By BENJAMIN NJOKU
Gabriel Oche Amanyi popularly known as Terry G, who ruled the airwaves in the early 2000s with his hit songs like ” Pass Me Your Love”, “Run Mad”, ” So High”, “Love Affair” , Sexy Lady” among other songs is poised to stage a comeback to his first love — music. The controversial singer disappeared for a while but he says he’s ready to reclaim his spot in the Nigerian music scene. In a recent live chat with Vanguard on Instagram, the Benue State -born singer revealed his plans to drop a new song before the end of the year to relaunch his career.
He also addressed some critical issues surrounding his dwindling career revealing that his ‘crazy image’ then was deliberate having desired while growing up to create an image of himself where people would see him as a crazy guy. The singer equally refuted the allegation that alcohol and drugs almost ruined his career, insisting that he was rather hated and criticized because of his lifestyle.
You went underground many years ago but in 2020 you signed a recording deal with Basic Entertainment in Lagos. What has been happening to your music career since.
I don’t want to reveal everything that happened then. I actually had a court case which I settled before releasing any song. I have not discussed this matter with anybody. But I am done with the case. Before the end of this year, I would start dropping my songs.
You once said that you took a break from music to pay attention to your other investments. Did you take that decision at the expense of your career or that you didn’t have anything more to offer to the world?
I am a music producer as well as an instrumentalist. So, music is an integral part of me. I might be working but the reason people are feeling that way is because I haven’t dropped my songs. I have a couple of songs waiting to be released. But I used that opportunity to take care of my family that is based in London. And my son also plays with Chelsea, so I took my time to focus on him.
Are you back fully to the music scene?
I am back but it has to be obvious. People around me know that I am back to the music world but when my video is out the world will confirm it.
You have added a lot of weight and look nice too. Is it because you have been resting for some years now?
I have had some time for myself. During the fame period, it was quite hectic and I had no time for myself then. It was all about showing love to people. But since I was in London, I had to take time out to take care of myself. I returned to the country about four months ago.
People alleged that drugs and alcohol almost ruined your career. Is that the true story?
That is not the true story. Remember that I was the first artist who introduced the street genre. So, I was like an escape goat. It wasn’t close to what they were thinking. I was just a stubborn boy that wanted to do music and nobody gave me a chance to actualize my dream, not even my parents.
So, that brought out the attitude and the environment I grew up in also added to it. I was hated and criticized for smoking weed. But there are many musicians today who are smoking weed while on stage. I never smoked weed on stage during my time.
Are you saying that your career was not ruined by drugs and alcohol?
I am one musician that Nigerians still expect a lot from. If my career was ruined, nobody would be expecting anything from me because I have got a lot in stock. It was deliberate that I had to take a break to attend to my family. Yes, I deliberately wanted to have that image where people will see me as a ‘crazy guy.’
There wasn’t any space for me during that time. I used to do good music then but there wasn’t a chance for fame. So I had to be creative by doing something else to draw people’s attention to myself. That was how God imparted me with craziness.
During your heyday, you agreed that your lifestyle seriously affected your career in terms of your dress sense and your style of music that was not accepted then by the people
At that time, Nigerian music wasn’t exposed that much. I drew inspiration from foreign music and American rapper Lil Wayne was one of my mentors. So, the way I dressed then was quite odd to Nigerian culture, but I was only trying to do the international thing that we are doing today.
I was only criticized then because I was the first to start it and people didn’t understand where I was actually driving to. But now, I thank God that it didn’t stop after me. I have a lot of emerging singers that have continued in that trend.
What will you say about the evolution of street music in Nigeria, as you claimed that you started the nonsense that is making sense today?
It’s not in contention. The fact is that there wasn’t any category for street music when I started doing music. Even in the Hip-hop world, I was the one that made the Hip-hop world create a category for street music.
My fans encouraged me and the ‘Free Madness’ that brought me into the limelight wasn’t deliberate. My fans now started asking for that kind of music. They actually prompted me to create that kind of ‘crazy image . ‘
Was that why you described yourself as ‘Jesus’ of Nigerian music?
Jesus is a name and Christ is a savior. Before Jesus was born, people have been bearing the name Jesus, but if they claim Christ, it’s a sin. I will never claim what I am not. I knew it was going to be controversial, that was why I asked people to call me Jesus, which is a name. I didn’t actually mean Jesus, but GZUS. That’s my name.
People actually thought I was claiming ‘Jesus.’ I will never do such a thing because I hail from a God fearing background. I know how to attract attention to myself, that’s why I created that buzz. There was also a time I said they should call me ‘Lucifer.’ But I know I would never be Lucifer. What I meant then was ‘look-see-far.’I know how to be controversial.
You started your career in the early 2000s as a gospel singer before you delved into pop music. Why did you take the decision to dump gospel music for secular music?
The direction I take is designed by God. Yes, I sing conscious music. But the gospel music I used to sing then is still the reason I am here today. I have actually worked for God. He said I was going to talk to a multitude. Then I was working for Him in the House of God.
Currently, I am talking to a multitude through my music. I might actually be an agent working on behalf of God and later, it will be real. Winning souls comes in different ways. There are some people God sent into the world to win souls for Him. I am a God-fearing person even though many don’t see the other side of me.
What do you regret about your past when you look back at where you are coming from?
I regret nothing because I am so excited today that I am seeing my past manifesting in the present while I am still alive. I’m still young and have a lot to offer to my generation. I play the instruments and the world hasn’t seen that other side of me. I haven’t been serious with my music, but I know there will be a time when I will do so.
Nigerian music has gone global, thanks to Burna Boy, Davido, Wizkid among others. Are you not worried that you are missing out in the new trend?
We have the most unique style in Nigeria when it comes to music. This breakthrough should have happened a long time ago but we never had the platform to promote our music. We would have gone global a long time ago. But let’s applaud the acts that had these crafts, probably because they have lived abroad before and are citizens of those countries.
If you look at it critically, it has to do with the opportunities that come your way. At the end of the day, some of us came from the street and it’s God that can connect and help us. But there are others that are powerful and are well connected. So, it’s easier for them to hit the global limelight. But we won’t blame anybody because whatever God has given you is yours. And I am very comfortable with mine.
I am so excited that I am seeing myself in a lot of these emerging Nigerian singers. And I know they will change some day because I have changed. In terms of missing out, I don’t think I am missing out anything because I am too busy. The problem I am having now is that people are still in hflove with my old vibes. They don’t want me to release new songs again. Even when I go for shows, people still go crazy with my old vibes.
What are you coming back with?
I am coming back with ‘Respect.’ That’s the title of my next project. It’s an evolving part of me. I have seen the street part of it. And of course, I have influenced a lot of people and I should take the responsibility to let them know the next step that I am taking.
Is it going to be a departure from your previous songs?
I work with the spirits and I will do good music for Nigerians because music in Nigeria now is universal. But I will still represent the “Terry G image” in some parts of my music. Definitely, I have evolved which will show in my music but I will still represent Nigeria.