By SAM ANOKAM
Denge Pose crooner Baba Fryo is still around, very much around. Our reporter recently caught up with him in Tedi Village in Ojo Local government area of Lagos and what could you expect? One of Ajegunle’s finest bared it all. Excerpts:
WHAT is happening to Baba Fryo?
I am living a very simple life and trying to re-arrange myself since my last record label O’jez Music, frustrated me. I am trying to pick up myself again. If you listen to Peter Tosh in one of his songs he said: “I got to pick up myself, dust myself up, and start all over again.” So, I just want to start all over again as if I have not done music at all. I have some beautiful tracks right now. I will release one on air as a single.
What do you mean exactly by being frustrated?
My album was delayed for three years. Is that not frustration? Already I have taken my mind off music. I was made to feel as if I am no longer doing music again. He didn’t make me feel as if I am still in the industry.
What were the terms of the contract?
For me, I refused to sign any contract when time has been far spent. It took them three years to draft a contract as against when I started with them spanning one to three years. You are now asking me to sign a contract. I am not a baby in this industry. That is why today, artistes pay for their songs to be on CD compilation and also pay the marketer to sell their music. The music industry is already corrupt. It has cancer for now.
COSON is paying royalty. Are you a member?
People that are being paid now are members of COSON. I am not a member of COSON but a member of MCSN. MCSN and all others are having issues. They don’t have time to look for money. Everything about our royalty is pending. While I was there, they usually give us something no matter how small. I used to be a member of PMRSN, that is the former COSON.I left because they were not working well.
How many albums do you have?
I have three. I am working on the fourth one.
What happened after you released , “Notice Me” and why Notice Me?
Notice Me is about people who are full of themselves. You know my music affects the lives of people positively. Before the ‘Notice Me song’, there were a lot of braggarts who pretended to be what they were not. When people travel and return from abroad you know how they intimidate people around here .
It was rumoured that the song was an attack on Daddy Fresh?
Well, I will not say it was an attack on Daddy Fresh. In my first song, I said , ‘I want to throw a stone and anybody the stone meets, that’s his own problem. It is a conscience. If you are engaged in ‘notice me’ and I play that song, it will affect you. Many musicians attacked me when I released the song. I will not mention names but they know themselves. Those who put earrings on their noses, ears, tongues, stomachs, everywhere, they attacked me seriously. I give thanks to God for the inspiration. Everybody has what influences what they do. People feel the kind of songs I compose and I am happy because when I did ‘Denge Pose’, it really affected people positively .
It was rumoured that you made so much money but lavished it, living in hotels?
That is iniquity. I lived in a hotel but I didn’t pay a dime. It was while I was living in the hotel that I thought of buying a land. The first land I bought was two plots. When I realized I didn’t like the area, I decided to sell them and bought other lands at Okoafo and Amuwo. Living in a hotel to me is a worthwhile experience. I experienced many things .It is not every cloth that is dried in the sun. I spent and I’m still spending. But I don’t spend anyhow. I still give thanks to God.
What was your experience?
You will see the case of a nursing mother with her baby coming to the hotel to sleep with an old man using a walking stick. I have seen some men with pregnant women. Not that the owner of the hotel supports these things , he dares not see it. Some would come with their child, give the child biscuit and leave him at the reception while they climb upstairs for the amorous romp even in a very hot afternoon. I saw many iniquities.
Denge Pose, was said to be an attack on Showkey?
Like I said, anybody who thought I was referring to him, then I was referring to him.
What is your relationship with Daddy Showkey now?
We are best of friends. We have talked about the past and realised we have made our mistakes. If we had been working together right from time, I think many Ajegunle artistes would be more successful today. Now that we are working together things are bound to improve for our people.
What do you think about Majek Fashek?
I wasn’t close to Majek. Some individuals are saying his problem is spiritual. You cannot ask a sick person to tell you what is wrong with him. He cannot. If you ask Majek, he would tell you its spiritual. I think Majek needs to go back in timeto correct his mistakes, his lifestyle.
You have been in music for sometime but some younger guys have taken over. Do you honestly think you can still make a great comeback?
I believe hundred per cent that I will come back with my own pattern. Let me tell you something, some people believe that you must play what these boys are playing before you can make it. No, I disagree. Play something that people will accept. Once people accept what you play, that is all. I listen to the music they play these days and discovered they are old pattern. It’s just a small touch that is added. Listen to Flavour. The beat is old, it is the tempo that has been increased. Even the woman that sang ‘Ko si Oba bi re’, is not different from the normal gospel music that was being played in the past. How can Baba Fryo sing like all these small boys? That is iniquity.
What kind of music do you play?
I play Afro reggae beat. That is why when I sing, they would say I sing like Fela. My own pattern is not Afrobeat. If you say Fela did not sing like someone, we were not his age mates when he was alive. We may not know who was Fela’s mentor or who he sang like. Somebody must imitate somebody.
In other words, Fela influenced your going into music?
Not only Fela. Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Manu Dibango also influenced me.
Do you agree that you are one of those who started lewd songs with Johnny Waka?
No. I disagree because many people have been singing it. What would you say about Fela?
Are you a member of the Jehovah witness as your wife is?
I am everywhere. What I mean is that I stand apart to observe things. I always attend ‘Jehovah Witnesses’ preaching because it is very educative. They don’t go after your money. They don’t need your money. Some pastors call them vendors. If they sell the book, I will be buying it. I have investigated many churches and found out that many of them are full of iniquity. Many exist to exploit people. They have turned all Christ taught upside down. They twist the Bible to suit their own interest. If they have not collected tithes and offerings repeatedly, they are not satisfied. I call them fancy pastors.
What do you do aside music?
I sell lands. I am an Estate agent though I still perform my shows. I just came back from a show in Abuja .
Among the younger ones, which one do you think can last long on the scene?
I think P-Square is good. Those boys are good entertainers. They show other artistes example to follow. Secondly, I think Tuface is trying but I pick P-Square.
When are we expecting your next album?
Wait, you will hear my single this year even my mother is insisting that I sing in my native dialect. So expect to listen to my single in my native dialect with pidgin English to spice it up. It is called, Kpokrikpo.
Since you left AJ, it has not remained the same. Why?
It cannot remain the same because it’s like the pillars have left. We put structures on ground but the people handling it are not doing so well. All of them are following the same pattern which is not good and I was saying this thing when it started. If you listen to Daddy Showkey, you would know it is Showkey. If you listen to Baba Fryo, you would know it is Baba Fryo.
Ditto to Daddy Fresh, Nico Gravity, China Ray. Apart from Fleckterman who is different, many people followed Femi Oritse style. They want to play like Femi Oritse. So Ajegunle music began to go one way. I was in Ikorodu where they were playing all these Nigerian hip hop music and one lady got annoyed and said they should remove the Ajegunle music because it sounded the same. But our own songs back then were not sounding the same. We laid the foundation but they did not follow it.