By RITA OKOYE
Sensational rapper, Michael Stephens popularly known as Ruggedman, has opened up to Entertainer on the reason he has remained single over the years. Find out in this interview.
What is Ruggedman up to lately?
Yeah! I released a song last week featuring 9ice. People never expected it. It really came as a surprise because I didn’t do the ‘coming soon’ announcement. I just dropped the song and my strategy is working in promoting the song. Everybody was shocked when it dropped. The song is titled, Religion. It’s just like what we did for the Nigerian music some years ago with the song, Ruggedy Baba. Then, we preached a particular gospel and it became a trend. We are doing the same thing this time with this song, Religion. In the song, 9ice and I made sure we didn’t talk about the issue we had, because to me, I have let bygone be bygone.
You had issues with 9ice, why then did you feature him in this new song?
9ice has apologised for everything that happened, so I didn’t see anything wrong in featuring him in my song. He is still my friend; I had known him for a long time. So, I asked him if he would like to do this song with me, he agreed and that was it.
Don’t you think people would see it like some tactics to hype the song, a reconciliation song between you two?
This is not the first time we had done songs together, although, this is the first one since the controversy. We have done a song before and it was a hit. So, I believe we can do it again not necessarily because of the drama.
I have done songs with Eedris (Abdukareem) too and it was a hit. It wasn’t because we wanted to use the drama to sell the music; it’s just part of life. Though, whatever we do, people would still assume all sorts. Even if we do a song and the title is Love and Peace, people would still criticize and say a whole lot.
Freeze was one of those who threw shades at you over the song; did you have issues with him?
(Laughs) No! Not at all. Lots of things happen in life. People will insult you, talk about you and point accusing fingers at you, but how you react about it makes you who you are. If you don’t react, fine. That’s why I chose to remain silent. It’s not everything that I should respond to. But Freeze is my friend, I don’t take whatever he said or wrote to heart. Don’t worry I’ll catch him and deal with him too, make him no worry (laughs).
Have you had any issue with him before now?
No! Everybody is doing his own thing to get his or her own business moving and gathering traffic on social media. Just like people always insult Linda Ikeji and calling her all sorts of names, but she’s making her money and building her empire.
So, I am taking the positives out of the whole shades and criticisms and ignoring the rest. It has been working for me in a positive way. People have been asking me about issues with Freeze, and journalists like you are also asking me the same question. So you see, it’s all helping me promote the song in a way.
Since 9ice apologised, how has your relationship with him been?
We have been friends since then. But hey, you don’t expect everything to go back to normal in a day. Because we are human, so many things can’t be forgotten. But now, we talk, hang out, gist and we have even worked together on a song, which is a good point!
Why is Ruggedman still single?
Marriage will happen when it will happen. Marriage is not a fashion statement that everybody wants to join the trend. You don’t get married because people are getting married or get married because people asked you to do so, you get married when you are very ready to get married. I keep saying parents should not force their children to get married because it’s part of what causes domestic violence in homes of nowadays.
Are you in support of what Flavour said about marriage slowing down the progress of artistes?
That’s Flavour not Ruggedman. I don’t know about that one, but I know I’ll get married when the right time comes. If you do things right, marriage won’t be a barrier to your music or whatever you are doing. I will not lie to you, I know a lot of artistes that got married and it slowed down their career so much. But there are those who got married and are still doing their thing. It’s all left to you and how you manage your marriage and career. I’ll always advice that one should marry his or her best friend; it helps a lot.
So, you are already dating your best friend and planning to get married?
(Laughs) That’s not what I said. I didn’t say that. I just gave an advice.
Are you in a relationship?
I don’t want to talk about my private life. I want it to remain private.
Are you scared of talking about it or scared of commitment?
No! Marriage is nothing one should be scared about. It should only be done at the right time. Some people, when they see their soul mates, they just can’t wait to get married to them. That’s how it should be, but when you are having second thoughts, then calm down, check yourself and make sure you are doing the right thing.
What’s Ruggedman’s ideal woman?
Everybody can paint a picture of their ideal woman, but nobody knows who he would fall in love with.
Are you in love right now?
Yes! I’m in love with Rihanna.
But Don Jazzy is also in love with her…
(Cuts in) Who’s Don Jazzy? He better stays clear, if I catch him anywhere near my Rihanna; he will not like it (laughs).
What’s your take on the present government?
I really need them to tell Nigerians what’s going on because the economy is not working for a lot of us and it’s getting worse. The exchange rate is not friendly at all.
As an artiste, how has it affected you?
There are no more shows like we used to have. Show promoters are also affected and this in turn affects the artistes.
What’s up with your clothing line?
I have a clothing line called ‘20th September Wears’; that’s my birthday. I want to immortalize my birthday, that’s why I chose that name. It’s all about urban wears like face caps, T-shirts, jackets, hoodies, and also fancy water bottles. Next month, I am going to unveil new designers. It is going to be an annual thing, new products every year. I want to be the next Versace or D&G; I mean one of the best designers people can associate with.