– I’ve crush on Monalisa Chinda
Leading Nigerian rapper, Michael Stephens Ugochukwu, famously known as Ruggedman has finally admitted being in a relationship, but declined to reveal the identity of the lucky lady rocking his life.
Ruggedy Baba, whose newest single, Agidi, featuring Wande Coal is rocking the airwaves, made this disclosure in an exclusive interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Saturday, November 8, 2014 at Troy, Victoria Island, Lagos, stressing that, “I try to keep my private life private, I have learnt my lessons. Trust me, I will get married.”
The CEO of September 20th clothing line spoke on this and many other controversial issues, including his “beef” with entertainment guru, Kenny Ogungbe; rapper, Mode 9 and of course, his former best friend, 9ice.
You have been in the industry for long. What has sustained you to have gone this far?
First, I love entertainment. Second, I am very hard working. Third, God. I am very innovative. Once you’re creative, you’ll always find a way to adapt to any situation, and to adapt to any change. That’s what Ruggedman has been doing overtime. I am not just a musician, I am an entertainer and businessman. I am also a realist; I just like to say things the way they are, see things the way they should be seen. In one of my songs, Baraje, I ended the verses with; “I blend with the trend, stay forever like culture. You better make a move cos I dey watch you like vulture.” That’s what I do, I blend with the trend. I am creative enough to do what is trending. That’s what has sustained me.
Even when music buffs criticised your music, you didn’t seem to be bothered…
(Cuts-in) Why should I bother about criticism? First, I believe in myself. I believe in my creativity. I believe in God. Truthfully, I hear them saying all sorts of things, but I don’t listen to them. I don’t let that determine anything I do. I still do what I want to do. That is how Ruggedman has been around for so long.
We’ve heard people saying you went into clothing line because music is not paying-off. What’s your take?
That is a lie. Music is paying me. If I don’t make money from music, I would have stopped long ago. I am still here, still doing good. Don’t forget, Ruggedman was the first rap artiste to make money with rap music, before any other person. Till date, he is still making money. I have an artiste under my label, who is going to be the next big thing.
However, having a clothing line has always been my dream. I started six to seven years ago, and it is officially about to go into the market. Without money, you can’t do all these things. Like I said, people can say anything, but that won’t affect what I plan to achieve.
You launched yourself into the industry by dissing people…
(Cuts-in) I didn’t launch myself by dissing people.
But that was how you got popular…
Oh…that was how I got popular, but that wasn’t the way I wanted to get popular. If you know me, I am a very outspoken person. They call me a rebel. I will rather say what is meant to be said, even if I lose something. In fact, I have lost a lot for being vocal, but that won’t stop me from expressing myself in a right manner.
Back to your question, the first song I ever dropped, What If? featured Paul Play, wasn’t about beefing.
I didn’t diss anybody. Instead, I was talking about futuristic stuffs. In one of the lines, I said; “What if the military is behind OPC, What if they are trying to use that to make a comeback?”
What year did you release What If?
Four years later, I dropped Ehen, which was said to be controversial. Ehen was released because a lot of mediocrity was been celebrated, not because they were good, but because they had money to push things. I didn’t fight for myself, I fought for the whole industry. It was a big risk I took, because I was practically unknown, coming up against people who were reigning; people running the industry. For my message to be communicated effectively, I released Ehen, I spoke in the language people understand, pidgin, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo. I believe, for what I did, everybody in the industry is enjoying that today.
What is your relationship with the people you’ve beefed, particularly Baba Keke, Mode 9 and of course 9ice?
First, Ehen was not a personal thing, it was musical thing. I didn’t even know them personally when I dropped Ehen. When I see Baba Keke today, I greet him with respect. In fact, I have apologised for it, because if you do something that annoys an elder, if you can’t apologise, that means it is personal. We’ve met, partied together.
Mode 9 is a rapper and I am rapper. Unfortunately, he has some issues with me, which he never said, because in most of his songs, he never mentioned my name. That was why I did a song back then, entitled, To whom it may concern, where I said, “if you wanna talk about me, talk am make I hear. I no get two heads, make you no fear. Speak your mind, call my name…” But nobody ever called my name. As far as I am concerned, he wasn’t talking to me. When some people said I should reply him, I asked, “for what?” He didn’t call my name. He was just rapping, rappers brag a lot, “even the one wey no get money for him pocket”. I have been around for 11 years, I didn’t shout I am the best, someone that came two years ago is now shouting he’s the best.
As for 9ice, I haven’t seen him in a long time. But to me, all I did back then was to clear my name. It is a big stigmatization in a country like Nigeria for people to tag you, homewrecker. That was why I cleared myself. He never told me he had issues with me. It was people who were talking. Even when he did a song (Once Bitten, twice shy) he didn’t mention my name, he didn’t mention Tony Payne. He only said; “I saw my girl giving my friend nodding.” Just like the Mode 9 issue, he didn’t mention my name. So, I don’t care!
But you later replied him…
(Cuts-in); I didn’t reply him. Rather, I talked to him, because it was the song he released that was causing the wahala. I called him as a friend that his song will cause some issues for me, which I don’t like. Were you singing about me? He said, No! I told him to make a release, through his publicist, to exonerate me, he said, No! Then, I was wondering why? Fortunately, I recorded the conversation, gave him a week to clear my name, he didn’t do it. When I called him, he said, he was busy, but when I put out the recording, he had time to even go to the studio to diss me again. I didn’t reply him by dissing, instead I reminded him how he started and all I did for him, before ending it with “God bless you.”
What would you say you have learnt from all these scenes?
Be very careful. Expect anything from anybody. That is how I live. That is how I have been living, just that I didn’t expect such from somebody close to me. But now, I expect it from anybody, even my mom.
Let’s talk about your clothing line. Is there a day for the official launching?
Not yet but in couple of weeks. I am actually working on the online marketing, which will be handling by Jumia. I don’t have a boutique and I don’t plan to have one even though I am Igbo.
Basically, distribution was my main issue when I started years ago, we didn’t have all these online stores. We have them now, which makes sales and distribution easy for me.
How do you make your wears?
I make some here in Nigeria, make some outside the country. I am more into casual wears, I don’t really believe in the runway stuff, I just believe in what you can wear. That’s why I am into face cap, T-shirt, among others.
Also, I have had couple of photoshoots. I have a couple of celebrities who modelled for me. I did for Monalisa Chinda, MI, Joseph Benjamin and some select models. 2face has worn it, including Daniel Amokachi. Using celebs gives more attention.
How rich is Ruggedman?
I am rich enough. I am not hungry. I am not rich like Dangote and co, but I am not hungry.
Some people felt money is one of the reasons you haven’t got married…
(Smiles). No! That’s not true. Basically, I try to keep my private life private, I have learnt my lessons. Trust me, I will get married.
Are you in a relationship?
Yes, I am in a relationship.
Who is the lucky lady Is she Monalisa Chinda?
You see, they always hook me with someone. The same way they hooked me with Maheedah because she wore my cloth for photoshoot. Before, they said, “I was dating Maheedah, but now it is Monalisa.”
What about Halimah Abubakar?
I am not dating her. I have spoken on my relationship with her. We’re not dating. But trust me, I am in a relationship, but not in the industry.
All the ladies you have been romantically linked with, which one of them do you have a crush on?
I would have loved Monalisa Chinda. Have you seen her live? She is so fresh. Monalisa Chinda and Rihanna.
– RASHEED ABUBAKAR