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Thutmose. Photo: Jimmy Michaels

How This Rising Nigerian Rapper Landed His Song in the Official FIFA 18 World Cup Trailer

We catch up with Thutmose to discuss his journey and how his song made it into the EA FIFA 18 trailer.

Thutmose just got the biggest look of his career. A collaboration with German-bred producer NoMBe, "Run Wild" serves as the soundtrack to the official trailer to the FIFA 2018 World Cup. It's not every day you get to see one of the world's greatest athletes, Cristiano Ronaldo star in a clip synced to your record, published by the world's biggest video game franchise, EA Sports.

It's Thutmose's high-energy, high-intensity bars and standout melodies that have audiences at the edge of their seats. Following his last single, "WuWu," which was released last year, the Nigerian-born, Brooklyn-raised artist confesses his love and passion for words, using music as a means to express himself in any way possible.

Since then Thutmose, real name Umar Ibrahim, has opened for pop phenom Billie Eilish on tour and released two freestyles, "Pick It Up" and "Norcos."

With the games underway, OkayAfrica caught up with Thutmose to discuss his biggest influences, his journey, and how the FIFA placement came about.


Thutmose, how'd you get your name?

It's from an old Egyptian king. I just love the symbolic meaning of what a king stands for and the confidence it gives to people. Also being African and Nigerian myself, I wanted to tie it back culturally. My real name is actually Arabic.

Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop?

I think I'm in a very interesting lane, a very special lane. My music is very diverse. I can bring the melody, I can bring the raps, and combine them into who I feel like I am as a person. And try to make that reflect onto the songs.

Talk about your Nigerian background and being raised in New York. How does that play into your life and career?

For me, it's a very special part of my life. Being born there and getting exposed to a whole different kind of lifestyle and different culture. It gives me different characteristics to be honest. It has a different persona to me, being raised in Brooklyn where hip-hop is very prominent and in Nigeria, it's a lot of dance records and gospel music.

Who are your biggest influences?

I'd probably say Kendrick Lamar, Sade, and Jay-Z. I'm drawn to different artists, some for their personalities and some for their art. Some that are just built in the progression of life and the way they handle themselves.

You recently opened up for Migos at the EA Play event. How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?

I think it's very important. Anywhere where music is prominent. Every inner city that has a great platform for you to perform your art. So whenever that opportunity comes, you should always go for it. LA is definitely an amazing place—the city is beautiful, the weather is great. I think it's very important for the artist to try to perform there.

Tell us about the making of the FIFA song "Run Wild."

That was really amazing because I created the song with producer KillaGraham, who I work with often. He's an amazing producer. We made that song maybe around six months before FIFA even decided they wanted to use that song. One day, it was producer KillaGraham's sort of idea, and he had his production set up. At first, I wasn't really into it. He just convinced me to still go there. I'm very open-minded so I was like, "I got to try this out." I just started writing the song and an hour or two hours later, the song is finished. Months later, I got a random call and FIFA wanted to use the song.

How was it seeing the record featured in the official FIFA trailer?

I was just like "Wow, that's crazy." Growing up in Nigeria, soccer is huge. Me and my little brothers, they play FIFA. All my friends play FIFA. That was surreal. To see Cristiano Ronaldo run around to my song, he was one of my favorite athletes growing up. I used to play that game in Nigeria. It's equivalent to... I'm a big fan of LeBron James. It's like LeBron casually dancing to or appearing with one of my songs, to me it's just mind-blowing. It was a very special moment.

What do you want fans to get from your story?

I'm always trying to let people know to be very self-aware and true to themselves. I just decided to live the life I achieve to live. A lot of times, I perceive myself as a very multi-talented, diverse person. I always try to do that for my music and showcase different attributes. It's a few times I've ever not been true to myself and I've sacrificed a different image or persona to try and tell my life and my story. I encourage others to live their life as they see. It's not live the best life, it's live the most truthful life.

What's a normal day in the life? Walk us through.

A normal day in the life for me is not sleeping at all, being out until like 3 a.m. For the most part, I love eating, scrolling down Instagram and Twitter, keeping myself busy. Just thinking a lot. Just like a normal person, trying to find balance pretty much.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing music?

I would be working at some crazy tech company, probably like Tesla or Google or something Trying to figure out some new idea, trying to create. I just love creating. So similar to music, I would try and create something else in another realm.

Thutmose. Photo Credit: Louis Browne.

Who's your dream collab?

Kendrick Lamar. I'll also take a feature from Sade.

Who's the most played artist on your phone?

This week would probably be XXXTentacion.

What was your reaction to XXX's death?

Pretty crazy. He was one of the few artists I would actually gravitate towards his music, despite him being controversial. I think he was just starting to turn his life around. Even in the music, the progression in his last two albums, and the death and the conversation it has about mental health—depression, anxiety, a lot of issues. A lot more people related to him on a personal basis. For me, around the time I was really gravitating towards the music, I feel like all the noise just started to cancel it out. Just the way he kept going, it's crazy. Just a reminder to live my life to the fullest. You never know what could happen any day, just try to be a good person and live a truthful life.

Anything else you would like OkayAfrica to know?

My debut project is on the way and also to look for an album. A lot is on the way!

Style
Image courtesy of Daily Paper

Wekafore Releases Fela Kuti Inspired Collab With Daily Paper

The one-of-a-kind 'The Spirit Don't Die' capsule collection celebrates African heritage and a hope for a brighter future.

Amsterdam-based African streetwear brand Daily Paper has joined Nigerian fashion brand Wekafore in creating a unique capsule collection of note. The 'The Spirit Don't Die' collection is inspired by fashion and Nigerian activism icon Fela Kuti, but celebrates the bountiful beauty, potential, and heritage of Africans.

Nigerian designer Wekaforé Maniu Jibril, owner, and designer of the Wekafore brand has been hot since his 2013 debut. The brand has gone on to become a great success within the realm of West African fashion. Wekaforé represents a newer, more fearless generation of African designers and their latest collaborative collection tells the tale.

Daily Paper x Wekaforé 'The Spirit Don't Die' collectionImage courtesy of Daily Paper


The two popular brands share a rich history and intention to further African fashion's reputation in the world, as well as as a shared desire for raw necessity, organic growth, and authentic community engagement, development and, support. The fashion brands are making it known that street and casual wear are more than we once thought - fashion can be inclusive and fun. The stars truly aligned to bring us this partnership guided by similar core values and the hunger to celebrate Africa and her diasporas through fashion.

The Fela Kuti-inspired collection is filled with distinctive and bold pieces, honoring Africa's past while paving the way towards the future. Wekafore is known for their clear integration of West Africa's 1970's cultural golden age, and this limited collection speaks to those themes, making it a no-brainer to dedicate the line to the legendary King of Afrobeat, whose style never disappointed. It's clear to see how Kuti's influence inspired the exciting and vibrant creative renaissance seen in the collection. On using Kuti as his muse, Wekaforé says, "Like Fela, the pieces are very punk, very psychedelic, and very African at the same time. And that represents me 100%. And I think being able to speak that way through a platform like Daily Paper is a testament to contemporary African consciousness."


Image courtesy of Daily Paper

Daily Paper x Wekafore 'The Spirit Don't Die' Collection

Check out more of Daily Paper x Wekafore's collection 'The Spirit Don't Die' collection here.

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