+’Why I’m releasing a hip hop album’
ON Wednesday, July 8, 2015, ENCOMIUM Weekly was at the Omole, Lagos residence of Oganla of Fuji, Alhaji Wasiu Alabi Odetola, famously known as Pasuma, where he granted us an interview on issues that revolve around his life and career, including why he delved into hip-hop, his two mansions (completed and yet to be completed) and much more…
It’s not about what’s happening but what’s trending now. What we have is what is being showcased now, that’s my hip-hop talent which has been attracting a lot of comments from the public. A lot of people are saying I am going far away from my genre. I think now, I have established a recording label called Wasbar Records, which I am the CEO. Under the label, we’re releasing our first hip-hop album, My Word, come Friday, July 31, 2015. And on Thursday, July 30, a day before the release, we’re staging a listening party of the album at D Place, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos. I think we’re trying to infuse something unique into what we’re known for. And that’s exactly what we’re doing by leaving our genre for another and prove to our fans that we can do it all. And my manager, CEO, AO21 Media, Afolabi Oyekoya has made me realize we can even do it better. This thing has been on our desk for a while but because of our busy schedules we couldn’t do anything then. So, we left it aside, but now this is the right time for us to do the hip-hop album fully without any mixture of Fuji.
With this development in your career, don’t you think a lot of people will be saying you have dumped fuji for hip-hop because hip-hop is the in-thing now in the music industry?
No, I am not abandoning my genre which is fuji. Hip-hop is different from where I came from but I started this thing with them way back in 1997 with Remedies when we released Jealousy. It’s not something I don’t know or that I just dabble into now that it’s trending. I have been in it for a while. But what happens now is that I just want to release an album to call my own. If I had featured for 9ice, Remedies, Pastor Goody Goody and a lot more, I believe I should be able to do mine as well. Even some of my fans who are well educated are eager to see me release a hip-hop album. Each time they ask me, ‘Pasuma, when are you releasing your hip-hop album?’ They all want to see me do hip-hop of my own, not a collabo with anybody. The fact that I moved into hip-hop is a kind of diversification of my career, not that I have quit fuji. I can’t quit fuji. That’s my genre and that’s where people know me well. I am just trying my hands in a new thing, and I thank God it’s working.
How many tracks does the album have?
It has 17 tracks.
But we learnt you featured some hip-hop artistes in it?
Yes, I featured and others.
How much have you invested in the album?
I can’t say this is the specific amount I have spent on it because it’s a lot of money. But none of the artistes featured in the album collected a kobo, I didn’t pay them a dime. They all just wanted to support me, and they actually did. All of them were eager to be part of the project. They are all happy to identify with me. Even if I say let me just give them money for fuel, they will say, ‘Baba, no be you.’ They will all reject it. None of them took a dime from me, they just came to support. They all showed the love they have for me. And about the production per se, I can’t just remember how much exactly I spent. But we thank God, the goal has been achieved and it’s surely coming out on Friday, July 31, 2015.
Thursday, July 30, 2015, is very much around the corner, how prepared are you for the album listening party?
We’re preparing. We won’t leave any stone unturned. What I think we’re doing at the moment is engaging ourselves in prayer. We just have to be prayerful, especially for God to spare our lives till that day and beyond. We’re expecting a lot of people that day. We’re starting the show with the red carpet starting by 4 p.m. The show starts properly by 5 p.m. By then, we believe everybody might have been at the venue. Then it is scheduled to end by 11 o’clock. And there is going to be an after party commencing from 12 midnight and ending at 5 a.m. So, all hands are on deck for the historic event. We just pray that we will all be in good health that day, and after the event we will all have a reason to thank God.
Who are the likes of the guests you’re expecting that day?
We have a lot of prominent people coming. We’re also inviting our friends. We’re not selling any ticket, it’s strictly by invitation. Also, some of our fans will be invited because they are the reasons we’re in the business. Some of them love hip-hop as well. That day, we want people that will come and watch the show live. And when we talk about the venue, by the time Pasuma fans and the hip-hop fans that love Pasuma come in, I am sure the place might have been filled to the brim.
Security wise, are you also prepared?
There is adequate security at D Place. That has always been guaranteed. Lives and property are safe as regards the venue.
What constantly makes Pasuma tick and all the controversies?
I don’t know. But as for me, I believe it’s just that I am focused. Maybe somebody is talking good of me or not, I don’t care because I believe where I am going is still very far. Whether you’re abusing me or not, I don’t look at that. I believe in where I am going. I know where I am coming from which I have gone past and where I am presently, but where I am going is still very far so I have to be focused. And by being dedicated and prayerful, I believe I will get there.
Can you share little of your top secret that perhaps nobody knows?
(Laughs) I don’t have anything secret. I believe you also know everything about Pasuma. I can’t hide anything from you. So, there is nothing new about Pasuma except this hip-hop thing and we’re pushing it out now for people to see.
A lot of people, especially your fans keep wondering why you still reside here when you have completed your mansion in OPIC area, along Lagos/Ibadan Express road. Some even expected you to move in with a wife, but nothing like that has happened till day. Why?
It’s true I have finished my house in OPIC area as you said but because that place hasn’t developed, I just have to pause pending the time the area will be developed. Everything is completed to taste, nothing is left to be done to make it habitable. I just decided that when the area is full I will move in. Also, I have got another one I am building in Omole here. I think that one would have been completed by the time I celebrate my birthday in November this year. That’s my prayer.
That means that’s where you will be moving to because Omole is already developed?
By the special grace of God, I hope so.
How much has it gulped so far?
I don’t know how much exactly I have spent on that. It’s a lot of money of course and I am still spending.
How marvelous is the house, at least with the level it’s now?
It’s marvelous. It’s good. I have been there and I have seen what they did. It’s a house you will see and come back to look at again and again. They’re building a very nice house for me, that’s the most important thing. So, I don’t even care about any amount that has been committed into it. It’s by the time that one is completed that I will decide whether I should move there or the one in OPIC area.
Pasuma is 30 on stage and about 20 years as a recording artiste. What has been the secret sustaining you all this while?
No other secret than prayer. I pray a lot. When you see me where I am praying you will think I am a pastor or an Alfa. And I also go to anywhere they organize prayer. I believe by the time you pray yourself and many people also pray for you, and you combine everything, you will definitely be a success.
You’re adjudged one of the most accommodating musicians, especially to upcoming artistes, what’s the motive behind this?
I believe there is nothing you acquire that will last forever. Everything is vanity. So, why don’t I allow them to come? It’s only God’s grace that’s limitless. If they don’t see the opportunity from somebody, they must surely get it elsewhere. My belief is that somebody will start something somewhere. So, you won’t say because you didn’t enjoy that kind of opportunity when you’re growing up then you won’t avail others such. No, you don’t need to do it. I believe doing that, my name will be in history for the good of it. People will know I have done a lot to contribute to the development of the industry.
Has there been any specific challenge since you started 30 years ago?
A lot of challenges. Which one do you expect me to mention? Life is full of ups and downs. I have faced a lot of challenges and obstacles before I came this far. But by the special grace of God and people’s prayers, we were able to beat all challenges and obstacles on our way. So, I give God glory about that.
Lest we forget, how acceptable do you think My Word will be in the eyes of the public, especially your core fuji fans?
We’re waiting for the answer when the album comes out. But my management and myself have put our hands on deck for that. We know our fans and everybody who listen to the album will appreciate it because before now, we have put like four hip-hop videos on air and we’ve received a lot of commendations from the public. So, people are already waiting for the album. And I can assure you when it comes out, it’s going to be a talk of the town.
Recently, it was reported you and K1 de Ultimate had a misunderstanding because of a young artiste, Small Doctor, who you groomed. How true is it?
I don’t even know anything about that. But talking about K1, he is my mentor, chairman and inspiration as far as fuji is concerned because I started singing fuji when he released his hit album, Talazo 84 in 1984. I have never had any grudge against him. He still remains my mentor, senior colleague and chairman. So, if we have some people thinking that we’re fighting, they should just have a rethink. Nothing like that can happen between us. Why will I fight him?
But they said you’re the one who brought Small Doctor up but K1 wanted to hijack him from you and that’s what informed your quarrel with K1.
There is nothing like that at all. First, it’s God that brought up Small Doctor, not me. God just used my name for him to rise.
On a lighter mood, when are you getting married?
I am surprised you still asked me this question because a lot of people don’t ask me such a question again. When I am ready you will know.
Okay, how do you feel still single at 48?
At 48, I don’t feel anyhow. I am good with my kids and the work I am doing. So far my business is moving fine, I am okay. And any day I am ready to marry, you will be the first to know. You will surely be invited.
But when you released a single, Oruka, a lot of people were saying maybe marriage was on the way then.
What informed the single and the title?
Oruka is a wedding song, no doubt about that. It speaks about love. The song was actually recorded in less than one hour. The beat came, with the producer, Frankie Free, everybody just thought about it and the next thing is Oruka ti dowo na, and that’s how we recorded the song. Immediately we did that, we all knew the song was going to be a hit because it’s something different from what Pasuma is known for. It’s a love song with hip-hop flavor. The video didn’t feature Iya Rainbow alone, over 30 movie stars were featured in that video. The idea of the video is that being a wedding song, is to do a kind of wedding setting and just bring a lot of movie stars because I associate with a lot of people in the movie industry. And we sat down with Clarence Peters who directed the video and we came up with the idea of inviting over 30 movie stars, including Oga Bello, Yinka Quadri, Iyabo Ojo, Femi Adebayo, Iya Awero, Fathia Balogun, Koffi the comedian is the MC in the video and a lot more. Oruka is just another hit single from our stable. Before we knew it, it has been on the lips of many people within and outside the industry. We give glory to God about that.