NATIVE Exclusive: Nissi Ogulu has a lot to say, and you’re going to listen.

“The best is what you should be aiming for at all times, because that is your capability”

“The best is what you should be aiming for at all times, because that is your capability” 

Nissi is gearing up to the release of her aptly titled project, Ignite, whilst in isolation away from her family in London. Whilst her whole family is together in Lagos, Nissi got stuck in London just before the lockdown, and is missing home and her family immensely. While some of us are stuck with parents at home against our preferred wishes, however if your family consisted of Burna Boy, Mama Burna and the super stylish Ronami, you would be upset if you were alone anf away from them whilst in the middle of a global pandemic. Coming from an immensely talented family, Nissi’s talent both sonically and visually is innate, and as a result has always harnessed her creative abilities. She tells me that since she was a young girl, she’s had a grand vision of what she wants her talents to be used for, and her dreams are slowly becoming a regular reality for her.

There’s a popular saying that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and looking at Nissi’s both nuclear and extended family, the saying can’t be any more true. Her older brother, Burna Boy, the African Giant has taken great strides in the past year, and left big shoes for anyone to fill, however, Nissi isn’t even trying to. Before Buju was signed to On A Spaceship Ent, Nissi was the only artist under the label imprint, which she calls their family’s dynasty. When I ask whether she feels any pressure from her family, she explains matter-of-factly: 

“My family has always been supportive with my creativity. We all have our journeys with our own different creative processes, talents and expressions. My dad supports and helps me with my product design, but my mum and my grandad are key in the music. My grandad showed me the ropes in terms of performing my music and actually expressing what I have to say in a song, rather than just singing it bluntly.”

The talented singer/songwriter is looking forward to introducing herself and her sound to the world, and our brief conversation over the phone told me everything I need to know about her and her music. The 7-track project aims to be the spark that ignites the fire within Nissi, housing tracks which she recorded over the past two years. She has a lot to say, and won’t hold back. No matter who you are or where you’re from intentional lyrics and delivery will command your attention, and ensure that you’re listening. You’ll get the sense of this from some of her pre-released singles from 2016’s “Pay Attention” or the recently released “Judi”, which were all aimed to introduce the talent Nissi houses within her. 

“This is my first body of work and I see it as an appetiser. People are just getting a taste of what Nissi is or what she has to offer. Everything I release is just me peeling back the layers of the onion, and I know if you’re listening to this project it’s definitely for me, not anybody else.” 

The layers of this onion have been forming for a long time. She fondly recalls sneaking around in Corona School, Agbara with her best friend to form a rap group – where she went by Nizzle – to vibing at Sunday Service at Royal High, Bath. 

This brings to mind her 2016 single, “Pay Attention”, which could have very easily been released today. Singing xxx, Nissi confronts society’s ills and speaks about the ways we need all need to be more mindful and pay attention to what’s going on around us if we want to effect any change. This is what her music embodies, and her project serves as her stepping stone to spreading this message. It’s very important that her music adds value, because in her own words, what’s the point of having a voice if you’re not going to use it to effect change? 

Music has long been used as a tool of expression, which benefits both the artist and the listeners. The best kind of music is the sounds you can feel, and Nissi ensures to pour as much of herself into the songs to make anyone similar to her feel what she’s saying. 

I’m very empathetic by nature and I take inspiration from everything around me. I always try to express it in a way that I know other people can relate to. So for me, it goes way beyond just the two or 3 minutes or the gbedu bursting your brain”. It’s very rare to find such a young artist in the game be so sure of themselves and what they want their music to sound like, and when you think about it, it shouldn’t come as such a shock that this is the case with Nissi. She tells me that having her mother’s support is a key player in how much confidence she has in herself. Watching her mother’

“The real skill is being able to say something that people can understand and enjoy easily. It helps when you constantly utilise music as a means to say something, whether it’s to yourself or to someone else.