The brothers, Skuki, Tumininu (Vavavoom) and Atewologun Laolu-Ogunniyi (Peeshaun) are the newest toast of the Nigerian music industry. Their hit single, “Banger”, has just won them the highly coveted Next Rated award, plus a brand new Kia Optima and a Blackberry curve at the recently held MTN-sponsored Hip Hop World Awards 2010. Their full album, also entitled B.A.N.G.E.R, has just been released on the streets and suddenly people can’t get enough of the duo. I sat with them for a chat at the office of Kiss Group, their management company, owned by the amiable Howie T and Dipo Abdul, to trace their musical development up until this time. What comes forth is the story of a disciplined family which made sure they received the necessary university education before they could be allowed to pursue their musical passions. Below are the details. Enjoy…
You just won the Next Rated at the Hip Hop World Awards with the accompanying car prize, were you ever expecting it?
We weren’t expecting to win and we weren’t looking at losing either. All we know was that the people we were nominated against are some of the best new talents in the country at the moment. It was a very competitive category and it was a big shock to us when we clinched it. But we had been working and campaigning for it. Once we knew we were nominated, all the shows we had both in and outside Lagos, we practically begged our audiences to please vote for us; we explained to them what it meant to us and they supported us.
You guys started music about ten years ago, why did it take this long for you to break even?
First, we are from Ibadan and everybody knows that Lagos is the actual entertainment capital of the country. Our first album, an eight-track album, was packaged to be released on December 26, 2001, but our parents noticed that we were beginning to take music serious. They asked us to put everything on hold.
All along, they had let us do music as a hobby, but at the time we wanted to release the album, we were also about writing JAMB, so they made us stop the music so that we could concentrate on our studies. And we didn’t write that JAMB once. That’s where the long gap came from. When we finally succeeded, we had to separate as Peeshaun was admitted to study at the University of Ibadan and Vavavoom went for Geography at the University of Lagos. Now, we have both graduated and the music is back.
How did you guys manage while in school?
It was very tough. Our university days was when the Nigerian music industry transformed the most. We were monitoring the goings on in the industry. We were skipping classes for studio sessions; we were travelling out of town for shows and those were responsible for us having a few carryovers during our school days. But we thank God that we still came out graduates with good grades.
Have you guys served?
Vavavoom: I am presently serving in Abeokuta.
Peeshaun: I have not served yet. I still have to go to Law School first. That would come sometime before our second album or anytime. I have a break because we want to get this music hustle fully on its feet before I can do that. The first album is just out and we are still promoting it. The music is doing well, so I have to wait till the buzz of the album dies down a little before I can go.
I think I have achieved the hardest part of it by becoming a Law graduate. That was what my mom feared most, that we could become dropouts. So, the Law thing is now like a plan B, that if the music thing stops working at a point, then I can pick up Law again.
Having got to this stage now, do you think all the efforts and carryovers are worth it?
Vavavoom: Yes, all the sacrifice is worth it. I was in UNILAG and having to stay away from school most times because the music really took my time. But I am glad I scaled through. We spent the normal years for our courses in school.
How long did it take you to put the album together?
The oldest song on the album is the last track entitled, “You”. It was recorded in May 2006. But in between that and our first album in 2006 and now, we have been recording. We record a song and before we could release it, it would become outdated and we will do another one and so on.
How many are you in the family?
Peeshaun: We are from a family of seven. There are five children and we are the last two. Vavavoom is my immediate elder brother. They used to regard us as twins. We got into trouble and also got rewards together. We also fought a lot while we were young. Our eldest brother, Jolaolu, also had an inclination for entertainment, but being the first born, he couldn’t easily pursue it, but we being the last, they were a bit lenient on us and allowed us to flow. Also our elder ones had our back and always helped us through.
When did you guys find out you were going to be musicians?
We have been very good friends since childhood, but there was no time we knew we were going to do music. But when we were younger, we used to steal play. We used to mime MC Hammer and he used to be very upset about it. Things went on like that before we started getting our own songs ourselves and complemented each other a lot on it.
Now that you guys have broken even in your music, how does the family take it?
The day my mom got our certificates in her hands, she virtually told us to do what we want. She really believes in one doing what he or she enjoys most, but she never fails to tell you to face reality. That’s also where our dad comes in, he is a realist. They made us understand that the Nigerian music industry is massively populated and only a few up-coming acts make it from among the larger number of people that get in. They supported us with their prayers and now we have won a brand new car and the music is paying the bills gradually, they are excited. They are really proud of us and right now my mom sees us as heroes. We have always been her babies, but now she sees us as babies that really stuck to what they wanted to do.
Now that everyone is happy with you, what are your next moves?
Now that we are sort of officially the next big thing in Nigeria, there are a lot of expectations and the spotlight is on us, so we are definitely not going to dull that position. Now that the album is out, it would be a wonderful thing for fans to go out there to pick their copies and checkout for themselves if we are really going to be up to it. Any show they see Skuki performing, we are definitely going to make sure we entertain and live up to expectations. Tours are also coming up, both overseas and local and another video is coming from Skuki next month and it is going to be betther than the “Banger” video.
Why didn’t DJ Zeez show in the video of Banger since he featured on the song?
He had a delay in processing his visa and we were already in South Africa waiting for him and our resources were rapidly running down. We were even looking for garri in South Africa before DJ Zeez gave us the go-ahead to shoot the video and we thank God it came out fine.
Let’s talk more on the album.
There are 12 tracks on the album and there are five producers: ID Cabasa produced “Rosie” on track 5, DJ Zeez produced “Banger”, Puffy T produced two tracks while Meka E, produced one and Nay Palm produced about 50 percent of the album. The title of the album is B.A.N.G.E.R and it stands for Building Africa’s New Generation through Entertainment and Recreation.
What would you want to say to your fans out there?
If not for technology, we would have found it hard to reach out to them. We have been trying our best to let them know how we feel and we want them to know that we appreciate all they have done for us. I just want them to know that they are the ones that made us believe in ourselves. The award is dedicated to them.
Was there any time that you contemplated quitting music?
Peeshaun: Yes. In 2005, I actually quit and Vavavoom said he would do it alone. My grades were quite bad in school and my brother even recorded a song alone, but he wasn’t happy about it. Then, after about a year, my grades bounced back and I was able to rejoin him. That was about the only time we had a little hitch in the course of our career up until this point.
– CHILEE AGUNANNA
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, June 08, 2010