“Pepper Dem Gang” has been an important moment for Olamide and his YBNL label – it spawned a top 20 nationwide hit, a popular social media hashtag and it served as an intro for his new protégé Davolee. But the idea for the gang didn’t originate from Baddo’s wicked studio sessions with Young John – thanks to the upcoming rapper Lord V, the movement was already on its way.
Lord V is a lyricist on the up and up, his clever word play and laid back, made-to-measure rap flow has made him a favorite among many fans of underground hip-hop. The MC cites UK-based rapper Kano as one of his inspirations. In his time in the game, V has received cosigns from some of Nigeria’s most respected MC’s, been courted by a number of record labels and has been hailed as the next up for a minute now.
He is also known, particularly in Abuja circles, for repping the ‘Pepper Dem Gang’, a slogan he coined 5 years ago, even titling his first official single in 2012 “Pepper Dem”.
We dey pepper dem, we dey pepper dem
Adopting this as his mantra Lord V, set out on a rap career that has had its ups and downs. The young MC fell in love with the microphone in his high school days in Abuja and gained a reputation as a dope battle rapper amongst his peers. Back then he was simply known as Vino but would go on to earn the title “Lord” in his university days in Lagos from fellow rappers who he engaged in lyrical battles with. By the time he was done with uni and then grad school, Lord V added another title. Rejigging the moniker Naeto C made famous, he started running with the haughty tag ‘the Only MC with 2 MSc’s’.
Lord V now holds a Masters in Architecture and a Masters in Land and Property Development from Texas A&M University. Being a trained architect as well as an aspiring MC means that hip-hop has to share time with what actually puts food on Lord V’s plate and it hasn’t been easy juggling everything. In addition, he’s also started a clothing line called ‘Vino’ which the multi-talented, multi-tasking MC hopes to establish as a leading bespoke fashion label.
So being that rap is one heck of a selfish career, you sort of understand why Lord V hasn’t attained the heights expected of him since he first burst onto the scene in 2012. He is obviously stretched, but his love for hip-hop will never allow Vino accept that rap is just a part-time job. Listen to 234 the Mixtape which he dropped in 2013 while signed to Sway Entertainment, the same US-based label as DO at the time – it’s Lord V’s solitary body of work.
Despite not having an album out, Lord V has been able to work with veterans such as Terry tha Rapman and Pherowshuz – being that he spent his younger years in Jos and Abuja, these are rappers that he grew up on. Lord V has also been embraced by the generation of MC’s that came after that, listen to “Step to This”, his collaboration with Reminisce where he also used the slogan.
Oh, Pepper Dem Things, V come through with the Pepper Dem Gang
Bars – give them, groove – give them, dem no wan dance but I put it in their system
And more recently, his collaboration with SDC’s Ghost on “Bars Only”, listen below:
See I’m a good kid in a mad city, got tog dawgs in my breed
It’s that Pepper Dem and that Bang Bang
You can’t front on my steez
Then while referencing his clothing line ‘Vino’ in another portion of the song, he raps:
This one is for the big boys way dey pepper dem with these kaftans
And that’s Vino by Vino, been ill from the get-go
Now let’s look at the timelines. Olamide’s “Pepper Dem Gang” was first released on Boxing Day 2017, Lord V’s “Step to This” came out on December 21st, 2015, a full year before that and “Bars Only” came out just 5 days before Olamide seized the internet with one of the standout records from his latest album The Glory.
In April of 2016, Vino entered the “Who You Epp?” freestyle competition to rhyme over the beat and reuse the chorus of another notable song from Olamide’s The Glory album – the album wasn’t released at the time. Having already plastered #PepperDem and #PepperDemGang on his pages on social media for several years, Lord V felt comfortable enough to reference the slogan at the start of his freestyle.
Baddo, I had to jump on this one, man
Pepper Dem Things, V come through with the Pepper Dem Gang… Who U Epp, guy?
Lord V says hopping on “Who U Epp?” was a show of respect for Olamide, an MC who had inspired him personally, and still does. He also realized the freestyle was an opportunity to keep his name in rap circles but in a classic case of big bank taking little bank, it would appear that the plan backfired.
Lord V has moved on however, he’s been hard at work on a new mixtape that was initially to be titled BARS Volume 1 – Pepper Dem Gang. Recent development have obviously overtaken those title plans but the new mixtape is coming out soon all the same.
In all this, Lord V isn’t bitter, he recognizes the futility in trying to lay claim to the movement. He also refuses to allow this episode put a wedge in the relationship between himself and Olamide, a rap icon he has a lot of respect for, even joking that the ‘gang is forever’, while remaining honest to himself that Baddo made the movement bigger and more important than he ever could have.