Asks BENJAMIN NJOKU
“I celebrate myself and my journey. God’s grace has kept me through it all. Nothing will hold you, Iyanya Onoyom Mbuk down, give all the hard work back.”
These were the words of encouragement that Iyanya made to himself few days back as he celebrated his birthday and 10 years in dedicated pursuit of his own music style.
The Kukere crooner also urged his fans to get ready for non-stop music, adding that “ The wait is about to be justified.” However, the concern here, is not because Iyanya is talking about relaunching his music career, but beyond that, the readiness of the singer to take the bull by the horn.
Iyanya, in the past few years has failed to sustain the beat that brought him to the limelight. After winning the now rested Project Fame West Africa reality TV show in 2008, the RnB act-turned -pop singer soared to fame in 2012, with the release of his hit single,” Kukere.” The club banger, which according to the singer then, hit three million caller tune downloads took over the Nigerian music scene at a time.
But unfortunately, the Calabar, Cross River State-born pop star could not leverage on the success of his ‘Kukere’ hit song which swept him to fame across the country and beyond, winning various awards to put him in the global spotlight.
As the first-ever ‘Project Fame’ winner that launched himself into the mainstream music world, Iyanya went underground as soon as he hit the limelight. Though many were not surprised because his debut studio album, “ My Story” which he released in 2011, and had such singles as “No Time” and “Love Truly”, Desire, was regarded as ‘a commercial failure’ for reasons associated with distribution and promotion of the song.
Apart from “Kukere, “Sexy Mama” and “Ur Waist”, Iyanya cannot boast of any good follow up to his second studio album. He has, as a matter of fact, failed to sustain the fame and accolades that greeted the early days of his music career. Yes, with great talent and vocal dexterity, Iyanya is still far from being the R Kelly of Nigeria. His popularity is steadily declining , and the embattled singer seems not to be helping matters.
Iyanya’s 2017 , “Signature,” an eight-track EP that included songs like “Up 2Something” and “ Hold On” which he released under Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records was seen as one song that would have helped to salvage his now quiet career. But the song didn’t fly at the end of the day after the singer’s widely publicized tour of Europe and America with it.
For any reason, industry watchers have blamed Iyanya for a somewhat decline. According to some of them, the singer’s dwindling career started long after he severed ties with his former friend and partner, Ubi Franklin, to pitch his tent with Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records. Up until his exit from the Made Men Music, MMMG, which he co-owned, Iyanya was the biggest artiste on that platform. But dumping the outfit, the singer created the space for the likes of Teckno to ignite their career path.
Recall also that he was once declared wanted by the Rivers State police command after allegedly collecting the sum of N1.7 million from producer of ‘Nite Of A Thousand Laughs’, Opa Williams as payment for his performance at two events but failed to turn up.
According to sources then, Iyanya was paid the said amount to perform at two events organized by Opa Williams which held in Benin and Port Harcourt. But the singer missed both shows. The Port Harcourt show which held on New Year’s Day, in 2016 featured a performance from rapper Olamide with Bovi as host.
Guests were left feeling disappointed as Iyanya failed to turn up on stage for his performance after it was highly publicized by the organizers that he was billed to thrill them. The singer was reported to have rather chosen to perform at another show in Omuma local government area of Port Harcourt which also featured Timaya.
‘We were all disappointed, we waited in vain. As soon as Bovi announced he was not going to show up, everybody started leaving‘, a guest who attended the event held at the open ground of the Hotel Preseidential, PH said.
This is one of Iyanya’s controversies that have continued to haunt his music career till date. However, when many thought that Iyanya was on his way to reactivate his music career, having joined Don Jazzy’s Mavin records in 2017, the Kukere crooner again failed to produce magic in spite of gaining access to big producers and resources. Rather, he was busy confirming rumours of his exit from Mavin Records, and joining the Temple Music, another record label, in the same year.
In an interview, Iyanya said “I’m now signed to Temple Music but I’m a Mavin for life. It was not a beef. I was there and it was time to move on.” He denied claims in some quarters that his exit from Mavin was to connect with the big acts on the label. In other words, many disagreed with him following the reasons he gave for leaving the label that prides itself as one of the biggest music records in Africa. Iyanya insisted that his leaving Mavin was as a result of his plan to keep seeking ways to become better with his music career.
The singer said he discovered it was time for him to move on and face new challenges life might throw at him, adding that he remains “a Mavin for life.” With Tiwa Savage, Reekardo Banks, Korede Bello, Dr SID, Di’ja and a number of others on the Mavin label, Iyanya failed to push his career through. He struggled to release an EP and two videos while he was with the label. Unable to give a good account of himself, the singer had no choice than to drop out.
Sadly, while industry watchers are yet to come to terms with his sudden exit from Mavin records, the buzz is that the singer is currently having a running battle with his new record label, Temple Music. Unconfirmed source said that the label would soon come after him, as he’s alleged to be hobnobbing with another yet to be known record label which is contrary to the agreement they had with him. The label also has some other issues to sort out with the singer.
In the meantime, Iyanya’s alleged fall-out with Temple music cannot be unconnected with his inability to impress the label that has invested so much in him. It’s believed, however, in some quarters that Iyanya’s music career is steadily on a downward spiral, even as critics said he has been deserted by corporate brands that once embraced him. For the once ladies’ man, who was romantically linked to a number of female celebrities, including the Ghanaian model and actress, Yvonne Nelson, Iyanya surely needs to prove his critics wrong that his music career is not fizzling out as widely speculated. Indeed, dropping one of his unreleased songs,” Credit” featuring Don Jazzy, which he did while he was still with Mavin Records, is not enough justification that the Kukere master is back on the track. In any case, Iyanya’s fans can’t wait to see their idol return to the spotlight.
He has the talent to rise again. He has the name and fame to thrill fans again. Surely, Inyanya can’t be done now. His fans are yelling for him and many hope he will return to the high stage. That’s where he belongs.