PsychoYP & his budding band of brothers, Apex Village, are at the formative forefront of a new wave of Nigerian hip-hop heroes cultivating a global following of fans and fanatics. Tracks like ‘+234’, ‘Focused’ & ‘Caro’ have positioned PsychoYP at an integral intersection between the Alté Cruise counterculture rumbling up from the underbelly of Abuja and the contemporary global fixation on UK alternative hip-hop, particularly the prowess of powerhouse producers like Juls, P2J and Jae5.
PsychoYP’s forward-facing fusion of key elements of his hometown soundscape has formed favourable foundations for the international aesthetic he is creating, blending relentlessly real and soul-stirringly honest lyrics with an affinity for wheel up worthy beats. After accelerating up the too often treacherous path of recognition and relevancy with his collab tape in tandem with boy wonder and fellow Apex alum Azanti in 2020, YP delivered a devastating one-two punch combo with his follow-up solo album Euphoria in 2021.
Part of the recipe for Psycho’s success has been his fruitful and lengthy relationships with British producer SCXTT, a decisive voice in the industry that has worked with everyone from AJ Tracy to Timbaland. This seemingly seamless rapport between artist and producer has once again sprouted another silky sunkissed single titled Midlife Crisis, a sultry hip-shaker set to see us into summer in style. We caught up with PsychoYP following the release of Midlife Crisis to reflect on his road to riches, breaking down the bars that built his sturdy discography and too get his scouting report on the best artist in Nigerian hip-hop right now.
Who was playing in the house when you were growing up?
I grew up on a lot of different music. My mum kept all the greatest pop collections from Michael Jackson to Celine Dion and we had the video albums too. So I was glued to the TV with my siblings watching Backstreet Boys video albums. There was a huge dancehall phase in Nigeria as well so Beenie Man, Shaggy, we had all those albums.
Let’s talk Midlife Crisis: who produced that track? Where did the initial inspiration come from? Do you tend to put a lot of your real-life experience in your records or is music more of an escape for you?
Midlife Crisis was produced by SCXTT and Skyrobeats. I’ve been working with SCXTT since the start of my career and he has really believed in me all these years. I just let the beat guide me as to how I’m going to express myself in any song. At that point, that’s how the vibe is making me feel and I try to communicate that experience the best way I know how to.
Your lyrical ability and beat selection have evolved so much since the early days of the ‘Uber’, ‘Bando’, ‘ELEVATE’ era. What do you think has changed most about yourself as an artist since you first stepped into the scene in 2017?
I think I started out trying to find my sound and I’ve finally hacked it. I’m in a space where I don’t need to think too much it just comes to me naturally. I’m all set now.
What do you think is your hardest lyric/bar to date? Does it feature in the song you are most proud of in general? Or is that different altogether?
“Now I’m feeling like Liam Neeson bro get taken away. My broski said free that yute but my mind in a violent place”. It’s from an unreleased track called “Wetin Dey Happen”. I’m not sure which song I’m most proud of because there are definitely a whole lotta songs I’d listen back to and wonder how and when I did that.
Euphoria was one of my favourite projects last year, tracks like +234 & Guapane$e had a real UK hip-hop/Grime influence in them, even working with London artists like Rasstokyo. How has UK hip hop influenced you as an artist?
The UK hip-hop scene really exposed me to a lot of key elements of my sound. The rappers over here are crazy and you’ll always hear some crazy-ass flow from a lot of them. So it kinda just opened my mind a bit by being in the UK listening to their music basically every day.
You and Azanti have been working together for ages starting with Focused and now again on WYDTM. How did you and Azanti come to meet and first link up on a track together? What makes your collaborations so good every time?
The funny thing is Azanti and I worked on an entire EP before we ever met. This kid emailed me when he was 15 and he loved my work. It took a while but I eventually responded and put him through to the producers I work with. That’s because of how great I felt his talent was. Azanti is someone that will blow away the world and his time is coming. Our collaborations are so good because, from the first time I heard him, I felt like he sounded like me. All I could hear was someone that lives for the music.
Lastly, we would love to get the Psycho YP guide to Nigeria’s best hip-hop artists right now. Who are you rating/listening to the most in the scene right now that we should check out?
There are lots of hard rappers right now. My bro Jeriq is holding down the East, Blaqbonez, and I’ll be honest all the best hip-hop guys are in my Collective, Apex Village. Zilla Oaks, Marv OTM, no one makes better hip-hop than my brothers.
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