NATIVE Exclusive: PsychoYP Continues His March Towards Rap Dominance With ‘YPSZN3’
"I’m on my Jay-Z shit."
"I’m on my Jay-Z shit."
PsychoYP is one of Nigeria’s finest rappers. At age of 18, the Abuja-bred act started his career with 2016’s EP ‘Lost In The Sauce,’ showcasing a polished skill set of over Trap-flavoured beats that earned him a cult following. With 2018’s ‘YPSZN,’ the rapper, born Nicholas Ihua-Maduenyi, proved he was no fluke; he followed up that project with its sequel ‘YPSZN2,’ inviting heavy-hitters such as LADIPOE, Blaqbonez, BOJ and earning a nomination in the Best Rap Album category at the 2020 Headies. Last month, PsychoYP released ‘YPSZN3,’ which saw him dig deeper into his style, embellishing the tracks with musing about everyday life situations, whether concerning love or the Nigerian condition.
“To be honest, I just enjoy being in the studio,” PsychoYP explains to the NATIVE about his consistency with putting out projects and maintaining sonic quality. “From that first project [‘Lost In The Sauce’] till now, I learnt to engineer my stuff myself. I don’t even need nobody else in the studio.”
‘YPSZN3’ finds PsychoYP returning to work with music producers from ‘YPSZN’ and ‘YPSZN2’—Jaylon and Johnson IP—as well newcomers to the series: Jiggy YB, Likkle Dotz OTB, Malik Bawa, Princeton, Ramoni, R-Jay, Sphero Beatz, Tatchy, THK and Thrill Max. It features guest appearances from KiiWii, Swift, Odumodublvck, Alpha P, Azanti, Jeriq, Ycee, Zlatan and Barry Jhay, among others.
“There are some songs from 2019 [and] there are songs from 2020,” PsychoYP says about the process of recording the project. “But yeah, it’s just a compilation of some of my best work. So when I’m ready for [the] album, you will know I sat down somewhere to do this album. But these are like mixtapes, just crazy stuff that I do because I do record a lot.”
Throughout ‘YPSZN3,’ PsychoYP hops from Trap, Grime, Drill, Afropop to R&B, laying the songs with lyrical dexterity, infectious multi-layered flow and creative sensibilities. On the James Brown sampling “Drop That Shit,” he, KiiWii and Swift drop braggadocios lines; on “Bando Diaries,” he acquires an excellent verse from Odumodublvck; he pushes past his comfort zone on the Amapiano-influenced “Stronger” with Zlatan; on “My Country People, Haffa?” he, Jeriq and Reeplay tackle the Nigerian situation on “Commitment Issues,” he addresses his aversion to romance. PsychoYP’s favourite songs of the project include “Silent Mode,” “Relax,” “Put in Stone,” “Dangerous World” and “Scandalous.”
On his choice of features, PsychoYP states that it is all a matter of what the track demands. “I feel like sometimes when I record a song, I just finish it myself but sometimes I actually leave space just because I feel [the song] needs somebody,” he says. “I’d listen to the track a couple [of] times and know who exactly it needs. [And] most of these people are my people. I don’t really go far in thinking about who I need on a record. I just give it to one of my guys who I know can kill it. That’s how it works. Swift from Section Boyz on ‘Drop That Shit,’ I think he followed me back on one random day and he fucked with ‘Bando Diaries.’ And I was like, “Bro, let’s do some shit.” And I sent him two songs. He picked one and he sent back the verse immediately. It was crazy.
“And Jeriq. Me and Jeriq had ‘My Country People, Howfa?’ [It] was actually meant for me and Jeriq’s project but I just had to take it and put it on this [‘YPSZN3’] to tease niggas a bit for that project. And Barry Jhay as well. Barry Jhay just hit me up one random day on Instagram. I was like, “Bro, we have to work, man” but he’s not trying to work on any Nigerian stuff or any…he doesn’t want to speak Yoruba. I sent him the [track] and he was like, he fucks with it. He sent back his verse immediately.”
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‘YPSZN3’ was recorded across Lagos, Abuja, London, Birmingham and Manchester. In some cases, PsychoYP and the producers never met in the studio to record the project; instead, they shared beats online and turned them into hit songs from different locations. “Most of my producers like Malik Bawa, Johnson IP [and] Jaylon, all them guys. I started with them,” PsychoYP says. “These are people that they weren’t producing like this before. They were making good music and I could hear that so I took all these niggas and put them in a group chat and just told them to start working with themselves. And all of them just levelled up, bro.
“So these are still the same people I work with. The only new people I started working with on this project are Sphero Beatz and R-Jay. These are people in England but they fuck with my sound so much they send like 200 beats, bro. R-Jay sends like packs of beats every month.”
In August, PsychoYP was billed as a performing artist on Rema’s North American tour for ‘Rave & Roses,’ traversing from Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, Silver Spring to New York. PsychoYP described those moments as “lit” and “crazy,” as he was happy to be in a country where his craft was valued and recognised as an art form. “Big shout out to Rema,” he adds.
PsychoYP belongs to Apex Village, the Abuja-based hip-hop collective and label that he heads. In 2019, he and his close-knit circle of friends and collaborators—Zilla Oaks, Ayüü, Kuddi is Dead, Marv OTM and Pablo Herbs—released their first project ‘Welcome to the Ville,’ which served as the group’s official introduction. “Apex Village is a collective of some of the most talented people I know. They’ve all made a lot of things so easy for me and I can only do the same for them,” PsychoYP told OkayAfrica. “It’s one thing to just be in a group of talented people and it’s another thing to be in a group of talented people where everyone can feed off everyone’s energy and give it back 100% in everything we do. I know there’s a lot of people who’d love to be in a setting like this.”
In 2020, Apex Village signed Nigerian singer Azanti; that year, Azanti and PsychoYP put out ‘YP & Azanti, Vol. 1,’ adding to the numerous collaborative projects under PsychoYP’s belt. “Firstly, it’s me giving someone the platform I know that they deserve,” PsychoYP says of his knack for collaboration. “And then if I fuck with someone that much to make that many songs with the person to the point that we have a project, that means that project might probably just drop. I just fuck with the fact that me and someone can churn out music quickly because I make music quickly.”
In recent years, conversations have risen about the state of Hip-Hop music in Nigeria, compared to the buoyance of the dominating Afrobeats genre. In Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, a certain group of artists, to which PsychoYP belongs, have been responsible for injecting freshness into the country’s Rap scene with their brand of Drill music. PsychoYP is sure of his place in the conversations, saying that he believes Rap music can reclaim its glory days of nationwide appeal.
“That’s why I’m working this hard,” he says. “Wherever I take it [Hip Hop] to, that’s what is going to be. It’s not like some selfish P but I’m carrying niggas and putting niggas on and doing what niggas are supposed to be doing but they are not doing.” He adds that “it [Hip Hop] won’t be bigger than Afrobeats but it will be up there.”
PsychoYP has quietened talks that ‘YPSZN3’ is the final instalment of the series. “There’s still going to be ‘YPSZN4.’ But you’re going to get an album before ‘YPSZN4,’” he says. The series, which holds a special place in PsychoYP’s heart, is definitive of his journey as an artist. “It’s like my diary where you make so much music and, you know, you gotta just put out some shit and it’s not some random shit. And you are really rapping on some real shit,” he says. “And this is how I believe artists keep their own diaries. There are songs I wish were on the project but it’s a diary, you just have to know how you are compiling it and how you are putting it out and how you want people to receive it.”
While the countdown to his album begins, PsychoYP outlines some of his plans for the future. “[There are] a couple of videos from the project [‘YPSZN3’],” he says, “I have another artist I’m bringing out. [I’m also] doing a lot of business shit. I’m on my Jay-Z shit.”
Stream ‘YPSZN3’ below.
Featured image credits/NATIVE