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.