Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to an exclusive interview with one of the rising stars in the African battle rap and hip-hop music scene, Dabu Tha Gemini. Known for his unique style and dedication to his craft, Dabu Tha Gemini has been making waves in both Nigeria and Ghana, leaving a memorable mark in the world of battle rap and music.
How did you come about the name?
Honestly, there’s no special story behind how I got the name. I got Dabu from one of my favourite characters in the movie “Be Cool,” played by Andre 3k. The dude was weird throughout the movie, clumsy, always made mistakes, but in the end, he wound up being the epitome of what a cool nigga should be. At the time, that’s how I saw myself, a weird kid making mistakes with the potential to be more. Potential to be a star. And that’s where “The Gemini” comes in. As some know, the term Gemini is a zodiac sign, a representation of the stars when I was born. So I put the two together, Dabu The Gemini, and it stuck ever since.
How did you first get into battle rap and hip-hop music?
Getting into hip-hop wasn’t something I thought I would do honestly. I’ve loved music since forever, though. My Dad, God rest his soul, had this turntable when I was growing up. He would play songs by Jimmy Cliff, Michael Bolton, Peter Tosh, etc., and many other artists from different genres. I loved hearing those speakers blast on Saturday mornings. Literal music to my ears lol. In ’06, I started to take an interest in rapping when my elder brother talked about how he was spitting bars in his school hostel to Busta Rhymes’ “Touch It” instrumental. The whole idea was mind-blowing to me, and I started writing my own lyrics. In ’09, I was at street junctions rapping with my bro and his friends, and they were digging it. Years after honing my craft, I went to the VS class and surpassed my own expectations. Along that line, I came across battle rap content from American battle leagues like SMACK and KOTD. I felt like I could do that too, so I put my mind to it, and me and a couple of friends got together and started to make our dreams (creating battle rap content) come true.
Can you tell us about your journey to becoming one of the best battle rappers in Africa?
It’s been a crazy journey, not an easy one, I’ll tell you that. A lot of people didn’t think it was possible to be a battle rapper in Nigeria. But I pushed through all that, with the backing of good friends. I’ve come to believe in myself, and I’ve realized that we are limited not just by our own imagination but also by the fears of those closest to us. The journey is still ongoing though; you can ask me again when I’ve bought a house from it.
What are some of your most memorable battles in Nigeria and Ghana?
My most memorable battle in Nigeria has to be the one with Jay Pachino. That battle really gave me the respect I deserved because Pachino is no walk in the park; the dude is a monster. But I think I bested him, and that kind of solidified my spot. I’ve only had two battles in Ghana; my battle with Smif was kind of hard because I wasn’t just battling him; I was battling the whole bloody crowd too, lol. And still being able to come out with a win, was memorable for me. Versus JNol, I was a bit more comfortable, though. Had some memorable moments too. But I’d pick the Smif bout over that.
How do you prepare for a battle against a specific opponent like GNeric?
Preparing for Gneric is the same way I’d prepare for anyone else: research, planning, and execution.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Hip-Hop event celebrating women in the Nigerian hip-hop industry?
I think it’s beautiful that we are able to celebrate our Queens like this. There aren’t so many shows that celebrate women alone, so this one is really special. It’s a shame what I have to come do to Gneric though; if I wasn’t battling her, I’d probably be buying her dinner or something, lol, you know, cheering for her and every woman that comes on stage. Nothing but love and respect towards them, so I’m glad we are all able to help shine a light on the hard work our Queens put in.
Can you give us a sneak peek into your upcoming music project?
Not really in the music zone right now. We have a plan, me and my team, that we plan to execute soon. I’ll update y’all on more soon as I can. But for now, I’m facing battle rap squarely. From next year, the music will start rolling in.
What inspires your songwriting and music production process?
My inspiration comes from my emotions. However I’m feeling at the time, I try to express it with words, rhythm, and lyricism. When I say emotions, happiness and joy don’t really get involved; I find that I’m most creative when I’m sad or angry. I can’t tell you why; it’s just what it is. I didn’t make the rules.
Are there any artists or producers you dream of collaborating with in the future?
Honestly, I don’t dream of featuring anybody; I’d love to feature Odumodu Black, though. He’s a very exciting musician, and I just want to tap into his brain a bit. Other than that, I don’t have dreams of features; if the energy is right, we’ll make it work.
How do you balance your career as a battle rapper with your music projects?
It’s hard. To think like a battle rapper isn’t the same as thinking like a musician. They are two different playing fields. When I’m booked for a battle, I rarely listen to music if it’s not some hard-hitting hip-hop shit. Besides that, I’m stuck watching battle rap videos, trying to get my head in the game. That’s why it’s hard to see a musician become a battle rapper and vice versa because transitioning requires you to completely shed one from your thoughts. Being both is hard; it is accomplishable but hard.
Can you share any advice for aspiring battle rappers or hip-hop artists?
My advice to aspiring battle rappers is to not give up. The game is grimy, and everybody wants to kill you, so grow tough skin and keep pushing. Not everybody will like you, and you don’t have to like them either, but respect is reciprocal. Learn to respect your opponent enough to not take them lightly. Stay rugged.
Do you have any pre-show rituals or routines before a battle or performance?
I don’t think there’s any special thing I do before a performance; most times, I’m going over my material to make sure I have it locked down. But I try not to get intoxicated, so I don’t get distracted.
How do you handle criticism or negative feedback in the music industry?
I try to be open-minded; I’ve come to understand that when 10 people are in a room and 9 of them are saying one thing, it would be unwise to not pay attention to the one man who says something different. I try to learn from as many avenues as possible, good and bad; there is always a lesson to be learned.
Can you share a memorable fan interaction or fan-related experience?
Has to be when my niggas from the neighbourhood I used to frequently disturb turned up to my event, and they were star-struck watching me do what I love to do. They usually watch my battles when they drop online, but watching me live made it very special for me and them. That was definitely one of them.
What are your future goals and aspirations as an artist and battle rapper?
To be regarded as one of the greatest to ever do it. To be forever engraved in the halls of Nigerian hip-hop. And if we buy a few houses along the way, that’s good too.