Every music loving Nigerian and even some non-music loving ones have heard the song “Yori Yori” and appreciated the group, Bracket, who gave us the song. The young men, Obumneme Ali, aka Smash and Ozioko Nwachukwu, alias Vast, have become pop stars and have performed at some of the biggest shows in the land and even outside. The song itself is one of the biggest songs of year 2009 and the young men have smiled to the bank.
It is also common knowledge that Bracket used to be three in number and their third member, Amobi Igwebuike, aka Bistop (Business Top), left the group after their first album, HAPPY DAYS, proved to be a commercial failure. In an interview Bracket granted to NOTES AND TONES back in April after the release of their album, LEAST EXPECTED, they stated that Bistop left the group in order to go back to school and concentrate on his education. They also stated their openness to welcome him back to the group if he ever wished to rejoin them.
All those statements have now been discredited by Bistop. He appeared a couple of weeks back with his own side of the story. Starting from the beginning, he told NOTES AND TONES about his meeting with the other members of the group and how he formed the group.
He met Vast at a barbing salon in the university town of Nsukka back in 1998. They were introduced to each other by the barber who noticed that they both had a flair for music. They then started out musically as a group with the name, Furious B.V.
In 2002, they auditioned for STAR QUEST, but did not make any headway.
Smash joined in 2003 and they first changed their name to SOUTH BRACKET before finally settling on BRACKET.
In 2004, they concluded the recording of their debut album, HAPPY DAYS, and he took it to Nwachukwu Mamah, aka Big Nis, who had the resources to finance it. Mama is the son of transportation giant, Igwe James Ogbonnaya Mamah , owner of IFESINACHI TRANSPORT LIMITED. Mama, who was a novice in the music business, was very interested in what they had. He backed them up and went on to form APE PLANET RECORDS, on whose imprint they released their album.
In 2005, they released HAPPY DAYS, but never made any money from it.
In 2008, they started working on their second album, which came out as LEAST EXPECTED. According to Bistop, he wrote most of the songs in the album, including “Yori Yori.” “Infact, we were about 90% into the production of the album when I was betrayed by my colleagues,” he says emotionally. “I had gone back to school to write my exams and we continued communicating. But after a while, they stopped picking my calls or replying my text messages. When I finished my exams, I went to Enugu to meet Big Nis, but he snubbed me and asked me to go back to wherever I was coming from. I was shocked.”
But there was nothing he could do about it. He went back to where he was coming form and in no time started hearing “Yori Yori” on radio. “I was heartbroken,” he says. “I bought the album and except for “No Time” which they did with P. Square and “Ada Owerri” with J. Martins, all the other songs on the album were mine. I was totally confused and didn’t know how to go about it, so I just went back to school to continue with my studies and also work on my music.” He is still a student of Electronic Engineering at the University.
Sometime later when Vast, who lived in Nsukka with his family, returned, he visited them but Vast dodged him. When he was finally able to corner him, Vast told him that it was never the intention of him and Smash to leave him out but that it was Mama that forced them to do so.
Bistop admitted to having had some problems with Mama. “I am a very outspoken person and as the leader of the group, whenever we were not comfortable with his decisions, I was always the one to speak to him about it,” he said. They had also accused him of embezzling their money at some point. All this he felt could have led to the decision to drop him. “I also sent some people to help me beg Mama to let me rejoin the group, but he refused. So I was left stranded.”
“But why did it take you this long to come out? I asked him”
“I took a while to dawn that there was a way I could come out and tell my story. I was finding things very hard. I had sold off my laptop and so many of my valuables in order to pay for my studio sessions while Smash and Vast had gone on to become stars with my sweat. I also wanted to have something to show to the world. I didn’t want to be just a bitter person who wanted to latch on to another people’s success. I wanted to be coming out on my own.”
“So what do you want done; what do you want Bracket to do for you?”
“I want full credit for my contributions to the album and to the group. Everything about the album came from me. Starting with the name, LEAST EXPECTED to even their own monikers. When I met Vast, he was bearing “Sheri Koko”, but I saw that the name would never fit into my ideas of a contemporary and progressive music group, so I suggested Vast. Smash was known as “Ali Okpa,” before I changed it for him.”
“Was any part of your deal with Nwachukwu Mamah and APE PLANET RECORDS documented?
“No, but we had a gentleman’s agreement that we would share any profit 40-60. 60% would go to him and APE PLANET RECORDS, while 40% would be for Bracket.”
That was Bistop’s story and since there are always more than one side to any story, NOTES AND TONES contacted the other parties involved to get their own sides of the story. Bracket acknowledged that Bistop was a member of their group but refused to go further than that. “It would be unwise for us to join issues with him in public,” Smash said. If he has any issues with us, let him contact us personally and not on the pages of newspapers and magazines.” Big Nis also refused to comment on Bistop’s story. But Dekumzy, the producer of the hit track “Yori Yori” was more forthcoming. He admitted that Bistop was deliberately removed from the scheme of things when they found out that his association with the group was drawing them back.
“Bistop was misusing most of the money of the group that came to him. He was doing a lot of bad things behind their back,” he said but refused to elaborate. “We simply had to cut him off from the songs so that the group could make progress,” he concluded.