By Agatha Emeadi
As a young boy in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Olakitan Ricketts aka Trapp XL, began to show his musical strength by playing the guitar perfectly, a situation that drew the attention of his teacher and parents to his musical prowess. And little did they know that young Ricketts’ future might be pointing towards showbiz.
As Ricketts is set for musical greatness through passion, determination and being practical about his profession, listening to his works laced with baritone voice, one would agree that he is really wired for music, and would like to tow the lines of successful artistes like Don Jazzy and Burna Boy.
In this interview, Trapp XL speaks brilliantly about his musical career, family and the much-awaited 6-track EP among others.
How did you come into music, what was the attraction?
I have always loved music as a young person, but it might surprise you that this does not directly influence my music. Rather, it is more of films, pictures and weird children’s stories and songs. Being a visual person, childhood memory lyrics like ‘There’s fire on the mountain, run, run, run away’ directly influence my music because of their repetitive lines and same reasons people love those songs.
Is music a recurrent decimal in your family?
No. My father is a businessman, politician and former chairman of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). I am not trying to follow someone’s footsteps, but there is a cousin of mine called ‘Naughty One’ who I featured in one of the tracks in my EP. He was one of the first persons who started Afro kind of music in Ireland and part of the Millionaire Boys. I do talk to him and get advice but not following his footsteps. I am trying to do my own thing exclusively.
When did it dawn on you that you could find expression for your visual works in music?
I discovered that I could express my visual work in music at the age of 11 and even now that I am 23. I feel it has been a long time from when I started rapping. With time, I started producing and got entrenched in my philosophy of creation.
One of my greatest signatures is that I enjoy it. Most times, I don’t even think about a topic to write on, I just produce something. And once I’ve got the instrumentals to a decent stage, I pick up my phone or laptop and start writing as it flows. I don’t have to think, it just flows like an out-of-body kind of experience. In one of the introductions in a track on my EP, I said, ‘King of the underground born from far in mud, fashioned in gold and mud but I did not choose the cord…’ The lyrics flowed but then it was only recently I realized I was talking about the ‘Golden Calf’ story in the bible. That’s how things work with me.
With lyrics deep in pure arts, how would you balance showbiz and everyday life?
Honestly, I am not solid on showbiz stuff. But I am grateful to God that I am blessed to make people around me comfortable and connect fast. For sure, I prefer eyeball-to-eyeball meetings where I can talk to a few intimate ones. That’s how I like to operate. I’m not the kind who makes loud appearances at functions; but I thank God for my look that gives me attention when I go places.
What are your plans to remain relevant in the industry?
I don’t do similar things twice because it doesn’t make sense to me. A particular kind of song would not be repeated; but if by accident I find myself there, it feels so wrong. As long as I continue to network with amazing artists that I can collaborate with, I will remain open to any kind of positive influence that can get the creative juice flowing, that would make me fine. I am not worried about that.
Did you study your course to please your parents because it is not related to music?
I definitely did so to please my parents, but then I also thought I was going to put myself in a position where whatever I’m doing, I can actually benefit from it. I could grumble that I wanted to be an artiste, but there’s experience from whatever counsel they gave. It’s a marriage of both terms.
Do you want to make music only in the meantime and flow with whatever life brings later on in life?
I’m going to be making music forever. I’m going to be creating arts for as long as I live, I don’t have a choice. I realized that, a while ago and my mum could attest to it, I used to walk round the living room. No one knew what I was doing; but I was creating movies and writing songs in my head. Now, I actually have the equipment to bring that to fruition. Now, the more I advance the more I go. It’s a profession that I gain from and people around me also gain. If you love my music, you gain, and we’re all winning at the end of the day.
As a burgeoning rapper, potential music producer and filmmaker, where lies your strength?
I’ve been telling people since the inception of my project that I have dropped a lot of songs, which are on Soundcloud and not everyone is on Soundcloud. I’ve dropped over 60 songs there, but there are only six songs in this Extended Play.
And now, I feel like I’ve finally cracked the code and known where my real strength is. My real strength is not producing, rapping, writing or my voice, my real strength is being a facilitator/curator.
I understand sounds and I know how to bring sounds to life. I know who I need to put on a song to make it amazing. I know how people are going to feel when they hear my song. I know how to bring about good music and good art.