By ROTIMI AGBANA & ABIGAIL OLAWOYIN
Budding singer, Mayowa Olarenwaju, aka Mayowa Bae, is fast charting his way into the upper echelon of the Nigerian music society with a style of music he brags is unique enough to compete with Tekno, Mayorkun and others. Sharpening his musical teeth while listening to the likes of Pasuma, K1 De Ultimate and others, he believes no competition is strong enough to stop him from hitting major stardom. In this exclusive interview with Star Tracker, the musical greenhorn ruffles the bee-hive his peers wouldn’t dare. Excerpts:
Who is Mayowa?
Mayowa Olanrewaju Gabriel, with stage name, Mayowa Bae, is a musician. I have been doing music for some time now, I do all types of music. I actually started as a gospel artiste but now I do more of hip-hop and rap.
Why did you choose music?
Music to me is something I just found myself doing; it’s something that is in me right from birth. When I was young people compelled me to sing to beats after which they gave nice comments. My dad is a pastor and I was in the junior choir, then I later graduated to the senior choir, and from there, I formed my own band.
Your dad is a pastor and you’re into secular music, what’s his reaction to it?
My father was never in support of my doing music, all he wanted was for me to go to school. But when he saw the support I got from people for doing music he had no choice but to support me;even now that I’m into secular music. He’s always saying that he’s proud of me, and he calls me almost every day to pray for me, so that’s something encouraging.
As an artiste who does all kinds of music, what strategy are you adopting to break into the music industry?
I’ve tried a lot of things in the industry, but I think there is something about me that’s different. I believe how I deliver my own style of music will help me break into the industry. I always put a feel of my religious and cultural background into my music, so, when people listen to my songs, paying attention to the lyrics, they would know I’m from a Christian background. I do a lot of prelude, praising God.
A lot of Nigerian artistes start their music career with gospel music but later switch to secular music. What do you think is responsible for this shift?
I won’t call it a shift, because I still do gospel music. I still go to churches to perform but officially the songs I’ve been releasing are secular songs. I’m a kind of musician whose songs depend on the inspiration I get. Where I stay in Surulere, I see a lot of things happening on the streets, so that inspire me to do more of street songs because people want to listen to reality.
Which thrives better in Nigeria, gospel or secular music?
Yes, we have a lot of gospel artistes that are now singing secular music. In my own opinion, I think the gospel artistes need to work harder to measure up to the secular ones. They are lazy compared to the secular artistes. I’m sorry to say this but I think they are very lazy.
Would you say lack of proper education has been responsible for artiste-label feuds?
Yes, but I have learnt a lot from fellow artistes, who have been into contracts that affected their careers. We don’t hear their songs again, and it’s not because they are not good musicians but because of their managements. For example, Tekno was my very good friend in Abuja; he had a contract before signing on Made Men Music Group. The contract almost ruined his career when he was to sign on to MMMG. The former label boss wanted to take legal actions against him but thank God the whole thing was later settled amicably. Such has affected a lot of artistes who are eager to sign on to a record label.
Do you believe you have what it takes to compete with Tekno, Mayorkun and others currently ruling the musical airwaves?
I think the sky is too wide for all birds to fly; everyone has to come with their own style. When Mr. Eazi released his song, Bombay, people were asking what he was singing because no one knew him. I listened to some of his songs and also watched some of his videos before he hit stardom; but then people said he was singing like he was at a funeral. Later, they began to accept him and his style. So, I think I have to keep doing what I love to do, stay real to myself and I know when the time comes I will take over.
Mr. Eazi, boasted of bringing Ghanaian sound to Nigeria and also paving the way for African artistes in Europe, what’s your take?
I read something online about Eedris Abdulkareem blasting him over that statement. For me, people have their own opinions and we think differently. I think he brought Ghanaian sound to his own music and he introduced himself to Europe; I think he was just talking about himself.
Do you think the social media has made any impact on entertainers?
Yes, I think the social media has helped a lot of people and it has also affected some negatively. Social media has made many artistes act fake, showing off what doesn’t belong to them just to boost their image, and I know a lot of people that are rich but they don’t show it at all.
Why do entertainers usually claim to have been hacked anytime they make a silly mistake on social media instead of owning up?
Well, I have experienced two of such incidents before. I think sometimes it truly happens but they lie and cover up just to protect their image.
Do you think the musical lyrics and video contents of today’s songs are ideal for the younger generation?
We are in a civilized era now, during the time of our parents things were a bit different, you don’t see nudity and obscenity in music videos but you find that everywhere now. I think music video directors need to be creative because they are in charge of the script, and video vixens or dancers don’t have to show their butts and boobs before they can make a good musical video exciting. I have lived in Abuja for sometime and I’ve also travelled to other countries to see the way they do their things. We have a rich culture in Nigeria, we also have artistes that make good music, like Timi-Dakolo, but you can never see exposed boobs or butts in their videos. I think we can do something that will be acceptable on the streets without showing the butts and boobs. It’s how you present yourself that people will accept you.
Which artistes influenced your interest in music while growing up?
I grew up in Surulere, and while growing up I listened to a lot of music. As I said earlier, my dad is a pastor, he only listens to Sunny Ade, Atorise, Ayefele, but once you get into my room you start hearing Wasiu Ayinde, Pasuma and so on, those are the songs I grew up listening to.
Would you say the male artistes are doing better than the females?
Yes, but the females are trying too. I have a lot of female artistes I want to work with; Tiwa Savage Seyi Shay, Niyola, Chidinma and many others. We have a lot of female artists that are very hard working; their videos are up to standard and they are doing what some male artistes can’t do and that’s encouraging.
Veteran singer, Azadus, recently said the music industry no longer encourages talent, do you agree?
There is time for everything, and in this life everyone has their own time, he said it because it’s affecting him. Azadus has released a couple of songs and they have been successful on the streets. In their time it was different, but I know a lot of people that were also complaining then too, he was lucky to be on Kennis music, they were everywhere. In this generation everything is now about money. Truly, some artistes have only made it because of the way they came into the industry. They used money to get their way; they are the ones that spoilt everything. Now, we just have to re-structure our entertainment industry to make it better and for Azadus, I will advise him not to complain about the industry anymore, he should keep pushing.
Is it right for celebrities to use the social media as their battle ground?
No, it’s wrong. If you want to fight, come out and face each other. I won’t even encourage them to fight, because I can’t fight. I can talk but I can’t fight. To me, there are some people you can’t reach but you just have to throw shades at them on social media.
Which Nigerian musician do you wish to work with?
I have a lot of them; I will love to work with anyone that comes my way.