Jesse King, popularly known as ‘Buga’, who got his name from his first album, is not the usual run-of-the-mill artiste we find on the scene these days. This Auchi-born Benin boy is brimming with ideas, not to skim profits off his fans, but to bring about an awakening in them, to respect their roots and look to the African values in every aspect of their lives. Hear him:
Let’s meet you?
I’m Jesse King, people call me Buga. I,m an artiste from Auchi, Edo State.I was born in Lagos, grew up here in Lagos in a Mission House. My dad is a pastor. I sing contemporary highlife. I’ve been in the industry for a while and so far, God has been faithful.
When did you go into music?
I went into music professionally in 2006. I used to do Radio Jingles and I’m also a producer.
Did you do music in school?
No, I studied Economics at the Ondo State University. I started doing music in church and the church actually helped me a lot , before I fully launched myself into the music world.
What songs have you done?
My first album ‘Buga’ was released in 2007 and lots of people heard it within and outside the country.
How are you able to handle being an artiste and a producer?
I think it’s actually a talent I have. I also believe that if you’re going to be a successful artiste, you have to be into the studio thing – be a studio rat, work with people and learn from them. I started as a pianist, taking piano lessons before delving fully into the music . I thank God for the talent and wisdom he has given to me to put things together. Some of my tracks were produced by me and others were done with the help of other producers.
You have a musical concert coming up soon, what is it about?
The concert titled ‘Eko Benin Connexion’ is all about the cultural tie between the Benin Kingdom and the Eko (Lagos) of today. Sometimes I feel bad that things have derailed from our cultural lines and that’s why I’m coming out with this concert to bring back the memories of where we are actually coming from and if we don’t understand where we are coming from, we won’t even know where we are going.
There is the need for us to go back to the roots and get things fixed. Eko-Benin concert is just to show that we are one. The Obanikoros, Igbosheres are originally from Benin; Ido Market is actually from Benin. The Aworis are the original owners of this land (Lagos). It’s actually scandalous when people refer to Lagos as a ‘ No man’s land’. It’s important we know our beginnings, so we can be more confident and original. It’s a wake-up call for people to go back to their roots and be original.
What do you hope to benefit by embarking on this programme?
I want to sleep in my grave and know that my children still flock around me. As an African, I believe so much in my land and people. Nothing can change me to James Brown or Michael Jackson. Why do we neglect what we have and completely embrace those of others? I believe that in 100 years time, civilization is going to come back to Africa.
I want to see the younger generation coming back to realize who they are, appreciate it and stand for it. I learnt from someone recently that some Nigerian children are taking Chinese lessons, where they even do better than in their indigenous ( Nigerian) languages. It’s a serious issue. I want to seize this opportunity to appeal to parents, teachers, children and everyone to try their best to bring back our cultural values.
Do you have sponsors working with you on this programme?
Honestly, for now we don’t have sponsors, but we are actually supported by Daviva – they believe in Africa,they gave us the Ankaras. But I believe that with time, people are actually going to tune to the idea and support it. It isn’t really all about the money, it’s about the message – people keying into it. It’s good at least once a week for people to put on Ankara. It’s also good when interacting for you to sometimes use your local language. I pray that with time, people’s minds are going to be open and they’ll try and see how we’ll be able to push this, because I can’t do it alone.
What are some of the highlights of the events?
There is going to be a display of the Aworis , Ajashes, the people from Benin, those from Badagry, in their various attires with their ‘Ape’,drums and other instruments, showcasing their beautiful culture. There is going to be musical display, I’ll also be performing alongside others. It’s going to be fun and a colourful event.
How has the journey been so far?
The journey has been so wonderful. If you understand yourself, you understand where you are actually going. You have to work first for the money to come in. We are still working and money is more like a colour to it, it’s more about the message. God has been so faithful, I’m not rich and I’m not poor.
How were you able to get Toyin Oshinaike to work with you on this upcoming event?
I got to know him when we were in the university and he was well known as a good director. He’s married to one of my directors, Tope, and we all used to be together at the Ondo State University then. We were all together alongside Funsho Adeolu, the actor and they were all very wonderful people. I thought I needed someone to really stand for me and so I chose him, he’s so good professionally. Wale Adebayo is also going to come in and will be handling it because Toyin Oshinaike will be tied down with a project at that period, but we’ve been working together so far.
What else are you into besides music?
I love tourism, very soon I’ll be having a place like a jungle, where you can have African continental foods,local dishes and you just go there and have fun. There are some things you don’t find around like gari, groundnuts and fish, akara and pap, roasted yam and palm-oil and so on. This will also help promote more of our culture.
You are very culturally inclined, why is it so?
I think we shouldn’t say no to ourselves, we should learn to accept who we are. My story is Africa, everything about me is Africa. I think I should keep saying yes to myself. I believe so much in culture, it’s very unfortunate what we have today, so many are drifting away. Though some people are actually doing a lot, but we still have to do more. We should have a content to talk about.
What challenges have you encountered so far?
Everyone has one challenge or the other and the society is not also helping matters. You have to be really determined to get there. Challenges help me, they don’t discourage me. It tells me that I have to keep running. I don’t really look at challenges anymore,one has to just survive it. Challenges are like a push to me.
Do you find fulfilment doing what you do?
Yes, it’s not really about the money. Once you’re happy doing what you do, you are fulfilled. You might have big cars and still be crying, and you see a man by the roadside eating N150 Rice smiling. So no matter how it is, I’m happy.