+What He Told City People Magazine
Late Reggae Legend, Majek Fashek who had carved a niche for himself in music, wasn’t just an African brand. He was a global one. Though people knew him as Majek Fashek, his real name is Majekodunmi Fasheke. He released his first album in 1988, titled: Prisoner of Conscience, which included the hit single “Send Down The Rain” that won him several awards.
The artiste was born in Benin to a Benin mother and a Yoruba father from Ilesa in Osun State. After his parents separated Fashek remained in Benin City with his mother and joined the Choir in his local Aladura Church where he learned to play the trumpet and guitar whilst composing songs for the choir.
Fashek’s musical influences includes Bob Marley whom he resembled vocally, also Jimi Hendrix and Fela Kuti. He was one of the original Nigerian artistes to be drawn to the music of the caribbean, specifically reggae, rather than indigenous hybrids such as Fuji, Juju but has been known to mix these genres into his own style of music which he calls “Pangolo” and the song “My Guitar” an Ode to his favourite instruments, was also heavily influenced by rock.
Before he died last week, he granted City People a major interview. He came to our Gbagada office in Lagos with his manager, and he spoke to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE and Senior Reporter, ISAAC ABIMBADE. He revealed his years in music, what had kept him going and a whole lot more. Read on.
Can you share with us what has been happening to Majek Fashek lately? Does everybody want to know what you have been up to?
Yeah! They that trust in the Lord shall be like Mount Zion who can never be moved. Satan has been fighting me to destroy me but Jesus Christ has helped me out. I am still alive and I will not die. I will live for a long time.
Let’s congratulate you. We are told you will soon celebrate 30 years on stage. How has it been looking back at your career, life?
I will give kudos to my manager who respects me. I am an American star. He says we should celebrate 30 years on stage and to show I am not just any how musician. I am still on top of my game.
When you said you are an American star, can you tell us more a bit about that?
America Recording Company called Interscope that recorded Tupac, launched me into the American scene in 1992. I must be grateful to God because I was young then like Wizkid but they respected me as an African. America believe in talent. I signed a recording contract with Interscope and they gave me the physical money, it was a promotion money.
They spent 10 million dollars on me but I was sick so the contract couldn’t continue but they gave me time. The devil wanted to destroy me. I am here now because God has helped me.
(His Manager keys in) He is a legend because for you to be signed by Interscope and he was a major artiste there then. They looked up to him when he performed.
So, in Nigeria we have Cocoa, Oil as export. Majek is also an export for the whole Africa. You can go to Franscisco and some cities in the US, you will see Majek Fashek name bodly written there. He’s well recognised in the US.
Last year, Majek Fashek’s song, “We are not afraid” on Youtube, was used by the United States to raise funds and to fight terrorism. Hilary Clitton was in the video and all the major American legends are in the video. Majek Fashek is an African here. He should be the one to tour the whole University in Nigeria, to show them the important of Majek.
Nigeria is in recession because we don’t take care of our children. My last born, Micheal is in the US with my wife, every morning America will come and carry him to school with their bus. Can you imagine the Psychology? So, Nigeria is backward because we don’t care about our children and that is why God gave me that song “Weep Not Children” and it is dedicated to children.
I was a child, you were a child, our President was a child, so what’s happening to the foundation of the children. If the country has to be good then we should start from the children. For Nigeria to be free from recession we need to be born again all our leaders, either you are a Muslim, Christian, or Ogun Seer, you must be born again.
I thank God I am still alive. I have a song, one of the songs I wrote: I can’t give up the fight” because a living dog is better than a dead lion. So, there is hope for us.
How did music start for you?
My music started from my mother’s church of Aladura in Anthony Village. There’s another one in Benin, I started in Benin. Fortunately for me, my mother was a singer. So I learned a lot from my mother. She’s a Benin woman while my father is a Yoruba. My mother inspired me as a musician. I was playing the guitar in the church.
What do you call the kind of your song?
Pangolo; African Rock Reggae. And Fela is Afro music. I was like a son to him. My own reggae song is higher. Bob Marley was not only playing raggae, he called his music rock raggae. My music is African rock raggae.
When you look back now, how does it make you feel what you have been able to do with music?
I give thanks to God for keeping me alive. When there’s life, there’s hope. Look at some of the songs like Send Down The Rain, that is the confirmation He is done well.
We urge City People to give promotion for my 30 years on stage and we need sponsors. Sunny Ade (Baba Sunny), is my very good friend. He inspired me to use ‘gangan’ (talking drum). I was in San Franscisco and that was when I knew the effect of talking drum.
King Sunny Ade was doing a show in a big palace, Baba Sunny was there and I was there too. Oyinbo loves “gangan” a lot. If Sunny Ade was playing in the US all the white people would come to see his performance. So, when I moved back to Nigeria and I started practicing because you know music is competition; you must be ready for challenge because music is competition.
Music is not jealous, if you are better than me in music I have to go and practice, so that I can conquer you. So, when I got back to Nigeria I got two talking drummers and I created talking drum to raggae music and that is why I called it Pangolo because there is no musician in the world that has ever used talking drum for raggae music. People are wondering how I got that inspiration, I got it from King Sunny Ade.
How many albums have you done so far?
I have several albums.
Are you based here now or you still shuttle between Nigeria and US?
Actually, America wants me back seriously but this is where I am from. My father is from “Ile-Osa”, people call it Ilesa. My father name is Ifaseke.
Are you closer to your mother than your father?
Yes, because my father couldn’t take care of me like my mother.
Which of album/song launched you into the limelight?
Send Down The Rain was from above in 1987. I used to fast because we fast a lot in my church. I used to do 7 days with fasting and it can be dry fasting as well. So, at the end of it, God answered me with Send Down The Rain. Everything in life has got it own season; you don’t plant casava and plurge Cocoa Yam. What you do is what you reap.
So, God gave me that song and the song became a world hit. That is the song that took over the United States. You know that America don’t just like musicians like that. They don’t just put you on Television, you must have a mystery. I was mystical through the power of “Olodumare” (God).
Next year I will be getting Oscar Award because my manager will give my work to the committee. Another thing is that, the cap Majek wore in the studio in 1987 will be auctioned during the launch, including the clothes I wore in the studio.
America helped my career, so if I deny them I am denying reality because they put me in one of the biggest shows in America, called “Latter Man”. I was there in 1992 and it was a network show in America.
Let me also say that I am from Ifa family. Ifa is the cleanest religion in the Yoruba tradition. I believe in Ifa and Jesus Christ.