a man who told me that I would be better off as a singer, as rappers never made it in Nigeria. That conversation served to discourage me, and I withdrew from rapping for at least one good year. Now I know enough to know that he was projecting and I should have never listened to him but it took a lot of growing up to get here.
During my semester breaks and holidays, I took several internships in the entertainment industry that earned me inspiration and enlightenment. I think it is something to have come full circle from the girl who mumbled her rap freestyles to a more defined Kevwe who raps confidently and voluntarily sings her hooks by herself. I have also enjoyed working with creative minds like Oluwagbeminiyi and Camron, who have been nothing short of motivating and inspiring on my music path.
Thank you for detailing such an inspiring journey. The story of Kevwe is certainly one with interesting highlights, however we would like to pinpoint a spark. What was that moment that you realized that you could flourish if you pursued music?
There have been many moments in my life that have stuck to reassure me about my musical purpose, but the most thrilling has to be the time I opened for Tipsy Araga at the school stadium. Let me paint a picture:
It was early 2015 and I had just met a guy called Tipsy Araga. At the time, Tipsy was already big as a rapper in Babcock and almost everyone knew him. After we got acquainted, Tipsy invited me to perform at a social night show. Now on campus, most of our events are held at the sports stadium and you could expect many students to attend. I had no initial fear or anxiety. I had done a series of rehearsals, and I was backstage doing my thing and just freestyling. It was all going well until the time came for me to go onstage and my mic was missing. It wasn’t funny at all.
There is a video online where Tipsy was calling for me like, “Kevwe, where are you at?” It was crazy to start the performance like that, but I quickly found my ground. I got on that stage with just two words, “Designer, designer–” and the rest of my verse was deafened by the screaming crowd. And in that moment, I was like, what? Like how does it make sense that 5,000 people are screaming for me? I was in a skirt. Then I was like: That’s okay.
Well, that one night and the nights I spent serenading the audience at Bogobiri are my moments. I am most confident that I can actually do music in those moments.
Speaking about Bogobiri; so many people have Bogobiri as a part of their story. It has been a rite of passage for many artists including yourself. However, we have recently heard some news that they will be closing their doors permanently soon. What do you think it could mean for the creative scene in Lagos at the moment or in the future?
I feel like losing Bogobiri could ruin everything. As a new act at Bogobiri, save for your six friends in the audience, you’re performing to an audience that doesn’t know you. There are no backup tracks and for a successful performance, you have to get creative in that moment.
It is an experience that gives you an idea of the kind of artist you will be. If we lose Bogobiri, we may be perpetuating a culture of having artists who do not know how to perform. I remember the first time I was there, I was stunned that there was a place like that in Lagos. It was kind of like a shrine to me. Like a place everyone should be at.
Yeah, definitely. When we met last year you introduced yourself as Cam’s manager, and I wasn’t aware that you did music. In that time you have come quite far to hosting a showcase that has garnered much acclaim. Can you fill me in on your transition, emerging from being a talent manager to a more public-facing artist?
MIt is easy to deny yourself your abilities and I did that for a long time. I was very scared of putting myself out there and what I would be perceived as. I had a very huge anxiety about that, and it was easier for me to be Camron’s manager and still be able to fulfil my music dreams while avoiding the public gaze. However, something happened last year when I recorded a video singing Sixteen, the first song off my E.P. at Camron’s house and uploaded it on Instagram. A representative from OneRPM had seen my video and he reached out to me.
I remember arranging a playlist with demos from as far back as 2019 on SoundCloud and sending a link to him. And he listened to it and called me. He was very motivating on the call, telling me that I was doing great and encouraging me to start a community of my loyal audience and fans. At first, I was like fuck that. I didn’t want to do that. Did I really want to do that?
Somewhere within the uncertainties of those questions was where Kevwe and Cam was born. I was excited and I called Camron like, “How far, you know say I dey do this music p? How about we run it like this?” Camron liked the idea and said that it was a no-brainer.
I went to La Taverna and had a discussion with Christian who assured me about the venue and even assisted with a few favours including covering the costs of the sound equipment. And that was the point I decided that we were going to fucking do it. I had no excuses anymore. That was when the transition happened. And after the first Kevwe and Cam, I think it was evident that I could no longer do talent management anymore. I performed alone for the entire show. All the songs were my songs. I was Kevwe – for myself, not as anybody’s manager. And it felt good.
That’s really interesting. And now you are not an artist/manager anymore?
Camron is my best friend and I’ll always do those things, you know.
All right. Last year, you performed a lot of music on the stage of Kevwe and Cam but we’ve just gotten your first single in a while to us titled Me and You. Would you tell us a little bit about the song and your journey to creating and putting out Me and You?
I made the first version of Me and You last year, and I had to work with someone new because my producer with whom I had become familiar and comfortable had moved out of the country. When that song was ready, I didn’t like it.
Some months later, I linked up with another producer and friend, Mazi at his studio. He was making a beat, and I trying out melodies. Then I tried singing the chorus to Me and You and it just fit. I wrote the verses that day, and it was a song about heartbreak. I had found myself at a phase where I constantly bore storms of heartbreaks, and Me and You was my artistic release of those emotions. It speaks to the one that got away like “It should be me and you, yes?” And yet.
Oh, yes. Heartbreaks can be artistically defining, but we are grateful for Me and You. Why did you decide to release this song specifically as a first offering to the world, after such a long time of not releasing music?
I decided to release Me and You because I want people to have something sweet. It is quite different from my other songs, and I want people who are trying to find me to have a taste of singing Kevwe. It’s also a song that is a lot more commercial than my other music, so for people who would just be discovering Kevwe, it could be the perfect song to ease them in.
I see you are wetting the ground for what is to come. In that vein, since we’re already speaking about it, will you tell us a little bit about what you have in store for us?
I am dropping an EP and this EP is sad, it could be melancholy. The songs were made during my heartbreak phase, and people can expect to listen to a broken heart.
That’s oddly exciting, but we can’t help but look forward to it. Can we also expect more things with Kevwe and Cam?
Yes. More exciting things are going to happen for Kevwe and Cam. We’ve been trying to re-strategize and find the best ways to move forward, and as it comes I feel like the future holds so much. When I look into it, I just see God taking charge. That is what it is. And by God, I mean Jesus – you know people say God and they don’t mean Jesus. I mean J-E-S-U-S.
Let them make no mistake.
Yes, don’t mistake it for another person, please. Before they start to write controversies that Kevwe is Demonic: I am not o. Jesu ni mon so o (translated From Yoruba: I am referring to Jesus Christ.)
LOL. Who would you say are your inspirations as of right now? And also what are you listening to?
Mac Miller, full stop. My everything is Mac Miller. Yeah, it hurts every time I think about it– But Mac Miller, full stop.
There’s no way you won’t like Mac Miller.
Do you get it?! That guy could play so many instruments. And that’s something that I am also working on. I want to learn to play musical instruments. I am starting with the keyboard. I also want to start dressing like him too. When you see me stepping out like Mac, that’s when you know it’s over.
What matters to you the most and why?
Feeling proud of myself. I’ve always struggled with anxiety and second-guessed every basic thing. Feeling that way has plagued me my entire life. I want to be able to reach a point where I am genuinely proud of myself. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think the anxiety will go away entirely. However, I aspire to a certain level of fulfilment that can help my anxiety when it surfaces. If I can keep my head high and have experiences to reassure me, then I know I will be okay.
- interview by Kasope Owoaje
- Article Written and Edited by Lawal Salami