Patoranking is a global sensation who blends the sound of his Nigerian roots with dancehall and reggae to create his distinct, uplifting and divine signature melodies. His journey started over a decade ago yet he only came into the spotlight after his hit song “Alubarika” with Timaya took off in 2014. Since then, Patoranking or Patrick as he is known in his private life has been climbing the ladder of the music industry worldwide and has managed to fulfil his childhood dream.
The artist hasn’t forgotten his origins and struggles when he was still on the come up and is actively involved in educational projects in Nigeria. He also set up a scholarship to help children across Africa to go to school called ALU Patoranking Scholarship in 2020 and is also looking at building a school next year as he revealed to us.
With multiple bodies of work, collaborations, awards and award nominations under his belt, Patoranking has become a staple name in the Nigerian space and his talent, creativity and charisma have been recognised worldwide not only by listeners but also by high profile musicians.
Ludacris, Popcaan and Davido are just three of the names that feature on his brand new album entitled “Worldbest which is coming out on the 6th of September.
World Best is a 15-track body of work that showcases Patoranking’s versatility and unique sound to the highest level. There is at least one song on the project for everyone out there regardless of who they are and where they come from, as one thing the artist does best is speak for the people.
How are you and where are you talking from right now?
“I’m good! I’m good, good, good. I just woke up on the wrong side of my neck so I’m in pain. I’m in Nairobi, Kenya.”
Your life is a movie right now isn’t it?
“It isss! Just keep taking it one day at a time, that’s the most important thing.”
I want us to start by talking a little bit about yourself. What are three things that represent you and that people should know about you from the jump?
“Oh so many things represent me, but if we’re gonna pick three.. I’ll go alphabetically. Cool, calm, collected, crazy, courageous. That’s on the C side. But on the A side I’m alive. I’m ambitious.. I’m active. YEAH MAN! ACTIVE! THAT’S THE WORD! That’s EVERYTHING, you know? I’m ACTIVE! “
And how would you describe your music in a few words?
“For me my music is a lot of speaking for the voiceless, it’s all about standing for the weak, and most importantly speaking for people. And I’m gonna describe my music I’ll say it’s life, love and yeah.. basically. Which is everything that we live for. Just life and love.”
You just turned 33, which you refer to as your Jesus year, and the name of your album is linked to that as it symbolises greatness and rebirth. Coincidentally the year is 2023 as well so there’s lots of threes aligning in your life right now. Does that have any meaning to you and how does that make you feel?
“Umm, I’m not gonna lie. I don’t know what meaning I’m gonna attribute to that, but I just know that how I feel right now.. I feel blessed and thankful. Maybe if I was to pick another three from my age I’d say three philosophies I live by are: I’m grateful for where I’m coming from, thankful for where I am and I’m hopeful for what it is to come. So these are three things that best describe my past, present and future mindset. So I’m in a happy state, the kids are fine and everyone is good. The team is going, we’re living and learning.”
What is the story behind the album? Where did the inspiration come from?
“The inspiration behind the album is about the destination… Or I would say it’s the preparation for what is to come which means it’s an affirmation, you know? World Best was given to me by my friends, my people around me, and if they see what I don’t see I just have to see through their eyes. So there must be a reason why they call me World Best and I claim it and I believe it.. That I’m the World Best. So this album sets the pace for what is to come. Global domination. Worldwide. You’re the best to do it or amongst the best to do it, you know? So that certification is what this album set us for. So it’s just like preparing you for a journey, for a ride, you know?”
What is your favourite song off the album and what is the story behind it?
“That’s hard! That’s hard but I would say I love “Lighters Up”. Yeah. I think that one for the books. “Put your lighters up, yes my time is now. Tell the world that my time is now. Where I’m coming from I’m blessed with a crown. Everyone knows they can’t stop me now!” You know, this is me just saying “Yes, it’s the time. They can’t stop you so put your lighters up.” It’s our time. And I think it embodies the title World Best. For me that should be the soundtrack of the album if I had my way.”
“There is another song, that’s why I said it’s hard, there’s a song for mama. The “Mama” track is me speaking for mums. Those that are alive and those who are not alive, you know? So.. There’s just a lot on the album.”
You have lots of features on this project. Ludacris, Davido and Popcaan are just three of them. What was it like to work with these artists?
“They’re my friends. That was before going to the studio. So we’re friends, it’s a similar recording process, so yeah..”
You also have plenty other collaborations under your belt. Throughout your whole career, which collaboration would you say it’s closest to your soul and why?
“That’s tough. Every song means different things to me, you know? I made those songs in different phases of my life, going through different things, you know, different songs mean different things. When I made “My Woman, My Everything” I was trying to speak for people, each man that has his woman and doesn’t have everything to give his woman the world, the only thing he has in the world is her. And I needed to have a song for him, you know? That’s what I was thinking when I was recording this song. “Alubarika” with Timaya was different, it was me telling a different story. So I would say “Alubarika” because that was the song that opened everything, that was the beginning of everything.”
Since your upcoming album is related to greatness and rebirth, I want to draw a parallel between this moment in time and your humble beginnings. How did your musical journey start?
“For me music has been inborn, you know, I’m not gonna lie to you. It started from the ghetto, started from the church, it started from my mother’s womb as well. So it’s been different levels. At one point I was a dancer before I started singing. I did not skip the line, I didn’t jump the process, I went through difficult, difficult times to get to this level. And I enjoyed every time, no matter how difficult it was.”
Do you remember the moment when you decided that you wanted to become an established artist?
“Mhm, yeah I remember. I remember the evening I was told by my friends like “Yo, in the football court, you’re there. In the dance court you’re there. In the music court, you’re there. Why don’t you just pick one struggle?” And I just went home and I prayed to God “Show me what you want me to become” and I saw myself singing in a dream.”
I know, and you just mentioned this as well, that at some point between other odd jobs that you’ve done before you became an established artist you were a carnival dancer. Do you miss those days at all?
“No, nah, I just.. I got to go to the ghetto, you know? So it’s still a vibe. And I still look for a way to bring back lifestyle or those moments, I still look for a way to relieve those moments. So it’s still part of me, either I live them through the music or I go there physically.”
What was life like before fame?
“Yeah.. I grew up on the streets of Lagos. I grew up selling on the streets with my dad. Also selling for my mum. We lived in a room, one room.. yeah I’m not gonna call it an apartment because when it is an apartment it becomes too furnished, so it’s just one room. I got my four siblings, my mum and my dad. So for me the goal was getting them out of the ghetto, changing their lives and giving the ghetto hope, you know, because they just needed someone to look up to. And I want to be the stand up guy. I guess everyone was scared to pick up the rope. That was it. It wasn’t easy but we give thanks for where we are now.”
What was that like?
“Yeah, it was rough. Rough, tough. You have to feel it, you have to experience it to understand it. But one thing I learned from the life in the ghetto was.. It made me a better human being. You know, having seen the two sides of life it’s given me a better understanding about life.”
You made a name for yourself in the underground scene long before you became famous. What were you doing back in those days to get the people’s attention and how did you build your reputation?
“I was literally going from one.. So we call it local governments in Lagos. So I was going from one local government or one area, okay let me use “area” so you will understand. I was going from one area to another area, singing and living there, you know? Because I had something that everybody wanted which is the dancehall touch. So I was literally going to different places across the state and that was one thing that helped me on the underground level. Singing, performing from bars to carnivals and places. Different functions. And recording with different artists in different areas as well.”
Also, I want to touch on the fact that you are very much into education, especially because you couldn’t afford to go to university. You set up a scholarship years ago to help children around Africa to go to school. I know you get so many children, many of them with perfect scores as well who also come from the ghetto like you did, so it must be very hard to select them. I’m wondering, has there been any child whose story left a mark on you more than others?
“I just look at it from a general perspective. Everyone is going through a lot because a problem is a problem, you know? I wish and I pray everyday that I can help the world, I can save the world, I can become Superman and save the world. That is the prayer. But what we’re trying to do because everyone is going through a lot, everyone is going through pain, you know, we can only do what we can do. People got stories, we hear stories everyday, but sometimes, we’re in a position where we can just do the little that we can and we’re just sending prayers and love.”
Have you got any other plans in that sector?
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. By God’s grace I’m looking at building a school next year. Maybe in Lagos or maybe my state of origin, so one of those two places. But we can start anywhere, you know, you never can tell.”
Last but not least, I want 2 pieces of advice from you. Firstly, what advice would you give to someone who is going through the same struggles you went through before fame: homelessness, hardship, lack of access to resources? What is the key to pulling out of that? And secondly, what advice would you give to an underground artist who is looking to make a name for themselves but doesn’t have access to any resources or people to help them?
“The key is dedication, learning and having the best of character, you know. Also knowing that failure is not the end of success, it’s part of success. It’s a big advantage. It’s very important to know that yes, there is nothing wrong in failing, it’s just part of the process, it’s not the end of the process.”
“And my advice (for artists) is that they shouldn’t get discouraged, they shouldn’t get carried away you know. They should see themselves as diamonds because diamonds are formed under pressure, in pain. So that is how they should see themselves, they should have value for themselves and they should believe in themselves. These are the things that will keep them going.”