The compelling story of Praise Adejo (that’s his biological name) is that of ‘never give in, never give up’. The talented crooner famously known as Praiz finished in third place at the maiden edition of Project Fame West Africa music reality show in 2008; but ever since, he has had to swim against the tide.
However, the gifted music merchant has now completed work on his debut 2-in-1 album entitled, Rich and Famous, which he revealed in an interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly that it took him eight years to put together.
It started with Project Fame, then I love you, now you have an album. As an outsider, it seemed like an amazing journey. What has it been like?
It’s been a crazy journey. It’s been an amazing, but crazy journey. Also, it’s been a time of lessons for me, I’ve learnt a lot of things that have actually made me who I am today. I’m grateful to God. I’m grateful to my record label, X3M Music. I’m grateful to my fans and the media who have been pushing my stuff. At Project Fame, I wasn’t the winner, I came third. And the privileges I got for finishing third is almost close to nothing. It was more like introduction to reality and I had to start from scratch. I was more or less an up and coming artiste. In fact, less than an up and coming artiste.
People knew me as the guy that was on Project Fame, but there was no resource to push the brand. Yes, there was talent, but there was no money. It was a struggling time for me. I tried my best to make my way to events, tried to take pictures to keep my face out there, begged to perform for free at shows – it was a hustle. I had to start writing my own story. I actually recorded my album at some point, but the system crashed and I lost everything. My whole album was gone! It was like starting all over again.
Over the years, I’ve been trying to study the industry and I didn’t want to rush into decisions. Based on the materials I’ve put out, when people hear my name, Praiz, they expect a certain standard of music, and coupled with the pressure of the Nigerian music industry where everybody wants the pop songs and all, I had to sit back learning.
I did a song with MI called Epic, which was amazing – I started from there. I got signed to X3M Music, kept pushing. In 2010, I put out my first singles I love you and Jekalo. I love you did good, Jekalo not too good, to be honest – it was a trial; but interestingly enough a lot of people liked it. The song wasn’t really much of a success, but every day we learn. Later, I dropped Rich and Famous and everything changed, Today, here we are.
Talking about the album, what’s the idea behind a 2-in-one album?
The idea behind the album Rich and Famous is the songs on the Rich album which are the songs people know me for – the R ‘n’ B tunes, which is more Praiz; while on Famous are the pop, up tempo dance songs, you know we Africans like to dance. So, the idea is instead of just one album with a mixture of both kinds of tunes which would sound really confusing, we went with this. Also, Nigerian awards shows don’t have a category for best R ‘n’ B album, it is usually best pop/R ‘n’ B album, so I had to do the two.
Tell us about a few collaborations on the album.
My album is quite an interesting one. I had the likes of Patoranking, Wizkid, Sound Sultan, Bez, Chidinma (Miss Kedike), Wanda Baluyi from South Africa, my younger brother, King. I also have Sammy, who’s signed to X3M Music.
What’s the predominant feel of both the Rich and Famous albums?
For the Rich which has the R ‘n’ B tunes, the predominant feel is basically love. Good love, bad love, sad love. Every facet of love – the good and ugly sides. Famous is actually very spontaneous. When it comes to pop music, it can be hard to be particular about what you want to do. It could be party or girls or anything.
What’s the next thing for you after this album?
After this album, I’ll be having a concert early next year. After that I’ll be on tour. I’ll be touring the UK, the United States, East Africa, Cape Town and Johannesburg (South Africa). Right away, I’m actually going to start off the next album, but I won’t be in a rush. I really need to rest because at some point I had creativity block which is not good.
For you, what would define success for this album? Would it be awards or commercial success?
For this album, I’d say both commercial and awards. It took me eight years to put this album together and I’m proud of my album. A lot of people actually think I’d dropped an album before, it is not my doing. I owe all the success to God. People have been saying ‘Praiz, you don’t have an album’. I work really hard, I’m not one for mediocre music and it has taken this long to put this together. So, for me, it is both awards and commercial success.
What have been your biggest challenge and your biggest success?
My biggest challenge I would say was after Project Fame. You’d have to be strong to survive that period, then it was a case of people know you, but you can’t do anything. When people saw me, they’d say ‘that’s the guy that was on Project Fame’.
So far, my biggest success would be finishing this album, because it means a lot to me. I’ve won awards and got endorsement deals without an album, it’s God. So far, I would say any album is my biggest success because it is an open door to bigger things.
Let’s talk about the song Rich and Famous, would you say it was prophetic?
Like I tell my friends, Rich and Famous was a prayer. My mom used to tell me anything you say to yourself comes to be: you can speak things into existence. It is a song that inspires me as a person. I knew what I was capable of doing, so it was a prayer.
Do you think Nigerian music landscape favours artistes who do not really have knowledge of singing on keys and music instruments?
For me, I think it takes talent to be able to do well without knowing about singing on keys and about music instruments as an artiste. Trust me, if there’s an artiste that doesn’t know about instruments and singing on keys and stuff like that, but is doing well, that’s pure talent! You have to give it to such artiste. Let’s give honour to whom it is due, because these artistes work really hard.
Who are these artistes you look forward to working with, sort of a dream collaboration?
I look forward to working with John Legend’. I also look forward to working with Sam Smith, and also Rihanna.
To other matters. For the sake of the records, are you in any relationship presently?
At the moment, no. I’m not in any relationship.
That means ladies are free to submit their applications if they wish…
(Laughs). You don’t just rush into relationships. I see relationships like marriage, you don’t just go into relationships because you want to. If it’s a fling, that’s different! But a relationship, you need to know what is needed before you go into one, you need to ensure that both of you are compatible. But I am hopeful (laughs).