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INTERVIEW: Nigerian Born Artist, Songwriter and Producer, Teeklef Talks “Ne Plus Ultra Vibe” EP, Fatherhood, HipNavi, Perception, Upcoming Projects, and More…

PHOTO CREDITS: Teeklef x Hipnavi


INTERVIEW: Nigerian Born Artist, Songwriter and Producer, Teeklef Talks “Ne Plus Ultra Vibe” EP, Fatherhood, HipNavi, Perception, Upcoming Projects, and More…

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.

Check out my exclusive interview with him below:

Hey Teeklef! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
Yessir! My name is Teeklef and I’m the greatest songwriter alive.

Talk me through an average day in the life of you?
I really live a monotonously structured life. Family, Music, Business, repeat.

What institution(s) did you attend and what did you study?
I never graduated college. Matter of fact, I dropped out three times. Once at Imo State University, the second time at the University of Indianapolis and lastly at Ivy Tech. I studied Edu. Agric, Human Biology and Software Development respectively.

How were you discovered and what inspired you to go into music?
Depends on who did the discovering because I really had to put on for myself. I created my label because no other acts will sign me. Music for me was a way to pay tuition. I only fell in love with it during the process of figuring out how to get a bachelors degree.

How did you come of with the stage name – “Teeklef”?
Lol! I tell folks all the time, it’s just me shortening the Treble Clef. Now, there are a few undertones to it but it’s just that simple.

What is the brand “HipNavi” all about?
It’s about accepting yourself for who you are. Creating your cool. Being comfortable in your skin and using that knowledge/ power to navigate your everyday life.

In June of 2017, you released your latest EP you titled “Ne Plus Ultra Vibe”. Why the title and what message were you trying to pass through the EP?
It’s a colorful piece. Ne Plus Ultra is greek for Ultimate. It’s the perfect vibe. As humans, our imperfections make us perfect so I was just trying to communicate all these different emotions or energies I was feeling at the time in a more cohesive way. Hence keeping the tracklist at 10.

You had two major release parties and a concert for the EP. What was the experience like and how have your fans received the new EP?
I just had a listening party, an EP release concert and an after party. Lol! I really don’t party much bro. But to answer your question, it’s been awesome. They’re already asking for new music.

Tell me more about your love for everything photography/fashion and how you use it to communicate through your music?
I’m an artist; in every form. I appreciate the beauty in minute details. I also believe simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication hence me stripping all my clothes down to the bare minimums. I want to focus a lot of my time and brain power to solving more complex issues as opposed to worrying about what I’m going to wear. That’s the goal. With regards to photography, that’s a whole different ball game. Lol!

Will you say the modelling industry in the United States is doing well?
I’m not sure. I don’t model and I don’t think I know enough about that industry to comment on it

What will you say motivated/inspires you to stay dedicated to what you do?
Family and everything I stand to lose.

How do you feel each time people on social media report your photos and what message do you have for such people?
Funny enough, I haven’t been reported yet. Positive energy over here always. Lol!

What’s your 5 Dos and Don’t when it comes to music?
I’ll borrow a page from DJ Khaled’s book – Don’t ever play yourself. Just be you man.

What do you do to stay in shape, do you go to the gym?
I play soccer, that’s it! I just started working out lately though, to build strength and endurance.

How do you balance your regular 9 to 5 corporate job and music life?
I have no choice brother. To be honest, it’s not about the 9-5 or the music, it’s about my daughter. I built everything around her schedule. I work my 9-5 when she’s in daycare and I make music when she’s asleep.

How would you describe the music scene in the United States, when it comes to encouraging new acts?
Everyone sounds the same. I hip on what’s out but it does take a lot these days to impress me musically.

What do you consider the most common stereotype about the music industry?

What aspect surprised you the most once you started as a musician?
People not being as “real” as they claim to be.

Looking back to when you started in music, is there anything you would like to change about the industry?
I think music doesn’t mean as much to a lot of new artists as it used to. Then again, great music is great music and that’ll always be key.

Which brands, clients, photographers, artists, producers, etc, have you worked with?
I try to keep everything in house. SVDaGawd, TSM (Tahlia Speaks Media), PhotosbyPerk and Innovative Illusionz are the ones I work with regularly.

What do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
Having a great team around me.

Who do you want to work with that you haven’t yet?
Man, a lot of them are dead but it’s a few still alive. Some are in the works and I don’t like to jinx things. Lol!

What has been your biggest challenge?
Finding that perfect balance between everything. It’s always a challenge.

Tell us two things people don’t know about you?
1. I finished high school at 15
2. I read a lot

You are very active on social media. Do you think its important to be online and if so why?
I’m not as active as I used to be but I do think it’s important. To show people aspects of you they don’t get with the songs; to keep them connected and engaged. Nevertheless, if I didn’t make music, I won’t be on social media.

You left Nigeria at 18, and now you’re currently based in the U.S. state of Indiana. How is that working out for you?
So far so good; can’t complain.

What are your must visit travel destinations?
Haven’t thought much about that. I’m just really focused on the work cos that’ll get me around the world. Lol!

Name 5 things we should take seriously about our style choices?
It’s all me bro. I try to stay as true to myself as possible.

How would you describe your style?
I do whatever I feel. Good music is good music.

What style genre appeals to you the most?
I’m a musician bro. I’m just a fan of good music.

Name your 4 must have accessories/essentials?
1. My hipnavi wristbands
2. Phone
3. Wallet
4. Keys.

What are your favourite fashion trends?
The trends I set for myself brother.

What is your favourite dish?
I try not to stick to favorites bro. Weird but its true.

What songs are currently on your playlist?
I’ve been listening to Marvin Gaye’s discography lately. Trying to connect the dots.

Apart from music, fashion and business, what other projects are you currently working on?
Ha! We have this “Everything is top secret” mantra with the team. We’ll be sure to keep you posted about our moves boss.

Seeing you’re doing your dreams, what advice can you give others to pursue their dreams?
Do it your way, you’re the one that has to look yourself in the mirror everyday.

Any specific plans for the future?
I’m always planning and executing boss. There’ll be new music to mention a few.

Any final words?
Thank you for being supportive.

Where can we follow you online and on social media?
Everything @teeklef | @hipnavi


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Asuquo Eton founded, now one of the most visited TV, music, tech and features website, in 2011. He is also a social media analyst, media and entertainment consultant.

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