By OpeOluwani Akintayo
Born to a Ghanaian mother and a Nigerian father, Vasco Oluwabunmi Egbaiyelo better known as Vasco G, Vasco began his musical career as a child. He had his break after featuring in Star Quest, and much later, became the cynosure of attention when his band, D’Jewels, won the 2007 Star Quest yearly competition organized by the Nigerian Breweries. In this encounter, he speaks about his music and other prevailing issues.
Why did you parents prefer to take you to Ghana to study?
Although I was born here in Nigeria, I wasn’t opportune to visit Ghana till I was a full grown boy. I already understood Nigeria before going to continue my secondary and tertiary institution in Ghana.
How did you start your musical career in Ghana?
Actually, I’ve been singing since I was a boy but I didn’t take it seriously. I remember when I was in the primary school, I used to lead my school choir to competitions, play on stage and sang in church choir.
My first stage performance happened in my church when I was singing a particular Yoruba song. My pastor approached me and asked whether I’d like to sing it during a revival service. I answered in the affirmative, and on that day, I stood before thousands of people to sing the song and people were blessed.
I use to thrill people with my songs and rap, it continued all through my secondary school days, thus making popular. Before I knew it, I became used to it and I started singing and raping for money.
The last time we met, you told me that most of the artistes you started with in Ghana are now ‘big guys’. Tell me more about them and what happened to you.
First of all, the whole thing started from my secondary school days. Like I said, I represented my school in competitions. During this period, I met with most of these big Ghanian artistes who were also representing their schools then in those competitions. So, we grew up in the same trend. I remember RockStone who was the reigning rap artiste back then in Ghana.
And I found myself free-styling in the radio station with him. We became friends and he invited me over to Accra to start up something but along the line, I found this group The Black Pleasure. Then, someone came up and said he wanted to sign the group on. So, the group metamorphosed into Sat Squad. Along the line I had to leave for Nigeria to continue my career.
Why would you leave Ghana for Nigeria when you are reaching the turning point in your career?
I didn’t have any problem with my group. I just wanted to come home because I was missing home. And I guess it’s destiny because when your heart is somewhere, your whole body will want to be where your heart is. So, that was what happened to me.
Before I knew it, I just walked out of the group and a year after, when I went back to Ghana, the group already released an album and they’ve ‘blown’. But as at now, they’ve also broken up.
So how did you feel seeing that the group you found had gone ahead of you?
I felt that my time will come.
But it would have been painful for you right?
Yes it was. But when they saw me they told me that they missed me in the group. They received me with respect because of the reputation I left behind.
So, when you came back to Nigeria, what were you doing?
I formed a group The Gentle Gs with a friend of mine in Warri, this gut really knows how to sing. So, we agreed that he should sing while I rap, that was when the AIT Jamz was still reigning. We found the group, did a demo so we could take it to D1 and Keke at Ray Power. But when it time for us to take the demo to them, my partner disappeared and I couldn’t locate him. So I decided to go solo.
Along the line I started recording demos and meeting people like Jimmy Jatz, The Plantashion Boyz but it wasn’t still easy because I started all over when I came back to Nigeria. Then I started as an underground MC. But because music wasn’t really putting food on my table, I had to put my head into other things.
I took up teaching appointment in a primary school. In the evenings, I would go to teach some aspiring jambites and also taught some polytechnic students. I also taught Adult Education to some adults who didn’t know how to read and write.
Until when I decided to work on my album and in the process, I met people like Marvelous Benjy, and most of these Ajegunle artistes. I also did some collabos still, I didn’t find the challenges easy at all. Then, Star Quest came up and I decided to enroll for the competition.
What actually gave you the confidence to enroll for the competition?
I have been appearing live on stage before then. So, apart from the performances I had in Ghana, here in Nigeria, I was opportune to have performed in shows like the Benson & Hedges and I could face and move the crowd.
I remember that I registered for the Star Quest competition that took place in Port-Harcourt in 2006 but wasn’t able to go because of the distance. So, when the 2007 edition came up, I decided to enroll again . During the auditioning, I felt
I was in and I finally received a phone call, informing me that I was among the finalists who qualified for the competition. In the end, our group D’Jewels won the competition.
During the Jewels’ one-year reign as the Star Quest winner in 2007/2008, what was the reception like from the Sponsors?
The reception we got form Nigerian Breweries during our reign was splendid. We were given an accommodation at Ogudu G RA for one year, a car, N1.8million with an assurance of playing at all Nigeria Breweries’ events all year and a N5 million record deal with West Side Music. And I must say that everything we were promised were fulfilled.
Where are other members of the group and are you still functioning as D’Jewels?
Other members of the group are doing well in their various endeavors. Pamera and Greg are in school, Festus and Julius are working. But for me, music is my life with or without D’Jewels. For me, I’ve tried my best to bring my band together but I failed. The reason is because other members of the group had something else they want to do with their lives and I can’t force them.