Tuesday, 19 March 2013

9ice Talks About His Music and Political Ambition in 2013 and Beyond



In the last one decade, so much has happened in the life of Nigeria’s rave singer, 9ice (born Abolore Akande). A lot of these things have indubitably become public knowledge while other interesting details have remained within the shady halls of untold stories.
 
For instance, while a lot of music lovers would attest to the fact that his hit single, ‘Gongo Aso’ changed his life forever on the strength of its rating as a monster hit; many might not know that the same album fetched him not a kobo more than N4million. “Gongo Aso was sold for N4million,” 9ice confirmed.

Also, ardent followers of his musical progress would easily testify to the fact that Gongo Aso was trailed by the release of his next album, ‘Tradition’ and what followed was a double album, ‘Bashorun Gaa’ and ‘Versus.’

Ironically, how many people are aware that while the tradition album was sold for N10million, the double album, ‘Bashorun Gaa’ and ‘Versus’ was sold for N50million?

“At the last check, ‘Bashorun Gaa’ and ‘Versus’ were sold for N50 million; a huge improvement from Tradition that was sold for N15 million and ‘Gongo Aso’ that was sold for N4 million,” 9ice reaffirmed.
It was therefore interesting to engage the singer at a chat when Simply SAMAD caught up with him at an event in Lagos State and after a couple of playful jabs, he got down to the business of revealing his musical plans for 2013, his reasons for keeping his political ambition alive and other interesting details.


Still basking in the musical euphoria of series of singles like ‘Oba Won’ and ‘Get It,’ he recently released, he took on an animated countenance when asked what his fans should look forward to in 2013.

“They’ll get to see much more from me and the album is coming out.”

Would it surprise you to find out that 9ice’s next album is another double album? Well, you can shed the robe of surprise and adorn that of anticipation as 9ice revealed that he already has a title for the forthcoming double album.

“Yes the double album has a title already. They are Galvanizing Right Ahead (GRA) and CNN. I released the video for the song ‘Attitude’ on my birthday; January 17.”


Many would remember that 9ice political ambition started out as a whisper but today, he has become emboldened by his drive and passion to occupy a political office such that he has even set a fixed date to officially launch that phase of his evolving career.

“Yes! I’m going into politics in 2015; not now,” he enthused.

9ice understands the place of education in life regardless of one’s individual career choice or aspirations and it was on this note that he set out to study courses that he considered relevant to his not-so distant callings.
Prior to his break in the entertainment industry, 9ice was forced to drop out of school for lack of funds but has succeeded in securing a degree in Public Administration at the Minneapolis-based Capella University.
In addition, he presently has a degree in Criminal Law in preparation for his political ambition in 2015.

9ice has since announced his plan to contest for the House of Representatives in 2015, but is yet to mention the state or political party under which he would contest.


Away from politics and his agenda, we decided to ask after his son, Zion; whose mother remains none other than the trendy Toni Payne and his response was fluid and calm.

“Zion is fine,” he answered.

The temptation to ask 9ice if Zion was going to get a brother or sister in 2013 was too strong to fight and so, we asked the ‘Photocopy’ crooner and his reply was neither in the affirmative nor was it in the negative. “God knows best,” he said with a smile.

As an artiste ranked as one of the most talented artistes to come out of Nigeria, it was interesting to find out what advice he had for up and coming artistes especially those keen on making a serious career out of music.
“Always learn from those who were there before you. You also have to study and understand the music industry. You also have to ensure that you bring a lot of talent and originality to the table and the sky would be your limit,” he said.

While it might not be news that 9ice is ranked alongside musical heavyweights like 2Face, Asa, P-Square, and other A-list acts, what many might find a bit staggering is the dearth or even total absence of international collaborations from the singer.


Of course he has teamed up with the best Nigeria has to offer musically but the same cannot be said about his international collaborations and there was no other way to go about it than to ask him if it was purely a case of him not being interested in international collaborations.

“There are a lot of people that I really want to work with…”

So then who are these artistes that 9ice has his sights on and plans to work with when the time to do so comes?

“…like Beyonce, Brandy, Alicia Keys and a host of others but the most important thing is not just working with them; rather you should ask yourself – What new thing are you bringing to the table? What are the new things you want to do with them beyond merely recoding ‘another’ single? What part of them are you trying to show to the people? That’s what I want to do.”

His female fans have always remained a very integral population of his fans but how does he cope considering the fact that their numbers have continued to soar over the years?


“I have been coping with them for the past three years and I’m getting to understand them better.”

Those who understand the musical structure of 9ice would know that he has his own record label christened ‘Alapomeji Records.’ This category of individuals would also know that under this label, 9ice has a number of artistes he signed - some of whom include Seriki, Wise, Seriki, Snow and Ajayi Brothas.

Since 9ice and his long time manager, Oladeinde Fajana parted ways in 2012, we were curious to know if Fajana’s exit marked the demise of Alapomeji Records in any way and he had this to say:

“Yes it still does exist. It’s still ‘Alapomeji Records all the way and I have Seriki. I have Kayefi, Wise, Snow… They’re all still with me.”

9ice has quite a number of very talented acts in his label and one that stands out for his originality, creativity, rhymes and consistency is ‘Seriki.’

It has therefore been debated in public circles why 9ice has failed to do with Seriki what Banky W dide with Wizkid before they parted ways.

On this issue, the Alapomeji Boss had an explanation and it went thus: “I believe there’s time for everything. EME is able to do so much because they have funds to work with. Like I said, there’s time for everything. If you push an artiste who does not understand the music industry too hard, he might as well just get there and some crashing down. I believe the artiste has to learn first. He must understand how the industry works so that when he gets there, he would know what to do.”

9ice, a south-westerner who hails from Ogbomosho in Oyo State but grew up on the streets of Bariga returned to the issue of his hit single, the album, ‘Gongo Aso’ and the unfortunate fact that he was unable to sell the album for anything beyond N4million.

“Gongo Aso was very popular but the money wasn’t coming in. Tradition made more money than Gongo Aso. The truth of the matter is that pirates were really at work on Gongo Aso. The song was just everywhere but we just didn’t make money from it. Gongo Aso made $100,000 from online sales.”


He however noted that the music industry had gone through a lot of positive changes, which would benefit Nigerian artistes in the long run of things. 

“The music trend is fast changing now. We now have a situation where we’re making a whole lot of money from record sales compared to the days when it was all about the number of shows you would do. Back then, it was normal to have as many as four shows in a single night.”

Speaking a bit more about his political plans, he reiterated that his decision to study Public Administration was as a direct result of his plans to delve into politics.

“Politics has always been a part of me since I was young. In the community where I was raised, when you see a councilor or Local Government Chairman and you realize that this is someone you have never seen before. He would most likely have occupied that position for about 4 years and then it dawns on you that he has done nothing.

“As I grew older, I began asking questions. I asked how much it would cost me to provide water for my streets and I was told it would cost me N120, 000. I realized that many of them were just not ready to do anything. What stops a Local Government Chairman from taking N1 million and providing something important for the community. They make it seem so hard. I don’t believe we need an alien to effectively govern the people or provide for them.”

Of course he has role models and mentors but wouldn’t reveal their identity just yet. He however, hinted that the presence of such figures remain invaluable.  

“My ambition is to serve in the House of Representatives. I have political leaders that I’m learning from. You have to be a part of them to understand exactly what is going on in there. After you get the education, then you have to learn from those who were there before you.”


Reminiscing on his incursion into music, 9ice recalled how he started out as a Fuji back up artiste, then a rapper and then eventually morphed into the brand of music that has become synonymous with 9ice today.
“I knew for a fact that I had to do something that was very different if I was going to stand out from the crowd. This was not an industry where I was the first. There had been several talented artistes already in the game before I stepped in. I deliberately tapped into the Yoruba adages and culture and was hoping that my music would appeal to the elderly members of the community. Eventually, things worked out even better than I had anticipated. All thanks to my grand mum and the wealth of Yoruba adages in was able to pick from her.”

From his single, ‘Little Money’ released in 2000, 9ice recalled how other things followed and how quickly they did.

“I did Little Money in 2000 - 2 Shotz loved the song so much that he came to the studio and we ended up with a collaborative effort titled ‘Make Dem Talk.’ Ruggedman liked what came out of that and we came together to do ‘Ruggedy Baba.’ So many others followed.”

Till date, 9ice often wears the unofficial title of Bashorun Gaa and those familiar with the story of legendary King would remember the tragedy of his death. Is this a part of the legend 9ice would want to share? 

“Because Bashorun Gaa died the way he did does not mean every other Bashorun Gaa would end u the same way. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. I consider myself the Bashorun Gaa of the music industry and for anyone who wants to prove me wrong or oppose me, kindly step forward and let’s see how far you can run with it.”

9ice got his first break at the March 2008 edition of the Hip Hop World Awards held in Nigeria and won the Revelation of the Year award and the Best Male Vocal Performer.

A month later, at the first SoundCity Music Video Awards, 9ice was nominated in the category of Best New Artiste and his biggest single till date remains ‘Gongo Aso.’


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