The name Okechukwu Ukeje may not be popular, but mention Nigga Raw, your mind floats to that young Ibo rap artiste who has made a name rapping in his native Igbo language. Enjoy. What has been happening to you lately? My new album hit the market last December and right now I am working on shooting the video and doing some promotional tours. I also have some artistes that I wish to release under my label, Raw Day Records. Would you say, you met your target last year as a musician? I thank God that I am alive and consistent in my career. This is very important. This year will be better and that is why I am working hard on the new projects. What was growing up like? Growing up was fun. I didn’t come from a very rich family and so I faced so many challenges while growing up. Before my dad retired, we were comfortable. All that changed when he retired and it got to a point, I had to take some difficult decisions in life, took my destiny in my own hands. And, what followed after his retirement? I hawked things to help sustain the family. I learnt to be independent at a very tender age. And, at one point I decided to go into spare part business. It wasn’t what I wanted to do in life, but I had to take that decision because I had just passed out from college and my admission into the higher institution wasn’t coming through. There were things that I’d want to do but couldn’t because of lack of funds. My friends in school had allowances and those into business had money to spend. There were times that I would want to hang out with friends, buy new clothes but there was no money and I couldn’t go to my father to ask. Although, it wasn’t all rosy, but it was fun because whatever I am today, I learnt it while growing up. Providence smiled on me later as I got admitted into the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, to study. So, you started music before gaining admission into the polytechnic? No. But, I was already used to the university system before gaining admission to study. In fact, the students got used to me so much that some of them thought I was one of them. Since you were already popular , how did you cope with girls? As at that time, I was a shy person. And, I always shy away each time girls come around me. You mean you ran from girls? Not really, but I had a way of handling the situation. How did your friends tolerate your shyness? Then, I had friends who were stubborn, blunt and cool-headed. I belonged to the cool-headed ones. Aside that , I’m very outspoken. Whenever I’m with my friends, I love to talk a lot, I’m very blunt. That is how I got the name Nigga Raw. I’m the type that listens well before making any statement. What was the feeling like when you finally got admitted into the polytechnic? I wasn’t excited because I was already in the system. But, I was that I finally got the admission. Do you smoke and drink? No. I don’t smoke, but I drink occasionally. I remember the first time I drank beer, it took me a long time to finish just a bottle. The excitement of tasting beer for the first time was what made me do that. It was on a day when my village celebrated a masquerade festival. It took me about five to six times of sneaking to the place where I hid the bottle to finish the drink. Then, I was in the secondary school. Did you try it again after then? I did, but after a long time. We have this annual family event we always hold, where everybody is allowed to be himself without pretences. And, before the event, my dad called me and asked if I smoke, I told him no. He advised against it but told me I was free to do every other thing. Perhaps, if my father had been forceful about it, I would have been tempted to try it, but he was kind with his words. I didn’t go against his wish. Have you ever been drunk? No. I’m not a heavy drinker and I can’t take more than bottles of beer. But I cover up with plenty of talk so my friends wouldn’t notice my short coming. Sometimes, I get teased about it. But you like women? I attended a boys’ only high school, so before I talk to a girl, it must take a lot of planning. But in the higher institution, it wasn’t different ball game. The ladies came to me. Now, I’m married. So I’d like my past with ladies to remain in the past. I don’t need to talk about it in a national newspaper. I respect my marriage a lot. As a star, how do you cope with the ladies? I have my way. I’m a humble person and I come froma good home. I try to stay away from the wrong friends and illegal activities. So, whenever I’m doing something, I unconsciously think of how my father will feel if he hears about it. Which was your fondest memory as a young guy? There were times in school when my friends and I would go for shows and we’d get bounced at the gates. Why? Because we were not popular. Any challenges in your marriage? When I was a bachelor, I didn’t have to tell anyone where and what I was doing at a particular time. But now, I ’m answerable to someone. If I’m staying out late, I have to inform someone. It’s no longer about me now, but the two of us. But aside that, I help my wife in the house by washing the dishes. That’s part of what I do to assist in my home
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