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Ketchup: Putting Nigerian Dancehall On The Map



Onyido Nkemjika aka Ketchup’s love for reggae/dancehall started from a young age. Since then, he has not looked back on his drive to continually give Nigerians quality music. He shares his thoughts with ABISOLA ALAWODE.  

You said in a recent interview that you have no competition. But based on the number of male acts who now toe the new-school reggae/dancehall line, this has changed. How do you feel about this?

Everyone can make reggae or dancehall music. But very few have a sound. I believe I have worked hard enough to own my sound, and I’m sure my fans know this. Every time you listen to a Ketchup song, there is this feeling of happiness you get. Because of this, I’ll say I have no competition.


Why did you choose to do reggae/dancehall? Seeing that they are almost a million other genres of music you could have done?

[It is] because I grew up listening to loads and loads of it. Also, I have songs that are not reggae dancehall songs. Some of them are a fusion of calypso which is also a branch of dancehall. So yes; I’ll say reggae/dancehall chose me instead. I listened to a lot of Shabba Ranks, Bob Marley, Ebenezer Obey, Blackky, Bright Chimezie and a lot of guys from the 80s and 90s.


Pam Pam your latest single has steadily gained waves amongst music lovers all over Nigeria and the rest of Africa. How did you come up with the concept for the song?

Big shout out to Orbeat the producer. Orbeat made the beat and described exactly what he needed me to do on the tune. And God be praised I was in that mood on that particular night, and I just got into the zone and we wrapped the whole song up in one night.


Your acting skills have also been brought to the limelight on a couple of your colleagues projects. Are we right to say that you will be joining Nollywood soon?

Yes o! This is informing all directors that they should give me a chance. In as much as I would love to act, I would love it to happen naturally. It takes one person to believe in whatever you do, and the rest God will put in place. So, if I do find a move director that believes in the way I act, then I will delve into it.


Based on Nigeria’s ‘tough’ entertainment environment, I’m sure you must have experienced some challenges in your career. Could you share some of them, and how you overcame them?

Personally, I have faced a lot of challenges. In 2013 for example, my song Show Me Your Rozay was released, and in the month of its release, I lost my dad. Also, I had an accident and snapped my Achilles tendon which I had to undergo surgery for. [Within same period] I left my then music label. You can imagine how tough it was for me. I had just my manager, my mum and siblings supporting my career at this point.

I was able to overcome all these issues because I remained steadfast in the pursuit of success; I took the bull by the horn. As the first child of my family, I gave my dad a befitting burial, and then took some time out to treat my injured Achilles tendon because the doctor said if I didn’t, I might not walk again, talk more of dance. You can see that I’m doing well Now. I owe God everything.


Nigerian music is steadily gaining ground abroad. What do you think is responsible for this, and how do you think artists can build on it in order to perfect their sound?

The hard work of those before us and the drive of the current generation in my opinion are responsible for the ‘interest’ people all over the world seem to have for our music now. These days, everyone is working hard to better themselves in the best way they can. This brings about progress in general, even though it’s a slow process. This in-turn tells on the music. Only a happy person can make good music. Every artiste can only get better. The more you work, the better you get. So, as long as all hands are on deck making good music, it’ll only be a matter of time before the world becomes our playground. Africa is the future of music!


Any plans to release a full length album or EP in the future?

Yes. In 2016, my album will drop. Biko anybody with album title or some sort of magic should hit me up.


You have worked with the likes of Banky W. Which other musicians both Nigerian and international would you like to work with?

I’ll love to work with Chris Brown, Shaggy, SIA, Busta Rhymes and Big Sean. I’ve also worked with Davido, Red Fox from Jamaica, Admiral, Uhuru and Jah Seed from South Africa just to mention a few.


If you were to meet President Muhammadu Buhari, what would you tell him?

I would tell him to try and pay attention to entertainment because believe it or not, if we have as much order and organisation in the entertainment sector, trust me the nation would benefit so much from entertainment; crazy as it may sound. Let me paint you a picture. The Nigerian population in 2013 was listed at 173.5million people. With this, imagine if we have a structure that allows half of this population or even 10% to buy your album for 200 naira per copy. The money you realise from such a sale would as a form of good will urge the artistes decide to give back to the society. The giving back I’m talking about may come in the form of building schools and other grassroots projects that will assist the government in taking care of the common man.


What piece of advice would you give anyone that wants to be a musician?

First, go to school. Nurture your talent, work hard and believe in yourself. Always remember that nobody owes you anything in the music industry. If you work hard enough, people will recognise your effort and show you love. Also, believe in God and never forget there is enough space for everyone in this world to shine.


Garri or cornflakes?



Shades or no shades?

Some days on and off


Most embarrassing moment?

The day I fall off the side walk in front of my crush lol


Do you have any secret career wish?

I’ve always wished I could act, dance as much as I would, start my voice acting career too and model.


Do you have any special routine you must undergo before you get on stage?

No. I just pray and ask my team “you believe me “? And they smile and I’m gone!


Which do you prefer performing live or on stage?

Live band always

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