By Lolade Sowoolu
Heâ€™s Ill Bliss of the â€˜Thorough bredâ€™ rap descent. Ill, the prefix before his â€˜Blissâ€™, means â€˜tightâ€™ in rap parlance, contrary to the English meaning of the word.
Born Tobechukwu Ejiofor, this consistent rapper whose 21-track album (Dat Ibo boy) has locked down top spots on music charts all over the country with the hit single, â€˜Aiye po gan (Enough space)â€™ is still hot.
Here, the newly married humble debutante talks on marriage, the ills of the music industry, why he had to preach that thereâ€™s enough space for all to succeed and the challenges of shooting his video in the slumps.
How old is the song Aiye po gan?
The video dropped in March but the audio, as a single, has been around for about six months. I had to do that so that I could push the song into peoplesâ€™ minds. I pushed until there was demand for the video. The single came out at a point where a lot of heavy songs were out.
What informed the video concept and location?
I spent months watching Nigerian music videos and they all looked tiring to me. Sometimes they all looked false. Same thing, different videos: girls, cars, blings, same beat… they were just boring. Even right now as we speak, people are hijacking same concept from a last video they watched. Nobodyâ€™s trying hard to be original.
Everybodyâ€™s trying to score a club hit. I decided to do a song that is fast that can work in the club as well but then Iâ€™ll take it back to the people in the streets because connecting with the grassroots is very important. Thatâ€™s what made songs like O4kasibe, Bumper to bumper popular because people can connect at any level.
How easy was the video shoot?
It wasnâ€™t a very easy video to shoot because we had a number of logistic issues. We had to manage the crowd because it was a very unruly community that we went to shoot in. We had to keep giving them tips here and there, buy their shepe, give money to those that wanted to smoke weed to sort themselves and then we shot our video and left. But the sun was very intense, we almost melted.
The place of good director-artiste relationship Clarence shot all my videos; we have a wonderful working relationship. We make the music together so he understands from scratch what I want. I simply told him I wanted a clean video. So he said â€˜lets go to the people; everybodyâ€™s looking too clean.
Look clean but be in the dirt with the people.â€™ So if you look at the video very well, youâ€™ll see that effort is made for me to look clean with the nice shirt, glasses, etc but then I was still in the dirt.
I wrote my lyric and Terry G wrote the hook and chorus. I went to him and said, â€˜I want to do a song called â€˜Enough spaceâ€™. What does it mean in Yoruba?â€™ And he said, â€˜Aiye po ganâ€™. I said â€˜Okay I like the way it sounds. I want you to write a chorus that says there is enough space for everybody to flyâ€™.
What informed the theme?
The way the industry is running; today youâ€™re No 1 and tomorrow you might be No. 50 but while youâ€™re No 1, how you treat people below you is very key.
Any personal unpleasant experience…
Not directly but I keep hearing all sorts. The fact that Iâ€™m not in the music scene all the time saves me a lot of crap and the ego clash that happens. Its more like you have people just waiting fro the next camp to fall and flop. You hear remarks like, â€˜I donâ€™t like this dude or group; theyâ€™re too cocky. Their next album wonâ€™t hit; it wonâ€™t scoreâ€™.
So I was looking at things like but we can all make money o. No one should be so myopic business wise. I feel artistes are not collaborating enough. I donâ€™t see a Dâ€™banj and Tu Face collabo. Its almost like big artistes do not collaborate and its crap.
It just shows how insecure some of these artistes are; they donâ€™t want to feature you because theyâ€™re scared youâ€™ll blow up on their song. But then you see a Jay-Z and R. Kelly- two big artistes from two totally different genres- make albums together, packing stadia full and selling million of tickets.
Nigerian R N B dudes would rather rap themselves than put a rapper on their song. For me it means weâ€™re just insecure. People need to reach out some more and not give excuses like my camp wonâ€™t allow me work or that my production is only handled by a specific producer…bla bla Iâ€™ve had instances like that but Iâ€™m not going to mention names.
If you didnâ€™t have Terry G on that song do you think it would have made much impact?
It would have still been a good song. The reception might not have been as much. The hook is the main part of the song.
How many people really check out rap lyrics coupled with the fact that my kind of rapper doesnâ€™t write lean lyrics. I canâ€™t water down my lyrics. Music is about conviction no matter the language its done.
When Timaya does his stuffÂ Iâ€™m convinced, today you have a lot of people jumping on the Timaya band wagon forgetting that â€˜heâ€™ can never be duplicated. Terryâ€™s presence on the song helped and thatâ€™s the power of collaboration.
How long did it take you to write your raps?
One hour. Terry made the beat first and recorded the chorus. Then he brought the beat and the chorus to me