Jos or J-town, as the new generation calls it, never ceases to amaze; it is always in the news. Some days ago, it was MI Abaga’s new album, MI2 that was trending on Twitter. Even Tom Cruise was so disturbed he thought the sequel to his hit, Mission Impossible, had been released without him in it! Imagine
This year, J-town gives us a new star; the young Suranu whose fiery bars have been doing positive damage all over the ancient city. Born in 1990 to Rev. and Mrs. Barje Maigadi as Suranu Maigadi in Jos, Plateau State, the rapper is the last of four children. He had his elementary and primary training in Uncle Sam's land before coming back to Nigeria for his secondary school education. Presently, he is a 300-level Law undergraduate at the prestigious University of Jos.
Love or hate his stage name, the lad does not care and goes on to explain that his real name (which means finished in his native language) portrays him better than any funky alias would've done. That is a testimony to the down-to-earth nature of this young man who began to listen to the rap genre as far back as when he was a kid. According to him, "When I was a kid, my sister used to listen to the radio a lot. So, I was influenced by many different genres. What mostly had an impact on me was rap, especially by The Fugees and R&B by R. Kelly and BoyzIIMen. As I started growing up, rap music became my main influence; Jay Z, Busta Rhymes, Drake and any other person I could get my hands on."
He began to rap actively in 2008 and has continued to develop rapidly since then. He hasn't worked with any of the Choc City boys but has worked with several other Nigerians including Skales who MI lists as one of his top ten Nigerian rappers this year and J-town music acts such as Verbz of F.A.C, Echo of T.I.C Endia, Kahli and the producer, Ajebutta.
When asked to lend a voice to the growing debate in some circles about who the better rapper is between Ice Prince and MI Abaga, his fellow J-towners, his answer was evasive: "Both of them have talents that exceed the normal expectation. In my opinion, they're both good at what they do in their own different ways". But when asked to name his top three Nigerian emcees, Ice Prince tops the list. And there's Naeto C and Mode 9 too. We disagreed on who's the best rapper ever dead or alive. I say Eminem but he thinks it’s the diva Beyonce's boo, Jay-Z.
When teased about his single status despite his good looks, he outsmarts and plainly disappoints. In his words, "This kid is young and single. I think there's a time for everything and right now is the time to work." So Eves, now you know. There's a vacancy to apply for in Suranu's life!
In recent times, Jos has been compared to Brooklyn, New York in that some of the best Nigerian rappers are either from or have at one time resided in the city, from Terry tha Rapman to the Chocolate City's trio, Ice Prince and the Abaga brothers but Suranu doesn't think it’s safe to make that comparison. To him, “Jos and Brooklyn are two completely different places that provide the world with different flavours of music".
On challenges in the rap industry, he says, "The major challenge in the industry is that as an up-and-coming musician, you are easily neglected. It takes a lot for you to even find someone to give you an ear let alone support your career. Another challenge is the pressure to conform to already set ways of making music or doing stuff. If you dare to be different, you'd probably be pushed aside.”
Many parents do not support the idea of their kids doing music at the outset but for Suranu, this is not so. There's been no objection from them or at the very least, not yet; probably because he is the last child and has been spoilt in no small way by them.
Welcome to My Thoughts is the title of his mixtape, which was released on the 25th of November.
Is he giving us a free pass into his thoughts to know the bad things in his mind? His reply is simple. "Welcome to My Thoughts is exactly what the title implies. I'm translating my thoughts into music. If you want to get into my thoughts, then you have to download the mixtape." The link to the mixtape is given at the end of this piece.
And, his songs are laced with punchlines because to him, "Rap is a craft and in that craft, certain tools like metaphors, punchlines and storytelling are used. I choose to use more punchlines because I'm attracted to riddles and wise sayings." This dude is brilliant! Is the sexual undertone in the song, "Touch It" an indication that he is daring to be different, daring to be the Snoop Dogg of Nigeria? His reply is yet again simple. "The only indication there is that I'm ready and willing to make good music that I will enjoy and above all what the fans would enjoy too."
Some of his songs are already online. According to him, a lot of people have begun to appreciate his music. "They walk up to me and say 'good job' and stuff like that for all my songs." Concerning the brilliant video, Good Life, he says truthfully, "Good Life, as you said, was brilliant but I can't take the credit for it. The concept came from my manager and producer Charlie X who teamed up with Eddie Lapang, the maestro behind the artwork and effects. "
He likes to keep up with the trends in fashion but is no Denrele Edun and doesn't want to be a fashion icon. He also plans to move to Lagos, the entertainment capital of Nigeria as soon as he is through with his education to make the proper impact on the industry by being "at the frontline of the business which is Lagos."
His last word to up-and-coming rappers is: "believe in yourself and your art. Also, work hard, really hard because when I started rap I didn't think I was that good, but Charlie X (my manager) told me if I was willing to put my head down and work, there'd be nothing I wouldn't be able to achieve." Good advice but just before the interview end, Suranu was asked something that bothers many who encounter his cute face. What is his poison? He smiled and answered: women. There was general laughter; Suranu is kindred spirit.