I was able to link up with Kahli Abdu, aka Mighty Slim for a one on one interview. The man behind one of the finest and most creative mixtapes to ever grace the nigerian hip-hop scene.
Probably one of his most impressive qualities is his humility and his ability to relate to just about anyone. His music speaks for itself, and Kahli rarely puts out material that is not about sending a message. It’s less about punchlines with him, and more delivering a message, although he definitely has his share of hot lines.
I would go into details about who Kahli Abdu is, but I’ll just save that for the interview below. Check it out.
Aribaba: For the people that don’t know who you are (I’m sure not many), tell us a bit about yourself… A little introduction if you will.
Kahli: Yeah, my name is Kahli Abdu. Some people know me as Mighty Slim. I’m just a young brother from J-town, doing my thing. Somewhat of a rebel. I just keep it real for the people. Do what I do best.
Aribaba: Where did the name Mighty Slim come from? Is that the alter ego? *laughs*
Kahli: *laughs*… You see me I’m slim. I’m a slim brother, so that’s pretty much how it came about. The mighty part, I’ll leave out how that came about laughs. Basically it’s cos I’m slim.
Aribaba: So Tell Us How You Got Into Music?
Kahli: Well I started rapping a while ago. My first rap verse was written in 1996, when I was in JS1 I believe. My cousin, who actually wrote the intro on MOC (Ministry of Corruption), goes by the name, Sir Riches; he put me on to Nas, Pac, and all. I heard this little mixtape, and I was like “woooow this is so cool.” So I got to school, and then I started writing, and composing and all. That’s how I got into writing and poetry, and then I started rapping. Over the course of time, I kept growing, and by 2002, a good friend of mine named Bob, who is in this group called 11:30, invited me to come perform at an event, and it took off from there. It was like a straight up flight.
Aribaba: The first time I heard of you was from “Rise” on MI’s Illegal Music, and since then I noticed you have a pretty decent relationship with the Choc Boiz… How did that come about? Do you guys go way back?
Kahli: Shout out to them. I’ve known the Abaga brothers since childhood. Actually our parents have been family friends for a very long time, but I never actually really knew them. We weren’t really friends until early 2003. We used to perform at the same shows in jos then. I remember, my group met up with Jesse cos he was producing, and he laced some tracks for us, and from there we started hanging out, and from there we became really tight.
And for Ice Prince, we’ve been really good friends from way back in jos.
Aribaba: This is probably the most common question for musicians, but I’ll go ahead and ask anyways. Who are/were your biggest influences currently and while growing up artistically
Kahli: I have a lot of influences besides rap, but as far as rap goes, my favorite rappers are Biggie, Nas, Scarface, DMX, and 2pac. Those are like my favorite MCs of all time.
Aribaba: What about outside of rap? In general
Kahli: Outside of rap, this list is huge *laughs*. Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, I love me some Jimmy Cliff. I love a lot of Reggae actually. Also a lot of the early Nigerian music, I got put on about 2 years ago. I’ve been listening to that. I actually think you guys should start a segment where you feature some of the classic Nigerian music. It’s off the chain. If you check em out on you-tube, that sh*t is crazy. A lot of people get nostalgic over that.
Aribaba: Your most recent mixtape, Ministry of Corruption is based of remakes of some of Fela’s finest material. What was the inspiration behind that?
Kahli: I don’t even know exactly how that happened, but I remember when I was hanging out with my manager, Chief Willis, who also produced some tracks on the mixtape, and we were talking about Afro Music in general in this studio where we were working at the time. Then I just said, “yo I wanna do a mixtape. Let’s sample Fela’s stuff.” He thought is was cool, and then we started working on it. That was about 3 years ago. The rest is history…
Aribaba: You’re known as one of the rappers that always has a solid message behind your work, what was your goal behind doing such a mixtape that had never been done in the Nigerian market before?
Kahli: To be honest with you, I definitely had no formulas whatsoever. I never went in saying, “ok I’ll do a track and talk about this, or do a track and talk about that.” It was pretty much just winging it.
There was a process I went through. I kinda let myself go through it, which was listening to Fela over and over again. Listening to his stuff and trying to get in his mind, and I realized that you cant even get in his mind. He says some stuff and I’m like “wow… How did he even come up with that? Like what was he thinking?”
So I decided that I’ll just get in the studio, and whatever happens, happens. And that’s how I winged it. When chopsticks made some tracks, I just did my thing…however it happened. Plus Chief Willis had the oldest beats on the mixtape, Miseducation & Thiefs Run The Night. He made them way before anyone knew what was going on.
Aribaba: With the success of the mixtape, (everyone’s been talking about it). What’s next for Kahli Abdu? Video? Plans for an album?
Kahli: Yea actually we’re working on a couple of videos for some songs. People are interested in seeing some videos, so we’re working on that. I had a meeting today with a director to discuss videos for some songs. I cant say which ones yet, but certainly a video or two in the works.
I don’t know if I told you, but I have my first album ready. About ninety something percent of it is done. I’m still accepting tracks from producers just to see what’s good, but basically I have my first album down somewhere in the vault ready to come out. It should be dropping sometime this year… I hope.
Aribaba: So tell me what you think of the Nigerian Hip Hop industry and music industry so far?
Kahli: I mean it’s crazy. If you know where Nigeria is going, you’re a genius. I mean you look at it, MI is on BET today, and tomorrow someone else is at the grammys, and then next someone is somewhere else. I believe there’s so much more to witness along the way.
Aribaba: Yeah I know, when MI and P-Square were announced to be on the BET awards it surprised everyone. Folks were like “wow, we’ve come this far”
Kahli: Yea I believe that was a great moment. Actually that was a good moment, cos the great moments are on the way. Like I said, the Grammys aren’t far fetched. I’m sure many people will come up with some crazy stuff, and before you know it we’ll be all over the place.
Aribaba: Ok I didn’t have the question written down, but how would you categorize Nigerian music now? If you look up on itunes and stuff, our music is categorized as “world music”. Do you think we should have our own genre of music?
Kahli: Absolutely. I predict that in about 3 years, we’ll have our genre. I don’t know what it’ll be called *laughs* but I’m sure we’ll have our genre. At the rate we’re going it’s definitely possible. We have people from outside checking us out, and so it’s definitely happening. I’m predicting this… quote me. *laughs*
Aribaba: So your manager, Chief Willis, is a white American, and he produced some tracks on the ministry of corruption with fela samples. That dynamic is not something easily predictable. I wouldn’t have guessed it at all. How did you guys hook up?
Kahli: Let me just say this about Willis, he’s like the coolest white kid ever. If you meet him, he blends with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re African, or Asian or whatever. He’s like a white African… That’s what I call him.
In Maryland when I was in college, some years ago, I met him in class. He got up and introduced himself and said he was a producer, so after class I went up to him, introduced myself, and kicked a mini-freestyle for him, and he was like “oh cool… come by the studio and let’s do something.” That’s pretty much how it all happened.
Aribaba: What would you say is the most attractive feature in a woman?
Kahli: I was about to be funny with it, but I changed my mind *laughs*. As cliché as it sounds, I think it’s character. Shout out to every beautiful woman in this world, but I think beauty can be overrated, and character is the most beautiful thing a man should look out for.
You can go out there and get carried away by the beauty, and not pay attention to the stuff that matter the most to you over the course of time. Sometimes you find that diamond in the rough. That beautiful girl that has the most beautiful character and just loves you for you. There’s a few of them out there in the world. Trust me, I know what I’m saying.
Aribaba: If you weren’t into music, what else do you think you would be doing career-wise?
Kahli: Definitely business. I love business. Every time I get on the internet or watch tv, I look at what’s happening around the world business-wise, then I check out music and stuff on VH1, SoundCity etc.
Either that or I’ll be a film producer. Or maybe a football/soccer agent cos I love football.
Aribaba: Random question: Give me the your top 5 songs currently. Like what’s bumping on your mp3 player… besides your work of course.
Kahli: Ok. I’m not doing this cos I’m a J-Town cat or whatever but there’s this kid called Suranu. On his mixtape he has this joint called Touch it. He sampled one of Kanye’s tracks. He goes in hard on it. I listen to it a lot.
Another kid is Genius (featured on MOC as well), he has a record called stronger. Oleku is monster of a song.
I think MI’s No One Curse is up there. Not just cos I’m on it, but the whole song is hot. The production, MI’s verse and all.
Finally, the whole of Kanye’s album. Yep the whole album is crazy.
Let me just add also that J-Cole’s mixtape is wicked. Chopsticks and I discovered that mixtape, and it’s dope.
Aribaba: Ok, last question; What will you say it your goal in music? Like when it’s all said and done, what would you like to have accomplished or be remembered for?
Kahli: Until you asked that question, I was just going to tell you that I’m doing this cos I want to be remembered. I want to drop my name in the books of history. I could do 10 albums and not make 1 Naira, and I’ll be content if my name will be written in stone.
Check out Fear Fear Factor & Categori from Kahli Abdu & No One Curse with MI
Fear Fear Factor[audio:Fear Fear Factor.mp3]
No One Can Curse[audio:No One Curse.mp3]