King Plu, real names Lawrence Alobi, is a Nigerian-American who is one of the fastest rising acts out of New York city. His songs have gone viral online and he has, in the last months become a sensation. In this interview with ROTIMI IGE, he talks about his plans for African domination, among other issues.
Early memories while growing up?
This is a very tough question but I would try to answer it to the best of my ability. Okay here’s one, music related though. I remember when I was about 12 or 13 years old, I would write up some poems (yes I started with poetry), type them up and print copies for all my siblings and my mother too to see if they could decode the message within. I was weird like that (laughs). You know what they say, “You have to be a little weird to be creative”. I was also a very quiet yet vocal kid growing up and I had a very dominant personality in every circle I found myself. Maybe that’s just the Leo in me.
How did you discover your musical abilities?
You know, that is a very good question. I would have to say freshman year of college. Again, I was into poetry and writing sonnets; in my second semester, I believe I had to take an elective course; I think it was between Chinese arts or music. I chose music and music chose me. I started understanding how music was structured, understanding clefs, bars, stanzas, etc. It was an easy transition in my opinion because music is just poetry with a tune to it and maybe some hard drums, percussions, 808’s etc if thats what you’re into. I started writing more to instrumentations or beats either playing from speakers or in my head as opposed to just writing.
At what point did you decide to take up music professionally, instead of your mother’s preferred career path?
In sophomore year of college, I teamed up with two other Nigerian guys in Houston, Texas and we formed a rap group in 2005 I believe. We put out a few tapes for close friends and acquaintances to listen to but when we started getting booked for shows and we saw people were willing to pay for what we were doing, I was like, “we might be on to something here”. That is when it all started for me professionally.
What challenges have you faced over the years?
I have faced abandonment; my father wasn’t really in my life but then again that is most people in Nigeria, I had to figure out life by myself at a very young age. I had to grow up fast, fend for myself, pay my way through college, with a little help from my mom of course.
I believe that every disappointment is a blessing and everything happened to shape me to be the man I am today. I am self sufficient; I am a fighter, winner, conqueror, prayer warrior and I believe in God.
You have shared stages with some of the world’s biggest acts. What have you learnt from this experience?
Always stay humble no matter what, I learnt to be a sponge wherever I was, soaking up as much information as I could. I also learnt that everything you see on social media and the news is not what it seems. I learnt to take my time and enjoy the process, be resilient, have convictions but above all be patient and pray because this game is 40 per cent talent, 40 per cent capital and who you know, and 20 per cent luck.
Tell us about your songs…
I’m still kind of old fashioned in a sense because I still use the three verse structure and maybe a bridge. I am big on witty wordplay, a lot of metaphors, punch lines, subliminal messages, etc. It’s almost like a treasure hunt for me to see if my listeners can open up Pandora’s box. I write about various topics from life struggles to women and relationships, party music, dance music etc… I also like to fuse different genres creating a fresh sound every time.
My musical influences would be Tribe Called Quest, Redman/Method Man, Jay Z, Wu Tang Clan, Biggie, Bob Marley, ABBA, Fela and Michael Jackson.
How do you plan to make your mark in Nigeria and the world in general?
This is a loaded question but I plan to hopefully do my small part in making Hip-Hop/Rap somewhat close to a popular genre in Nigeria. I was just speaking to a friend the other day and he said to me, “Plu your music is dope, but I don’t know if Nigeria is ready for your sound”. My response to him, I played a video of J-Cole in concert in Lagos and my beloved Nigerians were reciting his verses verbatim, with so much joy.
I think they are ready, because I am ready. I see what the kids are doing in South Africa and I love it. I want that to be us. We are the champions of Africa and we should killing in every aspect. As for the rest of the world, I intend to keep putting out great content and making it accessible to everyone everywhere via all the music streaming platforms.
Tell us about some of the challenges posed to your music in America and how you plan to overcome them?
I would say the biggest challenges over the years was not having my business together. Artistes, there’s so much information online now that you could practically google everything. Get your publishing, copy writing together. The market is really saturated out here so you have to be doing something very different to catch the eyes of a label or music executive. Going independent is great but if you don’t have the financial backing then that’s a problem. It’s always a challenge making the right business move and financing it when my father isn’t Dangote or Adeleke.
What makes up good music, in your opinion?
In the words of the great Fela Kuti, “music is a very spiritual thing, you don’t play with music”. In my opinion, good music consists of a good instrumentation/production, good lyrics and vocal delivery, and a great mix and mastering. Music is supposed to take you to particular place every time depending on how you feel. Music is a vibe thing. Music is good when it touches its listeners.
Plans for next year?
Work smarter, build a team because in this game, you can’t win alone. I should be putting out an EP early next year 2019. More new music, more content, more shows, and more features. I plan on traveling a lot and touching my fans, and I am planning a huge homecoming to Nigeria because I haven’t been home in almost 18 years.
What other projects are you involved in?
I am currently working on an EP called “Descendant Of M’Baku”. It should be out spring 2019, I’m working on some collaborations, working on some ghostwriting and songwriting as well, and I might do some Plumixes, who knows.
How do you relax?
Relax ke, lol. No time oh lol. Nah, I de-stress by getting massages at least once a month. And I love to travel so that’s the only time I get to ‘relax’ because I am always on the go. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Lawrence Alobi, Jr., stage name ‘King Plu’. I am a Nigerian-American artiste and I hail from New York City though originally from Ikom, Cross River State. I currently reside in Brooklyn and I am an Afrobeats artiste or should I say ‘Rapfrobeats’ artiste. I am a rapper, songwriter, storyteller, creative and wordsmith.