Since winning the maiden season of MTN Project Fame West Africa, Iyanya Mbuk has been a consistent hitmaker. The multiple award-winning star bares his mind about fame, money and women like never before
Why have you retained the name Iyanya instead of opting for a funky alias?
It is my birth name. It was given to me by my parents so why would I not be proud of it? I don’t have anything against artistes who use aliases but that is their choice and this is mine.
A lot of people think that fame has altered your personality. Is this true?
People have the right to believe whatever they want to. There is nobody in this world that would attain this level of success and fame, and remain the same. My life has changed and I am not going to tell you otherwise. I am not Iyanya of eight years ago; I am more exposed and have more fans. You can’t compare the pressure that was on me in 2008 to the pressure on me now. For me to even have this level of sanity, I believe it is God’s grace and people should pray and support me instead of saying I have changed. You see me wearing nice suits but if I give a fan my life to live for a week, not everybody will agree to continue after a few days.
Why do you think so?
There is a lot of money but it comes with a lot of pressure. Imagine waking up to people being rude to you on social media. You wake up to curses because you tweeted that God just blessed you with a car, for instance.
But you show off on social media…
Sincerely, I don’t show off. Anybody that thinks I show off is suffering from inferiority complex. The only people that think I show off are those people that think they could be me or people who wish they could be close to me but can’t be. Maybe they like me too much and don’t want to agree they like me that much. These same people spend hours admiring the posts I put up.
What is the reason for putting up some of those pictures on Instagram and Twitter?
That is what social media is for. It is only in Nigeria that people have a problem with you posting pictures. While you are complaining that I am posting too many pictures, a true fan is admiring same and considers me as a mentor. Believe me, a lot of people think they know me, but they don’t.
Who is Iyanya?
I am just me and I still have the same friends; those that have stayed with me and those that unfortunately have gone. Mind you, I did not chase any of them away.
Some of your fans think you are less humble than you were eight years ago.
Tell them to come and say it to my face and I will ask them if they have ever had a one-one-one like this with me or they just heard or read it somewhere.
Are you saying you are grossly misunderstood?
There is something about a guy that never used to wear nice suits and all of a sudden, he wears the best suits. The person has moved to another level and what you are supposed to do is support the person and not attempt to bring him down.
From your experience, are fame and wealth intoxicating?
Yes, they are intoxicating. Everything we have today has a way of affecting our behaviour or psyche. It now depends on the grace and maturity to manage yourself. If you wake up one day and realise that when you drive on the streets, people acknowledge you, you will think you are a god if you allow it get to your head. I don’t have a problem with people thinking I have changed because I am one guy who does not get carried away by all I have achieved. I believe there is more to achieve.
How do you handle the pressure that comes with being in the limelight?
It’s not easy. I just try to manage these things but there are times I feel like cursing people. They should understand I am human too; I was in a show one day when a caller said I used my family for rituals to enable me get to where I am. The blogs did not see that but if I replied the guy and said ‘God punish you,’ the blogs will say Iyanya cursed his fan. Because you see me on television does not mean I don’t have feelings or I don’t have my own problems. I am not different from the guy next door; I still wash my briefs.
You have made money…
I don’t understand all this talk about money. I just started making money. When I make money, you won’t need to ask me if I have made money. Can you ask Jay Z or Swiss Beatz if they have made money? When you see me, you will know I have made money. Right now, you are seeing a potential money-maker.
A lot of women see you as a sex symbol. Is this deliberate on your part?
It is not deliberate; it is just me trying to keep fit and I have seen that it helps boost my fan base. I am consistent with my exercises and I try to work out often. It’s not necessarily for the ladies.
As a successful artiste, do you still have role models?
I look up to a lot of people and listen to them for inspiration. Tuface has always been an inspiration. When I discuss the things people say about me with him, he gives me hope.
Apart from music, what else do you do?
It’s just music for now, but when the other things I am doing get bigger, you will know.
What’s a typical day in your life like?
It depends. It can be like this: having an interview and a photo shoot. At other times, I can be home from morning till night when I don’t have outside engagements.
How did you cultivate your style?
I have never thought about it. I just wear what I have. But then, I have some stylists I work with to make me look different.
What kind of woman do you want to settle down with?
A good woman is a good woman. You can’t just sit and say this is the kind of woman I want. Some people think the best place to get a girl is in the church; meanwhile, you can get the wrong girl in the right place. Sometimes, I am worried about getting the right woman to marry because of my status. I have had one or two women come into my life and act like they are something. The safest thing to do is marry someone you have known before you became a star.
After Yvonne Nelson, would you date a celebrity in the future?
Yvonne Nelson is an amazing person, but I would never ever in my life date or have anything to do with a female star. I am not cut out for that kind of drama.
Is Iyanya romantic?
I don’t know about that. Why don’t you date me and find out.