Celebrated Nigerian singer, Abolore Akande, popularly known as 9ice, recently dropped his 10th studio album, titled ‘Tip of The Iceberg’. The MOBO Best African Act 2008, who gained recognition in 2005, after releasing his debut single, “Little Money”, and in 2008, released his classic sophomore album, ‘Gongo Aso’ which had the smash hit collaboration with 2Face Idibia, ‘Street Credibility’, in this interview with EDWIN USOBOH, talks about how the music industry has grown. The ‘Alapomeji’ crooner also muses over his latest album and his quest to bring the prestigious Grammy Award to the country
Tell us about your new album?
It’s my 10th studio album titled ‘Tip Of The Iceberg’. It was recently released specifically on Wednesday, May 29. It features artistes like Olamide, Wande Coal and Reminisce. This is episode one, the second episode will be out in December.
Do you really feel the music industry is growing in the right direction?
The industry is growing fine. And because of this, I would advise that whatever you are doing in the industry, you need to grow it. The transition of the media is larger now. Before, publications were physical. You go to newsstands to read the newspaper, but now everything has changed. That means that the sector is growing really fast. It is for you as an individual to improve more on what you know already.
Why are you yet to collaborate with an international act? Do you think it has to do with your lyrics which are more traditional?
There is no particular language to music. The languages music uses are melody and rhythm as far as this world is concerned. I believe the right time is yet to come, but it will surely come.
In 2008, you released ‘Gongo Aso’ and on it was the smash hit collaboration with 2Face Idibia, titled ‘Street Credibility’. On it, you sang, “Don’t doubt me, I go bring home Grammy…” Do you still feel you can still fulfill this promise of bring the Grammy Award?
People are getting it wrong. I didn’t promise anyone a Grammy award; I promised myself. I promised myself a lot of things. I promised myself a Music of Black Origin award and I got it. I promised myself to be one of the most reckoned with artistes and I’ve achieved that. The Grammy award has been one of my targets as well. There is a Yoruba adage that says, ‘Ba o ku, ise o tan’ which literally means, ‘If there is life, anything can still happen’. I’m still doing music and who says I cannot get it (Grammy award) tomorrow? I still have that belief and I know God will do it for me. You have a new artiste on your label; a lot of people in the music industry didn’t see it coming, tell us about him. Olamyte is a phenomenal Hip hop artiste, a pure talent. He has a rare gift of being able to combine his music with rap. He is an indigene of Igbara Oke, Ondo State, Nigeria. Olamyte has always been artistically inclined from his prime. He grew up listening to artistes such as Olamide, Seriki, Reminisce to mention but a few.
How do you feel about unveiling such a talent?
Well, I feel great, I feel honoured. It is a privilege to always look inward and see someone to take to the next level. This is the beginning of his own journey and God will take him there.
How did you find him?
I didn’t scout him. I looked within my own family, not blood relations, but fans and people who are close to me, and sometimes your fan can turn out to be your artist. Olamyte is someone I have known for a while. He has what it takes to go to the next level. He’s ready to carve a niche for himself in the industry. This is part of the reason I said Ola, let’s work.
What in particular inspired you to want to work with him?
He has so many songs. So we will revisit all his songs. An artist might have a song he produced years back and you want your fans to hear it now so you need to revisit it. There’s one of his songs I love. It is titled ‘My Mother’ and I believe that it can trend. But the song we are promoting right now is ‘Woke Ko Wole’.
With several indigenous rappers like Olamide and Reminisce already on ground, do you think that Olamyte stand a chance of survival in the industry?
Why does he have to go above them? Why not mingle with them and showcase his talents. The joy of every father is that his son should surpass him. I just want him to be the best. Whatever I have done, it will be nice for him to take over.
What is your take on the recent violation of the COVID-19 Protocol by Naira Marley who recently performed at a concert in Abuja?
First, the show was about people staying in their cars, while he performed. I think due to groove hitting hard on the fans, they all left their cars and everything went wrong. I think Naira Marley’s media team should come out and explain what really happened.
Would you say that the entertainment industry is reacting ideally to the COVID-19 pandemic?
The industry has been supportive of COVID-19 campaigns and other enlightenment campaigns. Musicians have been doing a lot of songs for awareness on COVID-19. We are just waiting for the government to ease the lockdown so that the entertainment industry to be able to do more.
Could you clear the air on the rumour making the rounds that you relocated to the United States of America and working as a security guard?
My strategy has always been to make myself scarce. I have always been doing that and it has been working for me. One can’t be in the faces of the same people, performing at the same venues for more than 10 years and not become boring. One might be able to pull it off if one is a building contractor or businessman, but as an artiste, it would be boring. I have performed several times at the biggest event venues in Lagos State and danced the same way. Even the fans would get tired. Once it is announced that 9ice is coming on stage, they wouldn’t be excited because they can predict the songs I would perform and my dance style. But when one makes oneself scarce; although fans would still know the likely songs one would perform, they would also be anticipating the new ones one just released. They would want to know what the artiste has been up. So, it is a strategy and it works.