Popularly known as Seddy, SGaWD is a Nigerian rapper currently making waves in the industry. SGaWD’s sojourn into music is inspirational as well as bold, following her decision to quit her career as a lawyer and do music full time. Like many Nigerians, she was advised to pursue a more serious career and stay away from the creative industry. Eventually, SGaWD made the life-changing decision to hone her talent as an artist and put herself out there.
In this interview, we discuss her pivot into the music industry and her journey as a female rapper in Nigeria.
What was your background like? How did your upbringing influence your music and your decision to become an artist?
I am Nigerian, and I was born in the south-south part of Nigeria. My mom is from Calabar and my dad is from Akwa Ibom. I grew up around my cousins and I lived in Nigeria for the first fifteen years of my life. I left Nigeria after I turned fifteen, then I went to college and two universities. I’ve lived in Nigeria, the UK, and the US, and having lived in all those places and listening to so much music from the time when I was a kid, traditional music to watching Channel O, MTV, going to school in London, my sound has become very distinct.
My music sounds like this because it has the Nigerian elements of me being Nigerian and my experiences as a Nigerian, then there’s the accent and my delivery. If you listen to my music and try to figure out why I sound the way I sound or talk about the things I talk about, it’s simply because I’ve lived a very exposed and traveled life. I have so many communities and this has impacted my music in a very interesting way because I can draw from all these different cultures, and different styles of music and just make everything fun because I don’t have any restrictions. I have fans everywhere, here in Nigeria, the USA, and the UK and they all enjoy my music because I make global music.
When was the first time you ever made music? What inspired it?
The first time I ever recorded music was in 2020, but the first time I was ever on a song was in 2015. I was with my rapper friends and I went along with them to the studio just to cheer them up – we were in Birmingham at the time. We get to the studio and there’s a whole space on the song so they start egging me on to go ahead and drop a verse. It was the kind of thing where they knew I loved music and I had talent because I was always that person who could sing, rap, and dance. That day I completely appreciated the experience of creating my music because I remember I was in the studio with a pen and a paper writing, trying to make it perfect and that was the first time I was involved in the process of creating music. It’s such a significant memory to me because just having support from your friends in that kind of way makes you feel seen – they trust that you can do this, but they also understand that because of certain situations and obligations to your family you can’t do this. I gained confidence from that experience and just always had it sitting at the back of my mind that I can do this, even when I stopped making music or when I started recording five years after that, I just knew I had it in me.
Your name is super unique, what’s the story behind it?
SGaWD is like one name for different things. Some people call me Seddy, people call me Gawd, and people call me Seddy the Gawd, but basically, SGaWD comes from Seddy, which comes from Sedna who is an Inuit goddess. I feel like her story is very similar to mine, that’s why I took the name. I’ve been Seddy before the music but when I first started making music, I battled with an identity crisis because I didn’t know if it was right for me to abandon my career as a lawyer after going to law school, getting two degrees, practicing. It felt like I had to usher myself into that experience and the way to do it was to come up with a name, a character, and a persona, which is Seddy.
You studied law in university and now you’ve transitioned to a full-time artist. How did you manage to make that switch?
When I was in high school, I had dreams of becoming an artist, I wanted to sing on a big stage in front of a big crowd, and I kid you not, the artists doing these sorts of things today have always fantasised about it. As a kid, I too had these fantasies and for me, it feels like a dream come through. Transitioning from one career to another, especially from a legal career wasn’t really easy.
After all the emotional and mental work it was hard because I was scared. I was making steady money as a lawyer and I wondered if I’d make the same money as an artist. My parents are also very traditional south-south people, they didn’t get it then, and my dad didn’t even want to hear it at all. At some point, I had to leave the house and I was cut off from my family for a year plus because I chose music so all these things came together to make the transition difficult. In the end, I believe that everything happens for a reason, it makes a good story and generally helps me understand and appreciate my journey more.
Nigeria doesn’t have the most thriving rap scene, yet you’ve successfully navigated it and stood out. How did you achieve that?
So fun fact, I had no idea that when people talk about rappers in Nigeria, my name comes up because I actually don’t keep my ears to the ground, but recently I’ve had a couple of OG rappers, rappers that would have a place in a Nigerian Hall of Fame hit me up and tell me how they like my style.
I think one of the reasons I was able to achieve that was by being honest with myself. I had to acknowledge that people don’t appreciate things that come from women, especially in a male-dominated field because they already doubt your ability before you even open your mouth. So I had to set myself apart from these niggas, I had to question what would make me stand out and work in line with that. I take my branding very seriously because a lot of these men are lazy about their music and the actual work that comes with it. A lot of these people don’t even communicate with their fans, they can’t even have proper conversations with interviewers and you don’t know who they are, when you listen to their music too it gives you no idea of their person. I had to make sure that no other person had the opportunity to tell my story apart from me, I wasn’t asking anyone for permission, I wasn’t giving a fuck if people with fucked with my music I was just doing me and I think when you do you on a project, it’s something really attractive to people. I’ve had people who told me I wouldn’t have such a great run or a great career because of how my music sounded or what my music is based on come up now and try to upload me. I think it’s because I’m just doing me and making sure the quality doesn’t slack.
Rude is one of your sassiest songs. What inspired the song? How did you manage to channel the sort of emotions that Rude provokes?
Just being a woman in Nigeria inspired the whole song. When I moved back to Nigeria in 2020, I came back in the heat of the pandemic while borders closed so it was just a huge culture shock for me to see how different Nigeria was because I was in Nigeria as an adult, on my own. Typically when I come home, I’ll be in the south under the lock and key of my parents so I didn’t know what was going on in terms of how women were being treated and how difficult it truly is for a woman to find her way here.
A lot of people say how in Nigeria it’s easy for babes because you can just use your pretty privilege and I found that fucking exhausting. Do you understand how irritating it is that everywhere I go I have to present myself as pretty and nice just to get by? It’s crazy to me that I have to minimise myself or fucking make myself smaller because I’m a woman. I also didn’t understand why men were in your face and so forceful, meaning I was getting called rude a lot. People would try to tell me that they wanted to help me but then slip in some sexual assault or sexual harassment angle and immediately I would check it and get called a difficult person.
That’s really what Rude is about, me trying to deal with niggas in Lagos and me getting called rude because I always speak my mind. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation with someone in this business where I felt like they were trying to exploit me or trying to walk over me where I haven’t spoken my mind, I’ve always made it clear that I’m not one to play with.
You’re a very versatile artist — today you could be dropping bar after bar and tomorrow you’re vocalising on a track, how do you pull that off?
I think it’s really because of how many lives have lived. At different stages of my life, I was in different places doing different things, I was in law school and singing in a jazz band, I was getting people off huge crimes and just doing everything so I think there’s a god complex that comes with knowing that if I want to do something, I can get it done. I believe very highly in myself so I acknowledge that it’s going to be stressful, it will take a lot of work but I can surely get it done.
You’ve said before that you quit your job to follow a career in music. How did that influence your drive? Did you at any point feel like you had something to prove?
At first, yes I felt like I had something to prove and that was unhealthy because it was accompanied by a lot of bitterness. I wasn’t appreciating all the things I was doing then and now, I’m at the stage where I just want to prosper. I don’t have anything to prove anymore to anyone or to even myself. Of course now and then the feeling kicks in because I’m only human but most of the time, I just want to succeed, I don’t give a fuck about what anybody says or what anybody thinks because when I was a lawyer, I was good as fuck and I’ve found myself in a situation where I’m allowed to be different things, I’ve chosen to use the gift that God gave me to build something for myself. Music is not my forever goal, I don’t want to be on stage for 20 years, I will perform for as long as I can God willing but I have a company registered in my name and I hope my music opens several doors for me to be set up and put in the position to help people. I want a media company in the future, I want to set up consulting services for independent female artists like me and I don’t want to have to work for other people anymore, I just want to build my own thing.
Talk to me about your community. How have the women in your life influenced you and your music?
The number one woman in my life is my mum, she’s a very strong woman and just by watching her, I’ve been able to figure out certain things about life. The women I see around me also inspire me a lot, I see my friends working hard, doing complex things, and just reaching their goals, especially against how much the world is set up against women. Watching the different ways women use to come on top will always be inspirational to me, whether you’re fighting your way through it or manipulating your way – some people don’t understand that not all women will be loud, some will go to whatever lengths to demand what they want, what they deserve.
During the #ENDSARS protests, you were vocal and involved in the process. What role do you believe artists have to play in politics and societal issues in general?
Frankly, I think it’s your choice as a person to be involved or not. I used to say there’s a special burden on you as an artist but I see the way a lot of artists behave and I definitely won’t come to you for advice on a random day about certain things so I’ll be very very careful about calling it an obligation. I’ll say that if you as a person have said with your mouth that this is the kind of person that you are, then stand by that. If you say you care about the welfare of people, you care about politics, you care about your community, then do things that reflect that like sensitising people to vote. If you say you don’t give a fuck about anything, then do that, but remember that every single person has a place in politics, it’s left for you as an individual to decide whether to get involved or not, but everyone does have a place.
Outside music and law, do you have other passions you’d like to pursue?
I love food a lot so I cook a lot. I make drinks too and with this last project I dropped, I gave out a whole lot of drinks and sold some too. Food is something I’ll be looking into and hopefully, I’ll have a food truck soon by God’s grace. I love enjoyment so getting people to buy my food, and owning a restaurant that incorporates creative experiences would be amazing, I’d love to be a part of stuff like that.
Where do you see SGaWD in 5 years?
I see SGaWD on stage internationally. I see SGaWD becoming a global brand with brand ambassadors. I also see the Siren Media Company starting to take off in the next 10 years, getting grants and all those sorts of things.
I don’t care for fame, but I do care for everyone and every investment that has been made into this – in money or time or kind to be reaped to the fullest. For the next five years, I’ll be working to ensure that it’s not a waste of time and resources. Yes, it’s for love first but the moment you start spending resources on it, you need to make sure it’s smart, especially when you don’t have the luxury of these resources not being significantly overbearing on your life or your finances, you realise you have to recoup what you’ve spent.