9ICE & TONI PAYNE
9ice's marriage has crashed. The union, with Toni Payne, which was solemnized on Thursday, July 17, 2008, officially hit the rocks as a result of irreconcilable differences. A statement made available to the press on Friday, January 8, 2010, by his publicist, stated that, “The couple have agreed to go separate for a while, even though they continue to remain good friends and business partners. Their baby, Zion, will reside with Toni for now.” An unconfirmed source, however, told s that the lady became domineering and unmanageable at some point.
9ice (real name, Abolore Akande) met Toni in 2006 at comedian Gbenga Adeyinka's 10th anniversary celebration held at Lagbaja's Motherlan, in Ikeja, Lagos. They started dating and in July 2008, at the Surulere Marriage Registry, Lagos, exchanged marital vows. Their only child, a baby boy who they named Zion, was born on December 4, 2008.
A DELAYED TALE
Towards the end of last year, the story of the alleged break-up of 9ice's marriage had filtered to ENCOMIUM Weekly. We made the necessary calls to 9ice's close pals who should be in the know, but they all denied it. His publicist equally denied having any knowledge of such then. His producer and close friend, ID Cabasa, again claimed ignorance of any rift or signs of one. His actual reply to the said phone call then was: “I haven't heard of any problems between 9ice and his wife. In fact, 9ice just left my place now and he never showed signs of having any marital problems. Let me call him and get back to you.” Cabasa, expectedly, never got back to us.
The suspected reason for the alleged break-up then was that the couple were having disagreements over 9ice's management arrangements. Toni wanted to remain in charge of her husband's affairs while 9ice wanted to outsource that.
9ICE'S DWINDLING FORTUNE
Even though there has hardly been any report of an excellent showing by 9ice on stage, things have largely worsened lately. His performances at the shows he featured towards the end of 2009 were just short of tragic. He never impressed on any and even had to cut some of them short when things got very bad. Of particular note was The Ovation Red Carol where he didn't even finish singing Gbamu Gbamu, before abruptly quitting the stage. Though the sound system paraded at the event was bad, 9ice was singing some beats slower than his CD which was being played by the DJ. All of which could also be as a result of his marital problems.
PROBLEMS WITH DJs
About his albums, Tradition is the third. His first was Certificate (2006), which failed to launch his career, but Gongo Aso (2008), brought him fame, wealth and exposure. The latest album, Tradition, has not lived up to its billing. There are even reports of some radio DJs blacklisting it. We got across to a number of DJs and some of them confirmed the story while others said they know nothing about it.
Three DJs at Raypower FM, DJ Neptunes, Xcris and Kaysmith, all stated that they had no problems with 9ice.
DJ Neptunes said: “I don't know about it. Anytime I am on radio, I play his music. There's no wahala on our side.”
For DJ Xcris: “9ice has no problems with us at Raypower. I play his music.”
And DJ Kaysmith: “I don't know about any problems with the DJs. But I play his music.”
DJ Rexy, who is with UNILAG FM, acknowledged having heard about the issue. “It is true that he has some problems with some DJs, but 9ice is like a brother to me. He has been nice to me and no matter what happens, I will play his music.”
DJ Vinnie who works at Radio Continental and Primetime out-rightly rejected the story. “It's not true. I play his music. 9ice has not done anything to the DJs. But there had been a case when an artist was blacklisted by the DJs. An example is Terry G, when he offended one of our senior DJs, we stopped playing his music and he had to apologise.”
But DJ KLM, who is at Rhythm 93.7 FM, noted that there was something wrong in the relation of 9ice and the DJs. “Nobody actually blacklisted him, but the way he is going about the promotion of his current album is not good. When Gongo Aso came out, we supported him and the album became a success. When he was struggling, he was very humble and related with us, but these days, he doesn't give a damn about anybody. He is now a 'big boy' and that's not right.”
And DJ Humility concluded it thus: “9ice's management is not good. He doesn't have a good management. They are busy going about their own business and there's no good rapport with the DJs. Their PR network is the problem and nothing else. I am sorry about his family breaking up, it's not a good start for a young man.”
Soforte Entertainment is an entertainment marketing outfit owned by singer, Lara George and her husband, Barrister Gbenga George. They are the ones marketing 9ice's Tradition and we sought their reaction to the development.
Barrister George, the CEO, had this to say with regards to the separation story. “I have been trying to get in touch with him since I heard the story without any success yet. Whatever happens, it is not a good development and I am not happy about it.”
On the progress of the album. “We have pushed out 1.6 million units and the album is doing well in the market. We have not even started proper promotion for the album because it came out during the festive period when everything was tight. We don't even have a video yet and we are still doing well in the market.
“What happens is that a lot of people are not giving the album the chance to grow, they are immediately placing it side by side with Gongo Aso and that is not right. Gongo Aso was a monster hit and Tradition is barely two months old in the market. I have sampled a lot of opinions and they are basically balanced on the street. Some people like the album while others don't. The album is a typical 9ice album.”
About the DJs blacklisting the album. “I have heard of it, he continued, “and I know that it is not every DJ that supports it. I know a lot of them are playing the songs and a lot of people keep hearing them. I don't even believe that any DJ would intentionally stop playing a good song. Most DJs support 9ice.”
SILENCE FROM 9ICE, ALAPOMEJI AND CODED TUNES
Though the initial press release stated that the couple would not be granting any interviews at the moment on the issue, we still made attempts to talk to the parties concerned and hear their own sides, but met with little success. 9ice remained incommunicado. His manager also refused to talk to us, but redirected us back to the publicist. “I am not in a good mood to talk about the issue at the moment. Please, talk to Mr. Ayeni Adekunle,” and he supplied a couple of Ayeni's numbers which we already had. When contacted, he referred us to their press release.
About five of ID Cabasa's numbers which we called never went through.
2Phat, another member of Coded Tunes, who is the second in command to Cabasa feigned ignorance of the development as at Saturday, January 9, 2010, when we called him. “I just got back into the country yesterday and I haven't been in contact with anybody,” he said.
TONI BUSY ON FACEBOOK
But Toni has been quite busy on her Facebook page. As at press time, we had observed three different 'Status' posts. The first one which was posted at noon of Friday, January 8, 2010, read, “Mo lenu bi pon pon pon.” About six hours later, she had, “My God is faithful…Who God has blessed…” And at about noon on Saturday, January 9, 2009, we read, “My Zion, My Love, My son…Same way I watched you take your first steps, I shall watch you grow into an outstanding man we can be proud of. Amen! Everyday of my life, I thank God for the most precious stone we laid in Zion…”
She also got various reactions. Some of them read:
'Toni, stay strong and calm. A woman that have (sic) gotten to your level and still fell in love with a nobody, and now that nobody done become somebody come dey misbehave! Fame never last (sic) and cannot give everlasting happiness. At the end of the day, every man NEEDS a woman that loves him for whom he is and not what he has. Letting little popularity sidetrack u means u weren't even worth it to begin with. All the sexcapades, flatteries, ego-boasters, parties, 'acquired friends' etc that come with fame will fade 'cos fame never lasts…and at the end of it all, whom will u return home to?
May God be ur strength. Take care of Zion and may God give us courage during these trying times!
PS: Word of advice…steer clear of long distance relationships if possible…It could work rarely, but not most of the time. God bless u!”
Another comment read:
“Don't tell me it's real Payne, I nid answer plus u guys are good 2geda don't damage Zion's future pls.”
Yet another one was:
“Mrs. 9ice, better half of 9ice, d only woman created 4 9ice, I come against evr spirit (sic) of Hollywood in u guy's marriage. Mama ZI, want u 2 knw dat d devil kns d plans God ve 4 ur family dis yr so pls dear don't give devil a chance ok! Am (sic) praying 4 u guys n u be strong too is (sic) going 2 be better dan (sic) it use (sic) be. Cheers.”
GBENGA ADEYINKA 1ST
Comedian Gbenga Adeyinka 1st, who they met at his 10th anniversary celebration in 2006, was very sad. “It's a shame they've broken up. While they were together, I was happy for them; I felt very privileged at the fact that they met at my event and that their marriage always had a reference to me. I was very proud of them. But now that they have broken up, I feel very sad. I was a family friend to them and I feel this is something they can work out. If I were them, I would work it out, even if for nothing else, for their child's sake.”
Rapper, Ruggedman, told us that he was actually the one that introduced them to each other at the event. He said he met Toni Payne some years back when he was still promoting his first album. “I knew her when I was promoting my first album. She was just a blogger then and I wanted to get on the internet. When she got back to the country, we met and she helped me towards the promotion of my work, both on the internet and overseas. She told me she likes 9ice's music, so when we met 9ice at Gbenga Adeyinka's event, I introduced them to each other and they took it from there. It is a very sad development for the industry. I pray they resolve it amicably. Even if they don't, let them be mature about it.”
LORD OF AJASA
Lord of Ajasa who is a very close pal of 9ice had very little to say. “I am trying to get to him, but his number doesn't go through. I am very shocked at the news because he is my brother and if anything happens to him, it affects me too. His wife has been abroad since and I don't know how they managed to get to this point without my knowledge. I am very sad.”
ELDEE THE DON
The 'Big Boy' whose wife gave birth to a baby girl last year was more expressive. “It's a very disheartening development for the industry. Only God knows what could have happened. We don't know what could have caused it. It is not encouraging. A lot of people are marrying and divorcing and that's not good for one's image.”
We also asked whether 9ice's celebrity status could have caused it. He disagreed. “No matter who you are and what you do, as soon as you enter your house, all the celebrity aura about you goes off and you are just an ordinary husband to your wife or father to your children. I can bet you that Jay Z and Beyonce are just ordinary people to themselves and you can't get many more celebrity couples bigger than that.
“What has happened to 9ice's marriage is just a case of something not working out anymore. Friends quarrel with each other and marriages go sour at times and this is just what has happened. But it's quite unfortunate,” he concluded.
Born Abolore Akande on January 17, 1980, he hails from Ogbomosho in Oyo State, but grew up in Bariga, Lagos. He attended Abeokuta Primary School and CMS Grammar School, Lagos. He later proceeded to Lagos State University, Ojo, to study Law but dropped out to concentrate on his music. He has featured in the songs of a number of artists including Lord of Ajasa, 2Shotz and Ruggedman. He released his debut album, Certificate in 2006. Gongo Aso followed in 2008 and last year, Tradition came.
9ice is one of the top artists in Nigeria. He has won numerous awards for his music, including a MOBO (Music of Black Origin), MAMA (MTV Africa Music Awards), Hip Hop World Awards and so many more. He charges between N2 million and N3.5 million per show. And has properties in Abule Egba and Lagos Mainland. He has a studio in his house at Abule Egba.
9ice is also the CEO of Alapomeji Records which has artists like the Ajayi Brothers, Seriki and Kayefi, on board.
ABOUT TONI PAYNE
Toni studied Video Digital Arts at the California State University, USA. She is based in Los Angeles, USA and is the CEO of Toni Payne line of cosmetics and clothes. She also publishes an online magazine named the Nigerian Entertainment Magazine. And conceptualized the design of 9ice's Gongo Aso album. She is rumoured to have dated a number of top Nigerian musicians, prior to meeting and marrying 9ice.