What’s the secret of your success story in pursuing your musical career?
The secret of my success is originality. Right from day one, I knew that if I try to be original, the sky would be my limit. But I know it’s going to take some time before that dream would become a reality. This is because nothing good comes that easily.
I work so hard to sound so original in my music. Right from when I released my first album, there has been a tremendous improvement in my music. And this time around, I had enough funds to do better videos which has distinguished my style from other artistes. Africans as a whole love originality, even though some might pretend about it .
If you are original in whatever you are doing today coupled with being down-to- earth, you will get to anywhere you want to. That has been the secret of my success. I began my career as a drummer for a local church in my home state, Enugu State.
What has actually kept you going till today ?
Having passion for what I’m doing. I have so much passion for music. I started singing at the age of 13. I went to the right source because I had some companies that gave me a scholarship as a way of encouraging me. They trained me in music. They believed in me becoming as a rising musician then.
The director always tell us that people used to regard musicians as irresponsible and wayward people. People who squander all their money on women and cars while trying to live a flamboyant lifestyle. If you are talented, you need to work hard to give back to the society. That has been my driving force. People now see me as a responsible person and an example to the young ones.
I have to keep my head low and stay humble and keep doing what I am doing well. So, the passion has kept me going. Initially, when I started, I didn’t care whether I had some money in my pocket or not. I was just doing it for the love of music. But I wanted to get somewhere.
Where do you draw your inspiration from ?
I draw my inspiration from people around me, especially things that happen around me I like when things go bad and when things go good because it doesn’t have to be good all the time.
So, all I do is to keep focus and balance the two situations that come my way. And sometimes friends around me inspire me even when my family were against my keeping too many friends, I still get close to them making them know that they are very important to me. To me, I think as a musician you should have a story to tell .Things around me inspire my kind of music .
Glo endorsed you recently. How do you feel about the endorsement ?
It’s something great, it’s not only Glo I still have a lot of awards both within and outside the shores of the country . Glo endorsement is a wonderful opportunity , it’s good to associate with big brands and it’s also good for big brands to recognize big artiste and not to just use the person to build up a platform.It’s something nice and I am enjoying the relationship, the tour , interviews and the photo shoot; I am enjoying everything.
Can you share some of the pains and gains of becoming a celebrity ?
Let me start with the pains because it’s the bigger part of the challenges we face as celebrities . The painful part of it is that we go through a lot and people don’t know and they don’t even care to know.
They just want to see you up there so what we go through as artistes every day is unimaginable. Even when you get to meet your fans , the way some of them will approach you is something else . Then the challenge of being on top of your game; But if you know what you are doing the pains will become a blessing and a watchword for you.
You have to take so many things away from you , you don’t live your normal life again though not everyone. But left for me, I am free spirit. I want to wake up and walk around the street buy something that I want.
Sometimes you will want to have fun alone but you won’t be able to do so because other people will want to associate with you; you don’t have to chase them away because they are coming because they love your music even the once with bad intention you have to show them love and accommodate them.
Meanwhile, achieving my dreams and getting to where I want today remains part of the gains . I am also, not relenting on efforts. My work just keeps going and I have so many things to do and also achieve .
What are you working on presently ?
Presently, I have been performing almost every weekend. People invite me to perform at different shows and I’ve been working everyday, there is no day that pass I don’t have something to do. I like surprises, and I also like to look at the market and know where I can make my impact. There are also different businesses I have been doing with some cooperate bodies .
We learnt you are coming up with a reality show. What is it all about ?
Yes, it’s not that much. Iam just planning to come out with something very soon. However, I need to put everything in place before I can talk about it.
How have you been able to compete with other top artistes in the industry ?
If you have your own style , you just need to stick to it; be very versatile and at the same time, original because every now and then, new artistes keep emerging from the blues. You need to maintain the tempo.
The hardest part of the job is not to come up with a hit , but to be there and keep giving them the hit till when you retire . The drive is to just keep on doing what you are doing well and going deep into it . And always source for ideas , look for different things , know your market and the people that are looking up to you. What they think about your work .
For me, I havemade a lot of findings outside the shores of Nigeria. So, that alone makes it difficult because you are not just looking at the crown but also, you are looking at Africa at large. From Africa, you can hit the international stage.
Doing collaboration with other artistes is what is in vogue in the industry. In your own case, what are the conditions and things do you look out for before accepting to do collaboration with fellow artistes ?
I look out for somebody I can work with, and not someone that just want me to bless his song so that it will just be my glory. There are few artistes in Nigeria who can really release some good stuffs . In every song, I’m collaborating with any artiste, I always try to bring in something new. I bring my creative ingenuity to bear in every song I’m featuring in.
The truth is that I must always try to bring in something commercial; something I know the fans and lovers of music would embrace and hold unto. I spend quality time thinking about the listeners and I keep trying to put myself in their shoes. I always ask myself, what are the fans going to hold unto in this song, even if it’s just a word or phrase?
So, I keep looking out for such word or phrase. I have to create that unique ‘word’ or ‘phrase’. There is no way you will sing and be appreciated if you don’t appreciate your fans and put them into consideration while composing a song. If you don’t consider them you would end up singing and satisfying yourself instead of your fans.
So, what I bring to the table is the key factor in the success of most of my collaborations. But the essence of collaboration is to see two different artistes combining their styles. You tap into my fan base while I also tap into yours. For instance, Omawumi is good; she was the first runner up in the 2007 edition of West African Idols.
She is doing well in the music scene and has done good songs. So, in the song, Bottom Belle, she brought in something new while I also did. The same thing applies to other collaborations I have done with other artistes.
Do you have a price tag for doing collaborations with other artistes?
It depends on the relationship I have with the person. The only artiste I ask to pay me for collaboration is the person I stand to gain nothing else apart from the money.
But if you have a fan base, you don’t have to pay me. I tap into your fan base while you also tap into mine. Except if you don’t know what you are doing and you need me to fly, then that is where I will ask you to pay me.
Many celebrities are faced with one scandal or the other. How have you been able to stay away from controversy?
It’s only God that knows the secret. I’m not better than other musicians just as they are not better than myself. No artiste that ever set out to be faced with scandals. It’s always people around them that fan some of these scandals.
But the issue is that I try to stay away from trouble. For instance, I don’t even go to clubs. Anything I want to do something, I do it in the comfort of my house. I party inside my house. I do my recording inside my house. When you start mingling and partying with everybody in different places that is where one or two things would start to emerge.
I’m either here in my house or in my second house in the Island. When you mingle much with people, at times you start trusting people that are not supposed to be trusted. You start having divided attention. You would take a picture and make joke with it and tomorrow it’s all over the newspapers and internet.
So, the question is Who did it? Is it not someone you trusted? That’s how it happens . Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow, you just have to guide yourself in anything you are doing.
We also heard you proposed to your girlfriend?
People will always talk and turn around stories. But I am still single because marriage is not my priority for now. I still want to hit the top before thinking about marriage. It’s not yet time. I am still concentrating on my music.
It was once rumoured that you were dating Tiwa Savage after doing a collaboration with her. Was it true?
I didn’t feel bad when I heard about the rumour because I knowpeople will always talk even if we didn’t kiss. While shooting the music video, the director came to us and said, you guys are playing love scene, you need to do something intimate. He urged us do it, and I now looked at Tiwa and she gave me a go ahead and I said ‘yes’ we can do it. There was nothing wrong with that. More over, we did music with passion.