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PsychoYP on shaping his sound and the Nigerian music scene

By Molly Gorman

At just 24-years-old Nicholas Ihua-Maduenyi, known by the stage name PsychoYP, has become one of the pioneers of Nigeria's new wave of rap and hip-hop music.

Raised in Abuja, Nigeria, his career began with the release of his debut project in 2016, ‘Lost In The Sauce’. Aptly nicknamed the Fresh Prince of Nigerian rap, his progressive sound cuts across rap, trap, grime, drill and R&B. Nicholas was recently crowned the best rapper in Africa by The NATIVE, and hailed as one of the 10 Nigerian artists to watch by Complex.

His critically acclaimed fourth studio project ‘Euphoria’, which debuted at #1 on the Apple Music Top Albums chart for Hip-Hop/Rap in Nigeria in 2021, has garnered over three million plays online. I had a chat with PsychoYP to hear more about his unique sound and his new double A-side single release, Midlife Crisis/WYDTM.

Tell me a little bit about your upbringing and how you got into music?

For some reason everyone around me was always playing music. My brother and sister who are both older than me always had tracks playing and they would rap as well, so I’m sure that’s where that came from.

Tell us about your artist name PsychoYP and the meaning behind it?

The “YP” comes from high school friends that used to call me “young papi”, and the “Psycho” was from a movie about a prison fighter and that was his name… but it’s weird ‘cause I watched the movie again a couple years later and his name was different.

Tell us a little bit about your new singles, ‘Midlife Crisis/WYDTM’. How has your music grown and developed since your first release back in 2016?

My new single is basically a teaser to this amazing body of work that was put together by myself and SCXTT, a producer who has really helped shape my sound from as far back as I can think of. I’ve really gotten to understand more of my sound with some of these amazing producers around me to really shape what my sound is today.

Which body of work are you most proud of so far?

I think ‘YPSZN 1’ because listening back I don’t even know how I was able to get most of those records done. It was a huge shift in my sound for the ones who were really locked in from time.

What’s your creative process - as a rap artist, are the lyrics the most important aspect in making a single/body of work?

I mean for me, I have to have lyrics in my work. I always gotta be that guy ‘cause that’s what it is. If I’m in a session with another artist, like an Afro artist for example, they’d do something catchy and everyone’s expectation is that I’m gonna hop on it and talk my shit, so most times I’m not looking for anything catchy. I’m literally giving you lyrics and content the whole way… and 90% of the time I don’t write it prior. I just put it down.

For readers of MSM who haven’t heard of you yet, how would you describe your music?

My music is unique and has dynamic vibes.

What do you like about the Nigerian music scene and what are you bringing to the table?

I like the fact that everyone can just express themselves. We’re very keen on vibes and the artists here have been able to find a very sweet pocket for the sound and it’s taking over.

Which other Nigerian musicians/artists do you love listening to?

I love listening to all of them. They all have got their own vibe and I tend to be able to tap into it when I’m listening. There’s the general list of people who I’d listen to more than others but that changes a lot.

You’ve spent some time in the UK studying at the University of Manchester - what were you studying and has that influenced your music in any way? Also are you now based in the UK or do you split your time between the UK/Nigeria?

I studied Planning and Real Estate and split my time between the UK and Nigeria. Naij is always home and there are key festive periods where I have to be back there, but I’ll be spending a lot of time in the UK for my music now that I’m done with school.

You’ve already amassed a loyal and engaged fanbase, how important is digital culture and social media to you in spreading your music?

It’s really important to me because that’s the main channel that grew my fanbase. From people sharing my music in WhatsApp groups and meeting so many creatives on IG that have helped develop my brand. There are fans on Twitter that have grown with me and I love being familiar with all of them. Things are evolving further into the metaverse and I’m about to make a big splash there too.

Lastly, what are your big dreams and what can we expect to see from you in the next few years?

I hope we’re gonna have done it right. I feel like God’s timing is the best and everything is gonna unfold for me real soon and it’ll be bigger than anything I ever imagined.

Watch the ‘Midlife Crisis’ video here

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