Monday, July 26, 2010

‘Majek’s travails will be over once he accepts Christ’ Pastor Kris Usifo

Pastor Kris Osifo was formerly known as Amos Mcroy Jegg and he used to belong to a reggae group known as Ja' Stix. The group was made up of him, Majek Fashek, Black 'O Rice and George Orwells and they were on top of the game in the 1980s.
He is now a minister of God and has a young ministry called Seed of Abraham International. In this chat with Notes and Tones, he talked about his call, the ministry, his relationship with Majek, his 22 year old marriage and a music gospel show tagged New Songs, which is coming up on Saturday, March 6, 2010…

When did you become a pastor and what were you doing before then?
I became a pastor in 2007. I have been a music producer, sound engineer and song-writer.
Which people have you worked with?
I have worked with Majek Fashek, Evi Edna, Orits Williki, Ras Kimono, The Mandators, late Sonny Okosuns, Onyeka Onwenu, Christy Essien-Igbokwe and several others.
Are there more recent names?
Yes. There are people like Righteousman, Buchi and several other young gospel artists that their jobs are yet to be released.
Do you still produce?
How are you combining it with your ministry?
It is not a problem. It is about getting your priorities right and putting them in the right perspective. The work of God is not a 24-hour thing per se. In the ministry, there is time for everything and there is also time for other activities.
When you were actively and entirely into music, what were your musical achievements?
I had an album that was released on Tabansi label called Cool and Deadly. After that I travelled to the U.S to stay for sometime. It was there that I studied Sound Engineering and Production. When I came back, I started working in studios. Right now, I am a partner at Studio Plus in Ogba, Lagos.
Are you still working on anything musical at the moment?
Right now, I have just finished working on an album entitled, Jehovah's Mercy. It is a gospel album and the video for the title track of the album has started airing. It was directed by Righteousman.
When did your conversion occur?
I started from the church. I and Majek Fashek started music in the church. But along the line, we backslid and started pursuing things of the world. Along the line, we also started having setbacks, until one decided to heed the call or become another Jonah.
What is your relationship with Majek Fashek?
Till tomorrow, we are brothers.
What do you think about his travails?
Like I said, at some point, we fell off track, but to God be the glory, I was able to retrace my steps to where I rightfully belong. Majek, for some reasons best known to him, thinks he is on the right track. One funny thing about salvation is that it's not a group thing. It's one's willingness that leads to salvation.
As powerful as Christ is, he is not going to kidnap anybody into being saved and that's why he said that He's at the door of one's heart knocking and if anyone opens, that He will come in. If my brother, Majek, is willing to accept Christ, his travails will be over.
But have you tried talking him into it?
Yes. I have, severally and that's why I said just now that he believes he is on the right track. I have tried severally, but he's yet to be broken. Until one is broken and has a contrite heart, God cannot come in.
When did the call to become a minister of God come?
In 2005. But the call has always been there. It is just that one has always tried to be stubborn like Jonah. I have been virtually trying to bargain with God and do things my own way but it doesn't work that way, because that is not the will of God for your life.
From 2005 when the call came to 2007 when you became a minister, what were you doing?
There were still some messages from men of God telling me about my calling, but I had stubbornly refused, waiting to hear directly from God and not from man. And it was until I had that direct personal encounter with God in 2007 that I heeded.
How did that happen?
It was in a trance and the Lord appeared to me and told me point blank: “Not until you accept to carry the cross, there's nothing you will do that will make any headway.” It was around May 13 and 14, 2007. I remember because my birthday is May 16, and we were in the mood of preparation when it happened.
So, what now happened on your birthday?
After that encounter, most of the 'groovy' things we had planned for my birthday had to be cancelled. The parties, drinking sessions and elaborate celebrations changed to a thanksgiving ceremony sort of.
Where is your congregation?
Right now, I have a young ministry at Egbeda. We are about 30 to 32 people and it is known as the Seed of Abraham International. Also, we are putting a gospel event together and it is tagged, Sing A New Song. It is coming up on Saturday, March 6, 2010 at the Women's Development Centre, Ogba. Featuring at the events are Buchi, Righteousman, Orits WiIliki, Eben, Feladay and so many other gospel artists.
As a young minister of God, what are some of the challenges you are facing?
The major challenge I face as a young minister of God is that several of the older ministers of God are not preaching the core message of the gospel, which is “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness.” Basically, what you hear in churches these days are messages of prosperity. You hardly hear that message of holiness and living the rightful way of God. It is a major challenge in the Christendom. So, when you want to come with such core message, they challenge you.
How are you coping with the transition from a wild musical life to the subdued and disciplined life of a minister?
David was a man used to wild living, but when the anointing came upon him, he became subdued and was able to manage it. Several men of God also came from a wild background. There is no place in the Bible where God used a weakling. Living the wild life, so to say, is part of garnering that experience for you to be able to shepherd the flock properly. You would have that experience behind you when you want to talk to people, especially the young ones. When you see them going astray, you will be able to say I have done this before and there is no gain in it; it's a wide road that leads to destruction and you will able to have antidotes of experiences to tell them and teach them with.
When you got the call of God, why didn't you join an already established ministry?
The new ministry was part of the revelation. In that encounter, the name of the ministry was also revealed to me and there is no way I can go and join an already established ministry and claim that this is the name I was given.
But you could have gone to get training?
I have undergone training. I have registered in courses both home and abroad and I grew up in the church.
Do you still perform as a musician?
Yes. I still maintain a band.
Tell us about your family?
I am a married man with four kids. One is in the university. The only girl is in the secondary school and the younger ones are in primary school.
Tell us about your wife?
Her name is Philomena Osifo and she is from Enugu State. We have been married for 22 years.
What are the things that have kept the union together?
First, we are friends; we are soul mates. It is not a perfect union, but we have this unwritten accord that when the other is angry, no matter who is at fault, there should be no confrontation. When I'm boiling, she stays off until I cool down, and the same thing applies to me. That is what has kept the union so far.
You married her while you were still in the world, what does she think of your conversion?
I married while I was in the 'world.' I was the music director of the church while she was a choir member. To her, my calling is a welcome development and she is fine with it.

Friday, July 16, 2010


In the world of journalism, the most visible faces are those of those on television. Those in other areas hardly get to be seen and you could quite easily fall in love with a writer or an On Air Personality without ever meeting the person. Those that own the voices and pens hardly get to be seen and they most times never bother about this because it generally makes life less complicated for them and they don't have to struggle to impress anyone or live above their means in order to fit into the conventional stereotypes of stardom.
Most faces behind the voices and pens are also rather shy and when exposed to situations outside the confines of their broadcast studios and libraries from where they talk and write, they are most times shocked back. At other times, a fan or an admirer who comes in contact with them is left disillusioned because the person they get to meet is a sharp and unpleasant contrast with the persona they have grown to love on air or in print.
You won't feel disillusioned when you get to meet Azaria. You will only notice that her rather petite and beautiful stature is struggling to contain the large amount of warmth and friendliness cocooned inside and that she is also unsuccessfully trying to convey them to you all at once. We had fixed this interview to coincide with her first anniversary on Top Radio in May but because of her very busy schedule we had been unable to do anything up until now. She drove down to our office in Ogba, Lagos on a rainy afternoon last week and we talked.
Her real name is Oluwakemi Asekun-Isu and she is the host of Azaria In The System on Top Radio 90.9FM. Her station being one of the most popular urbane radio stations in Lagos, makes her one of the most popular On Air Personalities in Lagos. She is from Epe in Lagos State and her first stint on radio was with Eko FM while at the same time writing for the online portal of Ghetto Radio, a station based in the Netherlands. They were the ones that sponsored her to South Africa for a course in Basic Journalism and she returned to work at Radio Continental for a short time before getting on board at Top Radio in May last year.
Things were a little rough for her at the beginning but with the help of her boss, Mr. Lekan Onimole, she was able to survive those initial stages. He gave her some ideas and she picked up fast and since everyone at Top Radio had themes for the days they present, she also got some for herself and in the past one year, the evenings of every weekday has had these themes:
Money Mondays is a programme that explores how far one can go for some crazy amounts of money. People were coming up with various crazy ideas and some people actually had the impression that the money was available so she included “fantasy” to make it “Fantasy Money Monday.” “The idea was to take away the tension usually associated with Mondays and put some fun it,” Azaria says of the programme.
Peoples' Parliament came up on Tuesdays. It initially looked at politics from humorous points of view. They substituted actual political positions like the President with Class Captain and on that platform people could safely express their view. It went on till her boss once again came up with a new idea and the programme took a different dimension. People now talk about their localities and villages and how things are done in those places. Different topics like food, taboos, monarchs and so were discussed and the programme is quite enlightening and entertaining as people get to learn about areas that they have never been to before and how things happen over there.
Wednesday was Battle Of The Sexes which has now changed to Battle of the Opinions. “I have done Battle Of The Sexes for a year now and I feel it would be nice to change it. It used to have men and women voting on who does better when faced with different situations in life and more. Then depending on who wins, some advice would be offered to the losing sex on how to up their game. But the new format would no longer concentrate on competition among the sexes- a broader view would be taken at different issues in life.
Thursday is Gratitude Thursday. The idea came from Oprah Winfrey who is Azaria's role model. “When I wanted to go into broadcasting, I read a lot about Oprah and realized that one of the things she loved to do most was to be grateful. I also found out that most of the time we are angry and complaining because we are always looking at the bad side of things. I can sometimes be guilty of that too,” she says. “So I brought in Gratitude Thursday where people give testimonies of things that happened to them in the past week. It doesn't always have to be pleasant but one can be grateful for all things because it takes the decaying of the seed for the plant to grow,” she adds with a smile.

Fridays are freer and people can let down their hairs and have fun. The topics are lighter and funny and sometimes star guests come in. But when there are no guests, Friday evenings are still fun on Top Radio with Azaria. This is Azaria's day from Monday till Friday so what about her weekends?

“My weekends are mainly “Me” time,” she answers. “I love to stay at home surfing the net, “Beebeeing” my friends with the Blackberry and so on. I like to say I am an introvert and even though I am not a timid person but I am a bit shy. Then I love to read.
The mention of reading led to the question about her favourite authors. “My authors have evolved over time. I started to read Mills and Boon as early as my primary school days. My parents believed that the house was big enough for all of us to play in so they bought us a lot of books. At a point I had finished all the younger people's books in our house and needed to explore new grounds so I started borrowing from my neighbours and gradually go addicted to Mills and Boon and a few other romance novels I got.” The addiction grew and a lot of romantic fantasies followed until her brother caught her reading them and threatened to report her to their father. A deal followed and she would have to give him her piece of meat every night for an unstipulated period and he didn't tell their father. But he kept the book and brought it out anytime she tried to breach the agreement.
This was during Azaria's first year in secondary school but when she got into J.S 2 at Command Day Secondary School, Ikeja, she was almost killed by a train at Oshodi and her parents immediately withdrew her from the school and sent her to Federal Government Girls College, New Busa, Niger State. This put an end to the Mills and Boon and her brother's blackmail. She was later brought back to Lagos to complete her secondary school education at Lagos State Model College, Badore. After that she did a Diploma in Computer Technology at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife before studying Food Technology at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos.
So far nothing in her education has suggested a career in broadcasting. She has nurtured the passion with Oprah as her role model. She was into the marketing of wears before one of her friends and customers directed her to Eko FM and since Oprah started out on radio, she believed she was on the right path. And to further empower herself, she went for a two month course in Basic Presentation at the FRCN School in Ikeja GRA and also studied on the internet before the Ghetto Radio-sponsored trip to South Africa and gradually the dream is being realized.
Challenges: “None bigger than the fact that I have to sound happy and cheerful even when I don't feel so because I know I owe it to my listeners so that they can also be happy themselves. There is also the brainwork of having to come up with the right ideas and programmes on air and being on point all the time while I am on air. But I believe that people should always realize that there can be mistakes atimes but the fact that one always gives it her best shot all the time should be enough to make up for any mistakes.

Best moments on radio: Interviewing the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Sarah Sosan, in 2008 was one big moment for her and the fact that Mrs. Sosan even complimented her work made her day. Another high point was when she interviewed Chief Ajibola Ogunsola of The Punch and he sent her a text afterwards saying that he was impressed with how she handled the interview and that she would go far if she continued so. “That really blew me away,” Azaria exclaimed. “That somebody in the media could actually appreciate my work like that made me believe more in myself and I kept that message till that phone crashed.”
There has also been some low points too. One that sticks out for her was a day she had asked people to talk about the different herbal remedies used in their localities on the Peoples' Parliament but her boss asked her not to go on air with it because the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation could have problems with the topic. “It was very disappointing because if I had known, I would never had brought it up on air.”
Any romance? Yes, there's someone in her life but she wasn't going disclose him yet.
Future Ambition? To continue on the path of broadcasting with Oprah Winfrey as her guiding light. “I have always looked up to her and believe that I can go as far as I want in whatever I want to do by the Grace of God,” she concludes with a smile.

‘I am re-branding’ – TERRY G

Everybody knows Terry G. They know him as a very controversial young man and a talented person, albeit one who specializes in a particular kind of beat – Dancehall beats. Most of his own songs make little sense and the beats he makes for other people are stereotype.
Lately, things have escalated and from one upheaval to the other, the name Terry G has gradually degenerated into a synonym for disturbance. From breaking down the door of a hotel, to stabbing a DJ, to collection money from University of Benin students and not attending to every other sort of negative report, the name Terry G has prominently featured recently.
In this interview with me, Terry G, whose name is an acronym for Turning Extreme Rhythm and Rhymes to the Youths revealed some of the innermost parts of him and a well-organized and homely person radically removed from the madman persona he portrays to the public.

People say your brand doesn’t appeal to the corporate world, do you agree?
Partly. Before you appeal to the corporate world, you have to be able to carry along whatever message they are trying to pass across. Eveyrbody knows where he is coming from and you still have to represent those people. The corporate world create shows and make things happen but you can’t forget the less privileged; the people that dance zealously to your music without shame; people that buy the music out of the little they have.
But it’s not entirely true that the corporate world don’t invite me for shows. I am on the bill for Star Trek and Star and the Nigerian Breweries are a big brand in Nigeria. I am in a rebranding period and more of them would come along when they get to know the real me. But everything still doesn’t end with the corporate world and I want people to understand that. I also want the corporate world to understand that Terry G is of the streets and he loves the streets because the streets have shown him love and he will never abandon the street.
You portray this crazy image and everybody had come to see you in that light, how crazy can you be?
I don’t do much of crazy stuff o! Don’t get me wrong. The only crazy part of me is on the stage. You can’t just see me outside and term me crazy. The stage is another land. If you climb it and remain the same, it means you are just an artist and not a musician. It means that it’s not in your blood and if it’s not in your blood, no matter the amount of drink or ganja you take, you will only climb the stage and misbehave. I don’t plan my performances, I just go there and do what I have to do.
How do your parents take this your image and all the other stories that people tell about you?
Before I started secular music, I used to perform at the Redeemed Christian Church of God. I have been doing serious music since I was six years old. I was even a choir master in the church and all the people I used to move with were older than me. When I started to do secular music. I had to leave home but I would never do it while at home. My dad buys the papers everyday because of me and always calls to find out whenever he sees anything about me. But I always explain things to them and they understand it when I do. Most of the time, those stories are false and I make them to understand that.
I also keep my mad Terry G person outside whenever I go to see them. I am my normal responsible Gabriel whenever I go to see my parents. The whole of the Terry G thing is for the streets and not for my privacy or my family.
What have you learnt from Da Grin’s death?
Anyone can die at anytime. Anything could happen anywhere and anytime. If you like, you drive carefully, if you like you go for checkup all the time, if you like you secure your life. Death is an accident so why are you being careful? Just pray to God so that when you die you go to heaven. You can never make a mistake if you know it’s a mistake and you can correct some mistakes but death is one mistake that you cannot correct. Let’s just pray that before it happens you have done what you have to do and no matter how try you cannot do all you plan to do before you die.
What are some of the mistakes you have made that you regret?
I regret singing: /They say I dey smoke too much Igbo e no mean eh mean eh/ maybe it’s because I didn’t know I will blow up like this.
I regret singing that because it now looks like say na me carry Igbo for head while almost everybody in this industry smoke Igbo. If I hadn’t said it, I would have denied it just like every other person is soing. But I accept it because I said it.
I regret singing:/ Me I no be Mallam Spicey, I no dey stop by fourth bar over/ I was just freestyling and I never meant it. Mallam Spicey is my very good friend and he knows I never meant to insult him.
The song he did in retaliation was just to buy into the success of the song. “Free Madness” is about the only song in Nigeria that the beat has been used in more than five different songs. I have “Free Madness” Part 1, 2, 3 and I intend to do the 4th one featuring the biggest names in the industry and then end the “Free Madness” series.
Another thing I regret is saying is: /People wey get this beat eh, omo dem dey for outside eh/. Those ones haven’t said anything yet but I regret saying that because they were actually there. It was their beat, I made it for them but the secret about it is that it’s my intellectual property and I can do anything on it. I was just freestyling and testing the microphone. I never had any issues with those people but it was because the song blew up that all these issues came up.
When I did the song, it was just lie play and they liked it. In fact, they were the ones that begged me not to delete the song. I always freestyle before recording any song and delete my voice afterwards. I always set all the effects prior to the recording. I don’t wait to edit after the voicing. As I am producing the beats, we are playing, drinking and having fun. To test the microphone, you must sing and that was how the song was recorded. I couldn’t have normally recorded such nonsense and bring it out for people to buy. I just played the song in my car and before you know it, the CD got missing. I even had to collect back the song from a DJ because I didn’t have it. It was only when it blew that I had to include it in my album and then name it “Free Madness”.
Why do you freestyle more in your songs?
I found out that that’s what people like. I have good sons but I can’t bring them out now because they won’t make sense. Later I would drop them but for new people just want to dance and I will continue to produce dance tracks for them. When someone is in the club and gets into the dancing mood, he doesn’t have time for any lyrics whatsoever, he only hears the beats. Right now, my projection is for the clubs and whenever I want to change it I can do that because I am a producer and producers are very versatile.
What about your looks, you have kind of changed lately and even wears a ring on your mouth?
The mouth ring wasn’t planned. I did it in Malaysia when I went for a tour. It’s all about creating a difference and that interests people. It wasn’t planned but I wanted it.
Most of the things you do are not planned even most of your music, how manage?
I like music and I can score music. I can make a beat without listening to any other person’s song. A producer is a maker of new sounds. He brings new things and cracks his brain to make different things.
But right now, I don’t really crack my brain to do anything. I am an instrumentalist and I can play the piano, bass guitar and drums.
Tell us about the House of Ginjah.
It is a crew thing. It is fresh and a re-branding thing. It’s an every year thing. We are five this year and next year a whole new crew would emerge. I love to help the less privileged – those that have the talent but do not have the money to pay for their music. The other four members are D’Money who is my younger brother. His real name is Daniel Oche Amanyi. Another is Ugochukwu Ikpeama, aka Rakwell. IQ is another and his real name is Aliu Shoaga. The last is Prince Banton who was born Dare Egerega.
Is there any lady behind Terry G?
Of course there is. We have been on for about two years and I might even be getting married to her. I am a young guy and I am very passionate about my career. So, it is after my career, then my girlfriend. You won’t believe how romantic I can be.
So, what’s it about you and different women?
All those stories are false. Let me take them one after the other. The one about me breaking down a hotel room door is a very big lie. I was downstairs with my friends while the incident happened upstairs. I wasn’t upstairs and immediately it happened I left the place. People just chose to include me in the story and twist it because it’s me. About the stabbing of a DJ, I was also in the place at that time but I never stabbed anybody. The DJ was playing Mallam Spicey’s song “Free Cure” which was a reply to my “Free Madness” and one of my fans who was present decided to take it personal. It wasn’t even one of the people with me and I also immediately left the place. Another recent is about me takin money from the students of University of Benin and not making it to the show.
That is true but what happened was that they also didn’t fulfil their own part of the agreement. They were supposed to buy Business Class ticket for me and my crew but they only brought Economy. We still accepted but unfortunately we missed our flight. I agreed to refund them the money they paid me which was quite small compare to what I should collect.
The organizers of the show called in the police and about 20 of them came to my place to arrest me. I told them to go back and that I will come to their office. They did and when I got there, they listed all the expenses the students claimed to have made for the show which amounted to N1,774,00 and I paid all back. One has to be disciplined. When I was coming up, I worked for somebody that was big – Faze and I learnt a lot from him. It’s even at the time that you have blown that you should control yourself the more.
Tell us more about your girl?
My girl is the number one in the world. She buys paper all the time because of me and draws my attention to the things they write about me. I warned my regular vendor not to bring any bad news about me but she makes sure that I get to see all of them.

Friday, July 9, 2010

"Why the Boys are not Smiling" - Terry Tha Rapman

Terry Tha Rapman is a familiar name to everybody connected with the music industry in Nigeria and even outside. He dropped his first album, The Rapman Begins, in 2007 and established himself as a genuine rap talent in the country. His colleagues have enormous respect for him, but commercially, his album didn’t go very far. He won the Best Rap Single at the HIP HOP WORLD AWARDS 2010 and is almost ready with a new body of work entitled Boys Are Not Smiling which would hopefully launch him into commercial success. I had this interview with the rapper whose real name is Terry Madaki sometime last year and he took time to explain the idea behind the title of the album and some of his other plans for his career…

How much success did you record with your first album?
My first album The Rapman Begins, was released under November Records, I had a one album deal with them. The album did fairly well, but it was not really promoted well. We only managed to shoot two videos of it – Only 4 Naija and Na Beans and a lot of people never even know the album was out because there wasn’t enough promo for it. When I parted ways with November Records, I formed my own record label called Megaphunk with my friend, Jay. The arrangement was that he comes up with the money and I will do the music.
How far with the new album?
It is almost ready. It is called Boys Are Not Smiling and it is going to be pushed by Okosonic Ventures. They were the ones that pushed Wande Coal and Lagbaja’s album. I am 80 percent done on the album. it is just remains two tracks. I am supposed to do a song with Terry G.
How many songs do you have on the album?
One thing with me is that I record a whole bunch of songs and then select. I am going to select at least 12 songs excluding the intros and skits. Right now, I have over 20 songs plus the two more I am about recording, but I will still prune it down to 12. I don’t want an album where only one song will be a hit and the rest would be trash. I want an album that ten years from now, people would still listen to.
Are you working with a particular theme in mind?
The album revolves around a concept, it is not just a bunch of recordings. All the tracks are going to be more or less linked. It is going to be about my story. Boys Are Not Smiling centres around the fact that today’s youth don’t really depend on the government to offer them jobs, they are self sufficient. The album would encourage youths to go out there and work. Boys Are Not Smiling in the sense that there would be joy till success is achieved. Boys Are Not Smiling while working; there is no smile or fun in labour; there will be no smiles while work is going; thee will be no play while we are working towards success. Boys Are Not Smiling yet, we will only smile when success is achieved. We will only smile to the bank.
Tell us about some of the songs in the album?
I am happy that "Sample" which I did with Stereoman has been giving it a lot of hype. It was just a song I wanted to put on air and then wait for a while before anything else, but it has become a runaway success. I didn’t know that Stereoman had that kind of followership. He has simply increased my fan base. I am trying to pick another good single that would knock that one off. There’s another song called Get Up which features Mo’Cheddah, How Far featuring Sound Sultan and so many others.
Contemporary Nigerian music seems to be titled towards part and dancehall lines, was that what drew you to Terry G?
No matter the type of song or who I work with, I always make sure I put some amount of sense into what I am doing. I always inject a message into my song. I am featuring the people I do in y music because people appreciate them and they would definitely add something to my music. When you are selling something to somebody, you package in a way that the person would appreciate it. Rap music is now selling well in Nigeria courtesy of M.I and Naeto C and in a few years from now, rap would be the main thing in Nigeria.
It’s been three years since your first album, what were you doing during that period?
I did some shows up north, where I have my main fan base – Kaduna, Jos, Benue and Abuja. I took part in Zain tour with Eedris Abdulkareem, Kel, Konga and some other artistes. I also went on tour to Singapore with Mode 9. That was my first time abroad and I was surprised to meet some of my fans in Asia. It was massive. I used that time to access my level of acceptance to people and it has guided me in this album – I am giving my fans more of what they want from me. I am more experienced in my album recording.
You said you have more of your fans in the north, what really is the reception of the popular hip hop and secular music in the north?
I will tell anybody that cares to listen. The north has the biggest market for Nigerian music, ask any marketer. An artiste needs a lot of publicity and promotion to sell in Lagos and people also have preferences as per artistes and types of music. Up north, people buy CDs unbiased because they hardly see them. They don’t really need to know the artiste or the music before buying the CD.
You are fully based in Lagos now, when did you make Lagos your permanent home?
I moved to Lagos in 2005. I came into Lagos with only N10,000 in my pocket, without any idea of where I was going to stay. I just had favours from my friends who invited me to come and stay with them but I thank God today, 2009, I have my own place now, I pay my own bills and I take care of my family from rap music.
How many are you in the family?
I have a brother and a sister and my dad. I lost my mum three years ago. They are all based in `Jos. My brother just graduated from school and my sister is still a student.
How did you manage the N10,000 you had when you got to Lagos?
I used part of the money to cut CDs for my track Na Beans, then I started taking the CD around. DJ Jimmy Jatt was one of the first persons I went to, I just wanted him to hear the CDs so I would know what tracks to push and he suggested we promote Na Beans. The success of Na Beans was largely due to DJ Jimmy Jatt.
Do you know any regrets with the music path you have taken?
I have no regrets at all, but music is not the beginning and end for me. I have other ambitions; I don’t intend to rap forever. I studied Mass Communication in school, I have plans to go into T.V – have my own TV show but since music is a good platform, I am going to build on it.
Have there been times when you felt like quitting music?
Yes. There were moments that I really worried about the success of my music, but just at the point I would want to quit, something would happen to give me hope- I would get a call from a fan encouraging me and that would make me stay. People call me from all around the world telling e that they love my music. Even people from the older generation call to tell me they appreciate my music.
Your name, Terry Tha Rapman sounds kind of gangsterish, did you have those influences?
I have never really seen myself as a gangster but I did have those influences. I am not a violent person but I grew up admiring Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube. One thing about hip hop music is that it is sometimes aggressive, especially rap and people begin to imagine that we are violent people. Most people who get to meet me are usually very surprised. That’s how it is. As a musician, you are an actor and the image you portray in your songs is different from your person. All rappers are not bad guys.
Can you also produce?
No. I am not a producer but I play a very active role in the production of my songs. I don’t just sit back and let the producer do all the job, I co-produce my songs. These days, with so much computer softwares, it is not really hard to be a producer and I intend to delve into that very soon.
What else are you working on currently?
My mixtape which I have been working on with DJ Jimmy Jatt. I don’t think people do mixtapes correctly, they do mixtapes like albums that’s why I want to set a standard with my mixtape. A mixtape is something an MC and a DJ come together to do and it is supposed to be a precursor to an album. It is used to announce an album and it’s supposed to be given out free. It is kind of advertisement.
How do you do your songs, how do you get your inspiration?
Some of my best songs were written in the shortest period of time. Sometimes I just hear a beat and the next thing I am wiring. Other times it takes me longer especially when it is centered around a concept. Maybe a couple of days and when I feel creatively blocked I just rest and continue later.