Earlier this month, rapper Williams Orioha, aka 2Shotz, became the first contemporary artist in Nigeria to make it to his fifth album. He has been in the industry since 2001,and through the period of the four previous albums, he has been able to drop some memorable hits and slangs for the music loving people of Nigeria.
Here, we talk about his career so far and how he has been able to remain relevant. He also used this opportunity to reveal how he feels that he has not yet received his full due and respect in the industry. Please, read on…
You are the first contemporary pop or hip hop artist with five albums, how manage?
I don't even know. It should have been six, but there was a period I stayed away for sometime and couldn't drop any album. I was trying to re-invent myself and every other thing was on standstill. But honestly, I have always worked hard and done my music and it's not the number of albums I release that matters, but my impact on the industry.
How have you been able to retain your fans and audience for this long?
I started with real hip hop music before learning to use pidgin English and that worked. Then, I tried Igbo and I decided to mix everything together and that kind of gave me fans from different backgrounds. But in this new album, I have gone back a bit to the roots, to real hip hop, which is where I started from.
Looking at the music scene, what was the need for that?
We are still growing musically, but we are gradually beginning to accept hip hop music and serious rap music. Nigerians have started accepting hip hop the way it is done and understanding it. We normally listen to a lot of foreign hip hop music, but Nigerians have found out that Nigerian artists can give them even better than they get outside. So, while we have defined our kind of hip hop, I decided to also bring in some of the original flavours of hip hop back in my album.
What do you think of the Nigerian music scene both from the audience and artist perspectives?
The audience seems to have categorized Nigerian artists and songs into a three month life span. Every major hit lasts only three months before everybody would start looking for another. That also has to do with the artists because there are so many people on the scene who are just there for the fame and money or who just see it as an alternative route out of a difficult situation and they feel that music might work for them. Immediately they see their neighbour singing and also making it, they will come on because they also feel they can make it. These two issues have adversely affected the music industry in Nigeria. Because most of the so-called artists are not serious or good enough, the audience also carved out a three-month lifespan for them and sometimes they generalize.
Talking about hits, let's take some of the hits you've had since you first album.
The hit songs of the first album, Pirated Copy, were “Delicious” and “Carry Am Go”. The second album, Original Copy had “Which Levels” and “Shake The Ground”. The third album, Commercial Avenue, had “Make Dem Talk”, featuring 9ice. That was 9ice's major break in the industry before he even met Ruggedman. The fourth album had “In Case You Neva Know,” with Terry and “Kpef Dey Go”.
What was the relationship with Big Lo then?
Even till now, people still think we are a group. We were just very close friends, but never a group. He produced some of my songs and “Delicious” which was a very big hit back then.
At one point, we had a very well publicized fight, but later quashed everything. It was actually the press that overplayed the issue, but we settled everything back then and went back to being friends. He even worked on my fourth album. He didn't work on this current album, but we are working on something together. We have an album already and it will be out soon.
From your first album to now, how well do you think you've done and how well do you think music has done for you?
Over time, music has done very well for me. I live in a good house, drive a good car and walk into every club without any hindrance. I have also paid for all I have through music and I have also had my down times.
But looking at it now, I do not think I have totally gotten the credit and respect I deserve in the industry. I am still waiting for it to come. I don't know when, but I know it will come. I feel I have not properly and honourably been credited for my contributions to the serious growth of the music industry in Nigeria.
Let me remind people: it was my movement that made people aware of how deep piracy was cutting into the music industry and how badly it had affected the artists. I created the awareness and led the fight to save the necks of the artists so that they can eat of the fruits of their labour. There was a time I fought a marketer publicly for ripping off artists.
I think there are just very few artists of my time and kind who have constantly remained in the game and in the business. But God's time is the best and I believe that my time will still come. Yet, I have been respected and recognized by the fans, and for that, I am very grateful.
Can you point to any factor (s) as the reasons for your not getting your due respect as you have said? Could it be because of your genre of music?
No. I don't think so. Rap is fully appreciated in Nigeria. I can't really say the cause, but I think I am just a very stable artist. I am not down; I am not up. I am not struggling for position with anybody. I am just there. If you come from down, you will meet me and if you come from up, you will meet me. I am just there and everybody respects my space. I also do not over reach and I am very happy.
The titles of your previous four albums seem to have been of that anti-piracy movement, why the play on your name now?
I like my name, but more elaborately put, I Am William is an indept representation of the man. He’s telling us about himself; about the real him. William is the brain behind 2Shortz and he is telling us about that person. Behind 2Shortz, there is a William. The album is a presentation and representation of music the way I see it; feel about it and the way I want people to hear it.
Tell us about the songs on the album.
Starting with the intro, “Are you not entertained,” which has someone screaming to the crowd and asking the audience if they are not entertained. It is my way of saying that I have done the job, and what else do they want me to do. The song “William” talks about how I came into the industry, people I met, people that helped me and all that happened to me. It is a story of my journey in the industry from 2001 till now. “Which kain nosense” is where I talked about the Nigerian artists and the things we do wrong. People that came into the industry and messed it up and so on. I have “Oyoyo,” featuring YQ. It was the first single and video which I released. Then, “Duttywine,” with Shank. Then, in “Whether you like” is where I really talked about myself and who and exactly what William is and how I am not getting my respect in the industry. Then, “Money for pocket” has Jesse Jagz and Ice Prince.
Generally there are two kinds of songs on the album, the 2Shortz type and the William type. The 2Shortz ones are the normal ones I am known for: funny, witty and rap. The other is the William type of songs. The song, “Shredded Roses” is that kind. It is the classic type where I talk about emotional things. There are so many other songs, plus the Campari song.
So, what's the deal with Campari?
It is not a full endorsement deal yet, but they are sponsoring the album. I am embarking on a Campari tour and the release parties around the country. They also have their logo on my album. But we will have more to talk about it soon.