There’s certainly no lover of hip-hop music in Naija that will say he’s not heard of 9ice and his exciting music. For over 15 years in the music business, 9ice whose real name is Abolore Adegbola Akande has consistently dropped hits after hits. From Little Money to Gongo Aso and possibly his biggest evergreen hit, Street Credibility with Tubaba, 9ice has continued to stun music lovers with his unique style of music. Even after 9ice took a brief break from the music, he made a stunning come back to the scene with his monster hit, Living Things, something a lot of artistes who took such breaks found impossible to achieve.
This young, talented and extremely focused artiste who has made incredible contributions to the growth of the music industry was recently recognised at the 2019 City People Music Awards. 9ice got the entire crowd up on their feet and grooving to his hit songs when he stepped on the stage to entertain the eagerly waiting audience. Always cool, calm and exciting to watch on stage, 9ice didn’t disappoint. He reminded everyone why he remains one of the most successful and decorated hip-hop artistes in the country today. City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL (08037209290) had a chat with the sensational singer shortly after he picked up his award and he shared with us the secret behind his stunning comeback and his thoughts on the exploits of the new generation of artistes rocking the music scene presently.
My brother, congratulations on the award you just received…
Thank you very much, I am really honoured.
When you stepped on stage a while ago, you could feel the love and appreciation of your music from the crowd. They were happy to see 9ice is still going strong. How do you feel about this recognition?
I feel blessed. I feel honoured. I feel great and wonderful. What I would like to emphasize again is that this is where it all started. This is the platform that began to recognise us from way back when we just started music. Being honoured here today shows that people appreciate what we’re doing and appreciate what we have done as well. So, I just want to say I appreciate City People as a team, but most especially Uncle Seye Kehinde. May Almighty Allah continue to bless him and make Him stronger.
As a journalist, I was there when you and your contemporaries began the revolution of the Naija music industry. You have churned out hits back to back from that time, about 15 years ago to now, and you’ve remained strong and relevant. How have you been able to do this?
It’s all about the grace of God and staying humble. It’s all about setting your priorities right. You know music is a mixture of glamour, paparazzi and razzmatazz, so being able to contain all of these very well and stay focused and choosing what is paramount to you and playing your kind of music and making hits back to back has helped me a whole lot.
When you started back then, did you have a master plan as to how you would move from one point to the other musically? Did you know 9ice would become the hugely successful artiste that he is today?
Well, I don’t know about this present time that a lot of technology has been introduced into music and if you have the money you can make things happen, but back then, nobody had any master plan. You only had to rely on your talent and God. You could only do your best and let God take care of the rest for you. It’s different from these days that, if you have the money, you can decide this is what I want to release regardless of whatever anybody is telling you. Back in those days it wasn’t like that. You couldn’t have that kind of control so there was nothing like a master plan.
One edge I know you have over many other artistes is that 9ice can give you songs with messages and inspiration and at the same time, you can do commercial songs and make us dance when you want to, how have you been able to do this?
Thank God that we learnt from the likes of ID Cabassa and Lord of Ajasa in those days. These guys were not just producers, they were artistes themselves. When you write songs, they would make corrections on your work, they would challenge you and ask you to go back home and improve on it. Before you would even bring your song to the studio you must have really worked on it. But these days, if you have your money you can walk into any studio and record your song and nobody will check on it for you. Those days they check your songs and they tell you to go back, you can do better. I started as a fuji artiste, at some point I was a rapper, so I’ve learnt from all these genres of music. When we started, you couldn’t just wake up one day and say I’m an artiste, you must learn the rudiments. Those are the things that have helped me and that’s the difference between us and today’s artistes.
Talking about today’s artistes, what’s your assessment of what they bring to the table in terms of their music and talent?
I will say they’re doing well. Music is seasonal, what was obtainable in those days is not what’s obtainable today. Music changes from time to time. That’s why we have evergreen artistes and that’s why we have artistes that will just pass away. So, it all depends on the artiste to choose the direction he wants to follow. People may be going in a certain direction while you may choose to go in a different direction. Today’s artistes are doing well, this is their season.
But people have issues with their lyrics, they say their lyrics have no messages, they only promote immoralities.
Yes, that’s why I said music is seasonal, it changes. These days, it’s about the beats, but there will be a time when lyrics will return because lyrics always take the upper hand. When the beat is over, people want to hear your lyrics, they want to listen to what you have to say. Trust me, good lyrics will come back soon.
Share with us your secret, how come several years after, we hear Little money, Gongo Aso, Street Credibility and even your new songs and we still feel goosebumps and everyone is excited to hear them all over again?
It’s all about the contents. For me, content was paramount. How can you attract both the young and the old to your music? I thought to myself, how can I get the old to listen to my music? I decided I had to inject Yoruba proverbs into my music so that they can listen. And that’s what I did and the old people like it. The young people speak a lot of street slangs and I also injected that into my music as well. That’s how I’ve been able to merge the old and the young together and make my music very appealing to all.
You are not a village boy and yet the sort of Yoruba proverbs you inject into your music is amazing. How would you explain this part of you?
It was my step-mum, may her soul rest in perfect peace. She taught me proverbs. She used it to instill discipline and morals into me. Back then, whenever she was talking, I often felt she was talking too much. But when it got to a point where I was trying to be creative and needed to push myself to the limits, I had to fall back on the proverbs I learnt from her. So, I will give the credit to my step-mum.
If we give the DJ one hour, he could play all your hits back to back and we won’t stop dancing, that’s the kind of achievement you’ve had musically. How do you feel when you look back at your achievements?
I feel so blessed, I feel so honoured because this wasn’t even the direction I wanted to go in my life. The kind of joy I feel today when I look at all I’ve achieved, words cannot express it. I wanted to go in a certain direction but God said go this way. Glory be to God Almighty, without Him, I wouldn’t have achieved anything. He’s the one that leads the way, all I do is follow Him.
A few years ago you took a brief break from music and stunned a lot of people when you made a strong back onto the scene and regained your relevance and top spot in the industry. How were you able to pull this off?
First and foremost, I will give God the credit for that. If He didn’t bless my efforts it wouldn’t have been possible. Before I came back fully, I did my research. I knew I had to do something a little different from what others were doing. I listened to the sounds people were listening to. I studied what the crowd wanted. I knew I couldn’t just go to the studio just like that, I couldn’t take the industry for granted. Music had changed and I had to flow with the changes but still keep my identity and style. I consulted with people. I got people involved, prayed about it and thanks to God everything worked out fine.
Many people say 9ice is a nice guy, a cool guy, but I’ve spoken with a few of your contemporaries like Ruggedman who said long ago that 9ice is a cool guy but you don’t want to mess with him. What can make 9ice really angry?
Yes, that’s because a lot of musicians are emotional by nature. As for me, when you mess with my craft, I get angry because that’s what feeds me and puts food on my table. When you try to mess with my craft I will get angry and remember, I’m human as well.
There are huge expectations from people waiting for you and ID Cabassa to come up with another monster hit, when do you think this could happen?
Yeah, we are working on something soon, most especially now that we’re even closer than ever before. By God’s grace, very soon, something will happen. Its God and the people who turn songs to hits, ours is just to go to the studio and record. When you record, it’s just like any other song, its until when people begin to say, I like that song, that it becomes a hit. You don’t have that power to say it’s going to become a hit, it’s the people and God that will determine whether it will be a hit song or not.
You and your contemporaries like Tubaba are regarded as more level headed, more focused, more serious than today’s artistes. What stands you guys apart from the young present-day artistes?
Our culture and tradition are fading away gradually owing to western influence. And it’s not just in music anymore. Children of these days don’t even know how to prostrate anymore, they feel it’s degrading. But you’ll find that me and my generation, we still prostrate to our elders. This is something our young ones find so difficult to do these days and its so sad. I really wish there was something we can do, including the government, to bring back our lost culture and tradition and instill them back into our young generation.
Is that why you said a while ago on stage that most of the younger artistes lack respect for elders? Have you had any experience where any of them misbehaved to you?
No, never. None of them has misbehaved or disrespected me directly, but I hear stories. I hear a lot of their senior colleagues complain about them.