Nigerian musician, McDonald Emiantor, a.k.a Traidmarc is originally from Benin City, Edo state, where he and his seven siblings were single-handedly raised by their mother.
His mother’s job as a teacher had the family migrate to London, where his music career began.
In this interview, he takes on his music and more…
What’s your take on the current state of the nation and how it affects you as a Nigerian artist living in diaspora?
The current situation of SARS and the killing of innocent protesters in Nigeria is incredibly disheartening. Nigeria is a democratic society and as such, citizens should be allowed to express their views and exercise their rights where there has been a case of injustice, corruption and police brutality without the fear of losing their lives.
I am appalled to say the least. It is absolutely sickening to know that oppression and abuse of power have now eaten so deep into the marrows of the Nigerian system of government and a total overhaul of the system is now needed more than ever before to cut out this deadly cancer that’s plagued our great country for half a century.
Have you experienced police brutality of any kind?
Although I personally haven’t experienced any form of police brutality, safe to say that what affects the eyes affects the nose. I have witnessed police brutality with my own eyes, and I have also spoken to thousands of my fans who have reported police brutality to me at some point. Police brutality doesn’t have to pass a litmus test in Nigeria to be proven as true. In fact, it is a reality and unfortunately it is the experiences of poor innocent civilians in Nigeria on a daily basis. The poor are often victims of this, not the rich.
For instance, last time I visited Nigeria in 2007, at Ring Road in Benin City I saw a group of mobile police officers jump out of their pickup truck amidst heavy traffic and launched on an elderly man and suddenly started whipping and forcing him to knee in a stinking, gross and derelict gutter by the roadside. I had to tell my driver to pull over as I jumped out of my car to intervene. On that occasion I was able to stop the horrible beating and dehumanisation of a senior citizen of Nigeria. That incident left me traumatised for many years, and I still can’t erase it from my memory. This behaviour is putrid, barbaric, galling and should be banished from our society.
Other than lending your voice with your single, “End SARS”, how have you been able to reach out?
Quite frequently than ever before, I am connecting more with my fans through my social media platforms. Especially on Facebook (Traidmarc) and Instagram (@traidmarc.tmg) Live videos to speak directly with them and offer them any support that I can. Whether that be financial support, moral support or just being there for them, I am doing my best to let them know that I feel their pain and they’re not alone.
We are all in the struggle together and if you follow me on Instagram, you will see that I have been posting about this on my posts as well as my story to bring awareness to the situation in Nigeria. I am calling on the powers that be to step in and help right now. In a sense, I feel like adversity has brought us much closer. This unfortunate situation has touched everyone here in the international community much as it has in Nigeria; and as a boss and celebrity in the music industry, I am using my position to bring hope to those who need it the most.
Your upcoming project, “Epilog”, why over 24 tracks?
There are actually 24 tracks in my upcoming album, ‘The Epilog’. I have accumulated a wealth of materials over the years and I just really wanted to give value to the fans that have supported me all through the years. As a boss, everything I do is big. I am very generous and big hearted. I don’t believe in doing small things, I like to take giant steps in all that I do. Perhaps, something you should know about me also is that I don’t like odd numbers. Everything has to be even and squared up for me. So, it made sense to deliver two dozen records to my fans. Again, that comes from my abundance mindset. Everything I do is big. Bosslife that’s my modus vivendi.
Are there features in Epilog?
When I was putting The Epilog together, a lot of people approached me to get a feature but I had to unfortunately decline at my manager’s behest. You see, as a boss I never embark on a peregrination that leads nowhere… meaning every step I take has to be with purpose.
And for me to work with an artist, their flow as well as their life values have to be on the same echelon as me or closely matched. Serendipitously now that I am successful, a lot of folks want to collaborate with me but I’m choosing wisely. It’s not a question of me being greedy and not wanting to share royalties. It’s just a matter of me not having enough respect for a lot of rappers right now either because of what they represent or their lyrical prowess.
So, for now The Epilog is just for me and my fans, but who knows I might change my mind down the line, we’ll see. Which Nigerian artist would you have featured? I admire a lot of Nigerian artists, and it’s a little difficult to give you a handful of names of artists that I would have featured. However, if I really had to choose then I would say Burna Boy for his revolutionary mindset, P-Square for their musical dexterity, Simi for her endearing voice, 2Face for musical depth and Tiwa Savage for her versatility. And of course, many more others for whatever reason there may be. I’m still keeping my eyes peeled and ears open to see who’s next to fly the afrobeat flag in Nigeria.
What’s the idea behind “The Epilog?”
The Epilog is my story, it’s such a body of work that I’m incredibly proud of. It’s one of the best albums I have had the privilege of putting together single handedly. Every seasoned artist would appreciate the joy and power of having full creative control over their own music. This is one project I have fully taken charge of in terms of its creative direction. Essentially, I have created the same type of music that I’d enjoy listening to on radio if it were performed by another artist. It is a classic album. Res Ipsa Loquitur – in Latin, it simply means let the facts speak for itself.
How long did it take to put this work together?
This album has been the result of many sleepless nights, tears, blood and sweat, lots of cognac and cigars, not to mention thousands of coffees in-between. Basically, two multiplied by four, add another two on top of that, is how long it took me to produce this album. In other words, 10 years. The thing is, I’m a perfectionist and when I’m in my creative mode I don’t know when and how to stop. I might just print a track ready for mastering and send it off.
Then wake up the next day not liking the brightness, resonance or something and will have to change it over again. I am my own worst critic. Sometimes, I might just hear a little pop somewhere in the track that bothers me, rather than just take out the pop like some lazy artist would, I’d get back in the studio and redo the whole verse again. And sometimes, the entire song from scratch. For instance, Big Fish and Black Jeff was recorded and re-recorded like 5 times until I was finally happy to put it out.p
What advice do you have every Nigerian youth during this dark time?
To all my brothers and sisters facing this emotional turpitude in Nigeria, I strongly commend your courage to stand up for your rights even though it’s hard. As the saying goes, courage is not the absence of fear.
These brave youth of Nigeria have embraced their fears and have decided to speak up against injustice. I think they ought to be commended and applauded for their efforts because these are the people that will change our country forever for the better. We are tired of being treated like garbage both at home and abroad. We deserve better.
Nigerians deserve better. Equality, fairness and justice is long overdue. To our fallen heroes who lost their lives at the hands of the cowardice soldiers, my prayers go out to their families and loved ones. They will never be forgotten. Suicide takes courage. They have fought a good fight for Nigeria and they must be honoured. They are the real heroes of our country. Lastly, to all my brothers and sisters in the struggle for justice, don’t be dismayed, keep up the good fight. There’s light at the end of the tunnel and we are all in this together. #EndSARS