Raoul John Njen-Njeng, popularly known as Skales, is a rapper who was discovered during the 2008 edition of Zain Tru Search talent competition and the Soundcity Blast concert in 2009. The songwriter talks about his career
Tell us about yourself
My name is Raoul John Njeng-Njeng. I am from Edo State and fans know me as Skales. I am a hip-hop artiste/songwriter and I was born on April 1, 1991. I studied Office Management and Technology in Lead City University.
What does your name Skales mean?
Skales is an acronym for Seek-Knowledge-Acquire-Large-Entrepreneurial-Skills.
When did you start music and how has it been so far?
I started music a long time ago, since when I was a young kid of five years. But professionally, I started six years ago with a record label. Music has been good. It has been a learning process for me. At the moment, I am still growing up, learning more, getting better and making more money.
What is your inspiration?
What inspires me is the whole essence of life and my experience on a daily basis. When I did my single, “Heading for a Grammy” in 2009, I was going through a lot at that time and the experience provided a lot of content for my music. In the song, I was talking about being the best and going on to become the most incredible. I was saying I was going to be a great person.
If you were to sing about something as we speak, what would you sing about?
I would sing about what is happening at the moment, whether good or bad. Also, I have met a lot beautiful people today and they can inspire a whole lot of lyrics.
How was it like growing up?
I grew up in Kaduna. I moved to Lagos about six years ago.
Did you meet Banky W in Kaduna?
No. I met him when I moved to Lagos.
When were you able to finally break into the industry and get noticed?
I was writing and performing my songs when I got a call from Banky W asking me to meet and discuss music with him. At about that same period also, I received offers from several other record labels but he was the one I preferred to work with.
How are you coping with the music business?
There are a lot of ups and downs. It is the same thing everywhere. It is just that the structure in Nigeria is not really strong. But we are hoping that it will get better eventually. I would suggest that there should be some improvement in the way the industry is operating currently. The structure should be changed to pave way for better programmes. Countries all over the world have a music industry but they are not filled with the kind of challenges in Nigeria. We would appreciate if there are opportunities that will enable performers grow and get to the next level just like it is in most cities around the world.
What does style mean to you?
Style is everything. You can see from the way I am dressed that I am stylish. I style myself, I don’t use a stylist. My style is determined by my mood. Another thing that influences the way I dress is the desire to create and maintain a very impressive and attractive image. I am always on the Internet. I go through all designers in order to be able to figure out what look works for me at a particular point in time. And sometimes, I try to be creative and come up with my own designs.
What has been the lowest point of your life?
The lowest point in my life would be when I don’t have money.
Have you ever reached that point?
I have reached it a lot of times. When I am broke, I feel really bad even though it pushes me to do better.
How do you keep in shape?
I do exercises; I go on a diet among other things. As an artiste, I have to be on a diet because I have to keep the brand going. I have to be good looking.
Tell us about a typical day in your life
On a typical day, I hang with my friends. I record in the studio and sometimes, I play games. I hang out at cinemas. I also go on twitter and just sit down for hours talking to my fans.
What are your likes and dislikes?
I hate failure. I hate dirt and sloppiness. I also hate being late. I like making money, making music and chasing my dreams.
How much money have you made from music so far?
I am not so sure I want to discuss that subject; one has to be careful about issues regarding money.
What has been the biggest deal you have ever made in your career?
That is a yet to be untold story. Nothing I make right now is big enough.
What is the lowest deal?
I can’t say that too.
Any foreign artiste that you look up to?
Kanye West is the foreign artiste I look up to at the moment. I am highly inspired by him. I am Kanye’s number one fan in the world. His influence in me goes beyond music. I am regarded as one of the most stylish artistes in Nigeria because I like wearing the latest gears and sneakers just like Kanye. I like Kanye so much that I follow everything he does. Not that I try to act like him but to be greater than somebody, you have to follow that person’s footsteps and that’s what I do.
Looking at the industry and the way we are operating, do you see any prospect for growth?
Yes, we are definitely going somewhere. Right now, white people are singing Nigerian songs. You go on YouTube, people are singing our songs and if you go to shows, you will see white people there, enjoying songs from Nigerian artistes. That means we are being recognised. A lot of things are happening around the world with foreign artistes collaborating with Nigerian artistes regularly. I see the Nigerian entertainment industry as a globally respected one in the next five years or less.
How do you deal with attention from fans?
Sometimes I run when they are too many and it is overwhelming. But I love my fans a lot and I like being around them.
What is your greatest fear in life?
My greatest fear in life is fear of failing. Another thing I fear most is losing my mother.