Meet Odumodublvck, The West Ham-Loving Naija Rapper Co-Signed By Skepta

Following the whirlwind success of “Declan Rice”, the rising star talks about his plans for global domination as he gets ready to unleash ‘Eziokwu Vol. 1’.

Photography by @blakevisions

Afrobeats is one the most popular, in-demand genres in the world right now. Every other day a new banger seems to capture fans and summon new listeners through unavoidable virality via dances, singalongs, anthems of the sunshine or a declaration in the night. Nobody could escape Burna Boy’s “Last Last” last year, or Wizkid and Tems’ “Essence” the year before that, and they’re both still doing the rounds. Then there’s the more recent chart-buster, Rema’s “Calm Down”, which the world can’t seem to get enough of. In all the clubs, on all the pop stations, all over TikTok and Instagram Reels: Afrobeats fits any and every occasion.

It has also become a great connector of people, bridging cultures and reaching over the diaspora to reconnect while empowering an identity that was once stigmatised in the wider world. For many African people, the success of Afrobeats is more than just the chart positions and mainstream recognition—it’s also representation, pride, and a celebration of our expansive culture. It is such a culture that newcomer Odumodublvck—whom you may have spotted on Instagram alongside the likes of Skepta, J Hus, Daniel Adetona and Declan Rice—celebrates and epitomises. To epitomise a culture is to recognise its links and tie-ins, and Odumodu is a man that understands how truly important that connection is.

Born and raised in Lagos State, Odumodublvck is an Igbo-Nigerian rapper whose musicality boasts an infusion of styles. He’s a diamond from the rough presenting polished music, dropping banger after banger, and drastically evolving while doing so. Odumodu’s songs are a unique blend of hip-hop, drill and grime, all channelled through the lens of Afrobeats. It makes sense, then, that his number one influence in music is British grime and rap legend Skepta, who continues to inspire the stars of today (see: Central Cee).

After setting himself a five-year goal to develop, Odumodublvck has finally arrived; the first song of his to break into international recognition was the 2022 banger “Declan Rice”, which dropped on the same day that the soon-to-be ex-West Ham player scored his first goal for England. Since then, he has been going from strength to strength, and all while mapping out the markers of culture that made him who he is today.

We caught up with the rising star at the plush Marriot Hotel in London’s Maida Vale to get to know him a little better.

“I was supporting Barcelona and Arsenal, but they never helped me. When they saw West Ham helping me, Barcelona then decided to put my name on their billboard… So, based on that alone, West Ham are the best club in the world to me.”

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COMPLEX: What drove you to wanting to make music for the masses?
I recorded one song in 2017 called “Farabale”, on a Wiz Khalifa beat, and it made me realise that I could actually do this thing. Where I come from, there’s not much you can really do to sustain yourself, and waiting for a job is hard, especially when you have a family to feed. Like here, I go chop food—egusi and eba, it’s £50. In Nigeria? 50,000 Naira be that. You understand? There are office jobs I could go to and work 9-5 for the whole month, and my wages would be £75. So why can’t I just do something that will give me a lot to sustain myself and the people around me? I said, “Okay. Let me use this music to make money.” That was the starting point.

I’ve seen a couple of conversations you’ve had where you spoke about your music and what you want it to do. You said you want it to make people happy, to end beef, and to be the go-to place for resolution. Tell us more about that.
I like making music that can make an impression. See the way that China can produce pretty much anything? For example, in this room, this TV could have been produced in China; your shirt, China; trainers, China. I’m trying to make music that even when you walk around in your everyday life, when you see something, you think of me and my music. I’m trying to push it toward the cultural side. So, okay, the single “Picanto”, when you see a Picanto, can you think about me? Declan Rice, when you see him, can you think about me? 

Speaking on that, your West Ham connection—I love it. I’ll be on your Insta and you’ll have loads of West Ham fans in your comments with the hammers, and they obviously love your song “Declan Rice”. When did your affinity with West Ham begin?
Me, TeeZee and others went to chill and make music at a label house in Ghana, and that’s where “Declan Rice” was born. And right after I recorded the song, God made me realise how powerful it was. But West Ham, that is my team! I was supporting Barcelona and Arsenal, but they never helped me. When they saw West Ham helping me, Barcelona then decided to put my name on their billboard… In fact, that was Spotify, not even Barcelona. So, based on that alone, West Ham are the best club in the world to me.

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If you had to settle on a trio of major influences, what would be the key three? 
Truth is number one. One thing people don’t realise about the truth is that God is truth. You see the way God is love? God is true. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how long it takes—the truth will always win. It has never lost, because God can never lose. So I always try to follow that path. Second is authenticity. I can’t be rapping as a Nigerian and be sounding like someone that’s from Stratford. To me, that doesn’t make sense. Authenticity brings you into my world. Humour is the last thing. Say hilarious stuff! It’s okay. If you come out and start talking about all the problems in the world, it’s like, “Bro! I already know my problems. Don’t come and tell me about how we got independence, about how we were colonised. We know we were colonised!” I’m not saying you shouldn’t make music that gets people to gain awakening, but what I’m saying is if you need to move forward in Nigeria or Africa as a hip-hop artist, you have to make music that gets people going. Look at Black Sherif’s “Sermons”—he’s talking about some real stuff, but you can still move to those songs. So yeah, those are the three: truth, authenticity, and humour.

I’ve seen you wearing Jehu-Cal tracksuits and linking up with the likes of J Hus and Skepta. You know your stuff when it comes to Black British music and culture. What does culture beyond Nigeria, connecting with other places like the UK and the States, ultimately mean to you?
Everything! When you go to Portugal now and you land at the airport, you look around and everyone there is speaking Portuguese. The moment you hear somebody talk like you, you are happy. As you’re making music in Nigeria, you also have to think about that person that you met in Portugal, and how he or she is going to connect with it. I can’t make a song like Skepta and expect someone in the UK to be raising the Nigerian flag because they’ll say I don’t sound like their townsman. 

“By this time next year, everyone will see.”

To touch more on Skepta, how did it feel when he co-signed you and called you his “twin”?
It’s a real blessing. He’s my number one role model in music. You see the way a little child in Brazil will look up to Ronaldinho and have his picture on the wall? It was the same with me and Skepta. When I used to make T-shirts, I had Skepta’s picture on it... The only time I got to get a T-shirt printed, it was Skepta’s face. I’ve seen all his videos, all the interviews, know all his songs, so to have his support means a lot to me.

I got a chance to listen to your new EP, Eziokwu Vol. 1, ahead of its release. One of my favourite songs on it, “Shoot & Go Home”, sounds like it could be on FIFA—alongside “Declan Rice”, of course. All in all, it really encompasses your sound, which dips into different influences. The infusion is brilliant.
TeeZee and Decks were saying to me that “Shoot & Go Home” is going to go off in the UK. It breaks that barrier; it’s drill, it’s Highlife—it’s everything!

What does this project represent at this stage of your career? In my view, it seems everything has fallen divinely into place for you. For example, “Declan Rice” being such a great song and the man himself won the UEFA Conference League with West Ham—in most likely his last ever game with them—it all feels divine.
It doesn’t have to feel like it, because it is—from the first day we recorded it up until today. These guys haven’t won a title in 43 years. My mother was, like, 1 years old when they won their first European trophy. She hasn’t seen them win something in Europe in her whole lifetime. The day the song dropped, Declan scored for England. Do you get what I’m saying? It’s mad; you can’t even make it up. If you sit down in one room and plan it, it doesn’t come out the way it comes out so just know it’s all Godspeed. We don’t take the glory, because it’s God. Because why Declan? Why not Rashford? Saka? Kane? Grealish? 

What do you want listeners to take away from Eziokwu Vol. 1?
To let people know that I have come. I told them I was coming. We have come to do it our way. We’re not even trying to collect tips from anybody, because we have it all figured out. It’s about executing it now. Bro, don’t worry: by this time next year, everyone will see.

‘Eziokwu Vol. 1’ is due for release in early August.

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