Solid Star is one of the young crooners we are proud of their works. An Isoko, from Delta State, but an Ajegunle, Lagos brought up, he shared the story of his life with YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine. Very, very interesting, you will surely love it…
Tell us about Solid Star.
My name is Joshua Iniyezo. I’m an Isoko boy, from Delta State, but born and brought up in Ajegunle, Lagos State. From a family of four children. My dad had three wives and my mum was the last wife and I have five other brothers.
How did this start?
After my secondary school education, I just developed love and passion for music, but my dad really wanted me to further my education. He died before I finished my secondary school, so it was just me and my late grandmother and things became tough and rough for me and that was how I was unable to further my education and how I dropped into music after my secondary school.
Was your dad a Muslim?
No, he was a Christian.
How would you describe your growing up since you lost your dad early in life?
It was okay, because I learnt a lot from Ajegunle city; Ajegunle city is a city of hustling and bustling. You are always on your own. I don’t depend on my family, I don’t worry or trouble them either. I don’t even demand anything from them. I like hustling on my own because when I lost my dad, two years later, I also lost my grand mum that was taking care of me. So, I was just alone. I had to start selling puff-puff around Nigerian Ports Authority area with my brother. But growing up in Ajegunle city made me the kind of person I am today. It made me strong and courageous.
You said you were raised by your grandmother after your father died, what role did your mother play in your life?
My parents divorced when I was four to five years old, because my dad was a military officer and he travelled almost every time. Today, he is here, tomorrow, he is there. So, they had a problem and decided to go their separate ways and my mother married another man. Although, I didn’t grow up with her, she supported me in any way she could. She had a church and I participated in a lot of activities in the church. I played drums, assisted the choir and all that and that was how the music thing started and from there, I started doing little, little shows in Ajegunle city. Performing all around to gain relevance and people started appreciating my music. Though I loved and had wanted to play football, because I’m a very good footballer. A lot of people adviced me that music would do.
What were some of the steps you took that time?
In 2007, I went to Kaduna and I was signed on by nine record labels. I’ve forgotten the names now. It was later that I realized that the entertainment market there was not nice, so I had to come back to Lagos in that same 2007 and Achievas Records saw me, liked me and they signed me on and since then I’ve been with them.
7 years now, what has kept you with Achievas Records for that long?
When we started, it was very rough because then, the brand, Achievas, was just me and the CEO. We were working hand in hand. He followed me to all radio stations, no manager, no PA, nothing and there was not enough fund to run the company then, but it was good we started from somewhere and thank God for where we are right now.
Your One in a Million track with 2Face brought you out. How would you describe the song?
The track really introduced me to the music industry and gave me the face and the name, Solid Star. It was still in the euphoria of this that Omotena came out and it was wonderful and from there, I moved to Skibo.
Who was the first Nigerian artiste to ever support your career?
It is definitely 2Face Idibia because he is a very cool and humble guy. If he gives you appointment, he doesn’t disappoint. He is a friend to my CEO and when he heard my song, One in a Million then, it was just in two verses and when we met 2Face, he told him about me and he took my CD, took us to his house, listened to the song, liked it and decided to assist me. So, since then, he has been there for me. So, big ups to boss.
When would you describe as a turning point in your musical career?
I would say it was when I released Skibo. The song really did great things for me; took me places. I travelled out of the country, I got a lot of shows, achieved a lot of things. So, I would say Skibo actually made all things possible for me.
How would you describe your career in 2013?
2013 was a great and wonderful year for me. I achieved a lot of things; bought a lot of things that I didn’t even believe I was going to buy. I travelled; I performed at top events that I would never have imagined within a short period. I got awards and so many other stuff and I thank God for that. But I know that 2014 would be bigger and better for me.
You are a ladies’ man. How have you been coping with women?
(Laughs) It’s normal and because I chose to come out with a lady’s look. I had already planned a way of handling them. I see them around and they do show up everyday. Some come for relationship while others come to just be friends and I know how to handle them well. I use my sense, of course. I don’t chase them away, but handle them in such a way that they still want to come, even when I am not showing interest. We hang out, have fun as friends and acquaintances.
Do you have any plan of settling down with any of these your female admirers?
Yes! But that would come later. I still need to plan for that. You know that marriage is not something you just rush into. I need to plan for it, for my kids and many other things. So, for me, marriage is not now.
What were some of the strategies you put in place to succeed when you started out as a musician?
I was very easy to identify when I came out because I came out to be myself; with a different hairstyle. I was the only one with that kind of hairstyle and the way I packed the dreadlocks was eye catching. I was so different. My voice texture and the way I sing also made me outstanding. If you want to come out and you want people to know you, you need to come out with something different and not imitate any established artiste. You need to be yourself.
What are some of your plans for 2014?
I’m working on an international collaboration with a South African artiste, FB; then, go to America and do another collaboration with Lily Wayne and I believe that with God on our side, we are going to achieve that this year. I’m also dropping two videos very soon.
Why the preference for Lily Wayne?
Yeah! I like him, I like the way he raps, I like his style. At times, I just sit down and imagine giving him one “bad” chorus and him rapping on it. I think it’s going to be nice because I know we are going to blend. I also like Rihana. She’s one of my best foreign musicians.
Of all what God has done for you, which one do you attach more importance to?
Everything that God gave to me is important, but I will still say the land that I bought in Festac Town still ranks as number one and it was part of what I acquired last year (2013).
Of all your properties, which one is the costliest?
I will say my car, the Infinity GX 35 that cost me N13 million.
You are one of the few rising artistes in Nigeria without any scandal. How have you been able to achieve this?
Wherever I am, I always want to stay humble and when I’m with some people in this industry, as we all know, we have the good and the bad people. Those that would attempt to set you up when you are always with them and the ones that love you. So, whenever I hang out, I always stay focused, look at the people I’m sitting down with and then use my sense to stay humble or excuse myself. Because when you hang out too much, some things that are not meant to happen may start happening and you don’t know who is who. They might just set you up.
Don’t you think that people may see you as being snobbish because of that?
I play with them at normal times. That is why I said I use my head. Myself and my manager understand ourselves very well when it comes to that aspect. Not that those people give problems, but those are the major things that bring about scandals. When a popular name or figure is in a place where trouble erupts, your name being a celebrity would be mentioned.
What do you like most about being a musician?
I enjoy singing. It is my number one hobby. The joy I see when I’m performing and the joy of seeing my fans whenever I’m driving waving at me is a source of inspiration to me as well. It makes me feel that I’m doing what people love.
What don’t you like about it?
The fact that I can’t move freely. See (pointing) the way all these people are moving freely, I can’t just come down from this car now and move like that or maybe I want to cross to the other shop now to get something. I can’t do it because before you know it, I will be crowded.
You said you dropped out of school after secondary school. Have you thought about furthering your education?
Yeah, the thought comes, but I just think there is no time for it anymore because as you know, one of the richest men in Africa didn’t go to school. Not that I don’t want to go to school, but I think that I’m not getting younger anymore. If I want to go to school now, maybe it would take like 2-4 years and in this music industry, when you go for one year, it would be another story for you to come back. It’s going to be very difficult.
To be a good artiste, what must you do?
You must be humble. Humble to your boss, play with everyone that comes around you, because I know a lot of artistes we started together, but because of their character; their behaviour brought them down. Maybe they were rude, even to their fans. You know I’m a mentee of 2Face and that is what has kept me going.
Have you been harassed by a female fan before?
Sure, I have.
Can you share the experience with us?
Yes! There was this show I attended on the Island and where I sat down, I just excused myself to visit the loo. But the toilet was for male and female, separated by doors. So, she followed me. Instead of entering the female section of the toilet, before I knew it, she had started dragging my trousers and I was amazed because I knew what she wanted, but I just had to run out of the place.
Was she aware of your identify?
Yes! She knew me; we were sitting together at the show before I excused myself.
What is the biggest embarrassment you have had?
It was two years ago. I was supposed to perform at the Rhythm Unplugged and my manager then said she had talked to Cecil about me and that my name was already on the list of those to perform. So, she told me to go and start rehearsing, not knowing that she had lied to me and I had been rehearsing at Eko Hotel for like 2 weeks for the event. On the day of the event, we had to go for sound check and I went with my dancers and other artistes were being attended to, when I informed him, the reply was: “What? Who is Solid Star?” And I was with him there. They told him I was supposed to perform at the event and that I had come for sound check and he said: “No, no, no, I don’t know him and nobody talked to me about him”. Although, it was not Cecil’s fault, it was the manager’s fault, because truly, she didn’t talk to Cecil or any other person about me and she told me that she had settled with Cecil. I don’t know why she did that anyway. It was so embarrassing and crazy for me and I just had to pacify my dancers. It was so bad and terrible. I guess the manager was having a little problem with my CEO and she decided to pay us with some embarrassment before she left.
What of your best moment?
So many of them. It all started when I dropped Omotena because that was when I started having shows. I mean big shows. The release of the duet with 2Face, One in a Million was just like paying back, because I was everywhere doing free shows. But when they started paying me was when I dropped Omotena.
How did you coin the name, Solid Star and what are your dreams?
My dream is to be greater than 2Face, because no matter how long it takes 2Face to drop a single, whenever it comes, we would agree that a legend is here. I don’t want to be like him, I want to be greater than him. The name, Solid Star, was given to me by my late grandmother. You know I told you she was a prophetess and she had a church. She just called me one day and said, “Joshua, whatever you know you want to do, just keep doing it because I see a great star in you”. And when I started doing music, I saw things happening to me. I went to Kaduna and came back and not long after I came back, I was signed onto another record label and then I decided that this star must be a solid one. So, I added Solid to the Star given to me by my late grandmother.
NB: First published Feburary 2014