You have to admit that it is not every day you see a white guy spitting bars in English mixed with Yoruba whilst doing it so well.
With the release of the hard-hitting street anthem “Ojumi Bloody”, the man called Oyibo Rebel announced his arrival on the Nigerian music scene with a loud bang. However, truth be told, this instant success was a product of several years of hard work behind the scene. Oyibo Rebel has been making music for a long time while flying under the radar. He was known back then as “Farastafarian”, and also for releasing a video single titled “One Day”.
Over the years, he has honed his skills as a performing artist and reinvented himself as the Oyibo Rebel. And no doubt we have come to love and admire him all the way!
Hence, the need to find out more about this White Nigerian Rapper and get him on the Q&A segment for Afrobeats360 was a no brainer.
Tell us a little about your background. What is your real name, where did you grow up, and How did a white kid end up being so Nigerian?
Fares Boulos. Grew up in Lagos Nigeria. Been here since the age of 5. 25 years in one country has made it my true home, my conscience and mind is filled with the beautiful culture of my homeland Nigeria.
What was it like for you as a kid living in Nigeria?
Amazing, always catching trips since day one. Nigeria is a land filled with different cultures, music, and arts. I spent my childhood embracing that diversity. The mix of all these elements are instilled in me today and it reflects in the music I create.
Did you ever get into fights in school for example?
Sometimes, which Lagosian hasn’t been in a fight? laughs I dey like to think of myself as a person who spreads love rather than violence, but make u no try me oh. laughs
How did you learn to speak Yoruba?
Through daily interactions and Music.
I am not the type of person to be kept indoor. My energy cannot be contained. I used to leave my house and trek on the roadside, conversing with almost every person that I meet. Agberos, mamas, intellectuals, market people, you name it. We spoke!
And how do people react to you speaking pidgin English and Yoruba?
They love it, fascinated each time, proud that oyibo dey embrace the culture and definitely help me get some better prices when I visit the market. laughs
What other languages can you speak?
English fluently, French fluently and basic Arabic.
What are your three favorite Nigerian Dishes?
Ofe Nsala soup, Egusi and EBA, and I absolutely adore all small chops.
What’s your favorite sport?
Are you also, like many Nigerian men obsessed with football particularly the English Premier League? and if yes, what team do you support?
Not really into football, but my manager, Guy Awad is, If I do not answer ARSENAL here, he may abandon me. Haha! Gunner 4 life!!! laughs
What do your parents think about your musical career? Did you get their support from the onset or it has taken some convincing?
They supported me from day 1. They noticed my fascination with the arts from a young age. I used to spend hours in front of the mirror dancing and singing.
Which Nigerian Artists influenced your choice of music growing up?
Abami Eda, The king of Afrobeats, Anikulapo himself. My true inspiration Fela Other than the king himself, I drew a lot of inspiration from MI, Eldee, Da Grin, Dbanj, Timaya, the list goes on.
You are also an actor by profession, can you tell us how the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti also influenced you in the area of theater?
Classically trained actor in LA, London and New York, Master’s degree in film directing as well. Started off in stage acting, continued into commercials and have had features in Hollywood Blockbuster Films. I wrote a play Called Abamieda and The Curse of The Black Gold. It was a one man show where I played 5 characters, 4 being Nigerian. Fela is a great influence on me, as his music speak levels that no man can attain.
How did you come to be named “Oyibo Rebel”?
Back in 2006 it was a nickname given to me in town. Originally, I had a song in 2011 called ‘Oyibo Rebel’, and I decided it had a great ring to it, so went with it. Also it’s a good way to change the narrative on oyibos, many African oyibos dey Nigeria, dey west Africa and we are proud to be African.
You hit the Nigerian music scene hard with the release of the Hardcore sreet anthem “Ojumi Bloody”. How did the production of that song come about?
Tiwezi, my longtime friend and I got together and decided to make a project that would shock and blow people away. We wanted the song to feel like a movie, think of the video game Warriors (rockstar video game). We wanted to make an ode to Dagrin. We wanted to blend American flow with Naija flow. This one is for the streets. We want to make sure we speak levels and touch ground properly. Definitely, more to come. Our main aim is to create ART first and foremost and we will continue to do so as long as God permits it.
Rappers are very competitive by nature. Did you feel any anxiety going up alongside street savvy rappers like Chinko Ekun and the lyrically abrasive Mz Kiss on the track “Ojumi Bloody”?
laughs yeah, when their verses came in, we were like wow! This is some real rapping. In the end, the song gelled very well as we all brought something unique to the table. When you collaborate with artists, it is not a competition, it is the mutual respect for each other’s art and the knowledge that your styles will be a nice fit for all our respective audiences.
What kind of interesting reactions did you get from people after the video for “Ojumi Bloody” was released?
People were just so happy to see me finally make waves after so long. Nearly a 100 percent positive feedback! Which is very rare in music. We really made a movie-esque video, so their reactions was that of awe, amazement and eventual appreciation.
Given the Oscar Success of the movie “Joker”, making the look of the
Joker the theme of “Ojumi Bloody” was a master stroke. How did you guys come up with the video direction and how much fun was it making the music video?
I wanted to shock people. So my Director/Manager, Guy Awad and I decided to push boundaries. You can check him out on Instagram @guygosis. Guy is a truly talented director, and with my background in film, we make a kick-ass team!
It was more of a coincidence than a pre-planned notion of following a trend. During acting school, I had memorized an entire Joker scene from the dark Knight, and it always got reactions. The joker has always been a character I loved ever since a young age. Joker may be crazy, but no one can doubt the guys confidence. laughs
How did the arrival of the Coronavirus and the lockdown that followed affect the promotion of the video of “Ojumi Bloody”?
Well, I won’t lie it hasn’t been easy. Actually, it hasn’t been easy on any sector in this entire world. Music is all about getting out there, performing and interacting with your fans. Something I feel we could not completely accomplish due to this Corona crisis. We can’t do shows until it’s over, and we were supposed to make many moves on ground. it’s okay. We’ll bounce back and give the people a real show! That, I can promise you.
Your latest video “Rosa” is already gaining some good traction. What was it like working with Skales on this track?
Very cool! Skales is a great guy, much love to a real OG in the game. Always great to have someone so supportive and appreciative of your art, especially when it’s a world-renowned artist like Skales.
Since there are no live concerts for you to perform at the moment, how badly do you feel this has affected the promotion of your videos right now to an even wider audience, and what alternative platforms are your team currently exploring?
Well, we are busting out more content than ever, contents being released daily to keep my fans excited and happy. follow me @oyiborebel on Instagram and @oyiborebelofficial on Twitter to see the magic we give every week. Once The pandemic is done expect to see me at all the shows, all the events we can get our hands on. You’ll want to be there to experience the brilliance we will bring. My mission is to
entertain you every second of the way, so brace yourselves! A new monster is in town.
What’s the next move for Oyibo Rebel for the rest of this crazy 2020?
More content, and spreading the word to as many Nigerians around the world. Spreading the message of love, peace, and unity and giving the people what they want. We have many songs in the archive being held for the perfect time. Stay tuned to my pages to keep updated.
On a final note, any message for your old and new fans out there?
Rebellions! Let’s keep pushing the message. Thank you for the support, tell a friend to tell a friend. We appreciate all the love we received and are still receiving daily. I have made an oath to myself and that is-
To live, breathe and create art that I know will entertain and captivate my fans. This is all for you guys. Thank you!
And that’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed the interview. Don’t forget to like and share this article and do feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below: