South African-based Nigerian rapper, Nico Dorja first moved to Lagos city, the entertainment hub of Africa in order to pursue his musical career after graduating from university.
The controversial, realistic, and versatile rapper who blends his African language with lyrical flavour now runs his record label, JDorj World Entertainment, as a leading act in Johannesburg, South Africa dishing out spectacular single records and collaborations.
In this interview with Soltesh Iyere, he spoke about his humble beginning, misconceptions about his lifestyle, and upcoming projects.
Tell us a bit about your background?
As you already know, my name is Nico Dorja (born Nicholas Ebanehita Ogbeifun), I was born in Esan West local government area of Edo State, Nigeria on September 23rd, 1983. I’m a graduate of Chemical Engineering from the Faculty of Engineering, University of Benin, Nigeria.
You have collaborated with Payseen, which other big artists do you want to collaborate with?
I’ll love to collaborate with great artists like Kwesta, Nasty C, Casper, Emtee, Caligraph Jones here in RSA/Southern region and the likes of Burna Boy, Davido, Olamide, Wizkid, Sarkodie, and many more in Nigeria/West Africa.
Your songs are doing amazing numbers on streaming platforms, how do you feel about that?
I feel blessed and highly favored because it’s all by the grace of God.
Success comes with challenges, how do you overcome some of your challenges?
By staying focused, praying hard, working hard, and keeping the faith in God.
What project do you want to embark on now?
My EP is dropping anytime soon and the debut album (DORJA 101) is also on its way.
When did you decide to become a musician?
Music has been an inbuilt thing in me (I was born with it, but I made up my mind to be an artist in the year 2007 after my graduation from the University of Benin (UNIBEN).
Who influences you in the music industry?
The likes of Doctor Dre, Nas, Obitrice, Eminem, 2pac, Jay Z, Snoop Dog, and many more.
What do you think the future holds for the Nigerian music industry?
The future is bright for the Nigerian music industry because the speed at which young artists are springing up is really alarming and quite impressive.
What was your parents’ reaction to your decision to go into music?
My mom died in 1999 even before I made the decision to become an artist. But as a graduate of Engineering my dad at first didn’t agree with my line of work as an artist until he started seeing me on TV and hearing me on the radio, that was when he gave up on trying to change my line of work for me and I thank God today that the dream is growing bigger and bigger every day.
If you’re not doing music, what will you be doing?
I’m a Chemical Engineer by academic qualification, so if I wasn’t doing music, I would be working as an engineer and a great entrepreneur.
How do you combine your craft as an artist and entrepreneur?
It’s not so easy but when one’s mind is set on achieving goals, one should always be innovative, be calculative, and be ready to take up challenges in their line of work, the mantra is #stayfocused.
As an artist, you must have had your fair share of police brutality in Nigeria?
Yes, I have been a victim of police brutality in Nigeria and also here in RSA, I’ve been misjudged, misinterpreted, and there have been misconceptions about my ideas and way of life.
Your advice to upcoming artists
My advice to the upcoming artists is for them to stay focused, stand firm, stay determined, consistent, persistent, and perseverance matter a lot too because the musical game is not for the weak and lazy, and don’t let anyone make you feel less of your worth.