NATIVE Exclusive: Daisy is Nigerian rap’s latest Fire Cracker
A bonafide rhyme-slayer
A bonafide rhyme-slayer
Rap music in Nigeria is dominated by men, but it would be disingenuous not to pay attention to the increasing number of women forging their own path where it can be several times harder for female rappers to thrive. Rapping in a mix of Igbo and pidgin English, Daisy is a Nigerian mcee operating within this flawed framework. “…that it didn’t work for them does not mean it’s not going to work for me,” she confidently tells me when we talk about the sparse lineage of successful female indigenous rap artists.
Her words, which could be easily mistaken for arrogance, become powerful when they are traced back to her life before fame. Born in Anambra State, Daisy, whose real name is Anurika Happiness Mgbodim has always had an independent spirit. After high school, she left home and went to find work in Onitsha, the big, popular city known for its commercial activities.
Egged on by what she calls a “hustler’s mindset,” she soon moved to Guinea-Bissau for work. Somewhere between all these, she took a passionate shine to Rap music and held onto her dreams of being a rapper, stealing time between her shifts to write freestyles, lyrics and record songs even when the path to her rap dreams weren’t clear cut.
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That doggedness and never-say-never attitude is what permeates her music currently. She discharges her lines in gung-ho fashion, shooting one fiery bar after the other. Recently signed to Dreamspace Entertainment, she caught her first bouts of wider attention with her official debut single “Straight Ahead,” then her feature on DJ Jimmy Jatt’s Jimmy’s Jump Off and viral, two-time showcase on Slimcase’s Instagram Live freestyle sessions. It became abundantly clear that she’s a walking rhyme slayer. But you’d be wrong to think raw lyricism is all she has to offer; Daisy is actually a budding rap artist sharpening her edges and polishing her song-making skill-set, one release at a time.
Daisy’s debut EP, ‘Fire Cracker’ was recently released and it is defined by both her well-honed abilities as a rapper and an artist willing to experiment. Across the nine-track project, she doesn’t confine herself to one style; instead, she flows from Hip-Hop to R&B and Pop, while maintaining the originality of her streetwise Igbo lines. It’s the work of an artist confident in her current abilities, but also focused on increasing her appeal as part of the long game. With her confidence and self-assuredness, it’s really hard not to buy into her confidence.
Following the release of her EP, we caught up with Daisy to talk about her influences, the new project and the future of Rap music in Nigeria.
Our conversation with Daisy has been slightly edited for clarity, and it follows below.
NATIVE: What was your upbringing like?
Daisy: Growing up was fun. I grew up in my hometown Okija [in Anambra State]. I come from a family of four – three girls and one boy, who is the last child. I’m the third child of my parents.
One interesting thing about that time was that I was born with dreads. I can’t remember when my mom cut the dreads but then growing up with dreads made people stay far from me. I didn’t have many friends while growing up, mostly male friends, because people had this mindset that anybody born with dreads had [or was possessed with] water spirits. In a way, [people’s behavior] affected me; I was mostly on my own because of the energy I was getting from people. But over time, I started mixing with people. I later moved to Onitsha where I started working. And that was also where I started music professionally.
NATIVE: At Onitsha, what job were you doing there?
Daisy: I was working in a pure water company. That was my first job. I stayed in Onitsha for two to three years. I grew up with a hustler’s mindset and didn’t come from a rich family. Later, I worked in a lotto company before I left for Guinea-Bissau.
NATIVE: How was your experience of Guinea-Bissau?
Daisy: I spent three years there. I went there in search of a better life. Over there, the people are welcoming. They love to have a good time and vibe to Nigerian music. They enjoy life to the fullest. I was recording and collaborating with the artists there and sending my songs over to Nigerian sound engineers for mixing and mastering. I still have people over there that I chat with who are still my good friends. I’m also making plans to have one or two shows there.
NATIVE: At what point did you realise you could rap?
Daisy: It was when I was in high school. SSS2, if I’m not making a mistake. I used to freestyle with my friends. But our beat during that time was just the school desks. [Other students] would just be hitting the desks for me and then I’d be vibing. But before then, I was just writing down thoughts. I liked writing stories. I listened to gospel, hip-hop and ogene music. After [freestyling with friends in school], I moved to Onitsha and then I had some friends who were then into music. A friend of mine took me into the studio; he was like, “You can actually do better with all these things you are doing as freestyles.” So that was where I started.
NATIVE: You are signed to Dreamspace Entertainment. What was the process that led to you being signed?
Daisy: Last year, I joined Obyno Daddy Muna’s Igbo Rap Challenge. He just searched for rappers and he gave us a hint of what we were going to talk about. And I did my freestyle; it was just raw. That was during the #EndSARS protests. He reposted the freestyle and I came third. That was where my label boss saw the video and he contacted Obyno. They were actually friends, already. They started talking about me and Obyno recommended that if he would like to work with me, it is a good idea. So my boss chatted me up. That was how I got signed.
NATIVE: Between the period of freestyling and being signed, how did your family take your decision of pursuing music as a career?
Daisy: It wasn’t easy, especially with my mom. My mom doesn’t like secular music. She is a hardcore Christian. Her mindset was that she just wanted a cool, calm girl but I’m not really like that. She was my problem then. It got to a point that I had to stop. But I can’t quit so I kept on trying to convince her, especially with the help of my elder sister who has always supported me.
Also, I used to play football, too. But I stopped because my mom didn’t like that and also because of the [negative] way people saw female footballers. But I continued with the music. I thank God my mom later started supporting me. She is one of my biggest fans at the moment. She prays for me and her words motivate me. So I don’t have any issues with my family, they are supporting me.
NATIVE: What will you say is the biggest difference between being unsigned and being a signed artist?
Daisy: [At first,] I was seeing music as fun. I was just having fun before. I wasn’t looking at the business part of it. I knew there was something like that but to get into it or to build up a team to work with. I didn’t have any connection. I was just doing my thing, dropping freestyles. [At a point,] I got tired of freestyles because although people were supporting me, I wanted more. And I knew that I wasn’t financially buoyant to support myself. In terms of promotions, building my team, rebranding, getting connected to the right people in the industry and then knowing the business part of it too, [getting signed] has helped me a lot. It changed my mindset.
NATIVE: Major Bangz, who’s a renowned producer in Nigerian hip-hop, produced your first single “Straight Ahead,” and he produced some songs on ‘Fire Cracker’. How did this working relationship start, and what has been your experience working with him so far?
Daisy: Working with Major Bangz so far is a dream come true. I have been listening to songs produced by Major Bangz right from when I was a kid, especially Phyno’s songs. I am a big fan of Phyno. I was dreaming of seeing Major Bangz one day but it happened so fast because the person I had in mind working with at first was Benjamz. But while trying to contact Benjamz, I don’t even know how it went with my team, I changed my mind. I said, “Let’s go for Major Bangz.”
And Major Bangz did one beat and sent it to them [my team] before I even met him. [On that beat], I recorded “Firecracker” before “Straight Ahead.” We were trying to drop “Firecracker” and then I recorded “Straight Ahead,” so we just decided to drop “Straight Ahead.” I met Major Bangz for the first time when I recorded “Firecracker.” The vibe was just there, [it was] like we have been working for a long time. And he is one of the biggest inspirations behind the Fire Cracker EP. I [co-wrote] some songs on the project with him. Working with him so far, I have learnt a lot of lessons that have helped me build myself in areas I was lacking.
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NATIVE: Your freestyles on Slimcase’s Instagram show went viral. You have appeared in DJ Jimmy Jatt’s Jimmy’s Jump Off. What do these co-signs and acceptances from these names mean to you?
Daisy: [Appearing on] both Jimmy Jatt and Slimcase’s shows were my starting point professionally this year. And it helped me a lot because I remember when my followers on Instagram was about 2500 before appearing on their shows. I went for Jimmy’s Jump Off and that was where Slimcase saw the video. He contacted Jimmy Jatt and asked about me and Jimmy recommended that I should be on his show too because I am good. Slimcase contacted me on Instagram. That was where we started before I appeared on his show twice. Both Jimmy Jatt and Slimcase have been good [to me] and working with them was the biggest thing that happened to me since I started music.
NATIVE: On your debut EP, you displayed your talent and versatility: you balanced your characteristic rapid-fire bars with mellow love songs. How long did it take you to work on the project and what was the process like?
Daisy: We started working on Fire Cracker EP last year after the #EndSARS protests. I recorded “Firecracker” first, on a beat I bought online but I didn’t put a chorus. My boss suggested that I should get a good chorus for the song. So I left that one and we went for Major Bangz’s beat. The second song I recorded was “Never Quit.” The rest was recorded in Nigeria with Major Bangz because I wasn’t in the country at the time. Recording the project took about eight months. And the process was fun, but also not that fun because, at the end of the day, you have to deliver well. We recorded up to 20 songs before we started selecting the ones that made it into the EP.
NATIVE: You say it was fun but wasn’t fun, what was the challenge you faced?
Daisy: If I go with my vibe, I’d be doing hardcore songs only. I know that is good [because] it is not easy seeing a female rapper vibing hard these days. But at some point, I started thinking about another thing apart from hardcore songs. I was thinking, Maybe people might get tired of one vibe all the time. And Major said, “Yeah, you are right.” So that was when we started creating “Lemon and Juice,” “No See Road” and the rest of them. The hardcore tracks on the EP are just two. I didn’t want to focus my energy there.
[Also], most of the freestyles I have been dropping online are all hardcore rap. And people know me with these hardcore songs. People don’t believe I’d come out with a good love song. I have written love songs for some people but I don’t focus on recording love songs. So “Lemon and Juice” is the first love song I have recorded.
NATIVE: What inspires your music?
Daisy: It depends on what I want to talk about. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Maybe, now we are talking, you might say something and I’d pick it up from there [and] then find the ingredients and make up a good song. The environment I have been in, the people I grew up with, even my life also inspires me. And I love staying around old people. I love proverbs. All those good lines inspire me a lot.
NATIVE: Are there artists that inspire you?
Daisy: A lot of them. The likes of M.I Abaga, Vector, DAX, Phyno, Flavour, Cynthia Morgan. A lot of them.
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NATIVE: You are a female rapper in a space that is usually male-dominated. How has your experience been so far in the industry, any challenges?
Daisy: Everybody has their own story and what works for them. I do listen to Hip-Hop a lot, right from when I was a kid. And those [rappers] that have been there, that it didn’t work for them does not mean it’s not going to work for me. When you do something and you remain consistent and keep the image one hundred, just pray that people receive your sound and then appreciate it. And keep it steady, not just [that] you release today and tomorrow nobody will hear from you. And I don’t like doing something that people are used to already. I have been dropping hardcore songs and then this EP came with a love song. Nobody knows; maybe tomorrow I’ll put out another one that will shock people. So that’s the music thing for you. It’s not like I’m perfect, but the important thing is being consistent with everything you are doing.
NATIVE: What has the reception been for your EP?
Daisy: The feedback has been great so far. I do go to the comments section on Audiomack, Boomplay and other streaming platforms. I think we are doing well for now.
NATIVE: What should fans expect next from you — an album, another EP or more singles?
Daisy: First, I want to go to the east and do a tour. I [plan to] release at least three videos from the EP and I’m preparing to drop another single, maybe in December or January.
NATIVE: In the nearest future, where do you see yourself in the Nigerian music landscape?
Daisy: In the next one or two years, I should be balling. I just pray for more power, the right team, and the right people to connect me to the right people. That’s it. And also to keep the image one hundred and be consistent.
Listen to Daisy’s ‘Fire Cracker’ here.