Injecting Individuality: PsychoYP Is Single-Handedly Revolutionizing Trap Culture As We Know It
We sat down with the international artist for a lil convo on commerciality, creative collective Apex Village, and what the future holds…
Skyrocketing Abuja-based artist PsychoYP is creating sounds unlike anything you’ve heard before. The creative’s trap-infused melodic style highlighted by his melting vocals and accentuated by his punchy rap flow solidify his position in Nigeria’s fresh generation of new wave artists.
After his career took off in 2016 with the release of his Lost in the Sauce EP, it’s been onwards and upwards for YP. His 2018 debut project YPSZN cemented his unique and unmatched style, while 2019’s star-studded YPSZN2 continued to illustrate his ever-growing versatility and hypnotic evolution. Alongside producing his own projects, YP is a part of creative collective Apex Village, also home to artists such as Zilla Oaks, Kuddi is Dead and Ayüü to name a few. The collective birthed his joint project with 17-year-old artist Azanti, titled YP & Azanti Vol.1, a 7-track long project and personal fave. The project boasts an unparalleled blend of Afrobeats, Trap and R&B alongside some wavy visuals, paving the way for YP’s most recent offering. Brand new single Euphoria once again proves YP’s insane flair for versatile sounds, featuring an intoxicating hook, hedonistic themes, and the coldest artwork you’ve ever seen.
Having shared glimpses of his reality through opening up about a wide range of topics from the Nigerian music industry to denied sexual abuse allegations to making sure his collective profit from their art – all too aware of how often creatives are vulnerable to exploitation – YP’s transparency and integrity as an artist continue to shine. Multi-faceted, gifted and authentic, PsychoYP is due to become one of the biggest international artists of our generation. Don’t say we didn’t tell you.
What is the meaning behind your name?
It came from a name people started calling me in school, secondary school. I don’t know how it started. They started calling me Papi Chulo, Young Papi, YP. Then Psycho.
Do you ever experience creative blocks? How do you overcome these?
Yeah, I do have blocks sometimes when I don’t feel like making music. It happens to everyone. To get over it I just don’t record. Because anytime I do record, I’m recording a lot. I need breaks, they make me more efficient.
You’ve previously mentioned the success of South Africa’s hip-hop movement, saying Nigeria will follow the same fate. Do you think South African and Nigerian hip-hop can be compared? Or are they on completely different waves?
I mean, they can be compared in a way. But the Hip-hop scene in South Africa is different from Naij. I don’t even know man, I don’t know what it is in SA, because I haven’t been to SA before. Actually, yeah, I feel like I know what it is. Them guys are like, more colonized. So they have more influence from white people in their country, more than Nigeria does. So, Nigeria still leans towards Afrobeats, it would take a lot for us to become like South Africa or have the same Hip-hop scene as SA. But yeah, there are people doing the right thing, which is breaking out of the normality of rap.
How would you describe Apex Village? How does the collective influence you personally as an artist?
Apex is a collective of some of my guys that just do shit. Random shit. Creative stuff. It started with a couple of people who make music, then we had someone doing videography, short films. He came to London to study film, directing, filmmaking. And then he started shooting my music videos. And then yeah, we got graphic designers, we got producers. And it just turned into this like, group of creative people doing shit, surviving. That definitely shapes my personal art because, anyone who knows me knows that it’s not just me. When you’re talking about me, you’re not just talking about me. It’s me and a group of other creatives. I’m trying to do something for and I’m working towards something for a group of people, not just me.
Who do you credit as your biggest inspirations and how have they helped shape your music?
I listen to a lot of music. Anyone doing Hip-hop, rap, from anywhere, America, Naij, they’ve played a big part for me. I listened to them growing up, I listen to them now. But for my own style of music, I’m my own influence.
Why do you think fashion has become so integral to hip-hop culture?
I think it all just comes down to being creative. When you’re creative and have your own fashion sense, you put your own touch on it. For example… [asks his boy to name a rapper with a unique fashion sense] Chance the Rapper. He dresses random. He dresses randomly, but it’s his brand. It’s creativity. It’s expression.
It’s been argued that those with influence in the Nigerian music industry believe they can earn more form other genres besides rap. Why do you think the mainstream is less accepting of rap?
Because it’s easier to get a hit song when it’s not rap. People in Nigeria don’t really listen to rap. They like vibes, they don’t listen to rap. But that’s why even the rappers make commercial songs, just to have something on the radio. Just to have something in the club. But yeah, there are people who don’t feed into all of that. They don’t care, they just keep doing what they’re doing.
Media outlet ‘The Conversation’ published an article stating Nigerian hip-hop glorifies crime and misogyny. How do you think Hip-hop as a whole navigates objectification of women?
I don’t really understand what these American guys be on. But I know from listening to British music and Naij music, it’s just vibes. In the studio, it’s just vibes. In Lagos, they barely write, it’s just vibes. So if there’s something in particular in the song, it’s not intended to be harmful. But there are definitely people that cross the line.
What was the creative inspiration behind YP & Azanti Vol. 1? What’s your favorite song off the record?
Vol. 1 was when I started talking to Azanti. This was like, me just talking to one kid in my email. I saw his potential, I was like yeah this guy can actually make music. I put him in a group chat with my producers, my people, and just let him vibe and create stuff with those people for about a month. From there, we started making songs. I didn’t meet him, we had a video call like, once. And by that time the project was done. The energy was mad. We had over like, over 15 songs, 20 songs. But we had to cut it down for the project. It was difficult to do that, there are some songs that aren’t on there that I wish were on there. There’s meant to be a part 2, though. So hopefully you will see them there. As for my favorite track, I actually don’t have one.
Is there going to be a YPSZN3?
Definitely. Probably 2023. I’m dropping stuff this year though. Album next year. There’s gonna be a mixtape, then the Apex project, then 2 other mixtapes. There’s a lot of heat coming.
Next up, We Talk To London Illustrator And Designer Jasmin Sehra