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DJ NEPTUNE Talks ‘Hustle’ and More @ London Listening Party

Words: Daniel Adu Mensah // @dreamingbigger_

Photography: Michael Tubes

 I’m here with DJ Neptune. How are you and where are you currently?
Im in Nigeria in Ibadan.
I’ve been doing my research, been listening to your music and I can see you’ve been in the game for over 20 years since you’ve been in the game. What changes have stuck out to you the most?
DJ: Being in the game I’ve seen our sound evolve I’ve seen our culture evolve and the world embrace Afrobeats, coming from playing a few Afrobeats records on the radio because we didn’t have that much to a lot of Nigerian artistS waking up to understanding the fact that they can do this and then get that global acceptance to Wizkid selling out
the O2 a couple of days ago. I am blessed to be alive and blessed to be a part of this generation because this is so much history that has just been written and I mean you would somehow still be acknowledged as a DJ, music producer and artist someone like myself has also played their own role in terms of pushing the culture so I mean I’m happy I’m grateful.
So ‘Greatness 2.0’ lovely tape I can’t lie to you I heard I was interviewing you. I’ve been tuned in for a while because in Uni we played the song ‘Nobody’ so I know who you are. Then I heard you have a whole tape so I said let me take the tape in. Got my questions about the songs on there. So when you were trying to create the sound for ‘Greatness 2.0’ what type of vibe were you going for?
I was going for an original sound, original vibe, a song that everyone from Africa has something to take back home also Africa as a diaspora. If you listen to the tape you will hear it’s heavy on Afrobeats and there’s the Hiplife Ghanaian sound also in there, Then the Kumerica sound which is more like the drill and then there’s the Amapiano and there a bit of Hip-Hop in between along with R&B. So I mean regardless of whatever genre you’re into or you’re big on there’s something for you to listen to on that tape and that was the major goal I wanted to create something that would stand out from my previous project in 2018 and then also spread my tentacles into other parts of Africa. I was able to touch base with South Africa and then I was also able to touch base with THE eastern side of Africa and then back home in West Africa, Nigeria where I am, and Ghana as well. So basically just something for Africans and Africa as a diaspora and everyone that loves music and Afrobeats.
 You’re talking about the ampiano sound that’s originally from South Africa. I was listening to the song ‘Hustle’ with Focalistic and I was thinking this is not traditional afrobeat. It’s different than when I started realizing this South African house type of vibe. When you were creating that sound and you predominantly being traditional afro-beats how did you manage to merge it to become an afrobeat vibe what did you aim for?
You’re talking about the ‘Hustle’ track with Focalistsic. With that particular record shout out to the producer Majestic myself and Focalistic worked on something earlier in the year and I wasn’t too sure what direction I wanted to go with that particular record and luckily for me he came back to visit Nigeria for a couple of shows, I was able to get him into my studio and I just told him to listen whatever it is we do today we have to turn out a smash hit and he was down. The vibe was right, everyone was in the right state of mind and it had to be Amapiano because he is big on that and that’s like his major focus. When this beat came he was ‘ooo that’s hard I think I wanna go in on this one’ and that’s how we came up with the record and the direction. Basically, I just left it to Focalistic. I was like you know what just enjoy yourself, you’ve been visiting Nigeria more often so let’s have an influence of that Naija vibe in this record we are about to create, and that’s why you hear the words ‘I’ve been hustling, hustling like a yahoo boy’ those type of vibes basically merging the Nigerian vibe with the South African sound in terms of the instrumentals.
When I heard that song this is something that is very important, I wanted to ask you how important it is to assimilate the African sounds? Africa’s one continent we say Afrobeats but not every country in Africa does Afrobeat.
Yep, yep you’re very correct I think with this tape whoever understands music and understands African cultures and has been following the African sounds will understand I’m from West Africa and
I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and create a sound the East Africans back at home and through the diaspora can rock with in terms of featuring their own talent like Harmonize and Anjella on ‘My Woman’. Obviously, they had their own Swahili dialect going on in there, and the same with Focalistic as well on the Amapiano song. It’s just being
smart and being calculated. I am blessed to also be a good A&R. I was able to understand this is my project. I need to A&R it well and deliver it well cooked and when it drops everyone is just going to go crazy and that’s what’s been happening since it dropped a couple of days ago.
That song is one of my favorites. I feel like even without lyrics it’s beautiful, it’s a wave, the fact you put lyrics on it and Focalistic killed the track. It was just beautiful. I thought I heard something on your tune ‘Ololufe’ with Simi and Peruzzi. I thought I heard hips don’t lie’ by Wyclef and Shakira. Am I correct?
Yeah, yeah you’re correct we tried to tweak it but you’re smart enough to catch on with it. shout out to the producer as well Rich Beatz he made the beat and the sample was way more obvious than that on the original beat but I had to tell him we need to tweak it. But it’s a dope record. It was the first time Simi and Peruzzi have ever been on a song together so big up to myself for making that happen. That is one of the standout collaborations on the project.
 I also like the song ‘Gaza’. I like the fact it’s a Jamaican raw vibe with Patoranking. The sounds you were creating I was thinking how does your mind go to these places to create such collaborative, creative and original music?
Basically, you know how they say music knows no boundaries and for me, I’m just trying to spread my wings everywhere across the globe because music travels really fast today with the help of social media with the
help of internet with a record like ‘Gaza’ I won’t be surprised if a Popcaan or a Busy Signal reaches in the near future and is like I love this record, I wanna jump on it. It has a feel of where I am from with Patoranking being an Afro Dancehall artist it was only right for us to just tap into that genre and go deep also with the video interpreting what the word ‘gaza’ means which basically states my hood, where I’m from, where I represent. Big up Patoranking and Young Willis on the production.
Definitely big up to everyone involved because that’s a great little project that you guys had. I know you don’t want to pick favourites because of the tape being your baby and your body of music but did you have anyone in particular that you liked working with out of the group of artists you picked?
I mean shout out to everyone I worked with it was amazing working with all of them and everyone came on board with their A-game I’m not going to lie because I really felt it when the vocals were coming in and for the artists that I had the opportunity of being in the same studio recording with some at mine some at there’s I mean I felt everyone putting in their effort into this project but there’s that one track that’s really dear to my heart and I’m just grateful that people really love it, it’s ‘Rise Up’ which is the first song on the project you know when I was creating that record I wanted to create something you would listen to as a hip hop head you would get the message and basically the whole idea is just to motivate people. We go through problems everyday life has its own challenges but not many understand the fact that someday your story is going to change and you’re gonna rise up. People are so quick to give up on their dreams, giving up on whatever you’re chasing at that particular time. So when I was making that record that was the idea I had in my mind. Music hits your soul, music is food. Sometimes when you’re down some type of music comes up it uplifts your spirit so that’s the goal behind rising up. So shout out to Waje, shout to Laycon, shout out to LADIPOE and also the Kabusa Choir, the producer as well as reflexor. The reason why I’m so happy is that I see the response on that particular track and people are loving it and it just gives me joy ok all the effort the idea I had didn’t go to waste.
Definitely, I feel like all the accolades you’re getting are a hundred percent deserved. You know what it is about the tape for me, I feel like afrobeats are pretty simple. It’s a joyous genre. The beats are really quick, you know what you’re going to get with it. But with your tape when I was hearing it the next track has me thinking this isn’t afrobeats but it is because you’re re-defining it and you’re not allowing it to be concealed into one type of view. I am going to compare it to the idea of Wizkid’s tape, we call Wizkid an african ,artist but if you look at the tape he dropped that everybody loves is it actually pure afrobeats. It’s poppy it has a pop vibe to it, so by breaking down the boundary it allows everyone to have an appeal to it. Once people start liking your sound they start looking into the deeper sounds of the other artists that you have worked with and I feel like that is opening doors for the whole game. So it’s just brilliant what you are doing.
Exactly, you literally just broke everything down. That’s what it is to be honest. Records like ‘Cupid’ with Blaqbonez and Cheque, originally these are Afrobeats artists but having them on a Trap beat and then having them spit those bars and putting in the local dialect in between it just makes the track beautiful and makes the outside want to listen and go back and do more research and find out more about these artists. So you’re 100% solid on that.
 Ok brilliant! I’m happy you said that because now I feel like my opinion is valid and what I am saying is making sense because if anyone tells me I’m chatting rubbish I will tell them Neptune told me I’m talking the truth out here so I’m going to carry on spitting the truth! Apart from your music, who else are you bumping out here? Who else are you putting on the playlist?
I’m loving me some Adekunle Gold him transforming from who he was to where he is right now, understanding the fact he needed to change the sound to suit his delivery. I love the new Adekunle Gold! There’s a new guy who was featured on Mayokun’s new album Victony. I love his sound, I love the texture of his vocals. All the new boys Buju, Omah Lay, Joeboy, Rema, Fireboy the list is endless, every Afrobeats artist is going in and putting in so much work. What has been done over them years is to elevate our sound, elevate our culture and also increase acceptance as well. Like I said earlier, it’s a good time to be alive.
What you’re saying is brilliant because I feel like in the music game a lot of people focus on numbers and who done this and who did that but I can see that even though you have so much experience in the game and you’ve been around and you’ve got to set a certain level you don’t forget that it’s about exploration and leveling up the game everything single time, that’s why I really appreciate those comments. Any international artists you tune into UK, US, Dutch anyone from
anywhere?
You mean that I would like to work with, or someone I am currently bumping to.
 Someone you would like to work with.
I did love to work with a lot of UK artistS whilst I was there a couple of weeks ago and myself and S1mba I linked up in the studio. I played him some beats and he really loved it so I mean hopefully there, will be a S1mba and Neptune or Neptune and S1mba record in 2022. I would also love to work with Yxng Bane. I mean we’ve had that conversation a
couple of times. I think he’s cool, he’s talented. I mean I’m working with a lot of people, I’m coming back to the UK. It’s gonna be a lot of studio time because I mean the grind doesn’t stop, you just have to keep elevating.
Ok so we got some exclusives there’s possibly a Yxng Bane and Neptune tune and S1mba and Neptune tune we’re gonna be looking out for those ones. I got a question for you it’s about social media, how social media’s changing the game, especially Tik Tok looking at how you mentioned Fireboy previously and how you listen to him along with Ckay how do you feel about how their song is blowing up through the Tik Tok platform.
Yes! Ckay I feel happy because I mean it takes me back to 2020 when Triller was huge then and ‘Nobody’ according to Triller was the #1.  It was the most used song in Africa on the app and the 3rd most
used song on the global level. Right now Tik Tok is doing crazy stuff for a lot of artists. Shout out to Ckay we see what has happened with his career in a short span with the app. I feel like we’re gonna have new applications coming up that will really affect the growth of artists and their craft and it’s just a welcome development. What really matters
now is how you use it to your own advantage, I mean it’s a lifestyle and if the right people gravitate towards it and if you’re one of the first people to get on it it works for you, you take advantage of it and I think that is what has happened with guys like Ckay and all the other artists TikTok has really helped put their sound on a global level. It
is what it is, it’s not cheating, it’s just what now really matters is how you use it to your own advantage, with that being said I have a challenge going on, on TikTok right now ‘Only Fan’ my song with Lojay and Zlatan so feel free to jump on it if you’re reading this interview.
 I have a question for you. I like to self-evaluate. I’m a big believer in looking at yourself and saying what is happening in my life and you have had such an illustrious career and it’s still going. So at the end of your career what do you want it to say about you?
At the end of my career, I want to be remembered for good music. I want to be remembered for the amazing performances. Basically positive vibes, a good legacy and that is why we are working hard to make sure that everything falls in place and that is what the end story will be.
Brilliant, I want you to shout out all the things you got going on right now I want to shout out the challenge, the new tape. When’s the next video dropping? Because I like the ‘Gaza’ video so I know something else is coming.
We just dropped the video for the Focalistic track ‘Hustle’.  That’s dope so check that out.  On this tape trust me
there’s gonna be a lot of visuals so just get ready I might be popping videos every couple of weeks. Just get ready for that. There are going to be more challenges on TikTok too and of course more new music.
 I have a question for you. I like to self-evaluate. I’m a big believer in looking at yourself and saying what is happening in my life and you have had such an illustrious career and it’s still going. So at the end of your career what do you want it to say about you?
At the end of my career, I want to be remembered for good music. I want to be remembered for the amazing performances. Basically positive vibes, a good legacy and that is why we are working hard to make sure that everything falls in place and that is what the end story will be.
Brilliant, I want you to shout out all the things you got going on right now I want to shout out the challenge, the new tape. When’s the next video dropping? Because I like the ‘Gaza’ video so I know something else is coming.
We just dropped the video for the Focalistic track ‘Hustle’.  That’s dope so check that out.  On this tape trust me
there’s gonna be a lot of visuals so just get ready I might be popping videos every couple of weeks. Just get ready for that. There are going to be more challenges on TikTok too and of course more new music.
You got a sign-off message for me. I’ve enjoyed this interview so far.
Thank you so much for having me, guys the album  ‘Greatness 2.0’ is out now and it’s doing well. Everyone is loving it, so just in case you’ve not heard it you should go check it out. It’s available on all digital platforms to stream so listen and share it with your friends.  Do all the good vibes you love to do to good music and let’s just have fun with it.

listen To “Greatness 2.0” using the link below.

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