Fans rejoiced when Nwachukwu Ozioko (Vast) of the music duo called Bracket survived Lymphoma, a type of cancer of the blood a couple of years back. He has been active in the music scene since his recovery. His partner, Obumneme Ali, aka Smash and himself are set to give back through their Bracket Foundation.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with them about their foundation and life after surviving the much dreaded cancer.
What have Bracket been up to since we haven’t heard much new from your stable?
Smash: We have been working. We are launching our foundation soon, Bracket Foundation. It is an avenue to assist cancer patients in Nigeria. A lot of people die of cancer because there is no money to treat them. The inspiration came from Vast’s ordeal. We thank God he is back on his feet now.
We are planning to raise money through a concert. It will hold in July at Landmark Event Centre on the island. The money raised will be used to support cancer patients and survivors.
Survivors would narrate their ordeal and the treatment process. Doctors will also be on ground to enlighten Nigerians about the disease. It will be a time of entertainment, artistes will perform. Comedians will come on board too.
After going through all the ordeal, recovery is usually not easy, can you share some of your experience with us?
The recovery was unbelievable. Immediately, after the cycle, I became very well. The energy in me increased. I never thought I would have the kind of energy I have right now. Chemotherapy kills the cells, both the good cells and the bad cells. It is just like rejuvenating the person. But I didn’t have any reaction. May be because I started living on fruits and vegetables. I don’t eat only food, I eat healthy now.
Smash: (Cuts) We don’t have to share all these. They are part of the things people will want to hear that day. He would tell the people what the doctors told him. He had the treatment in 2013. He has been surviving since then. He has been living on a particular diet, he will share all that soon.
To what level was your career affected by Vast’s sickness, do you think you would have gone further than this?
I would say it did. The sickness affected me a little. But I believe we needed to be out there even if the song is not generally accepted. Just keep doing good music. I remember a lot of people we started with in 2009, some are not there again. For people to still know our songs, it means we are trying. There is a stage you will get to as an artiste, all you need to do is to make songs that will keep you relevant.
We did Panya last year and it was generally accepted. It shows that Bracket are still existing. I am proud to say that we are two of the lucky Nigeria artistes well accepted in francophone countries. Like last week, we were in the Caribbean. We have been to countries we never heard of.
Our songs took us there. The last time we were in St. Martins, they were trying to speak pigin. I didn’t know how they learnt it. His sickness affected us but we are still standing. I believe that whatever you are, you have to be contented.
What has kept the bond together despite all you have been through?
Vast: One major thing was the sickness. After the love he gave me, I don’t think anything will ever make us part. When you look at somebody that truly loves you, that could do anything for you, you wouldn’t hurt that person, except you are very stupid. Apart from that, we fight but we forget about it and settle our differences.
I can also say it is the grace of God. It is the grace of God that will tell you the right thing to do. Not that we are perfect.
Smash: We have also never let a song be a problem. We understand that perfectly. We don’t argue about who is doing what. We know what each person can do. We don’t have a situation whereby one will say, I want people to know I am the one doing it. We don’t have that in Bracket.
When Vast had cancer, what made you stick to him through thick and thin?
Smash: We transferred 80 percent of Bracket’s money to the card we used in treating him. Even if I wanted to abscond, it meant I was going with nothing. The card was registered with the hospital. Everything we did was from the card. I think a pound sterling was N250 then to naira. We had naira in the account, whatever was going out, went out times two.
It was not felt while we were over there. It was when we came back to Nigeria that we realized we had spent much. But we thank God that life was saved.
Were you tempted at a point to actually give up?
Smash: No. never, the only thing I was thinking about was that he should get better. I didn’t know what I would tell his people at home if it was otherwise. If anything happened, and I went to the East, they would say I have used him for rituals. All my prayer was that he should survive.
While we were there, I read the news that Goldie passed on. I was confused and started asking, why will she die now. I thank God. He started running immediately he finished chemotherapy, till today, he runs. I don’t know where he gets that energy.
Have you gotten support so far for the foundation?
What I feel is that every rich man wants to see you start something on your own before they give you support. The major person behind us is Akin Alabi. He loves the idea and he is ready to support us. We are partnering Lakeshore Hospital. It is a cancer hospital.
We are trying to get his doctor to talk about his treatment. They will talk about the types of cancer that affect men, women. Survivors will also talk about their ordeal. Artistes will perform likewise comedians. We are mixing it with entertainment. The event will take place at Landmark, here in Lagos.
Tell us how you got the concept behind your song?
Vast: Panya is Spain. If you want to say I want to go to Spain, you can say I want to go to Panya.
Smash: Like you know, Tekno produced the song. We were playing football and he said he had a concept, we should go and check it out and we did.
Vast: (Cuts in) Most times, the beat is made before the song. People make beats and make a concept on it. That was how we did it. After Panya, we released another song, Shoe size. It was the beat too. Tekno just told us like a joke that he had a beat we should come and listen to it.
Are we getting more songs in the same pattern?
Smash: Yes, hopefully.
What is up now with your music, should we expect anything soon?
Smash: Yes, we will release a song very soon. We are working, definitely working.
How do you guys share your money?
Vast: We don’t share money. If we used to, there wouldn’t be anything left for the treatment. We have been saving for the rainy days.
Smash: One of us would have used his money for something else and when the challenge comes, we would have to run to the public for assistance. People wouldn’t believe it because of the success that Yori gave us.
What is your opinion about artistes that seek public assistance when they are sick?
Vast: I think it is about lifestyle. I don’t have to go to the club because others are going there. I have to think of tomorrow and save.
Smash: A lot of artistes spend a lot in clubs, you don’t have to do that except you have excess money. Just live well, if anything happens and people donate money for you, you might not be that same artiste again. They will never have respect for you. A fan will say, ‘He will blow it again and throw away his money.’
You will have some respect if you live within your means. Some people once they blow up, they hire bouncers and buy flashy cars. Just make sure you have something somewhere in case.
Aside music, what else do Bracket do?
Smash: We have small, small businesses we do. They are in the East. We just can’t be talking about them.
What lessons did you learn from your ordeal?
I learnt that life is very precious. No matter what you do and wherever you are, don’t look down on anybody because you don’t know who will help you tomorrow.