As Lagos guards its status as the epicenter of pop and hip hop discoveries, a parallel movement has been bubbling in Abuja. More often than not, these acts are pioneering divergent sounds drawn from soul, pop, dancehall, rap influences. Enter PsychoYP, an independent artiste who is leaving a blazing footprint with his trap sound that guns for global appeal but also adjusted to Nigerian sensibilities.
Born Nicholas Ihua-Maduenyi and raised in the capital, PsychoYP is from Rivers and had wanted to be a rapper from a young age, listening to 2 PAC, Jay Z and Young Money. At 19-years-old, he released his debut mixtape YPSZN in 2018, featuring fellow Abuja hip hop mascots like Zilla Oaks, Marv OTM and Kuddi Is Dead.
YPSZN offers sharp lyricism and often finds PsychoYP being combative and territorial like opener Andale. His second project YPSZN2 released in 2019 soften his punches with features from mainstream artistes like Skales, BOJ and Ladipoe, reeling into themes of nocturnal pleasures, romance and materialism.
His discography also contains a flush of collaborations. 2020’s Foolish (Outstanding Dinner) with DJ T1Z propels PsychoYP with UK grime-inflected rap but it is his latest joint EP with Nigerian singer Azanti YP & Azanti, Vol. that showcases a sublime fusion between Afropop and trap.
Now 22-years-old, and with an undergraduate and masters degrees from the University of Manchester, England, Psycho has never been more determined to pursue music.
What’s the origin of your stage name PsychoYP?
Some friends used to call me Papi Chulo in secondary school after we did an Italian mob play for an event and it kinda stuck. And then I got the Psycho from a movie I watched and through out the movie I kept hearing people call me the main actor Psycho but then I watched the movie again and his name was something totally different so I kept the Psycho.
Do you write your own lyrics?
I write my own lyrics and I engineer my vocals but I don’t produce. I work with a lot of amazing producers from different countries and they’ve all really helped me get to where I am today.
Where do you distribute and promote your music and why do you think this channel works best for you?
I distribute my music worldwide and promote in Nigeria & UK and this was mainly because as I am a Nigerian I was still doing a long stretch in the UK because of uni so it’s only right to promote there aswell. But now that I’m done I’d probably promote worldwide and hope for the best.
What aspects of the music making process excites you the most, and what other aspect do you find discouraging?
I love recording on my own because I engineer vocals so it allows me just have fun with it. I could literally record anything in my own space. The feeling is amazing trust me
If you could choose to work with some of today’s established artistes or producers to move your game to the top, with whom would you like to collaborate?
Drake, Wizkid, Travis Scott, Nicki Minaj, TakeADayTrip, Smino, Monte Booker, Tyga MixedbyAli, Sarz, Legendury Beatz, DJ Mustard, Meek Mill, Burna Boy, Nasty C
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected you as an artiste?
I miss performing man and I know my people miss watching me perform. It’s literally one of the best things about being a YP fan. The energy is unmatched live.
Do you think an artiste can make it big in Abuja or must they have to win over a Lagos audience/market?
Abuja music scene is filled with a lot of talented individuals who are willing and ready to take on the industry. It’s literally people who have been told they have to move to Lagos to make this happen and so on, and they’ve just all been in this space recycling that information and putting it back into whatever they do so you know we’re always ready to show out.
You can definitely make it big from Abuja. As an artist you’d have to move around regardless so going to Lagos is a must but you don’t have to move there to be big.
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.