By OPEOLUWANI OGUNJIMI
After his widely publicised break up with his ex- wife, Toni Payne, a few years ago, ‘Gongo Aso’ crooner, otherwise known as Nigerian hook man; 9ice, never ceased to be in the media for the wrong reason. One time, he was accused of having a baby out of wedlock, and at another time was rumoured to have reconciled with Payne. But in this interview, 9ice addresses some of these controversies surrounding his career. He also speaks on his separation with former manager, Dehinde Fajan among other issues.
It’s been a while since we last heard from you. What’s happening to your career?
I believe I don’t have to stick to just music. For that reason, I’ve been involved in other projects. Of recent, I featured in a movie where I played a major role and that took us a lot of time.
I also travelled to shoot four of my videos in the UK. I’ll be releasing those videos as a compilation in a few weeks. I shot the video for my singles Attitude and 3310 from my latest album, Bashorun Gaa. I also shot videos for Get Into It and Ike Kan.
What are those four videos all about?
Like I said, those videos will be released as a compilation and I titled them Obawon, Ikekan, Get Into It and I Dare You.
People have been asking the motive behind such songs and I told them that they’re meant for the festive period, for people who love to party.
The songs also help us to reflect upon those things that happened in our lives all through the year.
The four singles are also meant to wet the appetites of the fans for my next album coming out in March 15 next year. But before then, the Alapomeji All Star album will drop in December.
You are known to make statements with your songs. Are the new singles directed towards someone?
If you’ve noticed that for a while, I’ve been quiet in the industry. It’s not over until it’s over. So, we need to keep the brand going.
Obawon is meant to let people know who is 9ice. I want to use the song to reframe my identity and privileges in the industry.
‘I Dare You’ is a phrase used by a lot of Nigerians. So, I’m daring some people to say one or two things about me. I want reactions from people.
So what happens if the people eventually react?
Then I will react again by speaking out my mind.
What are the concepts behind your new videos?
They are historical videos. I’ve realised that not everybody will understand what I mean by ‘Ike Kan’. So, the video explains what it means. Same applies for ‘Get into It’. The videos were directed by Musa, the same guy who directed Wizkid and Wande Coal’s latest videos. We are releasing the four videos together as a compilation CD with a concert to accompany it.
What’s the concert all about?
The concert is meant to create publicity to our fans. We want to give them a taste of what we are about to release in the compilation, so they can go buy it. We believe the concert will go a long way in putting it in the mouth of people. Other Alapomeji artistes like Seriki and Alabi will be on ground to support me.
When is the concert coming up?
It will be in second week of December but no specific date yet. It will take place at Civic Center. The concert is basically for industry people and the press as well. It will be strictly by invitation.
What is the title of your on-coming album?
My tradition is to release the title of my album long before it is released because I don’t believe in secrecy. I’m releasing a double album like the last one I did. One is ‘CNN’ while the other one is titled ‘GRA’. Each is going to come with eight songs making a total number of16 songs. The full meaning of GRA is Galvanizing Right Ahead and the other one is Cancelling Numerous Negativity (CNN).
What inspired the two titles?
There has been a lot of negativity about me of late. So I’m using one to cancel all negative stories about me spread by my enemies. The other is a charge to move ahead no matter what have been said about me.
Apart from the new materials you are about to release, what are the other projects you are working on?
We are working on the Alapomeji All Star album and that will be released next year.
How many artistes do you have signed on to Alapomeji at the moment?
We have the likes of Seriki, Alabi, Kayefi and another one coming.
What’s happening with Kayefi’s album, fans are worried because they feel it should be out by now. Why the delay?
The reason why her album is being delayed is because she just got married and she’s raising her kids too. We have to be considerate about her challenges until she is fit for production.
There is this rumour that you just joined a new record label known as Diesel Music, how true is it?
That’s not true. The owner of Diesel Music is a friend of mine. So, I was just helping him to promote his label, that’s all.
There’s been a lot of negative stories spread about you. How do you react to them?
I don’t feel bad reading negative stories about myself. In fact, I enjoy them and long for more. The fact that people talk about me means that I exist. In fact, both negative and positive stories work well for me. It depends on how you can cope with it, live with it, get over it and move on. Whoever is having it negative now, should expect it positive later and whoever is having it positive now, should expect it negative soon too. The most important thing is deal with it and get on with your life.
What actually went wrong between you and your former manager, Dehinde?
Something doesn’t need to go wrong before two people decide to go their separate ways. There is always a point in someone’s life that you think you need to move on. That was what happened. I still work with him .
You haven’t reacted to the story that your Abuja based lover had a set of twins for you. Is it true?
I wish the press would verify their stories about me before publishing them. Nobody had any baby for me. That story is not true and I want to tell you that they are making it up.
Is it true that you and Tony Payne have reconciled and are back to your house at Magodo?
That story isn’t true. Tony Payne and I are still separated and not back together. That is the fact!
You recently featured in a movie titled Jejere, what was the experience like?
The truth is that I am no longer interested in featuring in anymore movie. That might be my first and the last outing. You sit down at home, watch them and criticize them but there’re so much more to it than what we see. Imagine shooting a movie for over a month and you are supposed to edit it to an hour. It’s much more difficult than we imagine.
How would you describe your experience on set?
I was there for about a week, in different locations. They shot in different cities and places. It was difficult, quite difficult and at the same time, very challenging. That is going to me my first and last movie except if I’m being offered a huge sum of money then, I can cancel other events for like two weeks for a movie shoot.
Weren’t you planning to shoot your own movie?
I was supposed to shoot my own movie but while working on ‘Jejere’ and I saw the way is being done, I decided to drop that idea for now. My intention was to shoot my own movie, which is suppose to recapture the true story of 9ice.
What is your opinion on the current state of the Nigerian music industry?
I think we are getting worst instead of getting better. What we dished out is not quality. What we have now is quite different from the way it all started. I would say it’s better we go back to the days of Plantashun Boiz.
What do we have now?
Do we even have song now? What we have now is the beat. Aside that, there is no content regulation .We have been saying that we should go back to the drawing board. The first thing is to get PMAN right. Once we get PMAN right with the artistes of this generation participating actively in PMAN activities, the body will be able to represent all the musicians and fight for our collective and individual rights.