He made a major impact in the industry with his hit single ‘Gongo Aso’ in 2008 which became a national anthem and ever since he has always upped his game amidst several controversies. The Ogbomoso-Oyo State-born musical act, Abolore Akande, popularly known as 9ice by his teaming fans, is one of Nigeria’s leading acts in the entertainment industry with several hit songs and albums to his credit. He went underneath for a while and rose up with his bid to run for the Ogbomoso North/South and Orire federal constituency seat in the House of Representatives. Music wise, 9ice sure knows how to connect with his fans with the release of Abefe and few new singles. In this Chat with MUTIAT ALLI, 9ice spoke on his recently celebrated birthday, new work, politics and other issues.
Recently you celebrated you birthday, will you say at that at this age you have achieved a lot career wise?
Well, at that age, I will say I have not even started at all if success means being the president of Nigeria, if success means having even one billion naira in your account, if success means having a hundred albums, if success means having Grammies, if success means being a grandfather. You know success can mean so many things to so many people, so, I will say I have not really started at all.
You said something about coming home with the Grammy, do you still hope on winning a Grammy award?
Hope 93 still exist till date. Even though the guy that carried the hope is dead, people still carry after him and that is why we celebrate June 12. I am very much hopeful that by the special grace of Allah, I will definitely bring home the Grammy.
What is this thing about you being proverbial with your choice of words in most of your songs?
You know Nigerians like one thing; once they like one formula, don’t change it. If you change it, you are in trouble. If they like garri, they can drink that garri from January to December but once they don’t have the garri, they complain. So for me, probably if it is in America, you can see an artiste that is an R&B artiste he rap, he will do this, he will do that and people will appreciate him more but in this part of the world, once they know you with a particular thing, you stick to it, and they will love you for it.
A lot of things have changed about you; personality wise, while others say 9ice is arrogant, are you?
You can’t be the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W), you can’t be them, all you can be is be yourself and be yourself almost every day so that when people find fault in you being yourself, it is very easy for you to adjust because you are being yourself, but when you are fake and people still complain, then who are you going to be? Don’t forget I’m an artiste and not a prophet. I’m not a pastor, so it is not possible people will not find fault in you, even pastor, people find fault in him.
At what point of your career did you actually breakthrough in the industry and what do you think made that possible?
I think it is as a result of being unique, then so many other elements. Also, the kind of people I work with, the yearnings of people that believe in originality or that like my kind of music which is more societal. I think such factors contributed to the breakthrough and success as well. So, it is not just the talent alone, but the media, the people I work with, the producers, the yearnings of the people, the taste of the kind of music they want as at then contributed to my breakthrough.
What really inspires your kind of lyrics?
I have listened to songs from talented acts like King Sunny Ade, Pasuma, Wasiu Ayinde, 2Face Idibia amongst others and all kinds of music and you phantom that there is one thing lacking, generation stems toward our own era and you found out that all generations don’t want to listen to them; you will be like what is the meaning of all these nonsense songs they listen to, why don’t they try and listen to the kind of music they sing? So I try and formulate that into the kind of music I do, to attract them and glory be to God to day, old papas and old mamas like our music and they dance to it.
All your previous work, which one will you tag your best?
That will be ‘’ANYTIME’’ because it is a personal experience, it is a song that describes my life experience in five or three minutes and is a song that I try as much as possible to touch every part of my life, every experience that I had in just bit and pieces. To me, it makes a lot of sense and that is the song that I tag best.
What was growing up like for you?
It was difficult, it was hard, it was almost impossible to live; when we ate eba in the morning, drank garri in the afternoon. We didn’t ask for dinner, we just went to bed and slept. There were parents but there was not much they could do; you know, you couldn’t even blame them. Even if you did, when you are a father or a parent, you will realise or understand what it is to be a parent. You can imagine sometimes I pay my children fees late and sometimes I call the school and plead with them till next term. So, it’s challenging so to be a father or a parent. It’s when you wear the shoe that you know where it hurts. So, I can say thanks to my mum and dad for them to have been able to do the little they did. So life was very hard but today I say glory be to God almighty.
You are so passionate about your mum, what is the relationship like with her?
Yeah, actually she is my step-mum, not my real mum because she is the one that I know as my mum. She is the one that if you talk about food, if you talk about how to provide shelter, she’s the one. When your dad goes out in the morning and comes at night and sometimes he comes home with nothing, I would have eaten morning, afternoon and she will be there. For me, she is a role model. She’s more than a mother to me. May her soul rest in perfect peace, Amen.
What is that one lesson that you learnt from your step-mother that still keeps you going?
The most important thing is to stay humble no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the trouble of the world brings to you, just for you to stay true to yourself and stay humble and believe in God almighty.
You talked about children, how are you enjoying fatherhood?
If I want to live tomorrow. I think that is the only thing that will make me to stay alive till another day. I think there is nothing else, but when you have kids, you want to be there for them to go through their school, to go through the trouble, to get married, and to start raising their family but sometimes because of the situation, some persons will not want to raise children, but when you think about the joy and so many other things surrounding it, you have a second thought.
What is the lesson you learnt in joining music with politics?
One of the things I learnt is be humble, stay true to yourself and believe that what you do today determines your tomorrow. There are some artistes that cannot contest for an election not that they don’t want to but they won’t, not that they are not popular but they will not dare come out for an election because of the kind of music they do, probably because of what they stand for. I, for instance, never thought of running for an election. I just saw myself contesting for an election. All I wanted was to go to school be a lawyer, settle down with my family and raise kids and also fight for the less privileged. But what really prompted the politics in me was that we have seen professors, they failed woefully and academicians, those that went to Cambridge, Chicago and so on, they did everything, got first class, still the nation was still failing and I realised that it is not the academic background that matters; it’s not the exposure that matters. You can be there as a farmer who doesn’t have more than standard six; that is why you have advisers on politics, on trade, entertainment, you pay them because they went to school for it. If the people in Bariga are complaining of water and I call one of my advisers who has an idea on water to find out how can we solve the issue; what I need to have as a credential is good conscience that on behalf of my people, I will deliver, the money in my care will be used accordingly, on behalf of my people I will do what they want. That is the man we need, we don’t need an academician, and we just need a man with the good conscience. The best bet for politics is to make it unattractive and make it less cheap.
Now that you have a taste of what politics is all about, what has changed about your impression about politicians?
My perspective is this: don’t promise what you cannot do. If you are running for the post of the president, don’t come out and promise I will give you light, water, good road, agriculture will be wonderful, in fact, food will be plentiful. Don’t do that. If you know you are going to be the president of Nigeria from January to December and you are going to do road, if the amount is more than the person that needs water, you will win; run your manifesto well, set priority right, and come in and tell them road is my paramount aim and after the four years, there will be road everywhere, water might not be that incredible. What is important about Fashola is good road, water wasn’t that available, and security was average. It’s like he came and wanted to eradicate the history of Tinubu and Tinubu was the one that had the master plan. But when you have an identity, it goes faster in this part of the world and than other places.
Are you going to re-run the next election?
When do we get to see another album from you?
We are planning another album very soon but what we are concentrating on right now is single after single because the market has changed. Gone are those days when you make money from albums, now you make money from singles. You can release one single and get endorsed with this bar; just one single. Through the one song you can get shows, so why do you want to release album that people can go in the internet and download on their own. So it is like waste of energy, resources, and waste of talent. Now people work on singles and after making money from them, you can now pack them together and put it as an album, so you won’t lose. So why do you want to release a new song as an album whereby instead of people to buy (people want to buy, don’t get me wrong) there will be one boy on the corner with a laptop feeling the song and would like to share to the world at the detriment of my own career; that is why you don’t see artistes release albums, rather they do singles now.
So are you tilting towards releasing an EP?
I’m not doing EPs. I will just be doing singles promotion, shoot the video and let people be aware of the songs, then when the time comes, maybe when all those singles I have gathered like 20, I will package them and release it as an album.
A lot of your colleagues have delved into acting and one will believe an act like you who is rich in African culture will feature in one or produce one, are you thinking towards that direction too?
I have about 10 scripts for a movie that I wrote myself but that industry is a different ball game for someone coming from music to acting. It is so easy for someone coming from movie to music. If I’m doing movie now, first I will look at how much I’m investing, how much will I get back, what would I have conquer at the end of it. Now I think it is even getting better now. I think most of the movies now they don’t do it on CDs anymore, you just go to cinema and watch it and after taking it to every cinema, you now consider releasing it in CDs. So before going into it, I will ask, how much will I realise, then am I getting a Grammy or Oscar for it, why will I want to do that wahala? You think about those factors than the reaching out to all the industry. I rather just keep those scripts and be selling them out and if they are shooting and they want me to be there to correct something, I will be there.
The end of 2015 rounded up with beef then 2016 opened up with lots of beef in the entertainment industry, from your own perspective, will you say beef is good for the industry?
From my angle, beef is meat, it is just if you want to eat it or you don’t want to be part of it, it is a tool which people can use either to covert attention from another person, or bring attention to yourself, so it has been a game for a long time.
What is your reaction when you read negative stories about yourself?
Before I used to feel terrible, I uses to feel like let me just see the person and beat him but after a while, I think now if one week goes by and nobody talks negative about me, I will check myself. It has become part of me and I like that. So now when someone says bad thing about me, I will just look at what he is saying, what angle he is from, did he create the account because of me, how many people is he following; you check so many things and you phantom it and consider if it is worth replying or not, if you need to check yourself or not. Sometimes someone might say something that will change you negatively, so you check the circumstance and weigh it before you decide on what to do or not to do.
Do you watch your own musical video?
I would have watched it one million times before I released it. I do watch any of my songs, so before you get to criticize me, I had watched it over again, so what you are talking about I know already it is either there is no money to start correcting it and I hope and wish you don’t see it and if you see it, there is nothing I can do about it.
Why did it take you so long to clear the mess supposedly caused by one of your single?
A lot of people said so many things but I realise the angle and where they are coming from but they should see it from my own perspectives; the rumour was not even the truth and it was propagated by the media. If you reply and try to correct it at that moment, how many media houses do you want to go to and mind you media will sell whatever they want to sell, so I needed time for it to die very well. You know if you quench fire, some flames go still be there, even as at that time I granted some interviews and I was told them that the thing was not true but what will sell will sell. Now is the best time, I am sorry if it has affected a lot of people and business; I’m so sorry about that, there is nothing I could have done, I think now is the right time for me to come out and let it die.
You have four kids and two wives, how are you handling your relationship?
I think the kids are one of the most joyous things I have ever witnessed in my live. Where they are coming from is secondary, the most important thing is that I have my kids, they are healthy, and they are my joy, so it gives me so much joy and strength that I have those four kids and I am not slowing down. I still want to have more. For me, I don’t see my children as a defect or as a deficiency, rather I see them as a plus, as valued members of my family, so I’m happy.
So how do you strike balance among your family?
Like recently I was in Abuja because my twins celebrated their five years birthday, so I work hard. Once I can’t go by flight, I go by road; if it’s only N200,000, I do send regularly. If there is no money, I send N50,000. We shuffle both just to get to the next level and raise them well. It is not the amount of money used in raising them that matters but how you raise them.
Do you still communicate with Zion, your first son with your Ex and how have you been able to do that?
Of course I do that. We communicate through whatsapp, face time, email, and sometimes I call him just to know he’s schooling and what he is studying in school and how he is doing with the white Oyinbo and all that; so with the technologies that we have now, it is easy to see them to communicate with them.
Do you see any traits in any of your kids taking after music?
Out of the three grown-ups, I have three already, one can dance for I don’t know how many hours without getting tired; one can pick any song and there is another one that can play keyboard, drums, so we have a band. So I am just waiting for them to grow so that we can just start a band together.
What is your current relationship like with ID Cabasa?
Ayefemilete was produced by Cabasa which was the second single that I released. Agbawa bura was produced by Cabasa which was the third single I released and aside from that, we are working on so many songs. Obviously you will be seeing so many singles out of all the songs I’m talking about, you will be seeing Cabasa production from the singles as well.
If you were to do a song about yourself, what title will you give it and why?
If I am to do a song about myself, I will say ‘my story, my sin’ that will be a perfect title because people will not tell you that you have done something wrong; so it is from a story that people can say you have sinned and how best can you describe a life of a man or human being without a story, without negativity or then sin so to say.
So while growing up what do you think you missed?
The only thing I think I missed while growing up was to be able to work freely, to be able to go to places that we normally go to freely without crowd.
Do you patronise our African fabrics?
I will say I am one of the first Nigerians in this generation that will wear agbada on stage; that will wear native to perform and now everybody wears it, so glory be to God almighty.
Are you designer freak?
I’m not particular about designers. I think my mood depicts what I wear. If I am happy, I wear agbada so that I will have so many pockets, so if you give me money, I can put it inside.
Where is your best fun spot?
I haven’t been there and it is Bahamas, I hope you can buy my ticket.
What is your favourite drink?
What is your best quote, maybe from the Quran?
That will be Ayatul Qurisiyu because it is a quote that you can use for so many things. It is a quote that depicts so many things and it is very resourcefully.
What is your dream car?
That will be the latest Benz. I am contributing towards it and you can also join the contribution to make it complete quickly. I love Mercedes but I’m hoping to buy it, it is called GLE X63.
What kind of phone do you like?
I like iPhone but they are very troublesome and almost incompatible with other phone, you buy this, you buy that… android makes it easier.
The last time you read a motivational book and what was the tittle?
It was last week and the book is titled Voice of the Black Man.