She needs no further introduction in the entertainment industry; Simisola Bolatito Ogunleye popularly known as Simi is the first lady of the X3M music label, house to Nigeria’s male vocalist Praiz and D’Truce. Simi is not resting on her oars in becoming one of the most talked about celebrity. The Mass Communication graduate in this chat with MUTIAT ALLI, talks about her love-life, her self-titled sophomore studio amongst others.
Is this your debut or your sophomore album?
It’s my sophomore album. I had a gospel album in 2008. At the time, it did what it could do at that time. It was definitely not as big as this one, but I wasn’t I big as I am now though.
Looking at the album so far, what can you say about the reception?
I’m extremely blown away because I know when I put out the track list and it had only one feature, a lot of people were sceptical about it. They doubted whether it was going to be a good enough album. I was a bit nervous, but at the same time, I wasn’t. The reception has been amazing. We are topping the charts and we are really excited about that.
Does it mean that the success of an album depends on how many people you feature?
A lot of people think that. For example Jay Cole is a rapper who went platinum twice without featuring anyone, meaning it’s a big deal to do that by yourself. That means a lot of people attach major importance to features when it comes to the success of an album. A lot of people tend to think that.
Don’t you think you are shooting yourself in the foot by just featuring one person in your album?
I don’t think so because some of the biggest songs I’ve actually done are the ones I featured artistes. I don’t have any problem doing features. For this album, my plan was not to have any features. There were things I wanted to do but they did not work out. I expect the lifespan of my music to go on for a while. This is not the end of my career, so because I did not do features on this one does not mean I won’t don features on the other album.
So you featuring Adekunle Gold, is it a sort of payback for the work he did on the album?
No that’s ridiculous. It’s an incredible coincidence, buts it’s not a payback. I wrote a song, Take Me Back, four years ago and we decided we going to do the song that was before he dropped his album, and it turned out that at that time the song was compiled, the only song that had a feature with him on it, there is no scheme.
Did you write all the songs yourself?
Yes, apart from Adekunle’s verse in the song and in Aimasiko, the song was like a mix of the original.
At that point you wanted to put out your album, was there no fear that these album will not make it at all?
Anything is possible, you know it’s not possible for anybody to like everything, even the biggest legend there is someone that does not like them, so I knew that there would be people that would say that this is not my thing, and people that will like you. One thing is that have never been of failure. I feel like you learn when you fail. For me it was like what are people going to say? Are there things I did wrong that people would notice?
Your song Joromi explores a rare theme. Does it relate to your life?
It could be, I mean the reason why it seems the girl is bolder than usual is because I’m singing about it. If you think about it she is not saying anything to the guy. What you hearing me sing are her thoughts. She is trying to give the guy signs.
Why did you switch to secular music?
I just wanted to do more with my music. I wanted to be an all-round artist
Will you say you are fulfilled now?
I’ve always been fulfilled. I was fulfilled when I did gospel music so I wouldn’t say I feel more fulfilled or less fulfilled today.
Are you in a relationship?
One thing that I like to keep very close to me is my personal life, not just my relationships. But yes, I’m in a relationship. I’ve never denied that, but I just won’t say with whom.
Although it is regarded as un-African, do you think it’s advisable for a girl to probably drop hints on a guy that she likes?
There is nothing wrong in showing a guy you like them, I mean there is definitely boundaries and there is a limit that you should adhere to, not that you should just go out like be all over. But there is nothing wrong. Like I always say, for example you see a guy that think because she says it then they would very rude and very dismissive and that’s unnecessary because they like you. A guy that thinks she is cheap because she shows she likes him has a very small mind.
Two distinct things about you are your vocals and your physique. Growing up, did they work to your disadvantage?
I noticed that as I was growing up, I was defensive because I was small, I used to feel that everybody would want to take advantage of me because of that. I’ve always been a strong minded person, before you give me two I would give you five. I had to learn how to survive. Not everybody is trying to take advantage of you. I’m always sharp and ready to give it back to them. My voice has always been an advantage for me, people that try to mimic my voice when am talking, I hate it so much. But it has always been a plus one for me.
About your album what message are you trying to pass to your fans?
Basically, the songs are like a compilation of stories. Some of the songs are things I’ve experienced and things have seen other people experienced. And the things have felt and thought about, how things should be. For example, Love Don’t Care is very introspective. I’m thinking, is this how it’s supposed to be? I come from a culture where there is tribalism especially if you’re dating someone outside your tribe. Are you sure it’s the right thing. So I’m thinking is this how love is supposed to be. I like to sing about real life. I sing what people can think about and say yea that’s true.
It would seem that your songs are predictable because most of them are about love and relationships…
True I have songs which are talking about them, but not all of them are saying the exact same thing. Like if you listen to Love Don’t Care, Tiff, Smile for Me, and Jamb Question, they are all telling different stories about the same thing and I think love is the most universal thing. But if you listen to album not all of them are talking about love.
What kind of lover would you say you are? Are you a fierce lover?
I’m a loyal lover. I would like to say sacrificial, but that is very deep. But I’m loyal; and when I’m in, I’m all in.
So would one do that would really put you off?
For me, trust is the foundation. If I can’t trust you it’s hard for me to be with you. I think I love Nigeria men. People expect them to be trash and they also expect them to have bad attitude and they used that as a bad excuse. So if they mess around they say he’s a man and that’s how they do. But we are all responsible for our decision. You’re not responsible for all Nigeria men decision. If I meet someone and date someone that means I’m with you because I know you what I’m offering, I know what I’m bringing to the table. Whatever I’m doing for you I expect the same.
What do you look out for in a man?
I hate to be lied to.
Why do you think Nigerian men are not romantic?
Maybe they feel like they don’t have to be, I think that some of Nigeria men do that because nobody pushes them to fight for anything so there is a sense of entitlement. They feel they are entitled to something. There are a lot of men that grow and have this feeling that they are entitled to something. It’s been that way for generations. A man needs to feel like he has to fight for something cause he thinks that she will always say am sorry. Some of Nigerian men are always self-entitled. And it’s not their fault I blame their mothers.
Are you saying that Nigerian women are forgiving?
Yes, we have been trained to forgive. That’s how they raised many of us, but the narrative is changing.
Do you agree that an international collaboration add to an artiste’s resume?
Yes it is actually does, because if I do a song with Rihanna, there is a certain clout it will give me. It’s like expanding. When you feature it’s like you adding.
Talking about Falz, you guys had a musical chemistry we were expecting you to feature him in your album. Why didn’t u?
I have an entire EP with Falz. I’m sure we are going to do other things together, but if you want to listen to something on me and Falz, we have entire project to listen to. I wanted to do something else.