Eclipse Nkasi: Finding Creative Expression In Literature
Creativity is fluid; it finds expression in diverse forms. Eclipse Nkasiobi is proof that you can’t confine yourself to one box. His creative journey ranges across different capacities; a multitalented musician, media strategist and content creator and also the Head of Promotions for Chocolate City Music which is one of Africa’s biggest record labels.
Nkasiobi speaks with The Guardian Life about his new book, No Rice On Sunday and transition.
Your career has witnessed a lot of interesting changes, what prompted the sojourn from music into the literary world?
My decision to pivot to the literary world was mostly out of curiosity. I wanted to experience a new form of creative expression and writing presented me with a just that. It’s amazing to know that I can tell stories with complex plots and still have room to break it down how I choose, unlike music where I am often confined to the 16 bar verse structure.
The film industry is still in my plans but I have so many stories I want to share with the world and in due time I’ll make films out of some of them.
What inspired the unusual title of your book No Rice On Sunday?
All the stories in the book are based on very different topics but are all connected in one way. Which is that they do not end the way you would expect them to. As elementary as that might sound it is a fundamental feature of life, things do not always happen how we expect or are used to.
Eating rice on a Sunday is some sort of a tradition in many Nigerian homes. Growing up, ours wasn’t any different. This was the routine for all of my childhood except for one particular Sunday. I got home from church only to find that my mum had made garri and soup for lunch. I remember feeling let down, but that singular random event taught me a vital lesson that reshaped my view on life. Sometimes things just don’t go the way we expect it to. Life is just weird like that, but even in the random events of life, there is still a valuable lesson to learn.
Hence, No Rice On Sunday.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing No Rice On Sunday?
The most challenging element in putting my book together was ‘time’. It’s wonderful to be multitalented and it sounds amazing every time I tell someone that I’m a rapper, singer, music producer and media strategist but the reality is that all that responsibility leaves me with very little time to try new things. However, my desire to create new projects and test new waters was too strong so I squeezed as much as I could during the weekends but it still wasn’t enough.
So in the months that led up to the release of the book, I took a bold step and left my job with Chocolate City Music in order to have enough time to finish writing and setting up my book for publication. It wasn’t an easy price to pay but it is fulfilling to know that I have been able to bring yet another idea to life.
You explored the theme of drug abuse in your book and it is an open secret that drug abuse is rampant in the entertainment industry, what is your take on this?
It is my opinion that the problem of drug abuse is bigger than the entertainment industry even though artists are the most referenced victims because they are constantly in the public eye. Unfortunately, like a lot of issues plaguing us on this side of the atlas, the abuse of drugs and other controlled substances isn’t combated properly due to low public awareness and availability of aid to people who are trapped in its cold grip.
Considering No Rice On Sunday explores social themes, do you consider yourself a social activist?
No, I do not consider myself a social activist. I am at best a person who is very concerned about humanity but hardly along the lines of politics.
Which book has had the most influence on your career?
If I had to pick one book that motivated me to start writing, it would be Akata Witch by Nnedi Okafor. The book woke me up to the fact that I could tell all the crazy stories in my head without holding back. Not to say that I didn’t know that it was possible to tell stories that were different from the norm, but I guess I wasn’t sure that it ould be appreciated by Nigerians.
With your experience in the music industry, what is your take on the future on rap in Nigeria?
I believe that rap music in Nigeria is going to scale up in a way that will create events, promotional and distributional channels that are specifically dedicated to the genre. It is currently bankable and even though a lot of people still find it hard to acknowledge that, its something I’m willing to bet on. Rap music has never been the biggest genre in the country but it doesn’t have to be for its stakeholders to be able to earn comfortably from it.
15 years ago people could have sworn that rap music would have phased out by now but today we have rappers headling major concerts, securing multimillion brand endorsement deals and doing astronomical streaming numbers. We just need to maintain our current drive and energy.
What is the correlation between music and writing? Do you see yourself differently as a writer and as a musician?
They all stem from a core which is creativity and I believe that all creative works are the same, the only difference is in the form of expression.
Music and books are ultimately just ways of telling stories and for me, I treat them both the same way, I try to focus on doing things in unique ways.
Songwriters are underappreciated in Nigeria, as a musician cum writer, how can that be changed?
To be honest, it is going to take a while because of the current lack of institutions such as publishing companies who are responsible for helping songwriters properly monetize their intellectual property. However, few companies have been set up and I believe that in a few years we may be able to see an increase in songwriters and a demand for their services.
What advice do you have for people who have a passion for writing?
First, to keep writing, but most of all remember that there is no such thing as an ‘Aspiring Writer’ you are a writer so ‘Write’.