When you hear the tagline “Sess The Prblm Kid” you can already tell it’s the talented and skilful hitmaking producer on the chops and there’s a high possibility you’re already in love with the song. What started as a simple beginning for Sess, harbouring in the shadows as the maestro behind top Nigerian rapper and actor Falz The Bahd Guy’s many hits like ‘Karishika’, ‘Soft work’, ‘ello bae’, ‘Bahd Baddo Baddest’, ‘Wehdone sir’ and ‘Baby Boy’ has birthed one of Nigeria’s most creative hip-hop duo which spun off into a solo career for the sound genius. With each song, he has found more of his own voice and audience. Sess started making beats cause like many other upcoming artists he couldn’t afford to buy any, the decision has paid off tremendously today leading to a great career that’s had him leave his past as a Lawyer to embark on his musical journey full-time.
The Nigerian music landscape has experienced an over-haul of incredible producers that never got their props, but that’s all changing as music becomes broader and the audience now care to understand the process behind their favourite songs. Sess who runs Top Boy Entertainment with manager Emperor Tobi is part of this new generation of producers who know their worth and contribution to the music scene and is on a mission to build an empire of his own.
As Salami Oluwasesan Abbas takes on a new path in his career with the release of his debut project ‘Omo Muda’ which has received great reviews, head publisher, Korede Ogundiya had a chat with him about his music background, what makes a great producer and how the music industry can teach new artist a thing or two on intellectual property, royalties & recognition.
How did you get into Music and how long have you been producing for?
Music has always been a part of my life growing up. I was part of my school and church choir and I also played the drums. My first shot at doing music was at secondary school, where I started a rap group called D Black Roses. I picked up Production in my 2nd year of University out of necessity: I couldn’t afford to buy beats as an artist, so I did it myself! And from there, I grew to love it. I have been producing for 10 years.
Any artists or producers that you draw inspiration from, if so who and what sort of music?
There are definitely a few producers that inspire me: Dr Dre for one. I learn from Dre both as a creative and a businessman. I think his ability to merge hip-hop and classical music is just phenomenal. Also, he’s the first hip-hop billionaire. I wanna do that! Another producer that inspires me is Sarz. He’s always trying to push the envelope, experiment. And that’s something I appreciate. I love Kanye West as an artist and a producer. I think he’s a genius. Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Wizkid are also top of my list.
Afrobeats, Afro-fusion, Altè music, this and that; music is increasingly becoming popular as a career option in Nigeria. For the enthusiast or novice, what was the first set of pieces of equipment or software you ever bought?
A laptop and a headphone.
What makes a great producer?
Your ability to capture the magic at the moment and carry the emotion in the music, that’s what makes you a great producer. It’s more than the sound. It’s about being so connected and honest with your music. And people can feel that. Anybody can put sounds together and combine chords, but music is more than that. Music is a spirit. And a great producer understands that.
Key lessons you have learned about producing and the business of music in general?
Work on your craft. Forget the gimmicks. You have to focus completely on getting better and being the best version of yourself. Also, get a Business Manager.
Did you study with courses, learn online or just experiment?
I learnt mostly by experimenting, but I had guidance from other producers that were better than me. I was a studio rat lol. I would be in the studio watching other people work and pick up things that were relevant to my art. That was basically how I learnt.
What’s the process you go through in finding the perfect tune?
Finding the perfect tune actually rest mainly on your ears and your mind. I create the sound in my mind first before creating it on the system. So for me, it’s a quest of trying to RECREATE what’s in my head. And I don’t give up till it sounds exactly like I imagined it. So it takes a lot of time and understands. Sound selection is one of the most important aspects of music production.
You’re arguably one of the most influential Nigerian producers out there at the moment, from working with the likes of Falz, Niniola, Odunsi the engine, Simi, Adekunle Gold, Vector, Poe, Terry Apala….I could go on and on, that’s my point; how did these collaborations come about?
It took me almost two years to get these people lol. But it was amazing working with them for my own project. All individually talented.
You’re currently working with a new crop of artists, you stand out as one of the few champions of alternative music, as someone who is also a key player in Nigeria’s mainstream music ecosystem, how have you been able to manage the gap between making popular music and new music?
it feels great that this is being recognized. I deliberately try to make music for everybody. I try to cover all spectrums. I’m also very experimental so I’m open to new stuff. So for me, it’s an integral part of my creative process.
If you could change anything about the perception and acceptance of African music right now, what would it be?
How people see intellectual property. People don’t take it seriously. Intellectual property is also as valuable as physical property like a car or a house. We have strict rules against stealing cars but no one really cares if your music is pirated.
Which young, rising producers are you rooting for?
So many!! Willis, Chillz, Sigag, FreshVDM… I can’t possibly name all. But I’m rooting for all of them period! The industry needs them!
How much a beat from SESS cost?
Are Nigerian producers fairly treated, in terms of intellectual property, royalties and recognition?
I can only speak for myself. I know my worth and I go for what I deserve! I try not to continue that narrative of “ producers are not treated with respect “ because I learnt something: People don’t give you what you deserve, they give you what you ask for. If you want more, ask for it! If you want to be recognized, work on your brand and do your own thing. Stop waiting for other people!
More than ever, we can feel the impact and influence of African music on the world, and their gradual establishment in indigenous economies, what’s your take on international labels and businesses colonizing African sounds.
International Labels want to do what they do best: Make money. Of course, the African market is emerging, It only makes sense that they would want a piece of the pie. But what Africa needs to do it establish a solid infrastructure so that when they come, they meet a working system. That way it’s not “colonizing”, it’s investment.
What has the response been like for your debut project Omo Muda?
The response has been amazing. The love, the support. I’m thankful to my fans.
Your biggest dream yet?
My Biggest dream yet is to become a Grammy Winner!
All Images used by Thompson. S. Ekong