Teeklef grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, and began learning music in the church. He quickly learned to sing, harmonize, play multiple instruments, and ultimately began writing his own music. Taking what he had learned in the church, his understanding of the Nigerian music, and what he knew of American hip hop, Teeklef emerged as a presence in the Lagos hip hop scene. At 18, he departed for America, settling in Indianapolis, and through writing and performing in his adopted hometown, he has amassed a following of new fans, and started a new movement for Midwest hip hop. HipNavi is the crew, and their mission is ‘Create your cool’. Like De La Soul, PM Dawn, and Odd Future, HipNavi is about writing your own rules—in music, in fashion, in lifestyle, and in the broad multicultural and musical scope that they represent.
PG: You developed your ear for music and creativity back in your hometown of Nigeria. How was it bringing that sound over to the U.S., and merging it with the American hip hop sound?
Teeklef: It was seamless; really. My palette is pretty universal. Sounds/ acts from Europe and Asia have also helped mold my sound so fusing that with American Hip Hop wasn’t an issue at all. It was more about finding a way to tailor my message in a format that’ll successfully navigate the American R&B/ Hip Hop scene while in the same breath, preserving my musical integrity.
PG: How would you compare Nigerian music, to American music?
Teeklef: I legitimately think music is universal. Good music is good music. Living in Nigeria, I grew up listening to UK and US boy bands. I was well versed with what was going on musically in Africa as a continent but I was more into “western music.” I never thought I’d make music for a living. I think it’s awesome now because my Nigerian roots have a lot to do with how I approach music today. You know? Instead of putting a snare, I’d rather use a conga; or replace a kick with a wider sounding djembe. Again, one can’t deny good music, I just go for how I want the listener to feel and the rest takes care of itself, no room for comparisons. Now if we were talking about the market and how the industry is structured, I’d say there’s a shit ton of differences between both.
PG: Who are some of the musicians you find yourself listening to both indie and mainstream?
Teeklef: Personally, I’ll listen to anything. If it’s good, I’ll listen to it again and if it’s great, it’ll earn it’s place in my music library. Most times, if I’m into an artists work, I tend to prefer their early stuff to the latter. Moreso because one can sense the hunger and desperation in their cadence(s). Nevertheless, if I were to reference today’s artists, I’d say Drake, Cole, Neyo, Enya to mention a few.
PG: Tell us a little about HipNavi, and the mission and development behind it.
Teeklef: HipNavi is a movement, an idea geared towards self realization, acceptance and love. It’s about one becoming the best version of themselves; recognizing that no one is perfect and being okay with that. Society as we know it today places a lot of pressure on it’s inhabitants and HipNavi is about living your life your way, taking control, setting your standards and creating your own definitions of cool. If it’s positive, it’s HipNavi.
PG: You recently released your single “Suicidal”, which is the new single from your upcoming EP “Ne Plus Ultra Vibe.” Why did you choose that single to be the public introduction to your new EP?
Teeklef: I had put out a couple songs from the project late last year leading into 2017 but Suicidal felt like the right song to re-usher the project in with. It had a lot of the generic elements the EP was built upon and it was also an important subject matter to touch on at the time.
PG: Is there a specific story or theme behind the EP?
Teeklef: It has a lot to do with energy and how one can channel these different forms of energy into their everyday life. I wouldn’t want to give too much of the EP away before it drops mainly because I don’t want anyone to have a preconceived notion about the project before hitting the play button. I just want everyone to approach it with an open mind and form their own opinions of it afterwards. Best believe it’ll be worth the listen though.
PG: Has there been a decided release date and platform for streaming?
Teeklef: Lol! The release date is still top secret, it could drop tomorrow; we don’t know. As a team, we’re definitely ready to execute when the time comes.
PG: Other than the EP, what else is to come from you this upcoming year?
Teeklef: More records, More creative content, more vibes!