WORDS GRACEY MAE - PHOTOGRAPHER PAOLA VIVAS – STYLIST JENNIDER ELETO – STYLIST ASSISTANT CHIOMA CHUKWU - LOCATION SPECIAL THANKS TO ZUAYA
Releasing an unapologetic project charged with social commentary, bang smack in the middle of a pandemic is a bold thing to do, but that’s typical Prettyboy DO. His sound, image and outlook embody eccentric fearlessness and his high energy transcends the Afrobeats sub-genre of Alté. DO’s 8-track EP titled ‘Wildfire’ sets the music industry ablaze with messages that challenge the status quo, whilst still empowering his audience. This body of work reiterates Prettyboy’s aim to tear down the establishment by owning his truth by liberating his listeners with unadulterated transparency.
Join F Word music columnist, Gracey Mae as she sits down with the self-proclaimed ‘African Rodman’ to discuss his brand new EP, his distinctive look, his gritty sound and his objective to change the game.
Gracey Mae: Pretty Boy. You are the President of The Pretty Gang, the Indomidable Lion, the African Rodman, Champion of Calté. Welcome to the F word. How are you today?
Prettyboy D-O: I'm fine. I'm fine. Thank you for that intro! Masaka masaka masaka. Na pa pa! Pretty Boy in the building.
G.M: Now, last time I saw you face to face was in Lagos, Nigeria, for the Pretty World by DO concert. This was Detty December! Your fans came out, your celebrity friends came out…the production was sick! You arrived in the sky, what was that feeling like?
P.D: [laughs] Man! I just wanted to kill it. That was the third show I had done. Let me not say “I had done,” me and my team. Not even, me and my team – me and my manager, at that time. We do all the things ourselves... This was the third show I did it myself; me and my boy Jewels, he's an artist and an architect at the same time. But we did it ourselves. We tried our best to make sure, you know, everything was gonna be perfect. And I feel like the vibe was great. Everybody was having a good time and I wanted to make, like, an interest that, you know, was unique to myself personally... You know for that December, because there were a lot of concerts, and people always say that my music gives them, this like… the word to use is “wild, energetic feeling”. That kind of thing. They always say that they feel like, when I play my music, they’re like smoking in like, an uncompleted building. In Nigeria, if you watch movies in Nigeria, when you see, like, all these people…armed robbers…when they wan’ go fo’ mission, they’re always in uncompleted buildings. They’re getting prepared. My music gives them that energy to just be energetic, and to be set free, that kind of thing. So I came from, the top of the stage, from the back of an uncompleted building. We found a building that had an uncompleted building next to it and that’s how I stood up on stage, when I came out to ‘Chop Life Crew’, and from there, I just tried my best to kill it. We did what we had to do!
G.M: From where I was stood, I could see the derelict building next door and people were walking through with no lights, to watch the concert from the scaffolding. It was crazy.
P.D: We had two different [venue] options but I choose that because around there had like uncompleted buildings, so I felt like, you know I call myself Pretty Boy, and my stuff is Pretty World, and I'm from Nigeria; call it like a rough, rough environment, a rough exterior, while still pretty. So it’s the same kind of thing. You see, in my head at the time, it's like uncompleted buildings around this venue that is so dope. I have to come out from those! You see the same way those those guys were watching from the scaffolding, literally, the plan earlier the day…I was standing in those derelict buildings as you called it, and I was seeing how I can jump. If it was up to me… it was just production! This December, if they open shit up, I’m gonna fuck shit up.
G.M: Mad o! God willing the boarders will be open, and they’ll be minimal restrictions so I can be there to see you jump out of uncompleted buildings [laughs].
G.M: You touched on the fact that you are a pretty boy and you are definitely the Dennis Rodman of Las Gidi. In fact, Naija [Nigeria]…matter of fact, Africa. Your style is so distinctive. Your hair! We've seen leopard print. We've seen skulls. We've seen neon colours. What inspires your look?
P.D: [laughs] What it inspires it? Well, I think it’s my mood. Whatever mood I'm in. I give them! I give them! Then I change. Last year, I was only doing one colour, you know, making it just one colour… one colour. This year, I go to California…and I have a lot of tattoos…and I'm looking at myself…and I’m like “Dang! DO how can you switch it up?” I think about what to do. And luckily for me, there's somebody I know - this dope hairstylist introduces me to this guy. And I'm like, “yo,” he tells me “what do I want to do?” I tell him I have an album, you know, it’s “Wildfire”. It’s fire, like…I want to burn them. I want to kill them. So he’s like, “yeah, we can do skulls” representing them and boom! That’s how we started with the styles on the hair. And with that one, I just try and do some shit that is MOOD. Everything is moody for me. You feel moody? I had a Cheetah print because the next project I'm working on is called ‘Jungle Justice’ and I’m in an animal mood.
G.M: Wait is that an exclusive? Have you said that anywhere else before?
P.D: [laughs nervously, speaks to Manager] Chuka! What do you think? Should we say it?
G.M: Look! We're besties now. I love it. I love it. You touched on ‘Wildfire’. Congratulations on the project which dropped on 19 June 2020. You had bare collabs on there: Olamide, Tim Lyre, Solana… You've described it as a “spiritual project” where you have “stopped looking at man and you started looking inwards…” “Fire breaks down the hierarchy of the music industry" are your exact words. “Burn the old. Build the new.” Why was it important for you to kind of shake up the industry?
P.D: Because you just…I didn’t want to shake up the industry! I wanted to burn the industry. It’s a different meaning…ah. I’m not here to play! Let me not put it that way. Let me not put it that way. The best way for me to put it is…erm…I just feel like recognition in my country, where I come from, is not that easy. For, based on like… even like, let’s start from yourself, everybody wants to be accepted and shit like that. You’ll see like, when I first came into the game, I wanted to be accepted, you know. I want to be accepted ah! I wanted everyone to think “ah, this guys is dope, this guy is hard” whatever, whatever, whatever. After some time, I learnt that the best way is to just do your thing, and be very good at it. And I saw that, even if you do your thing and you’re stupendously good, yeah - your whole team is moving up, but niggas are still gon’ be political about shit. It is best to be unapologetic; there's no need for you to come, and be keeping quiet. You have to fight for your rights like J Hus said. SO… I don't want to be tweeting. I don't want to be doing all no Instagrams and saying all of this. I want to say everything in my music. So I come around these people with my music, I come at them cos all I got is my fans. My fans have taken me sooo far which I’m so happy for! So I use my project Wildfire, just to you know…where the Bible, the book of Resurrection, when they say rapture comes and earth is gonna be gone down and everything starts a fresh. That’s my theme I have. My first track is Wacka. Do you know what Wacka means? Let me translate it for you. “God punish you”. How many people start their song with that? “God punish you. God punish all of you!” …that said I no go come here. That said I’ll never be here. My music has a message for me, you know? The message, you really have to believe it yourself and grind. No matter what anybody tells you…and this industry, in the position I’m in, I feel like a lot of people said I wasn’t going to be here. Now I’m here and there nothing they can do about it. I’m here and I don’t even know if they’re here anymore. That’s the best bit.
Prettyboy DO wears full look DAILY PAPER
G.M: I love that energy. Like you said, “mood!”. You're so unapologetic with it; you’re strong in your convictions. In a previous interview you said you deliver messages, not music. So would you count yourself as a conscious artist?
P.D: I’m a man. The best way you want me to put it? Like if you say conscious, right? Like, I'm not like a goody two shoes kinda guy. I’m not the perfect man. I'm not that kind of person. Right but I do… my music is very like…it has a message…like most of my stuff is very social commentary, just because of what I've been through. And because I'm hustling, hustling, you know, to make it in life. Like I'm hustling to make it in life just like every other person is. So I'm talking about the things I feel, you know, because I feel like there's no justice in the world, that's just like how I look at it. So I speak about that…and that’s conscious. But at the same time, I can still go to the club and drink and so some other things and sing about that. I don't know if that's conscious. I’m not doing it to be stupid or nothing. But I just do that too. So maybe I’m a pseudo-conscious but everything I have is literally no cap. I told you, the first track of my shit, I dropped Wacka. That was like “God punish you”. Second track was ‘Odeshi’. That is “any enemy that wants to come for you, any hater, they can never penetrate. You can never get to me”. The third track is a love track, ‘Mentally’. Fourth one? ‘Same Energy’. Keep the same energy. However you act with me, I’ll act with you. The one after that? ‘Bulala’. That one is love but it’s very deep, spiritual love track. After that one… ‘Wetin You Smoke’. Me and Olamide, my OG. That one, “any hater you want to come and try?” [laughs] “What are you smoking?” Then, next one after that is ‘Reality’; that one is about my country – Nigeria. Omo! It’s not a movie, happy endings only happens in the movies. After that? ‘Dey Go Hear Wehh’. The hook is very self explanatory. That’s my kind of message. That’s the kind of guy I am.
G.M: I’m a fan! I’m not the only one though. You currently have 64,000 monthly listeners just on Spotify. When you see those numbers, does that make sense to you?
P.D: I don’t even know how this things works cos last time I checked I was on 100k oh! I don’t know how it has gone to 60 something but we go figure it out. In my opinion like, my opinion is like…you know us artist, every artist works so hard and in their mind, they are the best or they can be the best. And if you can be the best…well! I try my best now not to look at numbers or shit like that. I can’t lie to you, I try my best not to. Cos after a while you’ll be obsessed with numbers. It can be depressing…I dunno. It can be depressing. Cos even if you have high numbers, I don't think that ‘s what… maybe because of how my career has gone, for now, but I don't think that's what I really look at. I just look at it like, “am I getting what I’m worth?” My music to me is very fire so I expect to get, you know, as many number. If not by next year, we’re talking a million by God’s grace. You know that thing? Work hard and keep pushing. Well yeah,
G.M: You right, you right! You deserve a million and more. Talk to me about growing up. You’ve said your family were really like cool. Your mom and her sister were super into music. They would play Mase, Diddy, Snoop Dogg, as well as like, Whitney Houston. Would you say that you came up in a musical family and how do you feel like that's influenced the kind of music you give us today?
P.D: I don't think it was a musical family like that oh! It was one my mother and her sister. I don’t think they were really…it was just like, they just like music. You're just a young woman who were just dope. You know like how we are now. Like you listen to music, you like fashion and my auntie was a fashion stylist. Even my mom could dress but I think my auntie was better dressed. My mum liked more of the soul stuff…like the the 80s stuff like that. She like that. Like even from our youth, she put us to Bobby Brown. She used to listen to them all! That’s how I be watching all them things. Cos I love my mum a lot so anything she told me, my eye was just seeing like wah wah. At that time, there was no computer. Nothing like that. So it was like, she would get a Bobby Brown tape and play it, and I would be like wow! Then my auntie had the young stuff, like she had the Craig David and the Mase. Yeah, cos she had two sons. So when I go to your crib, I used to listen and watch the music channels. And I was into their life from there. So they weren’t into music like that by my love for music started from there.
G.M: Got it! So they were fans of music but not necessarily musical.
P.D: Yeah, they were not in the choir or anything like. They wanted me to be a doctor in my own family.
G.M: Did you ever study medicine?
P.D: Yeah, yes. When I first entered university I was a biology major.
G.M: Oh so you smart SMART!
P.D: Yes oh! I’m not dumb.
G.M: No, we didn't say you were dumb [laughs]
P.D: I’m very smart. It’s not easy to create this world or even this character. This person talking to you! It was not easy to create it.
G.M: I get it, I get it. I studied law for my undergrad and look at me doing journalism. I get it. Sometimes you just gotta follow your passion. Now, talking about passion, according to you, you listen to music 22 out of 24 hours in a day, is that still true?
P.D: Omo! Most like you ooh! I listen to music every second cos I smoke a lot and I cannot smoke without listening to music. So it’s my life! I actually feel I got good cos I was…that’s what I was doing. How do I put it to you? I feel like most great artists or whatever, they never feel they are good enough. I never thought I was good so I used to put hours in the studio. HOURS IN THE STUDIO; telling myself this is how you get good. Maybe I was getting better, but I never really saw it, or maybe I didn’t have the confidence to know I was getting better. Until the first time I got to California in 2017. I was in California for four months, and I smoking every single day. That one! I started listening to music 24 hours of the a day. Like I’m sleeping? Music is playing. I wake up? Music is playing. I’m in the bathroom? Music is playing. And I'm smoking. I believe that, that was the period when I became… I believed I was good. That was the best way for me to put it so I listen to music a lot. I can’t stop because I feel, in all honestly, that’s the only way you can be good. You have to have the high vocabulary of sound. I mean, I don't know man. Coming from where I'm coming from, some people need to know the KNOW. They know of those things. I didn’t know that when I started. Now I know a little but I don’t even know as much. I listen to so many, so in all honesty, I don't really that when I started. I know Craig David did that same thing. I know Dr. Dre did that same thing. I know a couple people I researched on, did that same thing. Like I’ve listened to so many like beats so that if I hear a beat, I can just…that’s the normal to do things though so it’s not special to me.
Prettyboy DO wears shirt DAILY PAPER x VAN GOGH
G.M: So would you say that when you're not under the influence, you're not confident in your music?
P.D: No oh! I’m confident oh! Every time oh. Cos erm…that’s what I’m saying. Imagine this, if you're listening to music 22-24 hours as musician, that means that even when I’m not on stage or I’m not in the studio. I’m DO. I'm Pretty Boy. I could walk on the road and some random person to do, like, an Instagram video and I'm not gonna look like my real name. I'll look like Pretty DO cos I'm always in character, if that makes sense. It's not really about the weed, it’s just that I smoke a lot. There’s a lot of pain in the world now but if you want to be happy, listen to my music.
G.M: We've got a couple of minutes left. So seeing as you listen to music 22-24 hours in a day, I'm going to play a mini game. I’ll give you a scenario, you’ll give me the name of a song. Got it?
G.M: This is ‘Soundtrack Of Your Life: 'the F Word edition.’ What do you play when you're:
G.M: Scrolling on Instagram?
P.D: I can play [sings] “Mentally. Soft and tenderly”. My own song!
G.M: When you're cooking, if you cook?
P.D: Damn. I don’t cook but if I was to cook, I would play…I don’t even know if I would play music oh cos I might fuck it up [laughs] but if I were to play music, let me think….I would play…I'll play something that is sweet. Something like ‘Return of the Mack’.
G.M: When you're Playing FIFA What are you playing?
P.D: Ah, ah! Something that will give me a lot of energy. I’m either playing something that makes me feel gingered like rap music or I play my own music. So I’m either playing…I don’t know if you know Nas like so everytime I play FIFA I listen to him cos it puts me in that anger mood.
G.M: When you are getting ready?
P.D: I'm gonna play some maybe Burna Boy…anybody that can turn a nigga up. Mojo. Anybody.
G.M: All right, last but not least, why do you listen to when you’re knacking?
P.D: Ehhh [laughs]
G.M: Don’t worry, it’s a trick question. I’m kidding.
P.D: I listen to Bulala by Prettyboy DO. Mentally by Prettyboy DO. Or I don’t know…in this 2020, I can put some City Girls so that the girl can get really…or any of these Meg thee Stallion so the girl can be free…
G.M: You co direct your videos and you’ve said that you'd hopefully get into directing full time at some point in the future. If somebody was to make a film about your life, who would you want to play the lead actor and why?
P.D: Lead up to my life? Let me think of all the young ones… let me think of all the boys in Nollywood who will play me. Who’s fine? Who nice? Who young? Who got body? I dunno. I’m not sure. I’m not sure. So I've not seen anybody that has the ability yet; the emotional arrange to play cos you’re gonna play a lot of things. Y’understand? Anything. Gimme a Hollywood person. Gimme a Nigerian person.
G.M: You've got John Boyega…
P.D: Boyega looks like Denzel. Boyega? They wouldn’t believe it’s me. You can give me names...
G.M: Daniel Kaluuya from ‘Get Out’.
P.D: Daniel Kaluuya is too dark, he really doesn’t look like me. These are all fantastic actors. I thought of all the guys, all these British guys.
G.M: Damson Idris from Snowfall.
P.D: I don’t know him. How does he look? From Snowfall? As in the Bond Movie. Anyway, it definitely has to be one of the British kids because they know how to act more.
G.M: Okay so a Black British actor.
P.D: Yes but I'm not trying to like force the issue. Because like how you said, Daniel… Daniel is a very good actor, like probably Oscar nominated but I’m still trying to think…that’s why I said…
G.M: No Nollywood actors?
P.D: No. No. I’d go do it myself. I will enter acting. I don’t even want to act, I’d rather direct but…do you know why I can’t answer your question? Because I am a director. I don’t see anybody that fits that role. I beg next question. I’m DO, I will play myself.
G.M: ‘Cult Army’. Where can I get some merch because I'm trying to get involved?
P.D: My website. Everything is sold out right now but check our website or follow @cult.army on Instagram, or go to the website www.cult.army. Like, everything, you can get everything from there. There's my… me and my cousin we started that…well. Yeah.
G.M: Okay, last two questions. Family business – love to see it. Where can we find you online?
P.D: Prettyboy DO. That's @prettyboydo on everything. Twitter o! Instagram oh! You can write it like that, with the o! Prettyboy DO
G.M: You are on F word magazine. What is your favourite F word?
P.D: Franklins [laughs]. You know what Franklins are right? Money!
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SPPECIAL THANKS TO ZUAYA