STARS Interview: Climbing Up to Greater Heights with the Ten over Ten (10/10) Crooner – Naeto

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Naetochukwu Chikwe “Naeto C” is a Nigerian rap superstar whose significant contributions to the music industry has made him one of the country’s favourite music stars. He is one artiste that has had a quick rise and acceptance by music lovers across the world. 
29 year-old Naeto C was born in Houston, Texas. “The only MC with an MSc” as he likes to call himself, Naeto graduated with a BSc in Biology from George Washington University and proceeded to get an MSc in Energy Studies from the University of Dundee. 
Naeto C first caught our attention on the music scene when he hooked up with Uzikwendu and the now famous rap star, Ikechukwu. The trio formed the World Famous Akademy. Now Naeto C is signed on to Storm Records and has recieved several awards including the Best New Act at the MTV Africa Music Awards in 2008.
His recently released video Tony Montana (Bad Pass) remix featuring Dbanj was trending at Number 1 on YouTube just days after it was released. 
Naeto, who recently got married to his sweetheart, Nicole Chukwueke in Lagos had a chat with Bellanaija’s Adeola Adeyemo.

My chat with Naeto C was one of the most interesting I’ve had with a celebrity. I hardly get to hear “I won’t be talking about this or that” before I start off my interviews. But with Naeto, he was very apologetic and insistent on not sharing much about his marriage and especially his wife, and I mean very apologetic. Sadly for me, my 20+ mushy questions about his marriage went down the drain. Although at the end, he did speak about his marriage a little bit, he left me feeling nothing but respect for  his privacy, his talent and his ambition. 

Hi Naeto, it’s great to see you. How are you doing?
I’m fine thank you.

You’re really looking good, you know. I’m sure someone is taking good care of you.
We thank God, yes.

I like the sound of that ‘Yes’ but we’d get back to that later. What is the buzz surrounding Naeto C on the music scene now?
I’m starting work on my new album. I have a new song out called Tony Montana, the remix featuring Dbanj for which we just shot the video and the song has been doing very well. Obviously I wanted to shoot the video to raise the full potential of the song and I’m pretty excited about that.

Naeto C & Dbanj

Let’s talk about Bartender, the song you recently released with M.I. How did that collaboration come about?
It was the theme song for this year 2012’s Hennessy Artistry. When we got called on board, I was obviously honored to be chosen as one of the people to headline this year’s Hennessy Artistry. Hennessy is a premium brand and I thought the synergy was wonderful. We were given a brief about the type of song they wanted and we started working on it with different producers and eventually we were able to come up with Bartender which was a fun song to me. I wanted to make a song that people could claim as their own. It was a cool song and I’m happy about it. People loved the song and the video and I’m proud of it.

Early Career & Educational Influence
You’ve had a quick and good acceptance from fans since you got in to the music scene and this was reaffirmed with your MTV Award for Best New Act. Let’s talk about your entrance into the industry. How did it come about?
In a nutshell, as at this time 10 years ago, I didn’t have any thought of doing music professionally. It just started as a hobby. But it was a hobby I was kinda good at and I was making music for myself and my friends. As I progressed, the opportunity presented itself. I started making music and making small money, that way becoming a little bit financially independent. I took it on and opportunities just presented itself without me really looking for it. Obi Asika was liking my music and we started getting a good response and I became quite popular over a short period of time and I said well, if with this little effort, I was able to achieve this much, then this is probably something I’m supposed to be doing professionally.

You call yourself “the only MC with an MSc” in Nigeria. Why did you come up with that phrase?
Its rap; rap is competitive. At that point, I thought I was the only person at that level that was trying to get an MSc. Till tomorrow, that has been my strongest line because it’s gotten me to so many places and gotten the attention of so many great people to commend me. It has put me in a totally different lane. It was after I said it that other people came up saying this person and that person also had a Masters. I was like if they had it, why didn’t they think it was important to celebrate it?

When did you start to get this huge acceptance for your music? Was it before obtaining your MSc or after?
This was before my MSc.

If you were getting so much fame and clinching awards, why did you go ahead to obtain a Masters degree?
Because before my music career came about, I’d already wanted to get a second degree. I wanted to create a kind of future for myself and at that point in time, music wasn’t it. An MSc in terms of having a professional career sounded like it for me. But then, my music became bigger but I was like well, I’m not going to be in music forever and I was at the position where I felt that I needed to get more exposure for myself and develop my own personal interest. Based on that, I took some time off having done so well with Kini Big Deal to enrich myself so I decided to go do my Masters which was a beautiful experience.

You said you’re not going to do music forever…
No, I’m not.

What other plans do you have professionally?
I’m an entrepreneur obviously. In this landscape of today, especially in the entertainment industry, you have to be in charge of your business, you have to be able to run your business the way you see fit. Not everybody can do that but that is the way I was given the opportunity. I was given a baton such that I have to do everything myself. As a growing entrepreneur, you will always be looking for business opportunities to make a difference, to make a change. But I’m a private person, I’m not the kind of person who starts a business and wants to tell everybody. To focus on the real work, you don’t want that much attention.

OK, I respect that. I understand your first degree was in Biology, but I’ve read different versions of your second degree. What did you study at the Masters level?
Energy Studies, but specializing in Energy Economy.

I also read somewhere that you wanted to be a Doctor at some point…
Yes I wanted to be a Doctor that is why I was in Biology major because I wanted to go to Medical school after the University.

Personality
So you say you are a very private person. As a music star, how do you handle your privacy?
I go to public places by myself, act like a normal person and I think me acting like a normal person diffuses the level of attention I get. I don’t talk about my business freely and openly; I don’t do too much press either. I just let music and my actions speak for themselves.

Now that you’re married, how are you going to manage your family’s privacy? It has been the trend for very long that the media is very keen on following celebrities’ marriages.
I think that in that respect, your private life as an entertainer is the only thing that you have for yourself. Your public life, you share with other people so I think for the sake of sanity, just keeping a little bit that you own for yourself and then you can come back to everyday and be in total control of is something you’d want to protect no matter what. In different ways and in different situations, you just have to protect that.

Marriage
{I know he had warned me earlier but I decided to push my luck a little}
Now, let’s get back to the person who has been taking care of you at home. Would you be willing to tell us something about your wife?
No

How about how you met her?
No, nah.

Nothing at all?
No, I’m sorry.

You’re really breaking my heart and that of our wonderful Bellanaija readers…
Laughs.

You got married just a few weeks ago but you’re already back to work. Aren’t you going on your honeymoon?
We have a way we’re going to work it out.

Growing Up  & More
You’ve had some unique song titles with 5 and 6 and 10 over 10. How did you come up with that?
It’s just creativity, that is the good thing about being creative, you can make songs with anything. Sometimes, you’re not even thinking about it. When I did 10 over 10 and 5 and 6, I wasn’t thinking about songs, it just came.

You started out with Ikechuwku with the World Famous Akademy. What happened to that group?
He is my friend but at a particular stage in our career, we just figured out he needed to go in one direction and I needed to go in another direction. He is still WFA, he is representing and I decided to start off WKG Entertainment. We are still cool, we are still buddies.

Let’s talk about your background. Where did you grow up and school?
Really, I grew up in different places. I was born in Houston, Texas. I spent some time growing up in London and Nigeria. In Nigeria, I’ve lived in four different cities- Enugu, Lagos, Owerri, Abuja. I went to secondary school in Atlantic Hall, Lagos. After that I went to the University in the US. I was in New York and after that, I went to Washington DC. Then I came back to Nigeria and did my National Youth Service in Abuja which was a fun experience.

Having been around the world, where are you based now?
Lagos, Nigeria.

Your Mum is well known in Nigeria as a former Ambassador. Has her career as a politician influenced yours in any way?
I don’t really think her being a politician has affected my career in a direct way. My mother is somebody of high standards. She is somebody I look up to and I can only aspire to be like her. It doesn’t really have anything to do with her being a politician or an Ambassador.

On a personal level, what influence has she had on you as a politician aside from your career?
The whole issue of my Mum being in politics doesn’t really have anything to do with the form of encouragement that she gives that makes me carry myself with respect. Being the type of artiste I am, respect for me is a personal thing. As a politician, she can influence me. What influences is how I was brought up and the standards I try to maintain based on my relationship with her. Her job description has nothing to do with our relationship.

Do you have any plans of going into Politics?
Not really. The irony of occupying such high positions in politics is that you have to have high examples. Because you have people who are looting, who are not setting right standards.

Let’s talk a bit about your fashion. You made Fulani caps look funky. How did you come about that?
One day I was in Abuja and I saw Don Jazzy wearing a cap like it and it was really cool. We were hanging out and I don’t think he saw what I saw in it. I just picked up on it and took it to the next level.

I notice you also wear glasses a lot…
Sometimes my face carries a mean expression, it looks like I’m boning so to spice things up I need to wear glasses or shades.

Do you have any favourite designers or clothes?
That is one thing that stands out about my personality, I don’t have a favourite of anything. I don’t have a favourite colour, food, car, hang out spot.

OK, before I let you go, you just have to tell us this. How is married life?
Good.

What does marriage mean to you?
I believe the word itself is the union of two people of opposite sex under the umbrella of your religion of which you have obligations and roles. Marriage means different things to different people. For me its companionship, its everlasting friendship, its about two people and how you live out life together. I think friendship, companionship and trust are more important than the word marriage itself. I think a lot of people get married without really knowing this. It’s like you get a contract and you just read the title without reading the content. It’s not for everybody, you have to find the right time and do the right things.

You’ve been married for just a few weeks and you sound like someone who has been married for many years…
I guess it’s a blessing from God to be wise enough.

Are you going to tell us why? Why did you decide to get married?
No, I think I’d save that for my book.

Are you writing a book?
I might. With all these questions you’re asking I just might.

It was great chatting with Naeto C and from Bellanaija.com, we wish him the very best.

Naeto C ft Dbanj – Tony Montana (Bad Pass) Remix

Naeto C – I Gentle

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