The Lagos-based rapper is fyling the flag for drill from the motherland..
Lagos-based drill artist, Droxx is a rapper, singer/songwriter with a knack for music and the performing arts from his childhood, participating in many stage plays and other performance productions. Regardless of his artistic background in school, he only started writing and making music when he turned 14. “Growing up, there was a variety of music all around me, ranging from Hip-hop to Highlife from artists like Sir Victor Olaiya, Lagbaja, Asa, Elton John, Lil Wayne, Kanye, and P-Square. Basically, a range of artists,” he shares.
He kicked things off career-wise in 2018 when he began recording Drill music in the same year, yet his first drill record did not come out until 2019. Collaborating with long-time friend and fellow singer/songwriter, Slimsyxx, the pair created D.S.6, a vehicle for expressing their shared musical interests and efforts. Before long, they had recorded enough music for a project. That project would become Ignis Grando, their first foray into the music industry as a unit. A mashup of Drill, Afro-fusion, Trap and R&B cuts, the project in its entirety depicted a varied approach to their individual careers. Each party preferred their own styles (Droxx’s rapping and Slimsyxx’s singing) to truly new forms of expression. Choosing the same format but a slightly more centred approach, Droxx returned to the studio in a bid to record and release a new body of work barely two years later titled Riot. Opting against the autotuned verses of his last project, Riot’s grittier backdrop requires more ominous vocals to sell the emerging take on the Western rap phenomenon and alongside Mo’Gunz, Droxx delivers exactly that.
Releasing “Officer” as the lead-up single to the project months before its announcement helped earmark his transition from just “artist” to “drill artist”. Coming into effect organically sometime in 2020 under momentum garnered from some of his earliest singles such as “Jabo” and “TC Bop”, According to him, “The single “Officer” helped listeners associate me with the genre and I was getting a lot more buzz from it because it was something new and different.” He credits his past few months for being some of the most fluid he has ever experienced, thanks to the change in scenery and acceptance of his music by bigger audiences.
“Things have always been changing for me, but I think towards the end of 2020, and into 2021, it was a different kind of streak for me musically,” he adds.
Moving sonically from the Afropop-tinged debut project to his latest rap-centric record required much confidence for an artist trying to build an audience, to begin with. “My first project Ignis Grando, was released under D.S.6 (that’s Slimsyxx and I), it was a 7-track fusion tape which included genres like Afrobeats, Afro-Swing, Trap, Hip-hop and some alternative R&B,” Droxx says, discussing the transition between both projects. “We were experimenting with a lot of sounds on that project, and I think that’s something I maintained a lot on my second project, RIOT. It’s a joint EP with Abuja-based artist Mo'gunz and it's a Nigerian Drill project. It’s basically a bunch of Drill rap songs with a fusion of West African and Nigerian lingo.”
A music enthusiast himself, he believes his preferred audience to be “genuine music lovers”. “I make music across so many genres, and so I'd like to believe I have music for numerous moods, but I make music for genuine music lovers because they’re the ones who get it.” He adds. With barely three full years under his belt pushing a relatively new genre to these shores, his impact on the scene so far has been hushed but present nonetheless. He’s leveraged his considerable internet following into interactions with not only his audience but other professionals. “I've gotten co-signs from industry heavyweights like MI Abaga and a couple of industry familiars like VJ Adams and Ehiz, also big-time UK Drill producer M1onthebeat. [However] I think my most validating experience would be performing at NYSC camp during my service year; the love was massive; I had folks screaming my lyrics, and all of that gassed me,” he reveals.
Droxx may be young, but what he lacks in years on the job, he supplements in work rate and resourcefulness. No stranger to the stage, he has an avid following in the Nigerian university circuit due to his enviable stage presence and an authentic catalogue. On his time performing, he says, “Yes numerous times, I've organized two headline shows myself and performed on numerous shows and stages back in uni. I can’t wait to be able to perform the new project; the feedback it’s already getting just means more people singing at the shows.”
His creative process is as versatile as he is varied, with Droxx reportedly taking anywhere from minutes to months searching for the perfect record, yet never taking over half an hour to lay his take. “I don't spend more than 30 minutes recording a song. I do the hook, verse, adlibs, and I'm done,” he says. He is very much the songwriter himself; while a lot of his music out might have come through collaborations, he more than pulls his weight as a guest artist, usually requiring his counterparts to either raise their game or risk being relegated to second fiddle on most of these records. “I write on the spot most; other times, I take days to put a song together, depending on how it comes and it goes. I’m very much a songwriter in the sense that I like to maintain the same voice on all my songs; the only way to do that is to be a part of the creative process 100%,” he shares. “Take my collaborations, for example; I just work with artists that match my same energy and hunger. I get a lot of feature requests, I do the ones I like and I deem up to par. I haven’t exactly featured anyone yet myself, although I’ve got plans to work with some people later in the future, right now it’s been easier to spot the synergy I have with certain artists and that’s what I’m trying to get a handle on.”
Discussing the lockdown and its many effects takes us into mixed waters and according to Droxx, there have been pros and cons to the government-enforced exercise. “The lockdown gave me time to explore, write, research, and experiment, so in terms of creativity it was bliss. I missed performing at shows though and pretty much everything that’s changed since, not to mention how it affected me financially,” he unveils.
Self-confident artists typically toe the line between narcissistic tendencies and self-assuredness. When I ask what he thinks gives him an edge over others, it results in a self-aware admission of his capabilities. “I'm just good, I guess,” he shrugs.
Not many young independent artists are looking to stay in that lane all their careers regardless of what the prevailing trends are these days. Some artists just want the convenience of working with a trusted major on relatively good terms. Experiencing some of the financial constraints of being indie has informed this decision for Droxx and after discussing some of his experiences, it is easy to see why. “Promotion companies charge quite a lot, the exorbitant fees for indie artists make you think if there’s even a point staying indie, you need money to create these records and push them properly, why not just get a label to do that?” he asks.
Never one to be out of the studio too long, Droxx has begun work on a host of new music coming out. “I’ve got a couple of singles lined up in a few months, numerous features too and there's a D.S.6 tape coming as well,” he says. On the recent attention his work has received, he believes it is nothing spectacular and that most of it is just a result of him honing his sound further. Trained as a lawyer in university, he likes to think if he hadn’t found his voice rapping then he might have pursued a career in Law or another creative outlet like acting or filmmaking.
Discussing his potential for growth reveals the depth of his self-awareness; when asked what he thinks his limits are, he says: "I don’t think I have any yet. I've not tapped into my full potential; I know there's more to come.”