BY ROTIMI AGBANA
Newly signed to Ycee’s Tinny Entertainment, pretty female rapper, Mabel Oine Alubo, aka Bella, is poised to take the entertainment scene by storm with a brand new kind of musical energy never seen on the frontiers of the Nigerian music industry.
In this chat with Potpourri, the ebony-skinned entertainer who honed her musical skills listening to Eminem, Daddy Showkey, Spice girls, MI, Jessy Jagz, and others, talks tough. Enjoy her…
How did you begin your music career?
I’m the last of four children born to academic parents in Jos, Plateau State, where I was brought up. I was quite a creative child and started writing poetry around the age of 12. I grew up listening to all kinds of music; but I got more interested in rap music. I started converting my poems and rhymes into rap verses.
I put out my first freestyle on Kanye West’s ‘Theraflu’ instrumental in 2012. I kept recording more since then and my most prominent works include ‘Testify’ ft Terry Tha Rapman, The BELLA E.P, Lucid Dreaming EP and Radio ft Ycee, which was my first single under Tinny entertainment after I got signed this year.
Why did you dump your university degree for music?
I didn’t “dump” my university degree. I believe formal education is necessary because there is so much to learn. However, talent should be developed and not ignored because there are all kinds of things we could learn along the way that may end up being our source of income. Studying microbiology in the University of Jos made me passionate about a lot of public health issues and by God’s grace; I’d use my success from music to help make a change in that aspect.
Considering the musical talents already in existence, how do you intend to outshine them?
My music has elements of afro-pop, hip-hop and R&B; sounds like mine represents the new age Africa. I believe that Nigeria and the international community are looking for fresh sounds that still identify as African, and that’s what my music is, coupled with my intelligence, image brand, personality, my team and God’s blessings. I know I’m going to be very successful.
You were exposed to different genres of music while growing up but chose to do rap music, why?
Rap was an easier transition for me into music than singing because I was already familiar with creating words and expressions of my own that rhymed. I didn’t have to worry about melodies. Also, having older people around me when I was growing up and with pop culture back then, rap was a trendy option.
The rise of Jos rappers like M.I, Ice Prince and Jesse Jagz was really inspiring as well. Now that I’m more creatively mature, I’ve learned to add melodies into my lyrics and sing them too. I enjoy making all kinds of music and I’m glad I don’t have to restrict myself.
How has the music industry treated you so far?
The music industry has been many things; interesting, challenging, scary, it’s all been a blessing. I’ve learned so much in a very short time and I’m very grateful for that.
What inspired your latest single ‘Radio’?
Being my first single under Tinny entertainment, Radio was meant to be an introduction to who I am as an artiste. The lyrics tell people where I’m from, (Jos town), things I’m passionate about, like female empowerment. It’s a song about confidence, goals and winning when people don’t expect you to.
Is it ethical for artistes to buy songs?
Performance arts involve many things and many people. All the greats have had teams. Sometimes, it takes more than one person to pull something off. I’ve written all my songs so far but I don’t see anything wrong when artistes buy their songs because they’re the ones who record and perform it. A person might have great vocals and performances and not be much of a writer and that’s okay.
How did you get signed on to Tinny Entertainment?
I emailed my music to Osagie Osarenkhoe Okunkpolor, founder of The Zone Agency in December 2016. She shared it with Tinny and he was impressed. I came to Lagos for a screening session that same month, and thankfully, I got signed January 2017 and moved to Lagos from Jos.
Being on the same label with Ycee, how do you feel?
It is a privilege. He’s always been someone I look up to.
Don’t you think he might overshadow your stardom?
We are two very different artistes. We all support one another in Tinny entertainment and the plan is to win in different ways.
Are you threatened by the likes of Niniola, Simi, Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage, etc?
I believe my only true competition is my former self. We all have our battles to face and we’re all different. Women don’t have to be compared; we can be great side by side. So, I don’t feel threatened by anyone. No one scares me.