Jesse James Enoch (born 14 September 1983), better known by his stage name Lyrikal, is a Nigerian rapper, record producer, and songwriter. He started his professional music career in 2003 with Port Harcourt city-based record label Tuck Tyght and released his first official single ‘Learn Something’. His second single ‘Can U Relate’ showed his boldness and ability to address sensitive topics like Socio-political issues in Nigeria. Lyrikal has since become a voice for the gifted and the oppressed.
There is a certain restlessness that has characterized Lyrikal’s journey as a musician and a man. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he was born on the road to Aba, Abia; hails from Akwa Ibom state, and spent his formative years in Sokoto. As the second and last child of a retired civil servant, Jesse relocated with his family in 1989 to Port Harcourt where his father was posted to serve. He received his primary and secondary school education in Port Harcourt and in 2005 he gained admission into The University of Lagos but dropped out a year later due to insufficient funds. Life in Lagos was hard, so he decided to return home to Port Harcourt where he tried to reorganize his priorities.
Lyrikal claims his inspiration for making music comes from being exposed to almost all genres of music especially reggae and disco during his early years. His early musical influences were the likes of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Mc Hammer, and Shabba Ranks. His love for rap music manifested when he saw the 1990 film House Party.
In the early 1990s, young Lyrikal fell in love with Hip Hop and honed his skills in rapping, rhyming and songwriting. He would later be influenced by the music and works of acts like Snoop Dogg (now Snoop Lion), Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur, Wu-Tang Clan, and Nas whom he also happens to share the same birthday with, though ten years apart. In 2003, he began his career with Tuck Tyght, a rap label that housed some of the most celebrated rap talents at the time in Port Harcourt. Some of these talents were Mack Gee, Double K, Andre Blaze, The Veteran, and Damage. His contribution to the Port Harcourt City classic album “Now Official” could not be ignored as he slowly cemented his place in the Port Harcourt music scene.
By 2006, Jesse went on a solo campaign with “The Escalator Project”, during which he recorded over thirty songs, but his attempt to release the project was futile as he had neither the proper management nor funds to do this. He, however, released a number of singles that did well in the local scenery but did not get the nationwide recognition he had hoped for. He continued on this path, making a name and gaining respect amongst his peers but still struggled to make the cross he desired.
In late 2010 however, Lyrikal moved on to Xcel Music, ironically the same label that housed Specimen A and M-Trill, who Lyrikal had dissed in the past. He has since recorded over a hundred songs, his debut project was released in 2013 titled “R.M.F.A.O (Rappin’ My Fuckin’ Ass Off)” a mixed tape that received huge critical reviews.
Lyrikal is currently promoting the release of his second mixtape titled “OCD: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder On 6 January 2014 he released ‘Focused’; the first official single off the OCD mixtape. Subsequently, he released his covers to Pound Cake by Drake, Tom Ford by Jay-Z, and Rap God by Eminem. Nearly thirteen years since beginning his musical career and successfully molding the hip hop scene in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Lyrikal is only now working on his first official album to be released later in 2015.
In January 2014, Lyrikal embarked on a campaign to inspire young Nigerians towards a more proactive engagement with both their personal development and national development. On 16 January 2014, he released a photo series of himself online behind prison bars. Each photograph was captioned with thought-provoking quotes from Lyrikal himself, Nelson Mandela, William Glasser, Henri Matisse, and a few others. The photos were featured on different blogs across the African continent and stimulated conversations relating to social participation in national development and the general creativity behind the photo campaign. Inside the press release, Lyrikal explained; “Hip Hop is a form of self-expression that tries to challenge or merely evoke the mood of the circumstances of an environment. The bars are a metaphorical play on the musical jargon; where they represent a point in a verse that contains the punchline for a rap – this is why we used sixteen photos. But most importantly, the bars represent the physical oppression, mental captivity and creative limitations facing the Nigerian youth today “