I had been on the trail of Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde Anifowoshe since YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine hit the stands on Tuesday, June 21, 2011. But tried as I did, and in all fairness to K-1’s manager, Percy Ademokun, pinning him down had been very difficult. In fact, I recall on one occasion, after mounting so much pressure on the good-hearted Mr. Ademokun, he abandoned what he was doing, drove to where the man was and handed him the phone to explain why I still hadn’t seen him. My joy, therefore, knew no bounds when our paths eventually collided. In fact, barely minutes, after the undisputed king of Fuji music arrived the Combo Hall, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos venue of Mr. Femi Akintunde-Johnson’s 50th birthday celebration than he uprooted me from where I was to go and see him. Pleasantries over, the ace musician from whose fecund imagination emerged hits like Consolidation, Legacy, Talazo and so on agreed to an exclusive interview immediately after his performance, which I must confess was enthralling. Inside his jeep, and at a corner inside the LTV Complex, AZUH ARINZE chatted for about 30 minutes with him before allowing him to go. The most beautiful thing about it all was that K-1 de Ultimate also prayed and prophesied that YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine is going to be a huge success. Excerpts…
A good musician is any musician that does the business like the real business. Not just doing something like you are doing nothing. A good musician knows his onions, knows what music is all about – music is about message, music is about you getting the very best out of the people listening to it; being able to move them, make it (music) work on them. Not just making people listen to something, but truly something very touchy. That’s what makes a good musician.
What is the best way to come up with hit songs, hit albums? What is the best way, especially for upcoming musicians, to come up with hit numbers?
They must prepare! You must prepare for whatever you want to do because by being prepared, you get to the root of everything you want to say and you will say it possibly to the very best of yourself… because what you are doing, if it doesn’t make meaning, inside you, it tells you it doesn’t make meaning. So, if you are doing something that makes meaning to you, it will equally make meaning to a lot of people that are going to listen to it. So, you must get prepared. I don’t leave any stone unturned whenever it comes to the making of an album. Even going out to perform! I want to go out, do justice to good music and see myself doing the business of the day and the way it should be.
What does Alhaji like most about being a musician?
My ability to sing. I love it! I have a better form of expression and I use it the best way I could.
What don’t you like about being a musician?
I don’t like sometimes the trouble. The trouble is too much (General laughter).
What kind of trouble are we talking about here?
People who go out to express their love. But sometimes they could be erratic. They go overboard.
That is because we know what it takes to make good music and we also have the grace of God behind everything that we do. And I will continue to do that as long as I still have life in me.
You have released dozens of albums, which of them do you enjoy most?
Fortunately for me, most times, I look at my performance from the angle of a listener, a music lover and do you know what, I give kudos to that artist. So, I love all my albums because it takes a very hard day’s job to put them together.
Which of your songs or compositions do you always quarrel with? Say a song that each time you listen to it, you mutter I could have done better…
Sometimes when I’ve lost it. But I don’t like seeing me losing anything. So, if due to a mistake I lose it, I don’t like it.
It’s obvious that the Almighty God has been very nice to you, what more do you want from Him?
Preservation of life, to give me more life. Nothing more! To give me more life because God has given me the ability to do what I’m doing and God has also given me the staying power, so what more do I want? What I want is good life. I still want to be living in good health so that I can continue to be doing what I’m doing. I see me playing music till 80.
What would you want to get through or from music that you have not been able to…in spite of how good music has been to you?
God has given me everything through music. Today, I have what I have through that blessing of the Lord. I’ve been blessed with all things.
Do you sometimes think about retirement? Does it cross your mind at all?
I am doing it to the glory of God and while I watch the younger ones grow. I play the role of a good father and I encourage them to grow. I want them to grow, but because we want them to grow doesn’t mean we should leave the stage. Because the fear is, if we choose to leave them doing it and we don’t pay attention to it by way of doing it, we might lose it. The quality of music all over the world is dropping day by day. Some don’t want to play with a full band and I tell you, there’s nothing as good as playing with a full band. Today, even in America, very many artistes believe in the spirit of a full band.
Among all the upcoming artistes, who are the ones you think will go far and why?
A whole lot of them are trying. They are trying, they are doing great, they are doing good. In hip hop, in fuji, in other genres, they are doing very well. We’ve seen a whole lot of them doing pretty well and honestly, by mentioning names…I don’t want to mention one and not mention the other. But one thing that I know is that very many of them truly do things that gladden my heart. And I see a very, very beautiful future for music as long as they continue to do it very well. 9ice is doing good, D’Banj is doing well. I see a whole lot of them, honestly.
Sometimes, seeing themselves beyond the present spot where they are. Which is not too good. They should just try to humble themselves, because where they are going is still very far. In fact, it is greater than where they find themselves now.
What is the singular most important thing that turned around your life?
The thing that turned my life around is the fact that I believe in what I’m doing and I concentrated on it and never lost track. And that has been the great machinery for the success we are seeing.
One of the people who affected your life the most was the late Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, what do you still miss about him?
The same thing I pray the younger ones don’t miss now. I want them to learn a lot about the rudiments of the business. They should continue to learn. I miss a lot about him because of the dexterity he put into what he was doing, which greatly encouraged me to be where I am and who I am as far as the genre of music I play is concerned.
What was the greatest advice he gave to you? He never got tired of describing you as his son…
He gave me very many advice. He made me see the future as ours and he always said to me, make sure you hold that future very well, because it’s in that same future you are going to live in and also bequeath to other people coming after you.
You’ve been moonlighting with politics. Are you eyeing any elective position or you want to remain or retain your position as a kingmaker?
Not only playing the role of a kingmaker, but a contributor to a better society. That’s what I’m doing. I want to use my experience, my God-given talent, everything the Almighty God has been able to put together for me to see how best I can develop the society around me and make people grow and fare better. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not seeking any elective office. It’s for my children, so that they too can have an avenue to grow. Same for every other person. To create good opportunities for Nigeria and to get the very best out of this country.
Now that you have talked about your children, is any of them interested in music?
Oh, very many of my kids are doing music. Honey is doing music, Sultan is doing music. Very many of my kids are doing music. Mustapha, Musty, is also doing music. I have about five of my children doing music and they are doing good.
Honestly, my albums keep selling and selling. Consolidation sold beautifully. Consolidation sold in excess, in millions. Classical Fuji sold in millions and it’s still selling. I have very many of my albums still selling. Honestly!
So, which has been your least selling album and why?
May be before now…
Can we know the title of the album?
May be before now. That’s what I’m saying. But ever since the Almighty God blessed one with the grace, good followership, my albums have been one success after the other. Lastly, Azuh, I wish you tremendous achievement in the area of publishing that you are doing. You’ve put in a lot of ‘service years’ and in so many years, you really learnt the ropes very well and I have no doubt in my mind that someone like you that has learnt so well, unlike others that left after one year or two, they want to see themselves up there, you will make it. You’ve truly learnt and you learnt from a whole lot of people. God will see you through. Congratulations (Amen!).
NB: First published February 2014
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