Ruger is a fresh, new Afro-dancehall star breaking out of Nigeria. Having bounced onto the scene at the start of 2021, Ruger has been shaking tables for the past 9 months. His 5-track EP ‘Pandemic’ has seen Ruger topping singles and album charts across Africa and he’s already shared the stage with Afrobeats elite such as Burna Boy and Davido.
Not many new artists can say that they have already performed to crowds of 20,000 at the prestigious 02 Arena. Ruger’s continues to take the scene by storm with his most streamed video edging towards 9 million views in just under three months! Discovered on Instagram by the iconic, D’Prince, he’s had a whirlwind year but his journey has just begun. Whilst touring in London, Ruger caught up with 9 Bills Contributing Music Columnist, Gracey Mae, for a cheeky chit-chat. This is ‘Wetin Dey with Gracey Mae’!
Hi Ruger, welcome to 9 Bills. How are you?
I’m good, we thank God. How you doing?
I am good. Welcome to London.
Bruh. I’m in London town!
You’re in London, you’ve got a track called Abu Dhabi, give me the top three places that you’d like to perform.
Paris, France. London and Abu Dhabi [laughs]
Who is Mikki Drey?
Come on. Come on. [laughs] That was the old me, now it’s Ruger!
I just had to check. Earlier this year, you dropped your debut EP Pandemic, it has been doing crazy numbers. What was it like making music in the middle of a Panasonic?
Erm.. crazy, fun and also kind of shaky at the same time, y’understand. A lot of things will happen either bad or good, but you just have to channel your energy on the positive side so that’s what I did. With all the struggle everyone was facing at that time, I just tried to just be positive and just channel all my energy, and whatever I was feeling, in the studio. So that’s what happened, I thank God for that.
Talking about the studio, talk us through your process in the booth. What comes first the lyrics or the melody?
Mainly the progression. Yeah, it’s the chords that actually pulls my attention. If you check out all my songs, I make sure I use catchy progressions. I’m the type of artist that likes to make music from scratch. Although producers send me beats that I work on, I feel I vibe better when I make music from scratch because it’s cultural for me; I grew up in church and I was in the choir. That process we went through, [was us] making music from scratch so I enjoy making music where the producer starts with the chords, then we just elevate from there and there’s a build up to the final result.
Love it! You’re a global star at this point. You’ve been number one on the single and album charts in many countries across Africa, plus your videos have millions of views. How much has your life changed since bursting onto the scene nine months ago?
Well, it has actually changed, you know. We don’t get to go like that [laughs]. When you go out, people recognise you and all that. It has changed! You get a lot of attention but I just try to balance it and just keep the brain working. I just try as much as possible to channel all that love. I just know that a lot of people love me, a lot of people are expecting things from me so I have to just go in and do better. I can’t disappoint. I’ll see all the love, all the attention, all the lights, camera, action…as an a very big motivation for me to just continue working and go harder. That’s it.
Go hard or go home! Let’s talk about the Midas the Jagaban remix to your smash hit ‘Bounce’. How did that come about?
I’ve got mad love for Midas. We’re cool. We talk almost every day now that I’m in London. We’re about to link up very soon and just have fun! I just sent [the track] to her and she loved it. She wanted to do something on it and so we said “let’s go”. It was fire! When I had the verse on it, I was like “Woah! She went in, let’s go”.
Since you’re in London, can we look forward to more UK collabs?
You’ll get to see that. Let’s see what happens.
I’m going to take that as a yes. Now, you were discovered via your Instagram by D’Prince. How did he come across you and what has the journey been like?
Yeah, I made freestyle videos on Instagram. Social media has made it easy for young talents to be discovered. I pray that every talent out there that is trying to push out music via social media…I pray that they get noticed soon, by the grace of God. So, I started using the Instagram to just make my videos and post. I had 400 followers at that time. I was just enjoying myself basically, then, all of a sudden, I got a DM from D’Prince. He was in America at that time so he told me “I’ll be landing in Nigeria next week. I’d like you to come and start working with me”. And I said, “Let’s go! It’s time!. It was very amazing working with D’Prince, Rema and every member of the team at Jonzing, it’s a family thing, y’understand. So I really appreciate the love I get from each and every one of them. We’re going up from here – greater things happening very soon.
Nice encouragement to the readers! Your sound is described as Afro-dancehall so give me three of your favourite dancehall artist.
I would like to add one more to make it four! [laughs] Gyptian, Popcaan. Kranium and Sean Paul.
Just Gimme the Light! Your aesthetics are very striking – we see you rocking the eyepatch. You’ve explained to me before that you were inspired by Moshe Dayan. Tell our readers more!
The way he pushed himself is so inspiring. You know, he had one eye and they told him to stop working as a General. Instead of him to stop, he decided to use that as a source of strength for him to keep pushing on and that made him greater at the end of the day. So that’s what I actually really pulled from him. Just the determination to just keep going. It’s something striking, something very captivating and something very interesting. The principle of never giving up is why I’m here and that’s why I’ll always be here.
Who else inspires you?
Everyone trying to do something for themselves. Everyone, trying to push. Everyone that has not given up inspires me. It might be a kid. A kid can inspire me. You know, everyone inspires me.
I love that. Since I’m a big fan, how do we become members of your official fan club, Ru Nation?
By being rugged.
What does that mean? What does it mean to be rugged?
Be free. Do something extraordinary. Enjoy yourself. Think out of the box. That’s what makes you rugged. When you’re stepping out, you should be something that everyone is looking at. Let the difference be spotted. That’s what makes you rugged to me.
I get it. Let me stand out so they can say I’m outstanding. Last question then. What’s happening for the rest of 2021?
I don’t like to talk too much. Let’s just see! Ru Nation is out here. Let’s go.
Thanks for being on 9 Bills. If we want to find out your favourite selfie angle, what you’ve had for breakfast, when your next video is dropping, where can we find you online?
Follow me @rugerofficial and every social media platform – Twitter, Instagram, everywhere you go! Let’s have fun. Let’s get rugged. I also want to thank everyone for supporting me, for showing me love from the beginning up to this moment. It’s only up from here. I have been inspired by London a lot, London town and the great people out here that have been showing me love. I can’t wait to perform and show you guys how I feel about you guys. Thanks so much for supporting and I can’t wait for you to see what’s coming next from Ruger. I love you guys so much! Inna di London town!
Stream Ruger’s latest EP, Pandemic out on all streaming platforms now.