“Emotions run high in Lagos and you are always driven to feel angry, or frustrated, but it takes a lot of personal effort to channel that into some kind of creativity.”
This week we meet with Ladipo Eso, the Lagos-based rapper who channels his experiences of the city into creative vignettes and wordplay.
Voices of the City is a weekly feature that spotlights the everyday lives of our citizens, living and working in the city. By asking the same five questions to all our interviewees, we discover not only how our experiences of the city differ, but also what we share. It is a daunting task to try and capture the diverse experiences of our city’s inhabitants, but we feel that it is a worthy, and necessary, endeavor, in order to better understand the present and future of our city.
Born Ladipo Eso, Poe is a versatile lyricist and one of the brightest stars in Nigeria’s alternative hip-hop scene. He weaves his experiences and vignettes of the city into his songs, most notably “Slow It Down” and “The Island“ as well as in his collaborations with Show Dem Camp (“Victoria Island of Broken Dreams”) and Falz (“Chardonnay Music”).
What about Lagos inspires you the most?
I think that Lagos inspires you just by being the kind of city that it is. Because it’s not the easiest place to live — with the bad roads, the congestion, to the people — it forces you to be inspired. Emotions run high in Lagos and you are always driven to feel angry, or frustrated, but it also takes a lot of personal effort to channel that into some kind of creativity. That’s the rewarding part. So there’s not one thing that inspires me about Lagos. It’s a multitude of things. But if I had to pick one, I would say it’s definitely the people and the ways in which they are creative about dealing with their problems.
Do you have a secret space or place that you enjoy in the city?
To be honest, I enjoy being in Ikeja GRA (Government Residential Area). I like the neighborhood because of the tranquility, and its natural aesthetic. GRA is filled with trees and there’s just vegetation everywhere. I like that and I feel a certain peace in those surroundings. If there’s any place that I feel the most secure, and the most stable, it’s there.
What was the last exciting event you attended in the city?
I really liked the most recent Lagos Jazz Series. I had a great time and I got to perform as well.
What frustrates you about the city?
I think the number one thing that gets to me about Lagos, and it applies to Nigeria more generally, is that there’s not enough of a culture of reward for hard work. I feel that young people have been let down and the country’s not being governed in a manner that is particularly positive and encourages patriotism. What frustrates me about Lagos specifically is that it’s such a wealthy city, and state too. There’s just so much that is not right in it. I think we have the capacity to do a lot more to help other states in the country. Lagos is supposed to be this leader [among the states], and actually lead. Many people move here to have a better life, but truly, is it a better life that we’re having?
If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
It would be two people actually, but if I had to pick one, it would be one of my grandfathers. Both passed away the same year, in 2012, so it was a very intense year. If we could have dinner, there are so many things that we would discuss – especially with my paternal grandfather because we talked a lot about Nigeria and why I was hesitant to live here. He felt that there was so much promise. I would like to just let him know how things have been going, and pick his brain a lot more, because he was a discerning man. He was a Justice of the Supreme Court. It’s the same with my maternal grandfather. He was a Major-General in the army.