By Benjamin Njoku
REMEMBER Slam (of the Ibu Chineke fame)? That crooner, who left the shores ofÂ this country four years ago in search of knowledgeÂ andÂ greenerÂ pastureÂ in theÂ UnitedÂ Kingdom. Heâ€™s not only back to re-launch his career,Â but also, heâ€™s here to add value and innovationÂ to the nationâ€™s vibrant music terrain.
Slam, whose latest album, â€œSimply Slamâ€, is currently making waves was one of the guests that attended the recent premiere of Emem Isongâ€™s Ibibio language movie, â€˜Edikan, held at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island. He speaks on his career, challenges and the import of his leaving the industry for a while.
SLAM, itâ€™s a pleasure to see you again after four years, where have you been?
I want to sincerely apologize to my teeming fans. I am very sorry about that; I travelled to London to complete my Masterâ€™s programme in Marketing at the North-West University, Stafford College. In fact, I was away for three years and extra. While, I was away, I must confess I missed my music and fans.
However, as at the time I left, the music industry was not as big as it is today. Iâ€™m happy to be around and alive to be part of this new trend. Our songs are being played everywhere and Nigerians now love our songs. I was not completely out of the industryÂ because I was playing at gigs within and outside London, even in Holland.
When did you return and what brought you back home?
I came back after completing my studies, and again to partake fully in the Nigerian music industry, which has grown so big .
I envisaged the growth of this industry long time ago. I believe that for you to get somewhere, there has to be some stepping-stones as well as some processes and challenges. I did some vocal training in the UK as well as attending a dance school to enhance my dancing skills. Iâ€™m yet to display the skills acquired in that dance school in any of my videos.
Before leaving for the UK, what impact did you make in the Nigerian music scene?
Before l left for the UK, I released two albums with Kennis Music. Approved was my first album withÂ the hit track, Ibu Chimeke, then. The second was Dreaming About You. They were released in 2002 and 2003, respectively; I eventually left Kennis Music in 2005, because we signed a three-year, two-album contract.
Now that youâ€™re fully back, do you intend to work with Kennis Music?
I wouldnâ€™t mind working with Kennis Music again, they are still there and waxing stronger. Iâ€™m still open to discussions and willing to partner with willing collaborators.
Your third album,Â Simply Slam, is out and making waves, when did it hit shelves?
Simply Slam was dropped on SCHUD Records, jointly owned by my brother, his wife and myself. It is anÂ 18- track album. Itâ€™s a hip-hop and R n B album. Itâ€™s simply Slam, because in the album, youâ€™d see every part of me.Â Iâ€™m just an artiste always willing to entertain my fans.
The videos of Edon Tey and Check it Out, are already making waves on air. I recently unleashed the video of Buku-Buku, and the reception has been massive. Itâ€™s a cultural music video and very dramatic too. More videos are still on the way.
Now that youâ€™re fully back, what care you going to do to re-launch yourself into the mainstream music world?
Iâ€™m back and trying my best, but I do not forget the factÂ that there are many people in the game. Iâ€™ll keep trying and possibly re-double my efforts like ten times over. As an artiste, youâ€™re faced with several challenges, meaning Iâ€™ll keep pushing and learning the trade.
What inspired you into music?
Though I started singing at a very tender age, Indian movies also influenced me a lot then. I use to sing aÂ lot in Indian movies. In fact, I was the best dancer during my secondary school days. But professionally, I started singing in 2002, when I released my first album.
What makes you unique?
It is always good for an artiste to be relevant. Here Iâ€™m talking about the African Child. Once an artiste is relevant, it is easy to find your place every time. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m still relevant till now. I think that my voice and smile also add to the things that stand me out.
How did you get the name Slam?
I get carried away whenever I am singing. People listening to me get carried away too. So when I am done, they say, whao! That was Slamming.
Generally, whatâ€™s the message of your music?
Itâ€™s love. I like to talk about love in so many different ways. I do inspirational songs too.Â I try to preachÂ inspiration and encouragement in all my songs.
Now that you are fully back, what should your fans expect from you?
There are a lot coming up now. I am planning a tour round the country to promote my album. Basically, they should expect more videos, and good music. It is the same old Slam. I will also be dropping two new singles soon.