Thursday, October 28, 2010

‘It's Not Been Easy Since Kefee Left, But We Were Not for Meant Each Other’ – ALEC GODWIN

A couple of months backTunde and Wumi Obe released their fifth album. It was done under a partnership with Alec Godwin’s Alec’s Music who would be marketing it Notes and Tones used the opportunity to talk with him – on life since his divorce to the Branama queen, Kefee; the modalities and arraignment of the deal with T.W.O; the quest to fully entrench the jewel boxed CDs into the Nigerian music system; some of the rumours that have been in the air about him and finally his plans for re-marrying and the type of woman that would interest him…
You have been quiet for sometime now, what have you been working on?
Well, this is what I have been working on (T.W.O’s album). I think Mr. Tunde caught me unawares, I didn’t plan to market this work, I was looking at fully strategizing and getting ready to take the next step with my plans. What I have on ground now is way beyond what I had in the past. It’s a better way to go; it’s not about selling units and making millions of copies, it’s about making money.
That’s where we are at now. So, I have been working on marketing which happens to be the major problem which the industry has been suffering.
What about Alec;s Music, the record label, is it still functional?
There’s Alec’s Entertainment which the record label is under. Alec’s Music is still functional but we don’t have any artist at the moment and that is how I want it to be until the problems of marketing and piracy are completely solved, then we’ll begin to sign on artists again.
There should be a distribution and marking network without Alaba. 2Face is the first person to come up with the N1000 CD concept in Nigeria and they are already pirating him but as long as we keep arresting them and fighting back, then there’s hope. With a thousand naira retail price, we have enough reserve to combat piracy with, so we will keep fighting and despite the enormous challenge, we have hope that we will succeed.
There was a time the story that you were singing and working on your own album came out, was there any truth in that?
Yes, there is. I have always been singing and didn’t just decide to sing. My ex-wife was in my choir and we released two albums. So, when they say that I am singing or that I want to sing again, it’s true. I have a group and we will be doing some gospel songs and putting them out soon. That’s what you must have heard and it’s true but still in the pipeline; we are still working and recording and it’s coming out on Alec’s Music and Alec’s Entertainment.
There was also this story that you had gone back to your place to become a headmaster or a principal…
(Laughs) What happened is that I run a school, Temple Mission School, Sapele, Delta State which I inherited from my parents as a primary school and then added the secondary arm. My dad is a bishop so it was named after the church, Temple of Deliverance, which he presided over. They were having some issues with the school when they started it and I took over and put somebody in charge to run it while I was in Lagos. Frankly, I was quite nonchalant about what was going on there. But what happened was that the guy put himself together and put up his own school. He built it close to mine and was gradually siphoning the students from my own school over to his. So, I had to move back to town to put things in order. When I got back my number doubled and he couldn’t do a thing although they were thinking it was one of those musical schools but I do have music as one of the subjects on offer but it’s strictly educational.
I don’t know anything about the headmaster or principal, it was just the guy I put in charge to supervise both schools that messed up and I went back to get everything back in shape. I don’t even have an office there, the principal and headmaster both do, I just went back to supervise and that was all.
Coming back to music, apart from Tunde and Wunmi, are there other people on board?
What I am doing now is just marketing and distributing. It’s not for me to look for artists, they are the ones to look for me. We have a solution to some of the problems around the music industry and when you come and you believe in the solution and think that we can pull it off, then we are one.
I can’t really elaborate on that but the idea is to make the works available to the public without depending on Alaba; making that it is sold or brought and there are returns to the parties involved.
What happened to the artists on Alec’s Music?
Our contacts expired naturally, just at the time I was going through some issues and it was just a good time for me to re-strategize and come up with this. I have always known that my strength was marketing but coming to Lagos was a little bit of distraction for me. Fine, I have been distracted, now I know the reason why I am here; I know what I should do which is not just signing on artist. I don’t want to be distracted by all that now. I want to solve the problem which is marketing and distribution; I want to hit it real big because that’s where the money is. I won’t hide it but it’s no joke to make money from marketing, but if you can, there’s money in it but it’s stressful money.
Going a bit private now, are there plans of remarrying; is there someone on the horizon?
Yes, there are plans of remarrying but I don’t know when I don’t know when God will approve it and don’t know who it will be.
Are there plans of you and you ex coming back together and giving it another try?
No. There’s none. Without any disrespect whatsoever, there’s no chance of that happening. All those stories that were told in the past could have been avoided. The bottom line is that we knew we were not meant for each other and we have realized that. Since she understands that, we are not quarreling and if she were here, she would have come over to say hi and I would have responded.
When did you come to realize that you were not meant for each other?
Long before the divorce. The divorce was last year but the separation has been over two year now. Before I took the step to agree for the divorce, I must have decided.
So, how have you been coping since?
If I tell you it’s been easy, I lie but a man has got to do what a man got to do. You have to hang in there and not jump into anything else just like that.
Don’t you miss her?
It depends…I miss the friend I had in her. It’s been a long way coming because we were childhood friends going through church and all that and the laughter. But it doesn’t mean that I want her now so we can laugh yet it’s not that we cannot laugh now but not for a personal relationship again.
Let’s go back to music. Are there partnerships overseas?
Yes. There are discussions going but nothing sealed yet. I don’t want to be in a hurry to enter into any because that’s not my focus now. If we hold on to Nigeria now, it will get there with ease. It will get to anywhere we want to get to with time.
Do you envisage people embracing the N1,000 CD price?
I think it’s going to be a struggle but we at least have up to one million people who can afford it although I know it’s a way past that. But if we are able to sell up to a hundred thousand copies, we will be okay. This is why when a foreign artist sells 20,000 copies, he is given a plaque because that is a lot. But here we do it like it’s easy. I have bragged about selling five million copies of Kefee’s Branama CDs but that, there was just no money to show for it. So, we are tried of making such claims and people assuming that we have one fat bank account when there’s nothing like that.
Now, we can make the fat bank account. We are actually pushing this to make so that the artist can smile and the record company can also smile.
What are the chances of upcoming artists succeeding in situations like this and moving numbers like this?
For us to succeed in this quest we need unity. It’s not just for the big artists. They can also make a difference. Yes, we encourage people to do this standard ones but if they cannot, we will still screen the quality and may be go for half price where Nigerians manufactured CDs would go for a certain price and the foreign ones would go for another price.
Finally, if you are to venture into marriage again, what kind of woman are you looking for?
A caring, understanding, romantic, like minded, lovely, beautiful from inside out and God fearing woman would do for me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

‘We Are Willing To Take Risks To Maintain Our Standards’ – CALLY IKPE

In 1995, Cally Ikpe debuted Live Beats, an all round music show, on Nigerian TV. In 2007, he brought in the Nigerian Music Video Awards to honour and recognize worthy videos made for Nigerian music.
Since the inception of the NMVA, the emphasis has been on the cleanliness and responsibility of the images shown and this also rubs off on the lyrics. The NMVA has remained steadfast in this quest for lucidity in Nigerian music and with less than four weeks to the fourth edition of the awards, I visited Mr. Ikpe at his Toyin Street office in Ikeja, Lagos and sitting across the conference table where the NAFDAC chairman, Mr. Paul Orhii also sat on his recent visit to the office, we talked about the journey of the awards and Live Beats and his plans for them. Please read through…
This would be the fourth edition of the Nigerian Music Video Awards, how far do you think you have come in that period?
Every year we see considerable improvement. The first edition in 2007 was like a resolution, a breakthrough because we came from very difficult circumstances and it looked like it was not going to be possible but eventually bit turned out that it was possible. It happened very well and for the first time Nigeria experienced it’s own music video awards. In 2008, we came up again and people observed that a number of A-list artists were missing from it and that was because we somehow took it for granted and that was one of the lapses we had that year. In 2009, we tried to make corrections and be more conscious of that and to the glory of God, today it is adjudged that the NMVA 2009 was one of the best organized musical events last year.
This year, we are already working because this year is the year of Nigeria’s golden jubilee and also the 15th anniversary of Live Beats. The celebrations will kick off in the last quarter of the year and the NMVA will be one of them. So, we are working on a lot of possibilities and holding promising consultations with a number of companies and the government and in a short while we will be able to come up with a definite outlook of the NMVA 2010.
So far we have enjoyed plenty of goodwill and the signs are all positive. That’s not to say that we are not encountering hitches here and there which is normal with life but it’s looking very bright.
You have been holding the NMVA all these years without any major sponsor and we know you have been trying to secure one without any success so far, are there signs that there would be one this year?
Yes, there are very positive talks going on but it all depends on the deal we are able to strike at the end of the day. It should be mutually beneficial to both parties; we are not going to be dictated to. If a sponsor, for example, comes what he or she is bringing on board against our wish, we will not allow that. These are some of the things you put into perspective while looking for a sponsor.
Sponsorship is an endorsement but it’s not all. If they come and endorse the event and then want it to be turned upside down because we are looking for money, we will not accept. The objective of the award is not to make money, it is just to raise the bar to enhance standards in music video production. To bring everything upstream and let people realize that there’s nothing like a local stage or international stage. We only have one stage which is the international stage and that’s the way our events must be, that’s the way we are looking at and that’s the way things should be done. That’s why we pride ourselves on transparency, that’s why our panel of judges are not invisible people. They are proven, independent and credible people in the entertainment industry.
We do all this and we are not going to allow one person to come and overturn it in the name of sponsorship. That does not mean that every prospective sponsor is a usurper or spoiler but we are receptive to only those who would understand that the rule of the game is fair play and that things need to be done the way they should be done. We should be very professional from the beginning to the end. We should be very eager to get sponsors but we are not desperate. We have not totally been without sponsors. In 2007, we had some help from Lipton, 2008 we had Harp and Guinness and in 2009, Eko Hotel and a few other people came together and we were able to put together a befitting show. But this year, we are looking for one major sponsor who would foot a considerable amount of the bill but it’s a gradual process and even if we don’t, we will continue because we believe in what we are doing. It is easier for me to borrow money from myself for my project than from a bank. I am still willing to take the risks but this year we are going all the way and this will be a year of celebration because this is our golden jubilee and it’s not going to go dry for us.
How much do you think the award has evolved in its four years? How much has your objectives and goals for the awards been achieved?
We have always maintained that we are championing a music video revolution which started as far back as 1995 when Live Beats started. We crave for responsible music. In 2007, we were very conscious of the standards which should be clean videos and lyrics and the theme of the awards that year was For The Glory of Nigeria. In 2008 we said Peace The Only Way and in 2009 we said Music Edifies, Play Responsibly. We have bee coming steadily and we believe our point has been made and people know our stand as far as obscenity is concerned. So, if you do music and you celebrate obscenity, then you know we don’t have a deal. It’s zero for you as far as the NMVS is concerned. We are on a clean pedestal and we call on other people to help us with some of the other things which we do not know because we don’t know it all. Right now we are courting international participation and we are going to get it by the grace of God. A lot of discussions and consultations are going on now and we will reveal the resolutions in due course because it better to reveal what has been decided that what is being discussed.
Since we will get the decisions later, you might as well let us know what is being discussed now?
We are working on how to make the show bigger; how to get a lot more government participation; corporate participation; how to get the international media to cover it and how to make sure that the event is framed a lot more Pan-Nigeria that in previous editions. Those are the kind of things that are being discussed.
The chairman of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control visited you recently, what was the thrust of the discussion?
Dr. Paul Orhii is an entertainment inclined person and now he is at the helm of NAFDAC and he believes that entertainment can be used to bridge a whole lot of things; that it can be used to reach out to a whole lot of people. So, he gave us audience and pledged his agency’s commitment and support to the ceremony in different capacities, not just financially. We talked on how the event could be a lot better and the kind of things we should shun or encourage. They were basically light discussions.

Except for one or two awards that ignore the regulations of the NBC, those of you that do, have you ever made any attempts to educate the artists on how to shoot better videos and avoid bans and remain eligible for the awards?
I am not aware of any general public seminar that addresses it collectively where all stakeholders are invited. Even though most of the artists are not keen on attending such meetings with anybody. You can see that from a whole lot of other stakeholders meetings that have been held. But that’s not to say that such meetings should not be called where artists can be educated on how to make acceptable songs and videos.
That should be done and we should go beyond discouraging them by not giving them awards. On a one on one basis, we have been able to do that and it seems a lot of people are beginning to listen because there are noticeable changes all round.
However, there are still people who would tell you that they would do what their minds have told them to and they don’t care if their music is plated on government regulated stations. They feel they still have an audience on the streets and that is enough for them. But we will try as much as we can to talk sense into people and make them understand the power of music and the need to play responsibly.
How have you been managing the complaints that usually follow every award season and how are you ensuring that the transparency of the awards is reflected to the public?
Fundamentally, there’s a call for entries which means that it has been announced that awards is going to hold and everybody has the right to submit their videos. Then there’s a panel of judges constituted by human beings, notable human beings which are verifiable afterwards. Then there’s a screening committee that looks at what makes sense for the awards and what does not. Then we subject the videos to voting which accounts for 50 percent of the points. But the video of the year is mainly through voting because it is a popular thing but the judges must have nominated it first and it is in the top five and this means that anyone of the top five could win it.
So, we don’t over bother ourselves with the complaints because it is impracticable to satisfy everybody but we are committed to being seen as the most attractive and most credible awards in the whole of Africa. We will do so with or without criticisms. We have put in enough measures to ensure that.
Apart from the awards, there’s Live Beats which is 15 this year, how far do you think you have come?
We have come very far. It started like child’s play and I was just enjoying it but in the later days I put business to it and started making a living off it. You can see that Live Beats has a whole lot of people in it’s employ, so it has become business for us. We gave birth to the NMVA and the revolution is catching on very fast.
You can call me the champion of the Nigerian music video revolution, yes I am a revolutionary and I am excited to have come this far. I have no regrets and I am even looking forward to doing a whole lot of other things with the programme. Now we are working on making the programme a 24-hour thing which will be Live Beats Non-stop. It’s going to be on satellite and once an agreement has been struck, we will make it known.
We have seen a lot in our time – darker days and brighter days and we have enjoyed both. Now we are stable but we still have our challenges but it will require a lot more patronage and sponsorship to be able to move on and employ a lot more people.
What are some of the challenges you have faced so far?
One of the biggest ones is advertisers who do not want to pay. People owing for up to one year which is crazy. Sometimes even to get the advertisers is difficult. But having gotten it, the payment is another one.
There has recently been the clamour for royalties to be paid to the artists, what’s your own view of that?
It’s a good thing. Some of us have expressed that it is a necessary gesture. When we were doing our show at NTA 2 Channel 5 we had approached the PMRS in those days and negotiated for some particular TV programmes and paid for them. We show for videos that we play and not the artists paying us. But here sometimes people come to ask if they should give money for their videos to be played. But that’s not right. They should allow us to use our discretion to play what we want to play and when we do we should pay for it. That’s the way it should be and I am in full support of it provided it is done responsibly.
What we pay is very little but when they are all gathered, it becomes something and the artist benefits. But when we don’t pay at all, he will never get anything. I am in support of it and I have paid before. The documents are there to prove it and I am willing to pay again as long as the collection is responsibly done.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

‘The Saxophone Has Given Me An Edge’ YEMI SAX

ADEYEMI Adeosun, a.k.a Yemi Sax, is one of the best saxophonists in Nigeria at the moment. He is even more visible because he has successfully evolved a genre which he calls Afro Hip Jazz. It is simply a combination of those three styles –African sounds, Hip Hop and Jazz, apart from ‘Jazzyfying’ the works of some Hip Hop artists in the country. He is also good at his own compositions and has featured in the works of some mainstream Hip Hop stars and those of erudite Musicologists, Professor Laz Ekwueme and flutist, Tee Mac.
In 2008, he was honoured as an Ambassador of World Peace by the Universal Peace Federation and received a National Youth Merit Award by the National Youth Council of Nigeria. In this interview held inside the premises of ENCOMIUM Weekly, he talked to Notes and Tones about his journey into music, present occupation and future aspirations.
Obviously, you are Yemi Sax because you play the saxophone, but when did you start answering the name?
I was born into a music family from Osun State. My father, Prince S. A. Adeosun was the first to record a gospel album in Nigeria. He was also a banker and worked in Savannah Bank for 45 years. The name, Yemi Sax stared with the group I worked with before where we had another Yemi in the office and because I played the saxophone, they added sax to my name to differentiate it. Along the way, my fans also picked it up and the name has stuck ever since.
Was it a music related company?
It’s a music company called Goldmine Studios, owned by Captain Jide George, whose wife runs the Little Saints Orphanage. It was a big studio and he also had a band, they are the parents of Temitayo George who was on Idols West Africa back then.
Do you still work with the band now?
No, I left them six years ago to face my music. I am a music producer as well as a singer, I also run a record label and I try my best to help upcoming artists through my work. At the moment, I have four guys on Sax Records, my record label. SLV, Tom Xclaim, BMC and Remyte.
Tom Xclaim has released an album…
Yes, but that was not on my label though I did some productions for him.
Apart from the sax, which other musical instruments do you play?
I play other musical instruments like the piano, violin and the trumpet. I just decided to take the saxophone as my major because I love it the most.
So, why the love?
When my music career started, I listened to a lot of music especially instruments. I listened to a lot of saxophonists like Kerry G and so many others and fell in love with the saxophone and Kenny G.
How far do you think the saxophone has helped your career?
It has taken me to another level. I released my first album in 2005 with the Splash Band which I was leading. It was a saxophone rendition of popular Nigerian songs entitled Flavour I. I then released my second about this time as a solo artist in 2008. The album was entitled Saxophone Mood. Currently, I have almost concluded work on my second album entitled Virtuoso. I am known for jazzing up popular Nigerian tunes. We have a lot of jazz fans here in Nigeria but when they don’t hear any of our modern local sounds in jazz, they lose interest because they think they can only hear jazz when they go abroad. We simply show them that we have people doing jazz here in our modern way who can also do it the way it is done internationally.
How has the works of Kenny G and others influenced your style of jazz?
Kenny G reproduces the songs of other artists with the saxophone, sometimes he does it with the artist or by himself. He is known for that and still does his own compositions. That’s basically the same thing I do. I also have my own compositions like I did in Beremole. I even featured D’Prince of Mo’Hits. In the forthcoming album, I have up to five songs which are my compositions. I have R and B, Hip Hop and soul tracks on the album. These days, people even call me to request for a saxophone remix of particular tracks.
As a producer, who are some of the artists you have worked with?
For sometime now, I have stopped working for outsiders so as to concentrate on the artists on my label. But I’ve worked with D’Banj, I played the saxophone in Fall in Love. I produced Mr. Solek’s Fine Fine Baby and I have done a lot of stuff for many upcoming artists. I believe that everybody has his time and my time is near.
What would you have in your forthcoming album?
There will be between 17 to 19 tracks. Five will be my songs and the rest would be popular songs. I can’t let the cat out of the bag now but it will be good.
When doing a sax version of a song, do you go into any agreement with the artist that owns the song or you just do it your way?
I think this is the time for such a thing. When I did my first and second albums, they gave me all the support they could. But this third one, there’s going to be a legal agreement and we are already working on that. I’ve met all the artists I am doing something on their songs and they have all given me their permission. I want an arrangement where they would get a certain percentage of the proceeds.
What is involved in doing a sax version of a song?
It’s a little bit easier for me but it’s not cheap. I am a producer, I have a studio and I’m a studio engineer. So, I can always edit and re-edit to the final stage. There are some songs I do with the original artists where they sing along to my saxophone, some I get the instrumentals from them and I play the sax on it, some they might not have the instrumentals anymore and I will have to re-sequence it the same way they did the original version and then play the sax on it, those are the three major ways of doing it.
But just playing the sax to an instrumental is not that difficult?
It is difficult because you have to be accurate and play it the same way the song is. I also have to know the song inside out to play it very well. Most times when I play on stage, people sing along with me, imagine me not even knowing the song very well. It takes a lot of time and hard work before I can achieve that. Moreover, a lot of people are trying to imitate me now, so I have to always improve my game to be ahead all the time.
When you are on stage, do you play live or on top of past recordings?
It depends on the kind of event I play at. There could be small parties and the organizers may not want a large crowd on stage or the venue is small. So, I have to perform with a sound track if it’s a very big show and they want a band, then my band comes.
Apart from your dad being a musician, from where else did you get your musical education?
After my secondary school, I did some international music courses. I was also at the MUSON music school before I did the theories and passed their graded exams. I played the violin for the Muson Orchestra for about three years. I also played in the church.
Then the production part, from where did you get that?
While working at Goldmine Studios, I learnt a few things from some studio engineers and read a lot of books about studio engineering. I also play the piano very well which is an added advantage. I was very much interested in production from the onset and that helped a lot.
Tell us some of the shows where you have performed.
I have performed at Rhythm Unplugged, Basketmouth, Uncensored, Crack Ya Ribs, Soundcity Campus Blast, I performed alongside Sisqo, Bryan Mcnight and Soul2Soul. I was also there when T-Pain came and Calabar Carnival, among so many others.
So, what do you think is the reception of jazz in Nigeria?
Jazz started from Africa but it got to a time that we got carried away with other types of music. We have numerous other types of music and left jazz for the white people and it now looks like they are the ones that own jazz. In Nigeria, most of these other types are better received than jazz and that is pat of what I’m trying to address and it is working out because I am getting more fans to the jazz circle day by day.
Who are the other jazz musicians you know in the country?
There are so many of them underground but the mistake most of them make is that they play in a foreign way and expect us to dance to it. I still play the same jazz but in a way people will appreciate it more. So, that’s the edge I have over most of them. But we have a number of fantastic jazzists in the country.
So, how did you realize the style that counts in jazz in Nigeria?
What I gave my style is Afro Hip Jazz and it’s a fusion of African sounds, hip hop and jazz. I took time to study the terrain very well and discovered that for me to succeed, I had to do something that would appeal to the Nigerian audience and I did and they loved it.
You seem to have a very close relationship with the Mo’Hits group?
Yes, we work together sometimes. We’ve done a lot of things together, we’ve rocked a lot of stages together and been in the studio together. We are sort of business partners. I am not signed under Mo’Hits and I’m not their artist. But with what I do, I am a friend to everybody because I play other people’s songs a lot.
Did you see Wande Coal’s nude pictures?
Yes, I did but I’m still saying that they are not Wande’s pictures. I am sure of that because there was a period they said he was mad and most of the times, he was with me and he never acted mad. So, I just wonder why people should be saying embarrassing things about him. Then as artists, we should be careful, that’s all I can say about that.
For someone to learn the saxophone, how does he go about it?
To learn the sax, you have to develop interest in it. You need to have the time because sax music generally is a jealous profession. When you are not into it, it doesn’t allow you do anything else, you need to devote time to it and concentrate on what you are doing.

‘My Rebirth Has Cooled Me Down’ – TIMAYA

After the explanations of Timaya and Terry G about the botched London show, we sought out the Egberi Papa I of Bayelsa to get a more detailed and elaborate description of the happenings of that evening. We visited his Marwa Gardens, Ikeja, Lagos residence and sitting with his new manager, Nnamdi Oluzor, he told us, not only the show, but about the new and reborn Timaya…
Tell us about your new album, The Rebirth, and your whole rebranding process.
Back in the day, I had so many scandals and so many people misinterpreted me and saw me differently from who I really is and my new album is out to correct all those. The Rebirth is not about being born again or something but a signifier that I am now to do everything I do with maturity and restraint.
The songs on the album also reflect a little bit of this new me because I changed my kind of music a bit and sounded more mature in the way I talked about life.
Do you think the idea has worked out fine?
It has really worked because I have really calmed down because people used to see me as a crazy boy that I was just doing my job and was not crazy in any way. I am trying to show that my personal life is different from my normal life because I am a normal person. I live a very normal life but it doesn’t mean that when I am onstage I shouldn’t be crazy but when I am not on stage, I should also be seen as a normal person.
What actually come out in the way you came out before with the whole violence and scandals?
Timaya dey hot like fire. It was just an expression to attract attention and I have to keep repackaging and reinventing myself in order to remain relevant and interesting. I can’t keep coming out the same way because it won’t work. I have to be on my toes all the time to be able to make it.
Which one is the actual Timaya, the cool one or the scandalous and stubborn one?
Both of them. I can’t tell you that I am a cool person and you slap me and I will turn the other side for you to slap too. I will slap you back.
That means you don’t believe in the Bible then…
I am not Jesus Christ. Okay, why don’t I slap the person for him to turn the other cheek?
So how do you think your audience has warmed up to the new Timaya?
I won’t lie to you, people are beginning to take me for granted. Before they knew I was hot and stayed out of my way but as I have done The Rebirth, they feel I have gone soft or born again, they are trying to hide me. The Rebirth is that I am re-branding and have become very mature.
You heard what your former girlfriend, Empress said of your relationship…
I don’t think I ever dated her and I don’t want to talk about her. She’s not about my career. I am only interested in my career and that’s all I want to talk about. Talk is cheap and anybody can say anything. It’s only a phone that we pay for talking.
Recently, you were in London and had some issues there, what actually happened?
I am not the kind of person to go about explaining to people anything that happens; it’s only God that knows that truth and I don’t even care about anybody apart from God. So, I will leave everything to him but I will tell you my side.
Artists always have an argument that a certain percentage of their money be paid before they accept a show. In my case, it’s 75 percent, but I accepted 50 percent from this guy because he begged me and it wasn’t as if the money he paid was fantastic. But I accepted because last year I was supposed to be in Julius Agwu’s show but couldn’t make it because I had a visa problem and I wanted to use this show to redeem my image. I did all I could to make the guy’s show succeed.
We gave him our passports two months early but it was delayed by the British High Commission. So, the visa came out on the day of the show and we had to fly down to Abuja on agreement was for one Business class ticket and four Economy class tickets for my crew but he brought an Economy ticket for me. It was only when I was printing my ticket that I found out and I was made. It was only the Arik Airline crew that upgraded to Business Class because I am their customers, so I forgot about that one.
When I get to London, he sent some people to come and bring me to the venue of the show straight from the airport but I refused. Because I had been on the road for days prior to the event. I had been in Benin, then flew from there to Lagos then to Abuja and the next we went to straight from the airport. I refused because I need to go freshen up first. I went to the hotel and showered and after that asked for my balance according to our agreement, he now said I should come and perform and collect my balance at the venue which I refused.
The next thing he told me that if I don’t come, that he would tell my fans I refused and I didn’t like that. He was so rude but I cooled down. That’s why I said that The Rebirth has had a calming influence on me. If it was in the past, I wouldn’t have even talked to him; I wouldn’t have even gone to London because immediately I saw it was an Economy ticket, I would have left the plane. I am trying to be cool about everything. He even sent three hefty guys to come and ask me to come to the show. They came and asked me to put on my clothes and follow them to the venue and I asked them if dem put juju for mouth. I just slammed my door, lay down on my bed and slept off and the next day, I took my bag and went to a better hotel.
I stayed in London for four days, did some shopping and even did a song with JJC before coming back to Nigeria. I was with my manager, Nnamdi, all through. When I got back to Nigeria, he started calling and begging that we should do another show and I refused. I asked him to go and apologize to the public first because he turned a lot of people against me by telling them I was heartless.
How can I be heartless? When I was hustling on the streets who was there with me? Does he know how much I invested in myself to be where I am today? He said I should consider my fans, my fans that came there to watch me, did they purchase any ticket on credit? They paid their money, so why not pay me my own money so I can entertain my fans? Every musician can tell you about their experiences before the show and after it, you will call their phones and the lines would be off. Me I don wise, I no come Lagos come count bridge.
Recently, you parted ways with your manager, what was the issue?
Nothing happened. We just had to move on. I wanted to be more serious with my job and I felt he wasn’t the one to take me there. It’s this music that has taken me places, put food on my table, clothed me and done everything for me. So, I need to take it serious and felt I needed another person to work with. We didn’t fight, we just had to move on.
You are now on to a management, Blackbody Entertainment, tell us about the deal?
I am not an artist of Blackbody Entertainment, I am a shareholder. I partly own Blackbody and we work together. We are out to sign artists and make their lives better. There are many other people involved in the project. We do not have other artists yet but as soon as we are fully set, we will move.
What about the careers of the other members of Dem Mama Soldiers?
Right now, we are ready to push out Allenian’s single, My Model. He is a very good artist and the others will follow one after the other.
What are the plans for the rest of the year and the future?
Right now, I have changed my prayer point from asking God for anything. I just pray that he should blow me to whatever direction he wants.

Friday, October 8, 2010



There was palpable tension in one part of London on the Monday of the Bank Holiday weekend. While one set of Nigerian Londoners were having fun at the Nothinghill Carnival another set were angry and caused quite a commotion in the Troxy area of London. They were angry that a show which was organized for them by one DJ Douglas turned out to be a flop because the main acts, the Egberi Papa 1 of Bayelsa, Timaya and the Ganja Master, Terry G failed to show up at the venue.

Our sources from London reported that fun seekers and fans of both acts were left disappointed when after paying 25, 50 and 100 pounds for Standing, Seating and VIP tickets of the show, respectively, they neither saw Timaya nor Terry G at the venue. The organizer, DJ Douglas, was said to have made a huge profit but had to run for his life because of the situation.

And on the part of the artists, it was different stories. While Timaya was in London but refused to attend the show, Terry G never even made it out of Nigeria. Timaya and his manager, Nnamdi Oluzor, who were very angry at what happened stated that DJ Douglas acted very unprofessionally and reneged on virtually all the agreements they had with him. “He first failed to secure our visas on time. Our visas only came out on the same Monday morning which the show was to hold. We rushed to Abuja, collected them and took off to London. Again, while we had agreed that he would provide three plane tickets (one Business Class and two Economies), he only purchased one Economy Class ticket and we had to buy the others ourselves. When we got to London, there was nobody to pick us up from the airport; there were no lodging provisions for us, we made the arrangements ourselves so when the time for the show came, we demanded that he pay us the 50% balance, but they insisted we come to the venue to collect it and we refused,” they said. Terry G failed to secure a visa entirely.

All attempts to make contact with DJ Douglass proved abortive but these are Timaya and Terry G’s stories. But in a very long broadcast message he sent out on Blackberry Messenger, he claimed that it took him more than seven weeks to secure a visa for Timaya because he was “High Risk.” “Apologies, I know that everyone is mad at me right now but I am sorry about what happened. Mr. Big Ego Timaya was around but refused to come to the venue to perform requesting his balance in the hotel which was 30 minutes away. We pleaded with him to come to the venue and get the money which he refused and time was running out and having dealt with the fact that we had a long battle trying to help him get visas which took over seven weeks because he was “High Risk” and put the whole show on a knife-edge situation and having spent a lot of money buying him several flights from Lagos and Abuja (Business and Economy tickets) to make sure he made it to the UK which he eventually did at 7: 30pm on the show day but unfortunately Terry G couldn’t make it because his visa was delayed … I’m looking forward to making it up to you all….”

Troxy, the venue of the show, is a very popular London event centre and Nigerian shows have always held successfully there. Earlier this year, P. Square was there while on very eve of the botched show, Sunday, August 29, Julius D’ Genius Agwu successfully held the Golden Jubilee edition of Crack Ya Ribs there.


Young femcee Kelechi Ohia (Kel) may have finally brought an end to her bottlenecked contract with Capital Hill Music owned by Clarence Peters. A statement from her management outfit, Entertainment states that they have finally reached an agreement to dissolve her contract which was originally meant to run till March 2011. She would now leave Capital Hill Music with but without the rights of her debut album, The Investment, which was released last year under Capital. She would only get the rights to it when she has fully paid up the amount stipulated in the new compromise contract which they just agreed on.

The money, according to Kel’s representatives, is not a debt which they incurred but a compensation package for not seeing through the contract. “The money is nowhere near the 11 million naira that was being spread around before; it is not even up to half of it. But we are moving on and we are still friends with everyone at Capital. What has just come to an end is the business part of the relationship, the personal friendships still remain,” they said.

Capital, on their part, revealed that a compromise was only arrived at after very long sessions of deliberation. “Capital spent so much on her and would never allow her to just leave without recouping anything from their investment. But they still recognized that both parties gained nothing from the situation so they are letting her go with an arrangement to pay Capital an amount not up to five million naira. The rights to her album would remain with the label until she pays up.”

Kel’s career had practically stalled since she fell out with Capital and they withdrew all their support for her. Her songs and videos which were doing well at that time were pulled off air as they struggled to come to some sort of arrangement but she somehow managed to remain visible despite these and even got an endorsement deal with hair care producers, Soulmate. It was even mooted in some quarters that her success then may have been part of what caused the rift as she wasn’t remitting the label’s percentages of her earnings and endorsements as agreed in her contract, hence the impasse. But Kel disagrees. “She obeyed the terms of the contract but all that is in the past now, we are moving on.”

While a breakdown in any relationship is not something to be celebrated, this one is welcome as it allows both parties to move on their different paths. Various labels are being touted as Kel’s next destination. It was even reported on some websites few weeks backs that she has signed on to Audu Maikori’s Chocolate City, but that turned out to be untrue at that time. Yet, the label’s promotion of rap music might be very suitable to Kel’s career as M.I, Jesse Jagz and Ice Prince, who are all rappers, have prospered. Banky W’s Empire Mates Entertainment (Eme) is another possible option as there are strong friendship bonds between them and young rappers, Skales and Whizkid are both receiving proper grooming and exposure there. But all that would be sorted out in due course as Kel maintains that she is going to be on her own for the time being.


J. Martins
Talented music producer and singer, Justice Martins (J. Martins), is now on the books of STORM RECORDS. STORM, a few weeks back, signed a management and representation deal with him and his record label, DON FAMILY RECORDS, in Lagos. According to information made available to NOTES AND TONES, he would now be fully represented by STORM RECORDS in all cases.

A statement made available to us from STORM, stated that they have reached a partnership arrangement with DON FAMILY RECORDS in respect J. Martins. “This partnership involves STORM 360 taking responsibility of all aspects of J. Martins’ career including the publishing of his albums, performances, branding and positioning.” STORM 360 CEO, Obi Asika, went further to say that he is confident in J. Martins’ talent and his longstanding relationship with STORM will make it easy and enjoyable working with him as they try to take his brand global.

Mr. Asika also disclosed that in the coming weeks their plans for J. Martins would begin to take shape as they would premiere the video of J. Martins’ “Jupa (Remix)” which was shot in Paris with Makossa and Zouk giant, Fally Pupa. “We are really excited about the prospects of J. Martins making it big on the global stage because that is where he belongs. We hope the world is ready for him,” Mr. Asika added.

J. Martins has been on the music scene for a long time now. He first made his name as a producer in the eastern part of the country where he worked for some of the major gospel artists in the east before finally coming over to Lagos. Aside working for most of Nigeria’s best artists, he released his debut album, GET SERIOUS, which contained the hit, “Good or Bad,” in 2007 and followed up with ELEVATED in 2009.