Compared to other music genres and cultures, afrobeats is relatively new. With inception in the ‘90s and global recognition only in the 2020s, the culture has only just started to garner the attention it has deserved for decades. However, regardless of how “new” it is, the scene has had eras.
From the Junior & Pretty era, to the Trybesmen era, to Don Jazzy and D’banj, to Reminisce and Olamide, Wizkid and Davido – and now a decentralized phase with multiple young global superstars springing from every corner of West Africa, African music seems to be having her best time; fusing multiple genres while retaining uniqueness.
One of the new-wave acts who seems to have mastered the art of fusions is PsychoYP, a rapper out of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city. Nicholas Ihua-Maduenyi (real names) is best known for the UK influences over his music, seeing him wear sounds ranging from drill, to garage, grime, afro bashment and afro-swing.
Since his breakout i’m 2017, PsychoYP has grown to become one of the most relevant names in Nigerian music out of the city of Abuja, inspiring a good number of younger acts through his bold unique style and community-engagement.
“I just tell myself ‘someone has to do it’ and I go ahead to be Psycho YP,” he said to Itty when asked how he handles the sense of responsibility that comes with being him. “I realize that a lot of young people look up to me. But it’s all cool, it’s alright. I mean, you just have to handle it. It comes with being in the public.”
A member of the Apex Village collective of music creatives, YP has – even beyond the shores of Nigeria – collaborated with leading names in afro swing and even mainstream afrobeats like BackRoad Gee, Zlatan, Ycee, Offica, Ladipoe, Blaqbonez; and his Abuja counterparts including Zilla Oaks, Odumodublvck, Azanti, Reeplay et al. On his latest project titled ‘Osapa London’, he features African rap legend, Ice Prince on one of its songs.
“Ice is my family. He always shows so much love to me and my guys, so there definitely had to be an Ice Prince record on the EP. He was even trying to give me another jam to put on it. Having a rap OG like Ice shows how we are about to make history with the project,” he explained.
At the time of this interview, PsychoYP was in Lagos to create visual content and shoot videos for songs off Osapa London. And as most people who live outside the bustling commercial city of Lagos would testify with every visit to the crazy metropolis, he wished he was elsewhere.
“Lagos is stressful. It’s been so crazy. I’ve been quite sick, but here I am still – shooting two videos today. It’s been so crazy!”
Regardless, we were able to beat his ill health, busy schedule and Itty’s Call of Duty clan battle to have this conversation about the Osapa London EP, his journey so far and what to expect from him in the near future.
This piece has been edited for length and clarity.
How did the success of YPSZN3 make you feel?
I mean, it did exactly what we were trying to do with the project, you know. It’s a great feeling to see people accept it the way they did and how it has even gone as far as it has. It feels great!
We ordered YPSZN4, but have been served Osapa London. What inspired the EP? How did it come about?
SZN 4 will still come sha (laughs). Osapa London came up sometime while I was recording in Lagos, in Osapa London. I was with King Perry and we just made a couple tracks. But it came together one night when we tweeted something and the whole Twitter was gingering me to put the project out. That’s how it happened.
Why did you choose Not My Fault to lead the EP?
Because of a lot of things. First of all, it’s a very amazing song. Secondly, I just felt like people needed to understand that this project is not a normal YP. This is the most Nigerian version of YP you’re probably ever going to hear. So from that first track, you would probably have understood the direction I was heading with the project.
“I think hip hop is moving in the right direction. I mean, as long as people are still rapping and listening to rap, we’re doing a very good job.”
Most of your projects are very diverse, but a lot of people would still describe you primarily as a drill artist. Is that how you would describe yourself?
No. I describe myself as a rapper, but I do tend to do drill a lot. I also do afro-fusion, maybe dancehall, or amapiano, but I am a rapper.
We have actually been getting less drill from you lately. Is this intentional?
No. I’m still recording. I’m just not dropping them as much as I used to, but it’s coming.
A lot of young artists out of Abuja and across the country look up to you. Does this come with a feeling of responsibility or some level of pressure for you?
Well, yeah. A little bit. I realize that a lot of young people look up to me. But it’s all cool, it’s alright. I mean, you just have to handle it. It comes with being in the public.
So how do you handle it?
Omo I’m stressed mehn, I can’t lie (laughs). I just tell myself ‘someone has to do it’ and I go ahead to be Psycho YP.
How does fashion inspire you?
I’m just someone that’s genuinely interested in fashion so it just comes to me and is a part of me. I can’t really explain it. I love good clothes and accessories. That’s me.
How would you assess the growth of hip hop in Nigeria since your limelight in 2017 and now?
I think it’s moving in the right direction. More people are accepting the sound, and more people are rapping. Thank God. I mean, as long as people are still rapping and listening to rap, we’re doing a very good job.
With African music going global by the second, are there new markets that you would like to tap into?
I feel like since people are opening up to afrobeats culture more, now is the time to just go tap in with some people in Europe because these are the people that actually listen to rap. When I went to Paris, I found out that all these people over there are going crazy over my stuff. It’s not normal, but it is happening because this is what they listen to and this is what they like. They listen to a lot of trap music in Paris and Europe generally. I’m willing to own that.
What would you say has been the most important highlight in your career so far?
I have a lot of stuff. But I don’t think I will forget the tour with Rema in a long time. That tour was crazy! Shout out to Rema, my brother. I’m probably never going to forget that.
In the long run, what would make you feel fulfilled?
At this point, we’re talking about Grammy levels and world tours. Once it reaches that level, then yes, I’ll know that yeah, o ti lo.