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.
HOUSE OF GINJAH
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.