‘Lara And The Beat Was An Adventurous Trip For Me’
If you are a fan of America’s Jay Z, then you will surely like Olanrewaju Ogunmefun, otherwise known as Vector Tha Viper; both men have a lot in common when it comes to rap style. A poet, songwriter and talented producer, Vector is in the league of artiste running the rap game in Nigeria today. Unlike those, who got into rap by accident, he was born to spit rhymes.
Meanwhile, the name Vector tha Viper comes as a result of his knowledge from Biology class in high school; a vector being a carried and the viper specie of snake carrying a deadly sting; carrier of music or flow that is so poisonous that it spreads and takes control of the audience or listener
Though he started his music career in a group known as Badder Boiz, which recorded its first official demo in 1999, Vector went solo and signed with YSG Entertainment. Best known for his collaboration with Maye Hunta on the theme song for Endemol/MNet’s BigBrother Africa Allstars held in South Africa, his first official singles kilode and Mary Jane were released in 2010. The relationship with YSG saw the release of his debut album, State Of Surprise on October. He later followed up with the release of a sophomore album, two mixtapes and other single.
Having established himself in the music industry, the Philosophy graduate of the University of Lagos then turned his attention to acting. From making cameo appearances in Nollywood movies, the Ogun State eventually got his movie debut, playing Adewale in the romantic comedy movie June The Movie. Produced by Chineylove Ezeh and directed by Desmond Elliot, the movie starred other notable names such as Michelle Dede, Empress Njamah, Uche Jombo, Tony Tones and others.
“It was my first major movie and I learnt quite a lot from the whole crew; it was fun. Quite stressful at a point, but it was very fun to be on the set,” he enthused in a chat with Guardian Music.
In what seems like a deliberate effort to solidify his relationship with Nollywood, Vector featured in yet another movie, Lara & The Beat, which premiere On Sunday, at the Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island. A Biola Alabi Media production, the premiere, which brought together top players in the showbiz industry and beyond, was a celebration of Nigeria’s film, music and fashion culture.
Speaking on the movie project, which also had DJ Xclusive (as Jide), and Toni Tones (as Trish), comes with an original music soundtrack produced by ace music producer Tee Y Mix, with significant input from the team at Universal Music Group in Nigeria.
Sharing his experience on set of the movie, the rapper said, “There’s only one thing I can say about my film experience; na only for Nollywood you go realise say it’s not about you, it’s about everybody. You know, as an artiste, you go somewhere and people are waiting for you already, it’s all about you. Baba, for film, it’s all about all of una o. Even if you had great scenes, if the whole movie doesn’t work well, it doesn’t work well for you as well. That’s the most important lesson I held from venturing into acting,” he said.
Meanwhile, working with Seyi Shay on Lara and the Beat, for Vector, was an interesting experience, though not without challenges.
“I’m a different type of breed; I don’t know how people are very diva. Left to me, there are probably a lot of things I wouldn’t do, but you have to learn to understand people; no be everybody grow for barracks. So, playing multiple characters on one set, teaches you lessons in life about the dynamism of people and how to be patience. Yes, it was interesting working with her and every other person that was on set; it was an adventurous trip for me,” he said.
As much as he’s ready accept more movie roles, the rapper is very particular about quality of scrip and standard of the production.
“I wouldn’t mind, but as long as we are doing it right. If you follow my music, I don’t believe that we should do things because, ‘you know say na so e dey be.’ The most important thing is that we are all human beings; we have brains and we have all the characteristics that everybody has in the world. So, why are we not operating on the same level with the rest of the world?
“Why must we have Afro Hip-hop or Afro Pop? Do we have Afro Soccer? Is Nigeria not playing in the World Cup tournaments? Oh, so, when it comes to soccer or martial arts, we will compete with the world, but when it comes to music, which is a universal language, you say lets dichotomise? No! I will do something if the production standard is good, at least, Lara an the Beat standard; that’s a very good standard to be honest,” he revealed.
From his tone and body language, it’s obvious that working on set of the movie, which is currently showing on the cinema, was challenging. Notwithstanding, quitting was never an option.
“I never wanted to be an actor, but you know in life, destiny just calls. When they told me I was going to act with Seyi Shay, I knew it was something different, something special. And when I got the script, the character of that guy made me a little bit elaborate at some part, but it’s very much me. I’m very music, business ideas, family and al that, but sometimes, I can be street and chill at the same time. I can be hard and I can love at the same time. The character in the scrip just appealed to me, so, I said, ‘let’s give it a shot,” he said.
As a rapper, Vector has dropped a couple of good sounds with punchy lines, but the song Popular remains one of his best so far.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think any artiste can tell you ‘I intended for my music to hit you this way way.’ I don’t know you; I don’t know what you are going through. So, how do I know what you want to listen to? How do I know if you want to dance all everyday of your life? However, the instrumental for Popular particularly truck me because, the guy that produced it, Pheelz, is notoriously known for party music on Olamide’s camp,” he noted.
Actually, Pheelz had made Popular instrumental and sampled it for a couple of artistes, but none actually paid attention to the beat until Vector came by.
“All the people did was, ‘ah, nice o, but do you have that Duro Soke Olamide beat?’ But he said he was surprised that I walked in and started singing on the beat. Then, it happened at a time I was having a court case and to be honest with you, the only reason I had the court case is because I’m popular or I was becoming popular.
“Of course, I must have mismanaged information on my part as well, but it comes with popularity; it’s fame. The instrumental just served the ultimate purpose; it just carried the message. I knew what I wanted to say and the video was very natural. The music was just my momentary feeling and to God be the glory, it’s an evergreen,” he enthused.
It would be recalled that in 2014, Vector’s music career suffered a major setback as a result of a feud with his former record company, YSG Entertainment, which ended in court. The ligation, which dragged for months, forced the talented rapper to go on a sabbatical that took him off showbiz radar.
“Everybody regrets stuffs, but I don’t just dwell on it. Bros, I will be stupid not to tell you I didn’t regret something that escalated to the point where I could make music for a full year or thereabout; which kain bad guy I dey form? I had regret moments, but I never had a pull down moment. I just took all the last money I had and invested in a home studio; I just put all my emotions in my music,” he said.
In a way, Vector’s experience with YSG seems to be a blessing in disguise, with lots of lessons learned.
“Can I be honest with you? I thank God for the court case; it’s weird. I hate the fact that it slowed the money making process down and I lost money too. On the other side, they also lost money too, because they invested. But I’ve learnt to be patient. I’ve learnt to be very understanding. No matter what, nobody is your enemy for life because, at some point, you seize to be an enemy; maybe six fit down somewhere.”
He continued: “I lost my dad last year; it doesn’t make sense to understand that death is real. The moment you stop to fear it, you will become a better person and understand it; it has strengthened me. While I was in court, I couldn’t make music, so, I was observing; I could see mistakes I would have made if I didn’t have a court case. It’s funny, but I learnt everything happens for a reason,” he said.