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LadiPoe: Too Smart To “Just Rap”

Interview By Joey Akan; multi-award winning writer and music journalist based in Lagos, Nigeria.


It’s been a long journey for the Mavin Records rapper. Through twists and turns, he’s had to keep pushing for his mainstream shot. Now things are looking the brighter than they have ever been for him.

“I don’t want them to know where I live,” Ladipoe says, looking around his estate for a spot to take a photo where the distinct buildings won’t feature. We’ve just spent an hour in his car with the ignition on, windows wound up, and air conditioning running on this rainy Lagos afternoon. Yes, for those familiar with estates located on Lagos Island, you might recognize his neighbourhood. No, he doesn’t want you to know which one it is. That’s the way he’s kept things and prefers that they remain so.

“My private life allows me to create good music, keeps me sane”, he once told a Guardian journalist. “And giving people a window into that life may ruin it.”

Wikipedia, however, has a few things to tell us about the rapper, singer and songwriter. A cursory glance online will offer the basics of his existence so far. He attended college in the USA, graduating with a double major in Chemistry and Biology from the University of North Carolina, where he also discovered his music aptitude. He’s signed to the Nigerian record label, Mavin Records, helmed by music mogul Don Jazzy. LadiPoe has the honor of being the rapper the label is taking a chance on. And while we know that he is a highly skilled MC, the full range of his gifts is lost on us.

We know he’s super smart. His music emphasizes that. With each release, LadiPoe’s raps lean heavily on cerebral foreplay. While on a phone delay to schedule the interview, he referred to a family member as ‘loquacious’. Lesser mortals would use ‘talkative,’ but not LadiPoe. LadiPoe, the rapper says it as it comes. It comes to him in huge doses of intellectually superior dumps– bars which he christens ‘Lifelines.’

“You get a gift, somebody sends you something, you’re excited,” he explains in a low voice, eyes looking ahead, hands moving with conviction. “The punchlines are the wrapping, it’s attractive, it’s dope, your PS5 is inside. But eventually, you’re going to take it out of the box. Lifelines are the gift itself.”

You see? That’s how smart people talk. In stories and anecdotes that explain complex concepts in the simplest ways. I did a little research into Poe’s time in school. In 2007, Ladipo Eso was on his department honours list with presentations that read like “Production of Biodiesel from Vegetable Oil by Transesterification through Continuous Enzymatic Reactor.” Yes. This very LadiPoe, who finished his masters immediately before returning to Lagos.

You get a sense that Poe is on the cusp of something big, and he deserves it. He’s put in work, gathering a string of sleeper hits, which raised his profile and built a fanbase populated by a wide spectrum of music listeners. On one end you’ll find the obnoxious rap nerds, who swear he can body anyone when he gets into his zone on ‘Double homicide’ and ‘Man Already.’ At the opposite end, sits the sappiest of romantics, riding his flows on love tunes like ‘Adore her’, and Showdem Camp’s ‘Feel alright.’ They draw life from his lifelines. But until 2020, none of it broke through to the pop mainstream.

None, except his latest release, ‘Know you’, which surprisingly became the soundtrack of Nigerian escapism in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The duet was written in 2017 with singer Simi as a collaborator, then kept on ice until the time felt right. Now, it’s tearing through the country. It’s cracked Nigeria’s pop charts, leading playlists, and inspiring a viral TikTok challenge.

“Why this one and not a previous song like say a ‘Jaiye’? I don’t know. And I don’t think it’s just the feature. The feature is amazing. I don’t know. I’ve never been the one to say ‘oh the stars align.’ It’s hard work,” LadiPoe explains, owning his win.

In that car, in front of his flat, the rain drizzles around us. Relaxed, we settle into a warm conversation about everything that led to this moment.

LadiPoe: Too Smart To "Just Rap"

How’s Covid-19 treating you?

To me, it’s been the way people think: ‘Oh man, you’re locked up, you’re writing mad bars or mad songs.’ I haven’t written that many songs. If anything, it’s just been clarity on how I want to approach things. For me, the lockdown has to be positive because we are not in a positive situation. I have to make my own little bubble positive. It’s just more figuring out how I want to approach things. I’ve had the mental space to line that up. So I think that’s where I’ve been the most creative. That’s where I’ve applied my creativity to really.

Does it help that you’re currently getting a lot of love?

I won’t lie, that’s always good. Joey, let me tell you something. What we do, this music thing is a massive risk. It’s a massive individual risk as well as a risk you take your family or whatever the case is. You’re a little bit crazy to do it. So it’s almost like when you see this kind of love, or response, it’s almost like ‘maybe I’m not as crazy as I thought.’ I’ve always known that there’s something there. But it’s good that other people see it too. That’s how it is. It’s almost like ‘naah nigga, you’re not that crazy.’

Is this the biggest love that you’ve received so far?

For a song? For a single song? Yes. I mean, there’ve been huge pockets of a huge outpouring of love when I did Ladipoe Live, every single time I get on stage. When I jumped in Abuja on Johnny Drille’s Live, the aftermath—at least in my own universe—it’s always very big. But this is now crossing into different people’s worlds. Everybody is noticing as well. It’s a good time and I’m fortunate that I’ve been working and the music has been consistently good. I’m proud of that. So the few people that would say ‘you know he’s dope, let me see what else’ and they are like ‘oh! That’s what I want.’

Why do you think this one is different?

I don’t think it’s as much as it’s different as it’s more about a situation where…It’s hard to put it as one thing. One thing doesn’t get more credit than the other. Because a lot of people feel it is timing. People are forced to listen. But it’s more about; this time is noisy, there’s a lot of things happening but you can only really listen and like the things you really like. The things you don’t really want around you would not be around you. There’s nothing to force them into your lives. Anything that you are paying attention to is because you’re actively placing it there. And I feel like ‘Know You’ is a great song. Just a really good song. Why this one and not a previous song like say a ‘Jaiye’? I don’t know. And I don’t think it’s just the feature. The feature is amazing. I don’t know. I’ve never been the one to say ‘oh the stars align.’ It’s hard work. The stars aligning is somebody to push those stars. But there’s so many things that came together for this to happen and I know that it’s not luck, it’s destiny. That’s how it has always been but good things take time.

You’ve been on the cusp of breaking through for a while.

This is probably one of the reasons that Talk About Poe’ took so long. I always felt that I’m a gifted rapper, but I need to be an artist. I need to be somebody that has a lot of substance. That’s why it took me so long because I need to figure out what my own kind of artistry is. What it is based on. I used to be the guy that is like, ‘yo the verse would be dope. If you feature Poe, his verse would be dope.’ But I needed to be the guy that his songs are amazing. I think it’s less about me. Personally, I think it’s more about the audience base. I feel like we’ve had to slowly cultivate the ear. Though I generally think that four, five years ago, the people that listened to popular music and people that listened to our sound was just imbalanced. Now, it feels like there are more people that fuck with our sound personally.

I just think, I know where I’m at, I know what it is about. I know where my artistry is. I’m confident in my artistry and I’ve been for a while now. But Jazzy always tells me, ‘it’s always one song. It’s always going to be one song—if you’re a lucky artist or a destined artist—that would allow you to be you, but would gain wide acceptance. That is not an easy duality. A lot of people have to twist and conform to something else for them to be recognised. This is me. This is lifelines. This is songwriting. I’m not just proud of it because of the rap, but because we sat down and wrote it, the lyrics, the hook.

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Did you write that sweet hook together?

Yes.

SEE ALSO: Ladipoe ft. Simi – Know You (prod. By Somi Jones)

When did this happen?

I wrote the song in the latter part of 2017. But I didn’t put it on Talk About Poe. I needed people to know who Poe was. And this is the standard. And then get more stuff like ‘Jaiye’. I think I recorded ‘Jaiye’ the same year I dropped Talk About Poe. I had ‘Jaiye’ but ‘Jaiye’ is not going to go on the album. You need to get Poe first before you can understand that this is versatility. Before you get confused as to which is Poe, which is not. Yeah, 2017 is when we wrote it but it took how many years?

In that time did you believe it was a good record?

We felt we had a song. We weren’t worried that this is a hit record, it was more like we have made an amazing song, and we’re both really excited about that. And you know, Simi doesn’t play. I respect Simi as an artist but as a person because even when I was dulling and slow on the song, she was like ‘bro give me the song if you don’t want to.’ And I always knew I wanted to use it. For me, it was just about the timing. Timing has always been either a blessing or a curse for me. And then before I dropped it, I went back to the studio with Ikon and did some things to it.

Have you been actively chasing pop music?

I like that question because I feel like it’s time to settle that concept. I think that way of thinking has placed a lot of artists, particularly rap artists, in this flux. This identity crisis. I feel like because they are wondering ‘what is pop? What is rap? What is hip-hop? What do I represent if I do this and do that?’ They stagnate or get confused or they don’t represent themselves well. That is a problem because it slows you down. You’re thinking too many things. Me, I want to make great songs. I have the capacity because of the influences. I listen to a lot of rap but I also listened to a lot of pop growing up. MTV was huge. Even when I was in Yankee, it was not just Lupe and Drake and Kendrick, it was freaking Vampire Weekend, it was MGMT, it was Postal Service. It was pop records. White boy records. My producer was a white kid who played the guitar. So how can I deny those influences because they say ‘Poe you’re a rapper, therefore you should be hip-hop?’ Not just even Niaja hip-hop, in fact Yankee. Or you’re too Yankee, Naija.

No, you’re not going to tell me anymore. I’m a writer. Imma write what I feel. So I co-wrote something amazing with Johnny Drille, why should I not? Because I’m a rapper? Really? Nah, that box is too small man.

Have you struggled with an identity?

For sure. Definitely.

Why do you think so?

Because I started rapping and a lot of people got introduced to me. For you, it was ‘Koyewon.’ Fo other people, it was SDC. And both of them are hip-hop-type tracks. So that was where you were going to be placed. It’s not like I’m even struggling to break out, I just know that there’s more. And then when I do the different types of records, I get the response that ‘ha, but this is not…’  mean, I did a song on the Collectiv3 called ‘Sexy Bitch’. If anybody listens to that song, I don’t know what it is but I know it’s not hip-hop. So to me, the identity crisis comes from realising you can do more but being afraid that it won’t be accepted. But I guess I don’t have it anymore because I know my job. My role is to create. Somebody else’s role would be to categorize. I can’t bother myself about that. But Joey, one thing that would be consistent is the lifelines. The sound will change. ‘Koyewon’ is different from ‘Adore Her’. ‘Adore Her’ is different from ‘Let Me Know’, ‘Let Me Know’ is different from ‘Jaiye’. I’ve never really released the same music twice or stuck to a sound. But the lifeline, the style of rap, the way I express myself will always be consistent. So I decided when I did “Talk About Poe” that I will anchor my sound to the way I speak, the way I rap. So my genre of music as far as I’m concerned is lifelines. So that’s my identity now. Artistry first.

LadiPoe: Too Smart To "Just Rap"

People once thought you weren’t serious due to a lack of releases.

I guess for everybody it’s different. I know that I didn’t really consider myself an artist until maybe like 2013, maybe 2014. Because it was ‘Feel Alright’ and ‘Adore Here’ that was like ‘maybe I should really try this thing.’ Before then, I could rap. And when I sat down to rap it would be dope. But I didn’t see myself crafting my life as an artist because I think that’s different. ‘Cause you’re taking this risky part of basing your life, your art and monetizing that aspect of yourself. I know what people are trying to say. The thing is that part of making music and making money here in Nigeria is about consistency. And it’s a single-based industry so you release consistent singles. But I’ve figured that I’m not really a singles artist. I’m a project-based artist. And it took me time to hit “Talk About Poe.” Truly, you’re right. And I do go quiet because I need time to decide. But I figured it out with “Talk About Poe” and since then, I would like to say, 2018 “Talk About Poe”, end of 2018, Ladipoe Live. Beginning of 2019, ‘Jaiye’, then after ‘Jaiye’, ‘Based on Kpa’, then after ‘Based on Kpa’, ‘Let Me Know’. In between that, the LOTR verse, I didn’t do a show in 2019 so I did Revival Sunday. At the beginning of 2019 before ‘Jaiye’, I did the ‘Triple Homicide’ challenge which as far as I’m concerned unearthed a number of rappers to me and showed what rap was really about in Nigeria. Went largely overlooked but it’s fine, we move. So since “Talk About Poe”, there really hasn’t been those gaps. I’m ready for you guys now. I’ve figured out where I stand now, what I represent. No slowing down now.

Why did Don Jazzy sign you, a rapper?

Why did Jazzy sign a rapper? I think a lot of fears were based on their perception of Jazzy and Mavin, less about me. Some of my core fans’ issues were with me. ‘Oh his music will change’. That was their major fear. The fan base was in shock. I don’t know. Mavin would be in the best position to answer why they signed a rapper but I can say why I signed to Mavin. I knew at that time I had been independent for a while and I wanted more eyes and ears. And I felt I’m already taking a massive risk with the style of music I make already in this industry. I am willing to take an extra risk by hedging my bets to get on a platform that’d bring more eyes and ears, but letting them see me for who I am. Mavin was also at a point where they really wanted to diversify their roster. They started to believe in sounds and brands beyond just what they are known to do. They really were looking for a rapper.

In a way, they took their own risk with somebody like me. I think Jazzy first heard ‘Koyewon,’ while running that on air. I think it’s even this station when Dotun was on air playing ‘Koyewon’. Jazzy then made moves to get in touch with me. That happens and eventually, we start to talk more and more. It took a while, maybe over the course of a year we’ve been back and forth. But to me I wanted a platform. Them, they wanted to diversify. And I felt, ‘look if you guys have the same hunger and see me going to where I feel like I can go, then we can do this. I’m not doing this unless I play my music for Jazzy.’ I sat down with Jazzy, Tega was in the room. I played ‘Voices’, I had ‘Voices’ then. First thing Tega says is ‘this is Grammy music. And then when he said that I was like ‘hmm, maybe you get where I see myself.’

I was working with Altims. Altims is like the ultimate teacher. When they want to give you a hard lesson teacher, the hardest, that was the person I was working with. Because he makes these complex strange beats and we were vibing. And the thing is that Jazzy walked in one day and is like ‘what are you guys making?’ And when he left the room he was telling Tega, ‘let’s pull the trigger on this guy.’ I felt like I was taking a risk, they were taking a risk, let me see what these guys are about.

Have they done anything to alter your sound?

I like that question. Do you know why I like that question? Because I feel like I don’t have to talk too long for the answer. People can find the answers on Spotify, Apple Music, Audiomack. Because Joey, as someone who appreciates music and analyses it from that perspective, I have hit them with Man already. Arguably very experimental. I did ‘Are You Down.’ I released a rap album on a pop label that as far as I’m concerned, sounds like me.

READ ALSO:  Ladipoe ft. Simi - Know You (Official Video)

Jazzy has never stepped into the studio and said ‘you’d change this bar or do that.’ Jazzy is someone that believes in the brand. Jazzy’s own desire is that people need to see this. How do people get to see this guy? And my desire for myself—because I know where my brand can go, the height whether I reach it or not—is mainstream eyes. And mainstream eyes doesn’t mean the niche people don’t see me too. Everybody sees, but niche artistry and artistry stays around lifeline. That’s the sweet spot. I think every artist is secretly on that whether they say it or not. But I feel like I can be that ambassador. The number one thing is that it looks great, it’s beautiful.

You keep saying lifelines. What are these lifelines?

For me, rap is not for punchlines. For me lifelines just have that depth. They leave you with something. Punchlines got you like ‘oh God!’ Lifelines are like ‘hmmm.’ I’m capable of both. I just tag mine lifelines because I just feel like it leaves you with something. You get a gift, somebody sends you something, you’re excited. The punchlines are the wrapping. It’s attractive, it’s dope. Your PS5 is inside. But eventually, you’re going to take it out of the box. Lifelines are the gift itself. It’s also the feeling you got when you heard it. It’s all those things. The punchline is the package man. It’s dope to have a punchline. But if I leave you with a line “More life and your circle is pure, in the life of an entrepreneur/ it’s hard work getting anything to grow without first getting used to the smell of manure.” It’s not the hardest punchline but people who work every day to build their brands key into that line. They know for people to key into my shit, the shitty shit I’ve had to do. They connect with it on a deeper level. So I sacrifice the fancifulness for the depth sometimes. Lifelines.

I think this is why a lot of people say Poe is an intelligent rapper. Are you intelligent?

For me, when they say it I’m like ‘ha eehh,’ because I feel like it’s a barrier. I feel like it’s great because it can be like a competitive advantage. But it is a barrier because, here in Nigeria, they don’t like when you talk too much. When you’ve explained and instead of using a word say ‘hungry’ and you use ‘famished’. I feel like it can be a barrier here sometimes. But I don’t think it’s intelligence more than it’s just clarity. When I rap you can hear what I’m saying. You can catch the lines, the words. And when you get it, it makes you feel good too that you got it. So I don’t know. I’m not dumb. I didn’t fail in school. I graduated with honours. But I don’t think that that’s something I intentionally say, ‘I need them to know I’m smart’. I’m fortunate that they think that.

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A lot of people say dumb shit is what works here. Do you agree with that?

I think to a certain extent I agree. I won’t say ‘dumb shit’ ‘cuase it might be like I’m looking down or anything. But like, ‘don’t be so serious all the time’. You don’t have to always be so serious, you can be fun. My lady is always telling me. She’s like ‘if people should see the side of you that I see, the one that’s always singing at random moments, doing silly dances, that kind of stuff, they’d be surprised. And the truth is; I guess I want to try to show that more in my music. My music is my journal. I don’t keep a journal, it’s probably the closest thing I have. If you want to know my personality, you should listen to my music. You’d get a sense. So like I should add that more. And I feel like that’s what they’re trying to say. Silly things connect with people more because everybody doesn’t just want to be serious all the time. Life is hard here. Life is about survival here.

How do you nurture your fanbase? Because you’d admit, it’s filled with a lot of hip-hip nerds.

Yeah, it is. It’s people that like rap, that like words. I think if you like words and lyrics, you’d fuck with my music. But if you feel like you want a traditional hip-hop sound, wrong place. I’d drop ‘Voices’ one day and the next day I’m dropping something else. So I like to believe that my fanbase is something that likes relatability. I feel like they hear something and they feel like that’s for them. But that thing you said is actually so key. I feel like my concept is your first mainstream is your fanbase. They love everything you do and they feel like everybody should know who you are. So talking to them is key. I feel closest to them when I perform live, especially with a band. That’s when I feel like I’m reaching people. It’s spiritual because you’re reaching them, but you’re also converting the unbelievers.

Joey, there are many unbelievers. They’re literally in the audience right there. They’re some but you’re going to convert them. And they don’t always clap but they are keying into your message. I feel like nurturing them is key, that’s why I did Revival Sunday. It’s because, how do I give the fans the music when I’m not doing a show?  So I’m always thinking about ways to connect with them. I want to do more. Maybe more meet-and-greets that are customized to my personality. Because I feel like they’ve been wanting to brag about me for so long, I need to give them reasons to energize them. I see people like Russ, I see people like Jon Bellion who are not necessarily mainstream yet but they are fueled by an active frenzied fanbase that loves their shit. And when Jon Bellion does a show, it’s an absolute madness. I really admire that guy though because he’s not just making his music but he’s writing for other people. I like that duality, and I feel like I can explore that myself. But fanbase is key and nurture is the right word.

LadiPoe: Too Smart To "Just Rap"

You write for a lot more people?

I don’t really write for a lot of people. Usually just people I’m very close with. And not write for, write with. I might work with Funbi on a song, but it’s not my song. Because we have that relationship, we have that trust and that openness. Johnny Drille, we’ve worked together on a couple of songs that are not my songs. And these are people that would do it for me if I needed assistance. But I’m enjoying that side of myself more. I’ve worked with Dyo, and Dyo has also worked with me, helping me with some stuff. That’s a side that’s there and needs to be nurtured as well. Songwriting.

Do you think you’re smarter than music?

I won’t say smarter than music. I feel just like any human being, there are more sides to myself that are worth exploring. There’s an attraction to what goes on behind the scenes of music that I like. I don’t know what ways I want to apply myself to the business side of things. But I’m attracted to it. I’m attracted to strategizing, to figuring out how to make something work and connecting with people. Aesthetics, having them where they should be. There’s something there I want to tap into. And doing voice overs, I love animated shit, I ain’t even going to front. I do. That’s a side of myself I want to explore. So I wouldn’t say smarter than music, it’s just that when you get to that point in your life, you explore as much of yourself as possible. And not limit yourself to one thing. That’s the danger of success. People who hit big songs, it’s like a cage. You want to do it again and you want to do it by the same formula. That’s scary.

“Talk About Poe”. Interesting project. How long did it take for that to happen?

Close to a year. Actually, let me be honest, like two to three. Only because some songs like ‘Voices,’ I had that for a little while. We just had to get the production to where we wanted it. But I wonder how some people love it, some people are lukewarm to it, that kind of thing. But to me, I needed that project to happen because I needed to show them early on that you would not get straight hip-hop from me. Because my concept of hip-hop is different from what you’d expect. Hip-hop is just one sound and I’m now a Nigerian man, with all these melodies that we grew up with. All these things buzzing in our minds. Then we’d now be doing American-type hip-hop in our music. I think that’s just madness personally.

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I had to explore all the sounds. I needed “Talk About Poe” to show the ones that are closest with this R&B sound, the ‘Falling’ which is also another Jamaican dancehall influence. ‘Voice’ which is definitely hip-hop, to ‘Revival’ to ‘Hello Goodbye’ which has this afro-chill vibe to it. And then a lot of musicality. To me, I love the musicality of that. They needed to just see and hear that. Talk About Poe was just an introduction. You needed to experience that to appreciate Poe.

Do you think it did what you wanted it to?

I think so. I did ‘Falling’ with Tems. I feel like they expected it to have the tone of ‘Double Homicide’ on every single track. I get it. Especially the rap scene. They want a rapper that is just ‘baba just rap. Don’t want more for yourself. Please just rap for us.’

Is that selfish?

There’s an artist that’d be about that, and he’d generate a fanbase because he’s a pure hip-hop rapper. But who wears the same clothes every day? I’m not ashamed to be an artist. I’m not afraid to show different sides of my music. And I get it. But they should understand, we are in a world of playlisting. You’d be lucky if anybody listens to your album, they are picking songs that they like. And I want the fans to be more open to that. To be more open to artistry. To understand it and respect it. I know that when you’re going to a show and the person is not letting you sing their whole song and actually performing for you, that’s a dope thing. Enjoy what’s happening with the space, with the artist.

Joey, the artist will always evolve faster than the fans. An artist is fortunate if his fans keep up with him. Kanye stunned everybody with “808s and Heartbreaks”. Some people hated it but yo, he had to move. He was not going to do another “College Dropout” or “Late Registration”. And if they forced him to, he would never have made music again.

 What do you think of all the ways tech has altered music? 

I really hope that the artist-fan intimacy, or how a person feels when they listen to a song they really like. I hope that that’s maintained. I hope it’s not a situation where I can only enjoy a song ’cause it’s TikTok relevant. I love those things. I think that they’re cool. I think it’s a good way to interact. But at the same time, I don’t want to lose that whole feeling where you hear a song and it hits your emotions.

I remember the first time I heard ‘Pree Me’, by Burna Boy and Leriq. I don’t want to lose that to an app. It’s gotta be me and my headphones. So I really hope that that doesn’t change. I can’t reverse it. There’s no going backwards. But I just think it’s how artists curate their experiences. As much as we are doing TikTok challenges right now, I know when I’m doing a show and I perform ‘Know You’ there’s a way that I’d ensure you experience that record. I might play it and jam it the way it is, and then halfway we cut everything and it’s just the guitar and the freaking keys.

And the way I rap it, you’d feel it. I have to curate the experience so you’d leave with like ‘I was at something’. You can’t get that on an app. So I think that’s the only thing I can do myself, personally. But you’re right. It’s on what an artist feels. If it’s just unbridled popularity that you need, the way is there for you. That’s good. I need that. Don’t get me wrong ’cause the bag. That’s the bag in there. But nah man, let’s create these relationships and let’s create these experiences as well. That’s what keeps you relevant for a long time.

You were signed in 2017. What was the difference you noticed after being signed?

Nobody is asking me for free shows, straight up. When you’re independent, it’s easier for them to say ‘the exposure, you need it’. That kind of stuff. Then you too, you leverage exposure as the reason why you should do something as opposed to getting paid an honorarium, or getting paid an actual performance fee. It’s easier. But when you’re on a label, there’s a barrier. I also realise that if you don’t have that inner work ethic and drive, being on a label doesn’t change a thing. I walked in and I saw how hard Tiwa Savage was working. How often she came to the studio, how long she spent trying to get it right. I thought people’d be running around saying ‘Poe this is when your session is meant to be, I think you should work with this producer’. Nah. So I think that really opened my eyes that ‘oh, I still have a lot of work to do.’ But at the same time, I was happy that I had that independent artist mentality that used to write my own bio and stuff. I haven’t really let go.

The cycle is funny. Now I’m at that point where they are asking me to let go. Just let people handle this for you. We need your mind open and free. So I think the two biggest things are those things. The work ethic thing and how the things I learnt in school when it comes to marketing, business and strategy. It’s not just about artistry, it’s a business.

How are you connecting with people and how are you getting paid? Because getting paid is not just about your life and balling, but that’s what keeps you doing this. I had to think about that in a real way. Not in a passive way anymore. That’s huge for me. People think that because you’re dope, you don’t care about money. You are mad. Very mad. That’s the reason why I put that line in ‘Voices’. “The plot is to buy acres, tell your CEO when he’s ready to fuck with Poe, he should call me on the phone ’cause I’m ready to sign papers.” It is about money as well. Very much so. Just as much as it’s about the artistry because I know my value. So you have to learn your value quickly when you join the label.

What did you study?

Biology and Chemistry. I wanted to be a doctor. But I think it’s because I was just good at Biology in secondary school. So I just kind of segued into that. I was great at that too, College. But I worked in an hospital for a brief time and I realised I can’t commit my life to this. This is not where my life calling is at all. I also got an MBA.

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In the end of it, how does this all make sense for Poe? All of this?

Ever since the Leader of the Revival title came about, even before then I’ve had the idea but it’s like that kind of congealed it. It’s just thatI know that it’s global stages that I want to be a part of. I want to raise my profile  where I can be involved in certain conversations that are larger and would allow me to be an ambassador of the artistry that I represent. The industry I represent. The country I represent. I know that when I shook the hand of President Sirleaf, the former president [Liberia] , it wasn’t because I went to a school down the road in D.C. It’s not because I graduated from there. It’s because I came there to perform and she liked it and she engaged with it and she came to say hi. So I know the impactfulness of who I am as well as the music I’m making. So I want to put myself in these positions. So Poe, Ladipoe, there’s a big trajectory and goal as an ambassador of all of this, and I know that I have to go through all the stages. And you know what is interesting Joey is that I’m grateful for number one on Apple Music even though that’s one platform.  For what I represent, for the music I make, the type of artists I represent, number four, number six, number three, number seven would never be good enough. It had to be one. They had to see that this kind of music and this kind of artist can hit this height. Any other number would have been not good enough for our alternative sound. That’s what I generally believe.

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