Born and raised in Nigeria, Pappy Thrill spent his younger years at school with extracurriculars split between football and Taekwondo, which he did for two years before he finally decided to go into music, an art he claims comes to him naturally. Since he debuted as a solo artist in 2019, Thrill has sold over eight thousand copies, some of which were sold to listeners from the boot of his car. This passion and perseverance are large contributors to his success and evolution through his persona-defining debut album, Blood Stain, up until his last album, Tears Sweat Blood.
Like his contemporaries who suffered various setbacks due to the pandemic, Pappy Thrill also experienced the worst of it. Creatively and financially, he was faced with challenges which more than anything, stalled the release of his music. Although the Afrofusion singer has been very busy dropping music videos from his previous album Tears Sweat Blood, and upcoming album, Lion Of The Western Cape, with the relaxation of the stringent rules that governed most societies at the start of it, putting out music and getting gigs, hasn’t been easy for the singer.
This resilience is a factor of Thrill’s beginnings. Speaking about his earliest memory of music, he said:
“I have always loved music, I didn’t just stumble into music. If I tell people I have always known I would be an entertainer, they laugh. But truth be told, music has always been in me from the days of Ras Kimono, Orits Wiliki, Mike Okri, and Majek Fashek; before the likes of 2Face, Banky W, and up until the recent times of Wizkid and Burna Boy.”
Of his debut, he said,
“My earliest memory of my debut EP is the launch in 2019 at Mercury Live featuring some of South Africa’s finest musicians, Buffalo Souljah, Gemini Major, Tshego, and Stilo Magolide. I also recall the finest memories at my concert, Thrill Concert, which was held live at one of the most reputable locations in South Africa, Shimmy Beach Club, in Cape Town South Africa. It was a shutdown and I will never forget those days. The turn-up was massive and I felt like the lion of the western cape that I know I am even if the media tried to make me look less by not putting more importance on my struggle. I only feel it’s because I am a foreigner and they fear what I carry.”
Down to his stage name, Pappy Thrill’s inspirations are notable experiences that speak to the ease of talent and passion. Before he became Pappy Thrill, he used to be called ‘Eitty Dread’.
“… that name came from higher institution school days. It was dreadful and most people liked it and some religious folks didn’t. As time went by, I wanted to change the nickname but to what? One day, I was watching Prison Break with my cousin, and I heard Fernando Sucre call Lincoln Burrows “Pappy”. That caught my attention and it sounded cool. So I changed my name from Dread to Pappy. Along the line, during my NYSC days in Nigeria in 2009, a friend of mine I was serving with at that time always liked calling me Thriller because I entertained him and the rest of my NYSC colleagues. From that moment, I started calling myself Pappy Thrill and everyone else followed suit”
he said, of the inspiration behind his stage name.
According to the singer, life is his biggest influence. His creative process is a reflection of his life and the lives of those around him. According to him, he has experienced all kinds of things and, as a result of his curiosity, observed and drawn inspiration from notable moments.
As a result of his drive, Thrill has been consistent with his branding. On this, he said,
“Every artist has at least one special quality that makes him or her different from every other artist. I feel my unique selling point is that my fans can recognize me by my distinct sound, and my own sense of style, and the way I interact with them. I brand my Image by consistently telling my personal stories over and over again using different sounds, forms, and images. I feel my fans build a deeper connection with me when they can relate to my personal story. My fans build their perception of me based on my image. My brand image includes the way I dress, how I present myself in interviews, how I interact with my fans and the general public, and how I market myself. I make sure I strategize before I present. I have a team that helps me supervise all my work. My brand image helps to sell my music, as thus I don’t play with it. I try so hard to create my own look to differentiate myself from other artists. If I am to summarize my brand into one phrase, it would be ‘do me’. My brand is who I’m and what I stand for.”
Perhaps a thing of his multicultural background or his stint as a producer, but Pappy Thrill’s sound is notably experimental. He succinctly describes it as Afrofusion and believes the personalization of his creative space, makes for the solid foundation on which his artistry rests. On the process, from production to songwriting to recording, Thrill said,
“Funny enough, the creative process is simple. I like my space. I am more creative when I am alone. There I reminisce on a lot of old and new things going on in my life and the lives of people around me and I put them into my music but I make sure sometimes not to mention names. I add a little bit of fiction most times. I am a storyteller. Most of my music is based on true stories of my life and others so I don’t really find it hard in making music when I am in my own zone. So, it’s safe to say I would only stop making music when I die.”
Blood Stain is the project that put him on the map. Since the release of the EP, he has evolved; of his sophomore project, Tears Sweat Blood Thrill believes same. He summarizes the body of work as “matured, refined, and more of me.” On the realization of the project, Thrill went further to say,
“Most of the collaborations happened because I was already making some serious noise in the music industry, dropping hit singles back to back and organizing music events that were well organized by myself, and most of the South African and Zimbabwean artists I collaborated with already had a clue of who I was and they liked my music.”
From the start of Thrill’s career till now, he has chosen to release music independently. On the challenges of being independent and the reason behind this laudable decision, he said,
“One of my biggest challenges was getting involved with the right people. To date, I still do proper research on everyone whose hands I put in some aspect of my career. Check their credentials. Get references and personal recommendations to the people I need. I swear this was and still is one of my biggest challenges. Nothing else. Besides trying and submitting demos back to back to different record labels and being turned down, one of the reasons I started my own record company was mainly to support the local scene. I‘m from Delta State, somewhere that doesn’t have much of a reputation, either locally or internationally in the music industry, and I’d like to put my local producers and artists on the map as well even where I reside in Cape Town South Africa.”
Pappy Thrill’s third Studio Album, Lion Of The Western Cape will be released later this year and, coupled with a history that spans the most encouraging and heartwarming of stories and a persona as dogged as his narratives, he’s sure to impress again.