Morell Exclusive: Talks ‘Musa Jikan Musa’ ranking as best album of the year, Consciousness in Rap and more

Morell is a stand out and one of the best minds in music from Northern Nigeria. The Hiphop act shared his debut album titled “Musa Jikan Musa” this year. The project packs exciting 13 tracks and it was recorded in Abuja – his base. Soundcity Digital spoke to the star act and this is an eye opening conversation. Read the interview below!

Why title the album ‘Musa Jikan Musa’?

First of all, ‘Musa Jikan Musa’ means ‘Musa the son of Musa’. Both my father and grand father’s names are Musa so this album is the first of the ‘Musa Series’ (smile). This album is the SON, watch out for the Father (Sophomore album) and GrandFather. I’m highlighting on the progressive growth I’ve made to this stage and the growth that’s still ahead of me to make. It’s going to get better every time.

Let’s talk the process of making the album?

The album was recorded in my house. All of it on my home unit. I had a lot of amazing producers and musicians come in from time to time. Finished up old songs and made new ones. I worked with Doubzz, Vino Samari, Magic, Brace and many other talented music minds. I’m always recording so sorting out the music is always a huge headache so I flew in my friend and now manager (for the second time), Obinna ‘Angry Mob’ Agwu, who also happens to be one of the best A&Rs out here to come work with me on sorting out the records and arranging them for the album. It was frustrating, there were arguments and presentations. After 3 days of going over about 50 tracks, we arrived at the final 13 tracks to eventually made the album. It was exciting to finally be putting out my debut album. What took me so long?

Your debut was as conscious as it gets especially for your hood – northern Nigeria. A beautiful collection on an age where rappers are not conscious. The most popular conscious song this year is probably from Pop act Tekno titled ‘rara’, Here’s a 3 – in – question. Is consciousness via the music dead? Can today’s artiste make a career being activists? What’s the important of doing this since you did it alot with ‘Musa Jikan Musa’?

I really like this question. Consciousness via music can never die ’cause that’s the very essence of music. To tell a story. To say something remarkable. To change something. To profess love for someone or something. The way people feel will always show through in their music. Second question, I don’t think anyone is supposed to make a career off of being an activist. However, I feel people should stand up and speak up for the things they believe in. Activism isn’t for everyone, some people just want to be on the fence and that’s okay. I do believe in living for something greater tho. Third question, I’m passionate about music, I’m passionate about my people, I’m passionate about my country and many other things. It is important to note that popularity or fame is more than groupies and money. It basically means you have a platform, an office to do and say things that will have a positive impact on your people. I understand this and that’s why we recently started The New Borno Initiative. It was inspired by the troubles in my home state and the urgent need for my people to pick themselves up and start building again. Time to move on!

The ‘Borno’ song carries a very strong message. How important was this to the entire body of work. Tell about getting up to record that song.
The Borno song was very crucial to what the core of that album was. The album is about me and I’m from Borno state and these haven’t been the best of times for my people. I think it was only right that my album mirrors that pain through the Borno song and try to bring our story forward again. Shout out to my friend, AP for the poetry on the track.

10 years from now, how would you want the album to be seen?

As the classic that it is. I’m not worried about the album now ’cause I know albums can be slept on and these things can take time sometimes. We’re going to keep releasing singles from the album and putting out amazing videos. ‘Musa Jikan Musa’ still has a lot of grounds to conquer.

Who had the album of the year 2017 and why would you pick the person?

Erm… I’ll go with Ynaija on this one. Loool!
Why?? Cos that was a good debut.

— side note —

Ynaija calls ‘Musa Jikan Musa – Morell’ the no. 1 album of the year. Read their note below:
The city of Jos has contributed its fair share to the music business (2face, the Abaga brothers) but because of the humanitarian crises in that part of the country, somehow the North seems to have been written out of pop culture. Morell is here to address that. He takes on this responsibility without being self-aware and delivers a debut disc that is proudly reflective of his origins, yet bears a finish that is ready to cross over. Musa Jikan Musa’s unique blend of traditional instrumentation, impressive songwriting and delicious rhymes is almost second to none.

— end side note —

Share the ‘Mango’ story? Inspiration? What song is about? And making of the record?

The song ‘Mango’ is many things. From a song of gratitude, and the hustle trying to come up, then about life and how one man is here today and gone the next. The song is also about our different perspectives and the lyrics implies “I dey see the world from another angle”. It’s also the funny word play in there, that moment of levity where you just play with Man go and mango. That’s a really special song to me and I wrote it from a place of gratitude and contentment. I mean, I’m happy to even be in a place to grant this interview. I wrote the entire song without any beat or production, which is an almost extinct style of writing music these days as beats are coming at you from different angles. The song was finally by my friend, Trevor (Black beats production).

What’s the biggest challenge today for a Nigerian artiste?

Funding and Structure. It’s still beautiful and inspiring for me to see Nigerian musicians still push through and make a huge dent on the global music scene. We’re surely going to do more damage once better structures and record companies are put in place.

There are a lot of theories on the lack of a huge break out star in 2017, do you have any?

For me, it’s a couple of factors I see from my standpoint. There’s the issue of the ever rising cost of doing business in the music industry. A lot of acts and labels just can’t keep up financially. Payola is one of the demons in that area. Secondly, sometimes it feels like the music gate keepers aren’t willing to dig deep and find what is special. They just hand pick from the names floating on top and some really good guys can’t pay their way up to a place where they can stand a chance to be heard. This is not an excuse though, people who mean business will still find their way up.

What’s the big picture for Morell?

The big picture for Morell is to go global with his music and make huge believers out of the world. I’m really more than just a Nigerian or Arewa musician. No, I belong to the world (smiles). The big picture is to make it easy for other young talents to piggybank on my success and experience and do bigger things for us all. The big picture is family and happiness.

Stream the entire ‘Musa Jiken Musa’ album below:

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