HE’s famously known as Illrymz but his real names are Olowu Bardia Adebola, one of Nigeria’s most popular urban entertainers. Ill, as he is fondly called has participated in a lot of big music shows, including G-Bam Show, Nigerian Idol. Ill, for the first time, dragged Afrobeat scion, Femi Kuti, to record his new single entitled Teacher Teacher. He told ENCOMIUM Weekly why he featured him, among other issues.
Can we meet you?
I am popularly called Illrymz but my real names are Olowu Bardia Adebola. I am half-Nigerian, half-Belgium. I grew up in Lagos and I am a proud Nigeria, entertainer-presenter of many shows including Sprite Triple Show, G-Bam show and of recent, Nigerian Idol Season II, alongside Tiwa Savage. Apart from these shows, I have done a lot of things from writing to modeling and now music. So, primarily, you can say I am a content creator.
Your appearance, accent make people think you’re not a Nigerian?
Oh! Because of my bleaching cream, the one in town (smiles). I am a proud Nigerian, spent most of my life in Lagos.
How would you describe your growing up?
It was full of fun, video game and I have always been a friendly person. I live like a regular person in the street but the only difference is I have always known what to do from my early life and I started working professionally at 16. I started as a model to writing. I love writing and I could remember that my first writing was a love letter to a girl. From there, I took off, started writing for magazine and later stumbled on TV and I had an opportunity to create a radio show and today, I own one of the most successful radio shows in Nigeria called Radio Outloud on Beat FM and Cool FM, Lagos. Rhythm FM, Abuja and Port Harcourt, BCA Umuahia and Freedom FM, Kano. I am just very fortunate.
When did you make your major hit?
I don’t know if I have a major hit but I have just had really great experiences. For constructing an online magazine, Mtec, to being on Nigezie, hosting Nokia First Chance, Soundcity and to big shows like G-Bam Show and being the host of Nigerian Idol. The landmark has been great and I’m thankful to God.
Why did you think you were considered for these shows especially G-Bam and Nigerian Idol?
For G-Bam, they were looking for someone with energy, right charisma, somebody that could attract a huge crowd, someone who is original. The way I do on TV, radio is the way I do on a normal day. I just have fun with what I’m doing and fortunately, some people are watching me and when the decision came, I was chosen as the best anchor for those shows.
How does it feel hosting Nigerian Idol with Tiwa Savage?
(Oh…my baby, my sugar, chocolate…smiles) Tiwa is an amazing singer, we had so much fun behind the scene even more than what we had on the show. The chemistry was and it was a great experience working with her and I will love to do that with her again. We’re also thinking of doing collaboration in the future.
Let’s talk about your music career, what’s new?
Before I talk about the new work, special shouts out to legend, Femi Kuti for believing in me. I got a song entitled Teacher, Teacher, featuring Femi Kuti. It’s a socio-conscious song, talking about struggle to achieve ones goals. I was fortunate enough for Femi Kuti to have appeared in the video. He hasn’t done it for anybody before. That’s a blessing for me. My next single is guaranteed to have a club, street bang! My fans should look out for it.
Why Femi, why not other young artists?
The thing is this, I am not a new skool but a new cool. I have been doing this stuff for the last 10 years and I don’t think there is any big artist now that I haven’t known since. The reason for Femi Kuti is simple, he’s the perfect person. Teacher, Teacher has element of original Fela’s song, Afrobeat, which Femi does. So, to make that song come alive, I have to feature him. My background is hip-hop/R n’ B, but I decided to do this because there is a need for it.
Do you think you’ll do more compared to what you’ve achieved in shows anchoring?
In life, to have fulfillment you have to do what your heart desires. I am not saying I’m going to put music out for everybody to love but I’ll be happy to have achieved my heart desires. All I ask for is for people to receive it the way they’ve received the brand I have created in shows hosting.
It’s more than a decade now, any regret?
Never! I chose not to go to school for a long time because I wanted to do this. And when I decided to go to school, I studied Mass Communication at the University of Lagos. It’s my decision and I thank God that I have been able to turn my passion into profession. That’s a great thing.
For young ones outside there who love your brand, what is your advice to them?
First, I love them all but I want them to discover their real self. Find out the special thing about you that makes you unique. The most important thing is always put your best in whatever you’re doing because you don’t know who’s watching you.
- TITILOPE BABATOLA
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly edition of Tuesday, July 24, 2012