Nigerian rapper and music producer Moses Ikape popularly known as Khalee Ali stamped his name in the music industry after he released his debut full-length album, Old Ways, in 2019. He went on to follow it up with “King Move” and a series of successful collaborations.
“Best Way”, the track he made with Wunda, with over 850,000 plays on Spotify was selected into the Top 100 of notable songs in South African playlists.x
Soltesh Iyere had a quick chat with Khalee. He spoke about his humble beginning, his “Fill It Up” remix collaboration with trapical rapper Emtee and current projects.
Tell us a bit about your background?
I am Moses Ikape, also known as Khalee Ali. I was born 30 July 1990 in Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria. I am the first child in a family of six. I started playing the drums at the local church when I was 10. I was made band leader in my primary school. This exposure to musical instruments at such a young age triggered and developed my love for music.
You have collaborated with Emtee, which other big artists do you want to collaborate with?
Some of the big artists I would love to collaborate with include the likes of Casper Nyovest, Davido, M I Abaga, Burna Boy, Skepta, and of course 2 Face Idibia.
Your songs are doing amazing numbers on streaming platforms and ‘Best Way’ was among the Top 100 in South Africa, how do you feel about that?
‘Best Way’ being in the top 100 in SA was really special to me, and it fuelled my motivation to work harder than I was; being recognized and being heard is also a major part of the dream, so it’s absolutely inspiring!
Success comes with challenges, how do you overcome some of your challenges?
In general, life is full of challenges Handling them well is a part of growth and definitely a part of every success story. I have a winning mentality deeply engraved in me. Because of that, no matter how hard it gets, I overcome by staying positive.
A wise man once said “thoughts become things,” meaning your mentality shapes and define your physical life and existence. You’ve got to remain optimistic through everything, and you’ve got to keep pushing. Never stop believing in yourself and that’s how I win and will keep on winning. I don’t succumb to any pressure.
What project do you want to embark on now?
I am actually working on my first official studio album titled ‘ALI’ which will possibly drop anytime in the near future. As of now, there are no specific dates set for the release.
When did you decide to become a musician?
Way before turning 16, I always knew that I wanted to be a musician. However my family prioritizes acquiring a formal education first, so I only got to switch lanes and concentrate on music after I had received my bachelor’s degree in 2013.
Who influences you in the music industry?
Jay-Z and Kanye West are my influence in my early musical years and currently, “Skepta” is the artist who has been having the most influence on my music.
What do you think the future holds for the Nigerian music industry?
The Nigerian music industry is slowly dominating the whole world. I see a future where Nigeran music has more influence on the world’s sound as more people are getting to know of the existence of Nigerian music.
What was your parents’ reaction to your decision to go into music?
My parents’ reaction was okay because they knew that I had always wanted to do music and when I got the opportunity they gave me their full and total support
If you’re not doing music, what will you be doing?
I would probably be working in the processing industry as a chemical engineer.
COVID-19 has affected the industry, how have you been coping?
Yeah, it affected all industries, same as the music industry. But we keep moving. I have been doing okay personally and keeping myself safe from the virus, by adhering to the rules. This is very important, and I encourage everyone to follow suit during this tough time.
How do you combine your craft as a songwriter and producer?
Honestly, combining my craft as a songwriter and producer comes naturally to me. So there is no specific formula that I use in combining the two together.
As an artist, you must have had your fair share of police brutality in Nigeria?
I just think the Nigerian police needs a total reform. As for my experience of police brutality I would rather not share because I have been seeing it happen as far as I can remember from my teenage years.
Your advice to upcoming artists like you
My advice is not to let anyone tell you that your dreams are either big or small, the most important thing is to always put the work in!