THE only MC with an M.Sc, Naetochukwu Chikwe, popularly known as Naeto C, is back with a bang as he is set to release a new album entitled, Festival.
The father of two children had a chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly about his forthcoming album, marriage and more.
How is the feedback from your newly released song?
The feedback has been great. The title of the song is Atide. It ties with the fact that I am releasing a new album. I think that is the first song I did in Yoruba. The feedback has been cool. It has only been out for a few weeks. We hope to use it to kick off the album release.
You sang in Yoruba, what influenced it?
I think my personal experience as an artiste made me understand how wide my fan base is. I think to be able to communicate ideas in different languages is a powerful tool for me to connect with my fans. It doesn’t matter if I am Igbo or not. I am a Nigerian musician. I have fans of every ethnicity. So, it is important once in a while to step out and do something to connect with my fans.
It took me this long because a lot of things were happening with the label that I was working with and with me as a person. I used to be in Storm 360, but the label had issues, it affected what we had already built. You will see the success of some record labels today, if any artiste should leave such a record label, what they have built will show. I didn’t have that. I think with what happened with Storm, it affected me a lot. They were the people I started with. Leaving them did not put me in the best place. I later got over it and started working on the album I am releasing now.
Are you thinking of getting another management?
Nigeria’s music industry is growing fast right now, anybody can have a record label and anybody can hire a manager. So, those things are not as crucial as they used to be. What is most important is that you have fans and your fans like your music. I have worked with different management outfits over the years. I have not really seen the one I would stick with. For me, it is really about finding a situation that I feel comfortable with.
Is it true that you didn’t part amicably with Storm Record?
I was never actually signed to Storm Records. There was never any paper work. When issues started, I decided to take matters into my own hands than leaving it in the hands of people at Storm. I know they already had issues there. I started taking charge of what I was doing. I told Obi Asika that I had some releases I wanted to push personally and he quite understood. I brought a management company into the picture at some point but they didn’t know Storm’s position. So, they left. We never had any issue about me going outside.
Some believed your marriage slowed down your career, is it true? Maybe that was another reason you didn’t release another album early?
I got married in July 2012. Later that year, I released Tony Montana. The song did a lot for me. I have released songs with Phyno and Flavour. At least, I release two, three singles every year. The truth of the matter is that, I am a Nigerian artiste not a Lagos artiste. We have fans all across Nigeria. Sometimes you will realize some songs are bigger in the East than in the West because of that, when you are getting an opinion from someone from the West, to have a holistic view you need to understand that some songs are big in the West and they might not be big in the East.
After I got married, I was a Glo ambassador for two years. I am now Yudala ambassador. I have always had stuffs going on. I think if people say that marriage has affected my career, I think what they mean is that since I got married, I have not released a song like 10/10. But the truth of the matter is, you cannot do a song like 10/10 again. 2Face cannot do African Queen again. Wande Coal cannot do Bumper to Bumper again. That is the way music works. I am happy that 10/10 made a lot of impact on my career. My job is to continue to work hard, make more music.
A lot of people believe you are the most comfortable artiste in Nigeria. You are not bothered about pushing your songs. If they are hits or not, you are not bothered?
It is funny because sometimes when I read the most comfortable or the richest artiste, I don’t see my name there. I don’t think it is a thing of comfort per se. I think it is orientation. I think I am lucky to understand certain things about my job. What I know is that as a musician, I will always record music, that is what I do. Being a musician is display of talent. How the music is received is not totally in my control. You will shoot your video, promote it. At the end of the day, the people will decide if they like it or not. To be honest, it is not only the people that decide, it is the media. If radio plays a song over and over again, whether you like it or not, you will be forced to like the song. Even if it does not make sense. I am sure everybody knows a song that does not make sense yet it is a hit. Music is more complicated than that. I feel that it is not about me being comfortable really.
Tell us more about your album.
I have about 12 songs short-listed. I don’t think I will go beyond 15 songs. I had collaboration with Flavour, Cynthia Morgan, Banky W and Olamide. I tried to keep the album close to me. I entitled the album, Festival, because I have something to celebrate. For me to still have fans and be recognized, being able to bring value to the industry, I think they are worth celebrating. When I came out in 2006, a few artistes came out that year but you would notice that the survival rate of artistes is very low.
I can’t even remember any artiste that came out with me. The year 2Face came out, I don’t think there is any other artiste that came out that year that is still relevant. I had the opportunity to release the third album independently. I think it is worth celebrating.
Tony Montana was released in 2010 and banned in 2013, how did you feel about that?
I felt it was very late. If you remember the video, I put a disclaimer in the video, if they watched it, they would have seen it. Tony Montana was banned, therefore, it means they would ban most of Nollywood movies because they used guns. Anyway, that is the reality in Nigeria. I don’t think we communicated anything in a wrong manner as to influence children. I have two children, when you have kids you will think about other people’s children too.
What is your plan towards song promotion and your career, so that it can be widely accepted because a lot of artistes have attitude towards promoting their songs and image?
We don’t really have role models in music. If you go to America, you can study Janet Jackson, Jay Z. In a way, we are kind of paranoid. We don’t have anybody to learn from. We make mistakes as we go but we are learning. We only promote our songs based on ideas, we manage our career based on what we think is right. We don’t have very many specialized people who can offer that guidance or advise. If you notice, most musicians don’t know about wealth management or how to save their money. Some collect money and blow it. When I started, a lot of musicians didn’t have bank accounts. They would collect money from a show and keep it at home. But now, things are a bit different. If we should ask, how many musicians know they can get mortgage? We are just learning as we go. Maybe our generation will be able to provide a template for the upcoming ones.
Now that you are married, do you still have time for your female fans? How did they react when you announced you were getting married?
I got text messages showing disappointment. A good friend of mine who is also a musician told me that when he got married, he lost some fans and also gained some. Some didn’t want you married. They want to fantasize on the possibility of being your woman. I got married because I found a friend, a companion that I want to spend the rest of my life with. That was the best decision I made. It made me a better person. I take pictures with my female fans, I sign autographs with them, anything outside that is inappropriate.
If you were not married, would you be in the league of artistes with baby mama?
No, people intentionally want baby mama for their own reasons. At times, it is accidental. Part of the reasons I decided to get married when I did was because I didn’t want to find myself in that situation. I don’t believe in raising kids out of wedlock, it is not easy. It is very difficult. If I wasn’t married, I would be more concerned about settling down than having a friend who will give me a baby.
For a hip-hop artiste, you wear a lot of native, why?
That is what I am comfortable in. I have gotten to a stage where I realized that it is important to be comfortable with whatever you are doing, not what the society expects you to be doing. One has to grow, you have to evolve. I feel that it makes me more down to earth. It gives me a great sense of fulfillment. I am a regular person even though sometimes it may not be what my publicist or manager wants me to wear. I don’t want to feel like I am in a cage. I don’t want to feel like I am going to Shoprite, I will see people there. By the time you do that for three years, you are already in a cage, you are already running away from people. You cannot come down from your car to use the ATM because you are a super star. Or you cannot go to the banking hall to link your BVN with your account because you are a star. I think it is stupid. I think that is the greatest sense of fulfillment for me, dressing the way I do.
- SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN