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STRAFF FROM NIGERIA: WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONADES…

Thirsty Worldwide multitalented artiste, Straffitti, becomes the first Nigerian artiste to be featured on one of the world’s biggest Hip-hop blogs which led to the breakout of artistes such as Juicewrld, Skimask, Comethazine and a couple of other A-List US Artistes – Lyrical Lemonade, with his just recently released video, Straff From Nigeria. The multitalented creative teamed up with video director Bidemi Popson, assisted by Damian Ojimba to create the noteworthy masterpiece. The video depicts street life in Nigeria. From drug trading to getting fellatio in the corners, and of course, police brutality. With beautiful effects, and brilliant acting from the artiste himself, the video tells a story on its own. The visual for Straff From Nigeria is one of the many sensations from the artiste’s video collection. One other piece that stands out is his Kuronbe record from 2019 which features Zlatan Ibile, Prettyboy-DO and Iceprince Zamani.

Straff has always seemed different, out of the norm from your regular Nigerian musician. His unique styles in his videos, sound and fashion puts him at an arm’s length from his peers. Speaking with manager and close friend, Olumide Ogunwuyi, we discuss the artiste’s hustle and struggles in the industry, from being a photographer, trying to get notable features here and there, to landing on one of America’s biggest music blogs. Here’s a bit of how the conversation went :

What was the Kuronbe process like? How did y’all get those pretty big features?

So 2018 before Zlatan blew up errrrrm… actually, Zlatan reached out to Straff. He replied to a funny story he posted on his instagram, something led to something and then they went ahead to record Kuronbe. Kuronbe was just Zlatan and Straff, yeah? That was 2018, towards the end of 2018. Then fast forward to like December, Straff wanted to put in more people, he didn’t want it to be just Zlatan. So he plays it to Ice while they were at SA together and Ice wanted to be on it. But then he was taking time to reply and Straff decided to open another verse up and put Prettyboy on it. He sent the song to Prettyboy, Prettyboy had not replied, then Straff met Prettyboy at one show in December and he said “no vex, no vex, that song I go fit run am.” Then January came, Prettyboy had not still recorded it, then Ice came through, and then Prettyboy came through about a week later.

So how about the video? How did y’all bring these big acts in one place? Considering their busy schedules and all.

Brooo.. We really wanted to shoot the video, promote the shit, we tryna get Zlatan… tryna get Zlatan. This was 2019, Zlatan already blew up as an A-list artiste in nigeria, so it was hard to get Zlatan, do you get? So we blocked Zlatan at some show… at some show, so he said “let’s do this.” He fixed a date for the shoot yh? Okay… There was little funds! Guy!!And video shoot is in two days. How? God shaa run am one way or the other. We messaged Prettyboy… and that was the right time because Ice just came back to Nigeria, he just got back to the country,. So everyone was in the country, so that was the right time to do it. And it was Zlatan that fixed the date o! Omo! Errrrm… Ice and Prettyboy pulled up for the shoot. Omo guy, Zlatan no pull up and na him even fix date bro, it was hard mheen, he was not even replying, we didn’t know what’s up. Then… then, we kept on disturbing Zlatan, sending him message, buzzing him, mentioning him, disturbing (x3), till he finally replied and said “ok”. He fixed another date bro… fixed another date, my guy… my guy set time, he came in very very late, to the extent that like we had to even pay extra money to the studio guys but Zlatan paid it. So that was how we shot Kuronbe video and it was done.

 

So how well did the song do after all these?

Everything was done by the summer of 2019. We started promoting it… promoting it. We already had plans that “okay this is the song we’re going to use to chop everybody’s eye in December.” Like we’re going to perform in shows and shit, do you get? We already had some summer bookings and the turn out was nice, everyone knew Kuronbe. So like, obviously this is what we’re going to use to go up in December. That was the plan for last year December. Omo.. Shit came up o, Straff got sick. So like, no shows, nothing nothing… all those efforts, you understand? Although we got some radio plays, TV plays and put us on the mainstream and broke into some markets we thought we couldn’t reach at that point but, yunno… That was it o! That was the journey from like 2018 summer to 2019… We kept on pushing cause we knew never to give up.

Journey from 2018 to 2019? So he didn’t work on any other thing asides Kuronbe in about a year?

Okay… in between when Kuronbe was out and when errrrm… when Straff was sick, he already dropped another song, She Fever, in between. That was calm. He just posted it on Soundcloud, and it got mad views, so he now posted it on every other platform. Like it was just a freestyle and it came out hard.

 

You mentioned losing hope earlier, so how then did Straff From Nigeria come about?

2020 mheen! Not specifically losing hope, but things were not turning out as planned we just kept on pushing regardless. We already recorded Straff From Nigeria since, then we dropped it. No! No!! He didn’t drop the song, we shot the video first. The video was shot in Wintar studios, produced by Namatsey & Natse. They shot the video for 24hours bro! Nonstop, no sleep, awake all day to night… shooting that fucking hard video, that’s like the hardest Nigerian hip-hop video. Like there’s no Nigerian hip-hop video that can actually beat that if we’re being honest. Bro, the video is ready, the audio is ready, but we were low on funds to push as we were still independent. We dey reason how we go run promotions, how we go promote this shit… how we go promote am. Omo, him just drop audio first.

So how did the Lyrical Lemonade feature come about?

The song was getting nice views… people were fucking with it, fine. But! No funds for promotion for the video, and he was tryna reach out to some big blogs to premiere… some big companies but I won’t disclose. Mheen those guys kept cruising and cruising and cruising, so they were kind of delaying the video drop. Then he just dropped it… he dropped it like the weekend after his birthday ,We knew it would be slept on if we didn’t put in efforts on push and getting it out there, cause the video itself is something astonishing, something they have never seen, so straff went ahead trying to get a feature on Chicago’s Finest Lyrical Lemonade, Mailing them every single day for about six weeks straight, he e-mailed about 50 Lyrical Lemonade personnel and only one replied, he was like “nice work, its pretty cool & catchy”. Straff knew he had to do some work on the video so it could get to at least 1k views, and it did. So when it got to 1k views, he e-mailed back with his stats across his social media already having 6k+ on his social platforms, In between all these mailing, he drops Sxt Me, a freestyle he put together with Gcl3f . Fast forward to days after, Lyrical lemonade posted up the video and tweeted at Straffitti with this caption “Straffitti’s energy is Undying in his outrageous new video, Straff from Nigeria”. From this inspirational story, Its best you keep on going no matter what, your hardwork would always tell! Don’t let your numbers demoralize your energy for any project you believe in! keep on going. This is just a start for straffitti & the Video team (Bidemi Popson, Damian ojimba, Namatsey, Natse, Mesele) and even music producers Chicken $auce, bluef7ame, gcl3f. Soon the world will know Straff, from Nigeria.

 

Straffiti’s journey is one that encompasses around talent, grace, hard work, patience, self-belief and a supportive team. We all know the Lyrical Lemonade feature is a start to something huge, so let’s sit back, relax and anticipate the heat.

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