PsychoYP Finds Home Away From Home on ‘Osapa London’
Written by ABR on 13/09/2023
Hip-hop in Nigeria has gone through many phases. From the earliest days of trailblazers like Eedris Abdulkareem and Ruggedman, who used their thought provoking lyrics as ammunition to challenge social issues and relay the common Nigerian experience to the modern legends like M.I, Reminisce, Ice Prince, Naeto C and more, who fanned the flames of Nigerian hip-hop in the late 2000s and the 2010s.
The efforts of the pioneers created a culture that exists independent of Afrobeats which is more prominent in the mainstream, and still maintains a heavy influence across the country. In the northern city of Abuja, 25-year-old PsychoYP has steadily established himself as a leader of the new school of rap from Nigeria, flying the flag high for young dreamers in a city that was previously only an afterthought in music conversations.
PsychoYP came onto the Nigerian scene with 2018’s YPSZN, a 15-song statement of arrival into Nigerian hip-hop. In it, he debuted what is now his signature style of a tempered, consistent cadence, flavored with incisive punchlines especially relatable to young people. Its sequel YPSZN2 came in 2019, and last year, YP successfully completed the trilogy with YPSZN3 which affixed him in the court of contemporary Nigerian hip-hop.
His July-released project, Osapa London, represents finding home and community in an unfamiliar city. The project came to life by virtue of his time in a part of Lagos where he could connect with friends, family, and colleagues.
The last time we spoke with PsychoYP, he was in a personal space of reinvention and experimentation. These days, added certainty in himself and his sound allows him to focus on developing Apex Village, his collective of artists and creators, which is home to Azanti and Uloko. This time around, he tells us about balancing roles as an artist and as a music executive, how Osapa London came to be, and what it would take for hip-hop to be perched high on Nigerian charts again.
PsychoYP & Ajebo Hustlers – Not My Fault (Official Visualizer)
Since the last time you spoke with us, what has changed the most for you?
I feel like the last time we spoke I was keen on trying to experiment on the music, trying to discover my sound, and get it fine-tuned to the perfect point. Now I’m more in a headspace of trying to build the collective in a sense of focusing more on artists within the collective, Uloko, Azanti, just trying to make sure there’s this structure that is still standing strong for all these artists to have support. Now I’m thinking more in general than thinking of just myself.
How are you finding it, striking that balance?
It’s very hectic, I hardly have time for myself but I enjoy seeing the collective grow, and guiding the younger artists in their direction. Sometimes people have doubts or are going through things, but it’s good to know I have these two people in the collective getting the right guidance, from the right team, and still have access to create what they want to create and do what they want to do.
Coming to your latest project, does the place Osapa London hold a specific significance to you?
Yeah it definitely does, it gave me a homely vibe in Lagos, being here with my cousin and my friends and a lot of artist friends I have as well, being able to just make music here, it kind of felt like Abuja in a way cause all of my friends live in the same area in Abuja and we all do similar stuff. Being able to record this project here as well, very beautiful. It makes me feel like I could stay in this kind of environment in Lagos.
Can you speak a bit about where your head was at as the project came to life?
At the time I was a Kind Perryy’s side recording the project, also going to Zanku’s (Zlatan) side a lot, Odumodublvck had come through, Piego from Ajebo Hustlers had come through as well, and we had some sessions, and then when I’d got back to Abuja I found that I had this whole EP ready to go. It was a good feeling for me. The features were something that just kinda happened.
PsychoYP.Image courtesy of the artist.
One thing I also noticed is that you have a consistent art direction with your covers, how much does that visual aspect play a part in your releases?
It plays a big part in my drops because it’s one of the things that takes time to actually come to life, because it has to be a solid representation. Most times it’s ideas that come out of me and Bidemi Tata’s head, and in the whole process of changing, we just know that one day it’s gonna click. Whenever I’m thinking of doing a project, there’s always a concept for the cover, I like it, and I want to keep going with that flow to be honest.
“Not My Fault” with Ajebo Hustlers is a project standout, what went into creating that song?
I was at King Perryy’s house recording, and Piego pulled up. I was like brazy let’s do something, so my producer cooked up this beat, we started vibing, I start the record, Perry hops on it, Piego hops on it, and it was done quickly. So at this point it was me, King Perryy and Piego, Knowledge wasn’t at that session.
So I’m putting the album together, and at a point my manager was like why don’t you try to get Knowledge on the record so it’s a proper Ajebo Hustlers link up, and at the same time Perryy tells me he wants to re-record a part of his verse that he freestyled, then we just decided to take that off and keep his verse on “Stand Attention” and then get the verse to complete the Ajebo Hustlers link up. When I hit up Knowledge he was down, and he sent his verse back in a week and the record was done.
Regarding the rise of hip-hop music in Nigeria, gazing specifically at the artists coming out Abuja, do you think there’s something different in this era as opposed to others?
I feel like there’s something special about this era, I don’t know what it is, but it’s really going crazy right now. It’s exciting.
What do you think it takes for hip hop to dominate again on the Nigerian charts?
I feel like it might just take a couple more people to just shed light on the sound, if we have more people trying to plug features with other local and international artists, the respect for the sound is going to go up. More albums coming out where there’s a track or two that touches base on this sound, tapping into the right audiences through the right artists. At the end of the day I think it’s a collaborative process between the artists and the consumers to make everyone else wake up to the sound.
Over the years you’ve been able to switch between your rap cadence to blend in certain Afropop elements. How do you know when it’s a good time to wear either hat?
It’s just how I feel, if I feel like it’s time for me to switch up I always kind of know, if I have to come back, I can make the switch. I’m really just going with the flow. There’s a Welcome to The Ville 2 coming soon, so just watch out for that.