By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Zaaki Azaay, a major act in the Nigerian music industry is our guest today. In this chat with Sunday Entertainment the Benue State born Hip Hop musician talks about his music career, the music industry and more.
Give us a brief history of your background?
Well, my name is Zaaki Azaay, that is my real name, it is not a stage name, I was born and brought up in Kaduna State but Iâ€™m an indigene of Benue State. And Iâ€™mÂ from Vandeikya Local Government. Musically I have eight Albums I have just released the latest one titled â€œSpeed,â€ with my singleÂ â€œcatch fireâ€ still number one everywhere since December last year.
How was it growing up as a child?
I was what you may call an â€˜aje_butterâ€™ of a kind because my father was a Director General at the Federal Ministry of Information. As a childÂ we had drivers, cooks, gardeners, guards and a big house. It was interesting because we had very good neighbours. But all that changed when my father died, we had to start from the scratch and thatâ€™s the my story.
When did you start your musical carrier?
I started in 1993, I have been singing on T.V in Kaduna, but professionally I released my first album in 1993, I was just 18 years old then when I moved from Kaduna to Lagos in 1991 and started chasing how to get a recording deal which nobody was willing to give me at that time because I was doing hip_pop and the in thing then was reggae and dance hall and raga music, but eventually I got a recording deal with E.M.I,
That was the beginning of Zaaki Azaay and that was also the beginning of hip_pop in Nigeria, and that is why everybody call me the pioneer of hip_pop.
I understand you grew up in the North, does that account for why almost all your songs are done in Hausa?
No, I can also speak my language very well. Most of my songs have a lot of Hausa in it because there are more Hausa people than the Tiv people. I sing in Hausa because I want to sell my music. Iâ€™m a business man. Besides we should not bring sentiments into business because Iâ€™m not a local Benue artiste.
Iâ€™m an international star and I donâ€™t sing for the Benue people alone. I sing for the whole world.Â Hausa is the second widest language in the whole of Africa .
I get a lot of air play on BBC because they have Hausa service. They donâ€™t have BBC Tiv
Recently, some prominent musicians were in Makudi to perform,Â why were you not there?
That has to do with the promoter Love Idoko, she is the one doing her thing and decides on who plays.
It was really embarrasing for me because some of my colleagues even yabbed me saying I was not known even in my State. It a call or two before I was formally invited to join the train.
Like I said the organsier ran the show. She decided on whom to pay for the show and you cannot force her to bring you in..
Do you hope to do shows in Benue State ?
It is in my plans to do that very soon. Infact but for the advise of his Excellency Governor Gabriel Suswam my Abuja held album launched would have held in Markudi. He pined that since I am an international star and not just a Benue star, it should be best done in Abuja. But very soon I will do something in Benue state because everybody have been asking.
Letâ€™s look at the Nigerian music industry, are you impressed with our level of development so far?
Iâ€™m pressed.I wasnâ€™t expecting that we will be where we are at the moment. I thought, it would take us a longer time to be where we are today. TodayÂ Nigerians have 100% accepted Nigeria music unlike when I first started, when few people believed in our music.
Outside music, what else do you do, do you feature in home videos.
Yes, I used to act a lot, but acting takes a lot of time, but I intend to fully go into acting in the near future.
What is you itinary for the year like?
Well, shows performances here and there, right now I am going to some where in Gboko they are opening a new club, in the next one month, I have to go there and see the place and mobilize to go and perform there I have one in Enugu, I have in Port_Harcourt and I also want to start working on my next album titled speed. You may wish to ask why speed.
The album is titled speed because there is going to be a lot of speed this time around, I will not delay again once I sign my marketing deal because that is what is really delaying me now.
Letâ€™s take a look at Nigeria Music industry; we have suddenly noticed that Nigeria artists have sudden taken over the music market unlike what it used to be few years ago what would you ascribe this to?
Before there used to be over 90% of Western music played in our clubs. Nigerians have turned around and embraced Nigerian music, the youths and everybody has embraced Nigeria music, even foreigners. I really think that Nigeria music has come to stay because the quality is about the best in the world today.
How many awards have been able to cart away in you music career?
There are so many awards I can not even remember. I just won one, Legendary Hall of fame and another Most Friendly Artist Award and so many I cannot remember now.
Apart from music, what else do you do?
All I do is music, sing, perform, create new songs and so on.