I buy perfumes that can last me a year–Mr. Raw

SAPi28Okechukwu Ukeje, popularly known as Mr. Raw, talks to ‘Nonye Ben-Nwankwo about his fashion and styleWhat is your style?

I am more of a ‘keep it simple and straight’ casual dresser. Somehow, I think jeans and T-shirts work for me a lot because of the nature of what I do, though occasionally, I rock corporate wear and African/traditional attire.

You rap but you don’t always wear the blings and chains that rap artistes favour. Why?

I disagree with you! Dressing is a thing of the mind. It is a way of expression. When it comes to dressing, I believe a lot of people have a choice of what they would like to wear out before purchasing the clothes they wear out. There are people that are not artistes but they still dress the way other people believe artistes are supposed to dress. I am just being me. No particular mode of dressing should be attached to the word ‘artiste.’

I have seen a lot of us, both home and abroad, that rock corporate wear more than the bankers. Most times, before I step out of the house, I will remember this saying ‘dress as you would like to be addressed’. Maybe that’s why I am always conscious of what I wear out, and being someone who is not a fan of tattoos, earrings, etc, I have a picture of the ‘me’ that I want people to see.

Do you consider anything before you dress?

Yes I do. The way we dress says a lot about us in public places before we even start talking.

One would have expected you to wear dreadlocks or do a stylish hairdo but you are just normal, why?

I strongly think it’s a thing of choice. I am not a fan of dreadlocks or stylish hairdo. I love to keep it straight and simple.

Sagging is the rave of the moment for artistes. Are you part of the trend?

I have never sagged and I never will. It paints a bad picture of whoever sags though on the stage, it makes some artistes look all swagged up but sagging while working  or on the road, while on a visit to friends in their offices, in the church? Hmmm…  Imagine a politician sagging to address the voters or a lawyer sagging in the courtroom. Believe me, most of these people that sag will not allow a doctor that sags his pants to operate on them or a lawyer that sags to represent them in court. This simply means that sagging paints a picture of irresponsibility when it comes to people in other professions but in entertainment, it is a way of showing you’ve got swag!

What do you love wearing as a person?

A smile

Is there a difference between Okechukwu Ukeje and Mr. Raw?

There’s a big difference. Ukeje Okechukwu is the normal everyday guy, the guy next door. The guy they call ‘Mr. Raw’ is the artiste, the guy that uses his ‘Igbotic’ voice to make something out of his life through the God given gift of music. Mr. Raw is an entertainer and Ukeje Okechukwu is the name behind Mr. Raw.

What is your fashion craze?

I love shirts.  I love the colour white and I have lots of white tops but generally, I think my fashion craze is tops (shirts/Tee shirts- V or round neck etc).

Are you a perfume freak?

Yes, I am a perfume freak. I buy perfumes that can last me for over a year. I can use two or three different fragrances at once. It feels good to smell good.

Have you ever made a fashion mistake?

I have when I was much younger though. I can’t remember any particular incident but sometimes, when I look at my olden days pictures, I will just laugh my heart out. I find it difficult to believe I wore some of those clothes! To think I actually felt cool in those funny outfits to the extent of snapping pictures in them.

What can we never see Mr. Raw wear?

You will never see me wearing skinny jeans. It is boot-cut all the way, or flare jeans. I am a ‘big jeans’ person so I will never be seen rocking a skinny jeans.

Do you wear designer labels?

I wear a lot of designer labels both Nigerian and international. If the clothe is good and the design is on point, I will rock it. I have three Nigerians that I rock their designs well and they are all Naija-based designers. They are Kelvin Madu, AKA Chimex; Marco Martinez; and Pages by Princess Aibi.

What can you not leave home without?

Since we are talking about fashion, I cannot leave home without wearing my armour of God.

Even with all the competition in the music industry, you are still very much on top of your game. What has been your staying power?

I will say hard work and being prayerful have helped me. I always try my best to come out better than my previous jobs. Also, being open to criticism has helped me a lot to a point that I don’t feel threatened. That’s why, most times, I see myself encouraging a lot of artistes to do more of indigenous rap and I am glad I am as supportive as I can be. Finally, na God dey do am for me o!

How well is your latest work doing in the market?

My latest album titled, ‘The Greatest’, is doing incredibly well in terms of market sales and online sales. Also, judging by the offers I get from different promoters to perform at their events, it is a sure proof that the streets are enjoying my latest work and I thank God for that..

Your style of music is yet to change, why?

I will answer this question with another question. Do people really change their styles? No! Do people really change their names? No! They just add titles to their names and that doesn’t mean the name has changed; just like using my style on a reggae beat, highlife, makossa et cetera. My Style is what people identifies me with, just like my name. That’s the reason why when people hear a new song, they will be able to guess if it is artiste A or artiste B simply because they are able to recognise the styles of the artistes. My style is still going to be the same! I have a voice that sounds so ‘Igbotic’ to a point that even when I’m rapping in English, people still think I’m speaking Igbo language in my songs. It makes it easier for people to differentiate me from others.

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