FUJI star, Alhaji Sulaimon Adekunle Alao, better addressed as Malaika, is one of the entertainers swimming in fortune at the moment. A couple of months back, he completed a multi-million naira mansion in Lekki, Lagos. And according to him, that’s not the first nor the second of its kind in the vicinity. As if that’s not enough, he controls four exotic cars, including GL 450 4matic Mercedes Benz which he acquired recently.
In this exclusive interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Thursday, July 23, 2015, the talented musician opened up on these and much more when we visited him in his Ebute Metta, Lagos residence.
It’s true it’s quite long we chatted, but since then till date, God has been in control. A lot of better things are happening to my career. I give glory to Almighty Allah. I also thank ENCOMIUM Weekly for being there for me all the time. You people have been supporting my career and I will continue to appreciate you for that.
In September 2014, I released an album entitled, Super Star, which was well accepted. I released its video early this year and that’s also a bang. I give thanks to Almighty Allah on that also. I have also done so many duets with a lot of other artistes, especially outside my genre. For instance, I released Stop the Violence, with Oritsefemi. I did another one with Dammy Krane. I also did another album with two Islamic gospel singers. Alhaji Shaoti Arewa and Muheenat, the album is called Ogbon ati Ete. I am also working on another one, featuring about six female Islamic gospel singers, including Iya n Khaola, Rukayat Gawat, Eni Aye Nfe, Mujidat Damilola (Wabillahi Taofeek) and others. The album will be released in a couple of weeks.
It seems most of your colleagues are going hip-hop, is it because hip-hop is the in thing right now?
I will only call hip-hop a classical fuji because if you come to think of it, the lyrics, even the songs are from fuji. Everything they do in the hip-hop music has its origin from fuji. They only funkified fuji to make hip-hop.
But many Fuji artistes, including yourself are doing duets with some hip-hop acts…
Yes, there is nothing special about that. So, working with them is like working with my colleagues. And I want my fans to also see that I can be here and there. Left to me, if you call yourself a musician, you should be able to do every kind of music. So, I want my fans to see me as a complete musician and entertainer, not just a fuji singer. That’s why I am featuring one or two of them in my music. I have my name already working for me. It’s not about featuring any artiste that will give me more fame but just to let the public, especially my fans know that I am a real musician and that my talent cuts across.
Do you also intend coming up with a hip-hop album in the nearest future?
No, I don’t have anything like that in my plan. I am a fuji artiste, and I am proud of that. Everything coming out of my stable must be fuji. Although, I have about three or four singles that maybe released as an album later but now, I want to do that just to satisfy my fans who are yearning for that.
How would you assess the industry right now?
It’s cool. Entertainment is moving the way we want it. And I am very grateful that it’s going to where we want it to be.
But what of piracy, is it not affecting your work?
Yes, it is. That’s why we always cry to the government. We’re appealing to the present government again to please do something about piracy because it’s really killing the industry. If you want a promoter to sign you now for an album release, the amount the person is going to offer will be nothing to write home about. The person will ask if you’re not aware of piracy. And if you’re a commercially viable artiste, any album you release will definitely be pirated, no doubt about that. And when that’s done, there won’t be any gain again for whoever is investing on it because the sale will reduce drastically. And between you and I, who will see something cheap and won’t want to go for it? So, I am using this medium to appeal to the government to help curb the menace because we alone can’t do anything about it.
You just came back from a music tour of Europe, how was the trip?
Even, I will say I am still on tour, I just had a break because of Ramadan. During Ramadan, I don’t go to shows, I always stay at home. If I am not in Nigeria, I will be in Saudi Arabia.
And that has not been affecting your career?
No, my fans are used to that period. It’s nothing new to them. I was at home throughout the just concluded Ramadan fasting. My fans have known that. I have been doing that for 10 years. I believe that one month off can’t play any negative role in my career. If I can leave that one month for God, it’s not too much a sacrifice.
How would you assess your genre at the moment? Would you say peace has come to stay finally or bickering is still on among fuji artistes?
Those who are close to me know that I am not comfortable with violence. Anything like fight, you can’t see my hand in it. Although, rivalry is in every business, but I thank God fuji is quite different from what it used to be. There is peace unlike in the past when people will be abusing or cursing one another, maybe just for commercial purpose. But now, we thank God, everything is back to normal. Now, everybody is just going about his legitimate business. I pray it continues like that forever.
A couple of months back, news was all over the place that you have completed a mansion in Lekki, Lagos. How true is it?
That’s not a rumour. It’s already confirmed. Just as you also said, it’s not an ordinary edifice, it’s a mansion. And it’s a multi-million naira house. But one thing is that I don’t like talking about my achievement. Although, it’s good to talk about it, it’s not in my style. So, I don’t know how people got to know about it. I just saw the story everywhere. But like I said, it’s good. It’s a thing of joy and that’s why they’re talking about it. I give God the glory.
When will it be officially opened?
There’s nothing like party or something official. And let me be open to you, that’s not the only house I have and by the grace of God it won’t be the last one. When the time to open it comes, all I need to do is get Islamic clerics to bless the house.
When do you plan to move in?
Anytime I feel like. It’s ready, there is nothing delaying me to move in.
You only said it’s a multi-million naira mansion, can you tell us its financial worth exactly?
I don’t know. All I know is a multi-million naira mansion. It’s only a person that visits the place that can appreciate the structure. It’s the person that can value it and tell you what it could cost someone to build that kind of house. I give glory to Almighty Allah on that. It’s a thing of joy.
We learnt you acquired another wonder on wheels recently, can you also tell us about it? how much you bought it, the brand and all that?
It’s a nice jeep. It’s GL 450 4matic Mercedes Benz.
How much did you buy it?
I can’t even remember that. All I know is that it’s a very nice car.
How would you describe your career generally?
It’s moving but it’s very fragile. That’s why I always handle it with care because it’s not easy for me to come this far. But some may get it easy, I don’t get to do things easily. So, that’s why I guard my career jealously and religiously. I don’t joke with it. I always pray to Almighty Allah for up and coming artistes not to pass through what I went through before I got to where I am today.
You said the house in Lekki is not the first one nor the second, where are the rest located?
I have all my houses in Lekki, Lagos.
How does it feel now being a landlord in Lekki, Lagos, not even one house, but many houses worth millions of naira?
It feels good. I give God the glory. I will forever be grateful to Him. Good things are just starting, it will never end there by the special grace of God.
For you to have been this marvelously blessed, it means you’re making a lot of money from your engagements and shows, how much do you normally charge?
I don’t think I can answer that. My management will tell you that. But at the same time, my charges are not flat. Everything depends on the location and the person involved because there are friends and family members that also demand our service. You can’t charge them the same way you charge outsiders.
Can we say Alao Malaika is a fulfilled entertainer with all what God has done for you?
I am still looking up to God for more progress but at the same time, I am fulfilled and contented with everything God has done in my life.
At almost 43, you have accomplished a lot, what more do you still want God to do for you?
I was born on February 15, 1973. So, by February 15, 2016, I will be 43. I always give thanks to God. I never knew I was going to be where I am today. God has blessed me, no doubt about that but I am still begging Him for more because no matter how much you have in your account, you will still see someone that was been there before you. So, I am still asking God for more blessing because I want to be bigger than what I am now.
I want to see myself in a very good place, a place I will be able to thank God the more.
Let’s digress a little, how many wives and children do you have?
I have two wives and five children.
How old is your first child?
She is 21.
What of the last born?
That one is just six.
Can you tell us about your other children?
I don’t like discussing my family on the pages of newspapers or magazines. All I know is that God has blessed me with lovely children, male and female.
Do you encourage anyone of them to join you in the entertainment business?
Everything depends on God. It’s whatever God plans for them. All they need from me is my support and prayer because if my parents had not supported me, I wouldn’t have been what I am today.
Despite having two wives, many women out there will still want to flock around you, how do you cope or they’re not falling in anymore?
People have been asking me this question but I keep giving them same answer. There is no way we can do without ladies. But as for me, I know how to handle them. As you see them, they have their own time of usefulness. But no matter what, I won’t allow my relationship with them to affect my family back home.
So, despite knowing you have two wives, they’re still running after you?
Yes, of course because any man who is an achiever, they must run after him. People can only know you’re a success through women. It’s through them that people out there will know that God has answered your prayers. And that’s how it is all over the place. Women have the entire world in their hands and they will definitely move with whoever is a success because they also see what you see.