Chidiebere Kalu, better known by his stage name ‘Chidey’, is a budding rap artiste and recently released a music video off his 2020 EP titled “Chidey is Chidey” which has received massive acceptance among his fans. In this interview by NCHETACHI CHUKWUAJAH, the Mass Communication graduate says he has always known he was cut out for music.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Chidiebere Kalu but people call me Chidey. I am a rap artiste based in Lagos, Nigeria. I am from Abia State but I was born and bred in Enugu so it is also safe to say I am from Enugu too, yes? I am a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria. But most especially, I am a human being. You know people tend to forget that most of the time too. We all are just ordinary human beings, aren’t we?
What inspired you to do music?
Inspired? I have always been with music all my life, right from the cradle. Everybody in the family knew me as the music guy even as a five-year-old child, so it was always there. I was always singing and reading about music and musicians. I had massive interest in music, I still do though. Before I was 10, I already had hundreds of music CDs which my father bought for me.
So right from time, I knew my destiny lied with music. When I entered the university, I decided to ditch music and focus on my studies. But by the third year, it kept coming back and I couldn’t run away from it. So at some point, I knew I had to man up and embrace my destiny.
How have you fared so far? What’s the industry’s reception to your music?
I think I entered fully into the music industry in 2018 which was when I came to Lagos after my mandatory NYSC year. It has been an interesting journey, I must say. It has not been easy. I have experienced a lot as an independent artiste and I count it all joy. I still have a lot to learn too and the future, for me, is so bright.
I have released an EP and a couple of singles which are on all streaming platforms, and I am working on a single at the moment. The reception has been good and I have created my own little fan base which I know will only keep growing as the days roll by. However, I need to put in more work.
What is the inspiration behind the kind of the music you do?
First and foremost, I am a rapper but I can make a record from any genre, as long as I can rap on it because I love to rap. I love to experiment between genres too – Highlife, Gospel, R&B, Soul, Alternative, anything.
What inspires my songs? Uhm, life. Experiences in life; not just my experiences but that of others too. As an artiste, you must be a reader and researcher too. So, it could be romantic love, politics, nature, heartbreak, depression, a movie, struggles of people hustling their way to the top, it could be anything really.
Which artiste(s) inspires your songs?
So many of them, I can’t mention them all. But if there’s any particular person who made me to really really want to pursue a career in rap music, it was after I listened to the track ‘Beef’ from MI’s sophomore album ‘MI2’ back in 2010. Growing up, I used to see rap music as some big stuff made for gangsters and thugs. But MI made me realise I could rap about anything in any way in any language I deemed fit so long I can pass a message and be able to educate, edify and entertain people with it.
Foreign rappers like Jay-Z, Drake, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Chance The Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, Nas also inspire my music. I grew up listening to the likes of ABBA, Westlife, Michael Jackson, Michael Learns To Rock, The Beatles, Don Williams, Elvis Presley, Celine Dion, etc. and their music still influences my sound in one way or the other, especially as it concerns songwriting.
In Nigeria, many other rap artistes influence me too like Naeto C, Jesse Jagz, Ice Prince, Illbliss, so many of them. Phyno too. I even did a song dedicated to him.
As a mass communication graduate, at what point in your life did you know it was music and not journalism for you?
Now that’s a tricky one. Well, what can I say? With no disrespect to my lecturers and classmates, I knew I was never going to practice journalism even before I got an admission into the university. I knew I was bound for the entertainment industry. But as an art student, I needed a course that would broaden my horizon and I also loved the media and needed something that will teach me about how the media works, so I went for Mass Communication. But I knew I was never going to go full-time into journalism. It was never an option from the get-go.
Tell us about your recent video.
It is a track off my EP titled ‘Chidey Is Chidey’. The name of the track is ‘Phyno’, dedicated to the rap legend of course. It was a huge project and I wanted to make a good video because it was a good rap song. The video came out and the public loved it as it generated conversations in different online quarters. And if you haven’t seen the video, you’re missing out of the action seriously.
Any projects in the pipeline? What should we be expecting from you music-wise?
The Christmas season is almost here upon us and I have a Christmas tune coming out soon. The song is titled ‘Isi Azu’ which means ‘the head of a fish’ in Igbo. I don’t want to say much about the song now but it is going be the biggest song in the country this Christmas. So, let’s just keep our fingers crossed on that. And then next year, I’d do more singles, videos. Another EP? Maybe. Who knows?
Have you ever been told you look like Phyno? Do you think you both are alike in a way?
This question again. I have gotten it a million times, I have lost count. Honestly, I never knew we looked alike till people started saying it; in fact, many people just call me Phyno, which is funny because I don’t think I really look like him that much. But I think to be honest, we kind of look alike because I am light-skinned, slim, has a long face and big beards. So maybe we look alike physically and that’s a coincidence brought about by nature. But artistically? No. I don’t sound like him at all and I am happy I don’t sound like him because I want to be as original as I can. I am just doing me.
What do you have to say about the growth of the Nigerian music industry?
The Nigerian music industry has been growing in leaps and bounds. You can’t compare it with what it was 20 years ago or even 10 years ago. We have Nigerian artistes doing big things in the international stage. Artistes like Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, etc. and that’s sign of huge progress. And many Nigerians are also buying into the idea of streaming or buying music instead of just getting them via illegal downloads or bootlegging. And I hope that spreads and becomes more mainstream because that’s the major way through which artistes can eat.
But that said, the industry needs more structure. For example, I think we need an official music chart just like America’s Billboard that way we can gauge how well an artiste’s music is selling.
Also, more avenues for budding artistes to be discovered, supported and encouraged because there are lots of talents in this country.