Nigerian artist Raoul John Njeng-Njeng, professionally known as Skales, joins MEFeater to chat about his new album Sweet Distractions, and all the makings of this beautiful body of work. At first glance, you can almost tell how humble and calm he is. For Skales, this is a survival guide to life. He believes that in order to receive more blessings of whatever nature, you need to humble yourself to God. The Nigerian Afrodance artist comes from humble beginnings and is a two-time degree graduate in Finance and Business Administration.
Skales‘s career debuted at EME Records after he relocated to Lagos from Kaduna, Nigeria. He was signed by Banky W alongside Wizkid. Skales was later signed to Baseline, and is now a CEO at OHK music.The producer, singer/songwriter, and hitmaker is a master of his own sound. We chat with Skales about the hit song “Say You Bad” from his new album and his whole musical journey.
Q&A WITH SKALES
You are actually an academic before you are an artist right? What did you study?
Skales: Oh yes, one of them was banking and Finance. The other one is Business Administration. The second one was mandatory because I was signed to Banky W. So it was mandatory that we go to school. Because it was more like the label was sponsoring us for that.
Wasn’t studying Finance just for fun frustrating?
Skales: I mean, I was a kid, and I wanted to leave home, so studying far from home was just a way for me to connect. The first city I went to school in was a Music City, because it was so buzzing, it was easier to make connections for music.
…And then you won a talent show, Zain Tru Search competition right? Tell us a bit about it.
Skales: So it was a talent show sponsored by a telecommunication company, back then it was called Zain Tru Search competition. I think I saw the competition on TV, and all you needed to do to enter the competition was have the SIM card in the envelope. A friend of mine, Chopsticks, who used to be my manager back then assisted me with one because I didn’t own a phone so I had to use his SIM card. There were like 5000 people, and you know how everybody gets into a competition with the whole idea of winning. With me, it was the opposite. So I was surprised when I was announced as the winner. I guess it was drive and passion and God most importantly.
“SHAKE BODY”- A LIFETIME ROYALTY
Let’s get into your song, “Shake Body.” This was one of the biggest songs internationally, and it was recently featured on Netflix’s Sex Education, with Eric breaking down to it. How reassuring was that to you as an artist? How did that make you feel?
Skales: My friends keep telling me that I deserve all the good things that keep happening in my life. But I still see everything as surreal you know, and I’m really grateful. My friends always say I’m too humble, but that’s how life is you gotta be humble for God to bless you. Ever since I dropped “Shake Body” it gets a gig every year. Like it was also used by the South African Telecommunication brand Vodacom for an Ad campaign as well as a Google campaign that ran for 2 years and I was paid huge sums. It’s funny because when I made the song I was shy of playing it for people because it was a new sound and it turned out to be the song that changed my whole life.
Now speaking about your album – “Sweet Distractions”. Beautiful sound! I like what you did going from inspirational to dance. It’s a lot of elements in it. What was the inspiration behind the title Sweet Distraction and the whole body of work?
Skales: So 2020 was a challenging year for everybody. I got out of a bad relationship and I was in a healing process. So fast forward to Sweet Distractions: Yeah, destruction is okay, even after looking for the healing. So, basically, for me, it’s just everything that was meant to be a distraction, a challenge that was supposed to set me back turned out to be the momentum that you know, wow. So hence the title.
I loved it, 2020 was a hectic year for all of us. I feel like we lost a lot personally, financially, and socially. That’s a lovely title.
Getting into your track “Kpakurukpa”. I love it so much. So when I was listening to the track, I heard a bit of Amapiano elements and mostly a bit of Focalistic’s song “Ke Star”. Did you sample him? Or was it just a related sound?
Skales: So honestly, I think it was a related sound because you know when you create music, you have plugins and all that kind of stuff. That is always the same thing. The funny thing is I actually didn’t hear Focalistic’s song on TV until after somebody told me then I went to listen to the actual song, but I never actually paid attention much the first time then I listened again and I heard the elements were similar. But this happens in music. And even though my team wanted me to change it I didn’t, I kept the song.
I saw that It had quite a few dance challenges, people are doing dances to it, even the Ghetto kids who are now in the international spotlight jumped on the challenge, it’s amazing.
Skales: Yeah, They are really amazing, Thank you.
“SAY YOU BAD”- A SUMMER HIT!
Now the next track I want us to talk about is “Say You Bad”. I personally feel like this track is going to cause chaos this summer, it’s an absolute masterpiece with a 10/10 production. The song is amazing because it relates to girls and guys. Who did you work with on this song and what’s the message behind it?
Skales: I have like a production crew that I work with. So I had an idea. I think I was listening to Donate. Donate. Donate and I was like “this should be my jam”. Like, you know, summertime. Yeah. Ideas came and they started off. I remember just doing the hook and I left for travel, came back again, and recorded so that’s how it kind of happened. But the inspiration behind it is quite obvious, straight to the point. Yeah. Basically, the name of Bene is a very popular name in Ghana and most of the ladies in that anime are hot, Ghanaian women are a West African version of South African women. So hence the song “Say You Bad”.
I think we’d have expected the video to have either a lot of bad girls or nudity but I saw that you stayed true to your dance routines.
Skales: (Laughs) Haha Yes, I have kids watching me man.
So you went to Sweden, and Germany for the album tour, right?
Skales: Yeah, I’m on an album tour at the moment. But I caught COVID, that’s why I’m back in Nigeria. I’ll be back on the road on Tuesday or Wednesday. I’m going to be switching to the Middle East now to perform there.
Amazing, How was the Germany and Sweden Tour like? How did the people receive the album there?
Skales: I’ve received so much love as always. Every time I pull up there’s always love. When I performed the songs it felt like they had been released and out there for so long. Hartman and Germany, It was amazing.
I’m enjoying the fact that African artists are having tours somewhere else you know. You are literally going to sold-out tours. I really enjoy the fact that you guys are just making it internationally. When is your USA tour starting?
Skales: That’s gonna be from towards the end of August to the whole of September. More information is still to be announced.
That’s absolutely amazing, I’m sure it’s going to be so fun. And then any future plans? Who are you hoping to work with in your next album or like the next features? I know you release a lot of singles in between your albums.
Skales: I’m looking forward to working with a lot of people actually. I would love to work with Nasty C, I really like his music. I’ve already worked with Cassper that’s my bro man. Internationally it’s got to be Chris Brown and Kanye West. I’d be fulfilled. But for now, I’m working on my deluxe version. From an album that is supposed to be out in September unless decided otherwise but yeah, that’s what I’m working on, and the “Say You Bad” remix with 1da Banton is actually a song out of the deluxe version that’s coming.
Well, great job to you guys on the “Say You Bad” Remix, Production wise it’s one of the best we’ve heard in a while. I’m a huge fan. Thank you so much for your time and I hope you get better. Make sure that you get all the medication and relax.
Skales: Thank You very much for having me!
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