Sneakbo was one of the first artists in the UK responsible for mixing Afrobeat with Rap, which is an impressive feat. A lot of artists are now following suit, building upon the increasingly interesting platform that Sneakbo has helped create.
After 6 years of being independent, paving the way and kicking down doors for UK Rap, he’s now signed to Virgin EMI and in an even better position to become bigger than ever. He’s not had an easy life, but Sneakbo is a fighter, and his passion for music has kept him going. I caught up with the intriguing artist to find out more.
You say music saved your life. Can you tell us how?
Before music I was just out and about. When I found music it kept me focused and I didn’t get into much trouble, and I was just doing what I love and I’m getting paid for it. I know what I’m doing now and I’m doing good things.
Let’s talk about you being signed to Virgin EMI recently. Tell us the story behind it, how did it happen?
I’ve been independent for 6 years and I think it was March or April that I signed my first actual deal with Virgin EMI. It was through my manager that played them 3 singles that I had and they liked it and they signed me. We were in talks for a month before I signed the deal. Other labels were in touch, but my heart was with Virgin.
Being home to Krept & Konan and Lethal Bizzle, as well, do you feel like you’re in safe hands with the label?
Definitely. I’ve seen what they can do and it made me more confident.
Do you feel you’ve done all you could independently or was there something else behind the move?
I wouldn’t say I’ve done all I can independently, but I felt like this was the right time to get back in and see what I do with these singles, what a label can do with these singles. It wasn’t really that I can do all I can independently, it was more to see what I can do with major backing,
Do you feel in this day and age that you can be totally independent throughout all your career or do you feel we still need labels?
I believe you can do it both ways, it just depends on the artist and the team they have behind them. You can do it both ways, if you’ve got a good team you can do it independently.
You’ve smashed it independently for around 6 years gaining Top 40 singles such as ‘Zim Zimma,’ where do you see yourself going from here on?
Hopefully bigger and better results. Hopefully higher chart positions, bigger shows, better video qualities. I just feel like everything should be better. When I was independent I was doing everything that the label is doing, right now I’m not sitting back, but a lot of things are getting done that I’m not doing. There’s a major difference.
Your style is very unique, mixing Afrobeat with Rap, do you see any other artists now being influenced from your style and how do you feel seeing this?
I see loads of artists doing it now, especially the newcomers. I’m happy and it shows I’m doing something right and what I’m doing people are following it. I don’t feel they are copying or nothing like that. I’m definitely proud. At first I can’t lie, I used to feel funny when I heard a song, and I thought nah this person is copying my style. Now that people are mentioning it to me, you feel proud that people are following your style, and I’m happy people can see that. It makes me feel better. I rate J Hus, I rate Timbo, I rate Mologo.
How do you make sure your sound is always different and distinct?
I’m just focused on making bangers and hits. I’m not fussed if anyone goes with that style, I’m just focused on myself, the wave, the jetski wave.
What’s your opinion on the UK Rap scene now?
I’m proud of it. I’m happy because it’s changed a lot. 4-5 years ago you would have had to make a certain type of music to get loads of radio play, but now they accept us for our music and what we like making. It’s changed a lot.
How would you compare it to when you first started out?
A lot more underground and unsigned artists are doing a lot more shows. Before you had to be signed to kind of be doing well and doing good shows, but now you can go on Link Up TV and drop a hot song and you can do well.
How has being from Brixton influenced your style of music?
Being from Brixton I grew up with loads of Jamaicans, I’m Nigerian, but in Brixton there’s loads of Jamaicans, and when I go to the clubs and that and they used to play bashment, bashment, bashment, that’s what made me love it and start jumping on it. My new single ‘Too Cool’ it’s on a bashment track called ‘Bookshelf Riddim’ that came about from me listening to bashment from young.
What’s a defining moment that changed your career and or life?
When I made ‘Touch Ah Button’, that’s when I started getting shows and that’s what started making the industry interested in me.
You’ve just dropped your first single ‘Too Cool (Right Here)’ since being signed, what was the process behind the track, and how has the reaction been?
The reaction so far has been great. It’s getting loads of radio play, the video is doing well. I’ve had a great reaction, all my fans have been messaging me good messages about it. The video was shot in LA. My manager set it up for Nyla to be on the song, but I knew about her for a long time, she had a big song called ‘Love Is Wicked.’
Any plans for an album?
Right now I’m working on the album, I’ve got a couple songs ready, so hopefully next year I’ll have the album finished and ready to drop. The next single will hopefully be next November time, it will be wavy, even better.
What’s next for Sneakbo?
I’ve got to plan the video for the next single. Lots more work.