Jim Iyke, The Guy everybody loves to hate
The Guy everybody loves to hate (“but he can handle some hate” – Jim Iyke).
You have to agree that there is just something about Jim, you don't know what it is but you just hate him. Perhaps, it's the strong bad boy characters he plays, his stares, or his exaggerated emotions.
After a long day of waiting for the superstar, I mean a good 6 hours (Ok I exaggerated, 4 hours). He finally arrived, and he was sincerely apologetic to everyone that was awaiting his presence. Immediately, we got into it; the fabulous 'Korede Roberts' of Fusion did the amazing styling for the shoot, then I knew it wouldn't be a long bad day after all.
Jim Iyke “The Model” made it easy all the way, striking every pose like he was a pro; the shoot was a breeze and we went off to 'Reeds', an Italian Restaurant on Awolowo road, and the interview begins:
Dammie: Finally we're here with you and it's been more than a crazy day.
Jim: My life is astronomical; it moves at such a speed that sometimes I have to slow down. Although, there was a little mix-up with schedule because I thought this was going to be done tomorrow. We had a bank appointment today, we didn't know it was going to be elongated; we thought it was an in-and-out thing. The GM was travelling tomorrow, it was supposed to be a tomorrow schedule but he had to see me today. So I said “Okay fine, I'll come”, and that's what dragged me off.
D: Okay, but the good thing is that we didn't just wait or anything, it was really worth it! So, is this how your life is?
J: My life is a very busy one and adding music to it has made it like an overdrive. Well, over the years, I've come to terms with the fact that my life is socially dead. It's a schedule that I'm used to; I'm highly mobile, highly capricious and I think it's a welcome development anytime.
D: When did all these start?
J: Some 5 years ago, I think that year, I shot the highest number of movies in one year; I shot 38 films. It was outstanding. I think it was absolutely crazy and from that day on, I started working on a really fast pace. After that year, I slowed down and I had a little more time; then came the ban and then the NGO. Things slowed down then because I got into business with a couple of cousins of mine. I knew what it was like to lay back but that wasn't truthfully me. Then back to the industry again and the business interest grew and I found out that I enjoyed doing business as much as movie making. I think it's pretty much something that is second nature right now.
D: So, how did you get into acting?
J: Well, I was bored counting other people's money, basically. Then I was still in Union bank and it just didn't feel right because there is always the issue of what you want to do, your life calling and your life long pursuit. You can make all the money in the world, accumulate all the assets but if there's no self satisfaction, you can never be happy. As my mum used to say, “You will feel it in your bone marrow”. It might sound pretty odd, but I've always known that this is what I've wanted to do; I've dreamt about it, I've thought of it, I've lived it and I've walked it. I've always known that it was my destiny. It was at that point that I met somebody that deserves to be in another world, I think he saw the satisfaction in me and he said I should come and audition for a role. I was in Abuja; my whole family lives in Abuja. I came down to Lagos, auditioned and got the role for my first movie, “Cursed from Beyond”.
I went back and told my Father about it and apparently, I was supposed to proceed for my masters after my youth service. My dad has always been erudite and I'm an only son with 6 sisters. He invested most of his dreams and aspirations in me and he didn't find it funny that I was switching lanes. Later, there was a quarrel in the house and I was kicked out. I'm proud to say that I went out on my own with less than 10,000 Naira in my pocket. I came to Lagos and stayed with my cousin. Things didn't go well; I was not used to playing a “glorified houseboy” because he wanted me to do all his chores. I left and found my way. I think I'm pretty glad because that was the most crucial decision I've ever made in my life.
D: Wow! Before that what did you study in school?
J: Psychology and I have a Diploma in Banking and Finance.
D: I am guessing the psychology helped you a little bit in your acting by being able to channel certain emotions?
J: Yes! It helps in interpretation of the characters that's within your foresight as regards to portrayal. Definitely, it puts you in a better state than most others to understand mannerisms and to understand the wide array of characters that you're presented with. There's a lot of psychology to most of the characters that I've played. And I wanted to drive my career to a point where people have not been to within the Nollywood circle. I think domestic values should be the people's focus because they know what it's like for African people to be abused and yet they won't speak up about it, because it's not within our culture and our way of life. And I know how far arrogance can push you over the edge up to a point of obsession and drive you to self-destruction. I go where a lot of people don't want to go. I also play certain emotional roles where I've been into people's presence and I know what it's like to be important and to feel God is still in charge of the order of things in the world.
All these ways of life could not have been portrayed in the way people have come to accept it if I didn't have a fore-knowledge of psychology. For instance, the drug addicts I've played, those are mannerisms and characters that I've studied and I know what it's like to live in a drug-filled life of desperation and need. And I think that placed me a step ahead of most actors.
D: When people watch you, they feel, it's either too exaggerated or he is just too rude and that's probably because that is how he is in real life. Would you say that you are totally different from the characters you play on screen?
J: What do you think?
D: Well, to me you're totally opposite, though I haven't been with you for more than a day or more than 2 weeks. Thank God I haven't seen you in a situation where you're upset!
J: I'm totally different. I think I'm probably the most misunderstood celebrity in this whole world and that doesn't settle matters well because I won't sit down with certain issues that needs to be thrown under the carpet and simply walk over it and become what you call 'politically correct'.
In my studies, it's so hard for people to understand, especially in the world I come from. In Africa, it's easy, especially for Nigerians because we're very opinioned people and it's so easy to embrace a culture of a celebrity, but one thing you have to come to terms with is the fact that you're the subject of constant scrutiny, skepticism and criticism that can bring out the negative part of you most times.
A lot of times, you question if it's the right thing to do but I'm a product of a rather dual personality. My mum is fire, she's capricious, she's bold, she's outspoken and she has this almost nonchalant approach to life. My dad is the erudite that likes to be laid back and argue situations; he is the quiet laid back person that believes in getting into dialogue, the kind of person that will sit down and fold his legs in a conversation and not say a word for as long as 3 hours.
These parts are inherent in me; there's a quiet laid back and perspective thinking part and it's my everyday life away from the screen; there's a product that people have blown way out of proportion and then there's a part of me that is crazy, unprecedented and it's capricious. There's no how you can survive this industry if you don't have two-sides of a coin, because you need to deal with it from a different approach totally and sometimes it might seem that the life of an average actor like mine is totally dysfunctional, but that's not it. You are pushed till you feel totally erratic or psychotic, as I've been described but that is not the true situation.
I've been in situations where it was so easy to lay back and let it pass, but I was a subject of attention at that point because of what I do and who people perceive me to be. Then also, I've always been a victim in this thing and then a lot of people pick on me a lot and they expect a reaction. In the same way, they've had lots of rumors, insinuations and speculations of different sorts and pictures and colours. And sometimes, it just gets overboard and you're looking for so many ways to get out and it bursts open a lot.
Nobody knows your position and what transpired in the course of the event but what is important is the name that is most prominent on everybody's lips. I still believe I'm the most misjudged and most scrutinized actor in this part of the globe. And then, it's killing because the press has done a good job in laying my personality out; they have done an extremely good job. I had a choice to re-shoot by going on a last PR campaign and change certain opinions but I chose not to, because sometimes, it's not so bad. I let this people have their opinion. I feel I've been a subject to fulfill certain fantasies than aggression. And that's part of the purpose I serve on earth; someone to lean on and we all need that partner in life. A lot of people are afraid of it but I'm not. Then there's a part of me that's 30% not for the public; it's quiet, it's unprecedented, it's unassuming and I love it.
D: Who gets into that part of your life?
J: Mostly nobody.
D: Nobody at all! Not even your mum or girlfriend?
J: Well, sometimes it takes a lot of work to get to that, but it's a part that is there for everyone to see. You need to pass all the corners of show business to get to that part. Now the 70% that has been scrutinized and misjudged battered and opinionated, I give to the public to do whatever they want with. Sometimes, I even inform and feed it. Sometimes, they expect a reaction and I give it. It's what I call “the playing of the game”. Then, there's a part I reserve strictly because it's business, its 'show-business'; two words fused together to make a word. So, I give the show sometimes, I go crazy sometimes, and do what I have to do. It's part of the game; I feed people's fantasies.
D: That's why they don't know why they love to see you or love to hate you.
J: You just don't know, I'll give you something and you'll not ignore me. I'm not the kind of person that sits on top of the fence and you can't pass without a judgement or an opinion of some kind. No, I'm that person that once you meet, you'll make up your mind to love me or hate me instantaneously and these equal parts, I accept in equal proportions as well because I know it's what you need to keep you there. I've given almost 9 years of my life to this game. I've faded, been on top, came down, came up and I'm still where I am, 'On top'. And the only way I can achieve it is to keep people talking.
I provoke opinions, incidents, and emotions in my idiosyncrasy and in my ideology of life. That's the truth of it. Watch the headliners of the world from time in memorial; I've always followed the pace of people that provokes emotions and debates of all kind; from Michael Angelo to Newton to all kinds of people, to Obama, as of recent. And so, you follow the pace of these people and you realize that life is about what activity you can create around you as much as you can. Where you exercise the caution is when you bring that 30% of your life and keep it studiously close to you. That is a no-go area in my life and nobody will come in. And that's why the tabloids you see are like that. They provide information and sometimes they show too much dislike and sometimes I see hatred in people and I'm forced to hate back because I just can't understand why you hate me; and I see too much love in people, that it sometimes embarrasses me.
There's always an amalgamation of emotions going through me all the time and I think the only way that people can perceive it is through my eyes, so I keep my eyes shaded a lot and I stare a lot as well. So, there's so many ways to hide behind shades. In tinted cars, the fact that I do not do awards, I don't do birthdays and anywhere there's public gathering because I freeze up in public. Funny enough, when I'm doing anything that has to do with my work, I have a certain flair and individuality and authority that comes from expediting anything that has to do with my lifelong pursuits, but when there's a transition into my life, I don't have that authority any more. I lose myself to the elements around me, to being at people's mercy for once. That is the human part of me that I want to keep. I lose it to mistakes, imperfection and that is not how I want to live this life, I don't really lose the true essence of who I am and it's so easy to lose it in this business.
I know people in this career that were cool and they kept their heads up, they understood the intricacies of life and how to live it and what they wanted to do with their money and success and how to measure their worth accurately so they won't hurt people. These are people that also understood the power these gifts can give you, but I know the way they lose it. They become egocentric and I've been there; you become unnecessarily arrogant and money makes you pig headed. I've been there, I've lived it, I've circled it and I've come back.
It is necessary sometimes to go through this sphere of life so you'll understand the negativity of it. I'm at that point in my life right now that has everything to do with my experience, and how much I've learnt from it. I feel like an old man sometimes because a lot of things that used to scroll through in my life like the white parties and beautiful women, they don't move me anymore. If I have a good video game at home and I get a good day sleep, it's a blessing for me and I like it. If I can say a kind word to somebody or be with people that are not 'fake' around me; people that understand me and embrace me with all my imperfections and my lame excuses, am happy and that's just the way I want to live my life by the day without striving to be what I'm not. That's what it is for me.
D: What else is happening in the life of Jim Iyke, are you doing any other thing outside acting?
J: Yeah! I've always been one person that hates to put all his “eggs in one basket”. I'm doing a little bit of mortgage with a friend of mine and with my cousin. Right now, it's terrible business in the US but we sell one or two properties and hopefully things will look up. And I import a lot of cars, I sell cars, and I just got into oil as well. Some of our trucks just came in and we're in the business of running around to brand and lay it out there. I have a cousin too that is into the oil business, so we're in partnership and recently I just got a record label called “Untamed” and I've signed a couple of people on and we'll be launching soon.
Our album is complete as we speak, so, I'm hoping to launch at the Lagos yacht in the third week of June. I'm looking at about 100 guests so I can launch it as flamboyantly as I'm known to do. I think it's one of those many discoveries. I've always been a disciple of hip-hop and I reached a point in my life where I was just tired of being in the circle; criticizing and finding out what was right and what was wrong.
For me, it's about the conquest, it's about the regularity to conquer certain challenges in your life and move on. I think my 2 greatest fears are failure and loneliness. I'm very comfortable been by myself and that's the way it's always been. So, to create certain things in my life, it makes it easier. I've never been afraid of criticism; sometimes I don't handle it too wisely but I do say that I've learnt to laugh at myself. I used to be upset about so many things been said about me, as hard as I am, certain portions about me that wasn't right.
Sometimes, I'll just call my mother at night and just complain because that's the only person that understands my weaknesses and she will say “I'm really tired of you calling me because the strongest person I know in my life is you; look at what you've done, you left home when everybody had doubts, see what you've made of your life, See how young you are”. 80% of the people don't know how much I've achieved because I don't throw it out there for the public to know. So, sometimes it makes me laugh when I hear people talk about me and it's only funny. Learn to laugh at those things. If you laugh at yourself, there's no type of jest anybody can pull on you that'll hurt after that. I've made this mistake, I've punished myself for it and then, I laugh at myself.
D: Yes! That's true. I just read a quote from JFK that says “An error is not a mistake until you fail to correct it”.
J: Absolutely! And he is one of the greatest philosophers of our time. The ability to find laughter in the face of a problem or challenge is the first step to solution, and that is basically what I do. The most reprehensible thing anybody in the world can think of is the ability not to find ways to hear yourself when you feel somehow inadequate in a lot of things you've done. I've wronged people, I've stepped on toes and I've said unkind words out of ignorance, but I've also done my share of making people happy.
Sometimes, I wish people would judge me for things I've done to make them happy than what I've done to make them sad. People that judge are people that have made more mistakes than I have. It just hurts when you begin to play God in people's lives; saying very powerful things regarding your distaste of the person and your disapproval of the person's way of life or whatever without truthfully knowing him. I found out that 90% of the people that have this opinion are people that have not met me or people that have met me on a bad day. I want to share my world with everybody. When I'm having a good day, you'll meet me and you'll know; when I'm having a bad day, you'll know. I don't want you to meet me on a bad day with a plastic smile on my face and I'm trying to make it look good. So, when you stop me, I say some derogatory thing and I keep moving; I've seen a lot of my colleagues do this.
I know of celebrities that I've met before I became one, I've walked up to them to take a picture or an autograph and they put a plastic smile on their face. Even as a kid, I knew this was wrong, that this person is not happy to be with me, so why can't you tell me, “I'm having a bad day and you should try and understand”. I believe the more honest approach is what is lacking in people and that's what I have; and that's why I'm being criticized about everything. The ability to tell a producer that is not doing the right to “F*** off” and the ability to tell a hater that he has no right to say hurtful words to people; let me say it back to you, so you'll have a taste of your medicine and then you'll know that this is wrong. I think that's basically what people expect me to change and live a model life and just be a “cliché” and a celebrity and get along with everybody and be politically correct. That's not how I want to live my life.
D: Would you say there is any regret so far?
J: Not any, but I've suffered a lot of regrets in my life because I've made a lot of mistakes and like I told you, regret seems to go away when you begin to laugh more. The secret of laughter is the greatest gift of all. Immediately I found ways to laugh at my problems, mistakes, weaknesses and my shortcomings, then everything was fine. And then, you can't let regrets ruin your life.
D: How did you cope during the ban?
It wasn't easy but like I said, every challenge in my life has turned out to be the biggest blessing. It brought tremendous opportunities to my doorstep and taught me so much. I've sat down and said “what am I capable of doing”. I've always been a good harness of talent and opportunities and I began knocking on doors. You find out that more people know your name than you wish to come to terms with. Names are what makes things happen and push buttons in the world and as I knocked, I found more people. I was forced to fall back on my talent as a financier and money wasn't the problem because I had made a lot of money. It was just a question of knowing where to push it. If you push it into the wrong place, you'll lose and that's when you'll hear that some people have gone broke. So, some of us kept back and learnt the art of money making in a better aspect instead of just being the income taker and not the investor, and you'll perfect it as time goes on.
Out of desperation comes a talent and I'm a firm believer in that and the more you explore the greater things you find. I've never been someone that puts my life in a box, I don't paint portraits; I'm one person that says it the way it is. I went out there, hustled and learnt from some people. I learnt the art; it's a fine form that must be perfected in its true sense.
You can't make friends with people your age all the time. It's a secret in life I've found out. I enjoy making friends with older men because of the wisdom and truthfulness. Being an 'Old G' and the fact that they've played this game even if it was under different terms and conditions, the same rules apply. Whether it was 20 years ago or now; the rules of honor, transparency, honesty, strength of character and the true measure of love will show itself in people that have succeeded in life. There are people that have taken shortcuts and have succeeded by cheating; but the true gentlemen, the true architects of success are people you need to learn from and I've made those people my friends. For example, I have a Doctor friend in New Jersey and from the way he lives his life, deals with women and how successful he is, he has shown that he's an accomplished man; but the way he controls all the elements of the world and abundance around him with ease is what I'm trying to learn.
It is so hard to stay level-headed in the face of success, but that's what my parents have taught me and I'm blessed with wonderful parents and incredible sisters. And once I begin to lose it, I call my mum. They are strong believers in prayers and seek the face of God in everything that they do. My old man is my friend and I think he is the coolest guy in the world. He doesn't treat me like a son, but rather like his brother. He always wanted a brother, like a younger brother he can argue with apparently when it comes to self retribution and I think it's what keeps you growing and what keeps you young. Sometimes I actually create fights because he has a penchant for owing me money ((Laughs). So whenever it comes to that, I blow hot and he blows hot because his arguments have always been more superior to mine.
I used to be really close to Sunny Okosun as well, he was more than a friend and I love him a lot. I know what I'm doing is wrong, I haven't gone to see his family because I know the number of nights that I woke up and I was totally depressed. You need to know him to understand the kind of life he lived. I mean his zeal for life; he was a man that loved taking a big bite out of life. He was the kind of person that believed in “you can do it or don't even attempt it”. He was someone I would run to for inspiration and when I heard about his death, I instructed everybody that was around to shut the place down. Maybe I'm in denial but I can't deal with the grief right now, it might be a selfish way but it's my own way of dealing with it. I know one of these days, the dam will burst and I'll find the grief uncontrollable. I pray I'll be strong enough to handle it by that time but for now, I just don't want to deal with it because I'm in oblivion. It's a sick problem for me right now and it's a cowardly way of looking at it, but for now, that's what I need, truthfully.
D: Sorry about your loss. Asides from Sunny Okosun, would you consider any other Nollywood stars as your role model?
J: I'm afraid not. I'm not really into the role model thing. I like a lot of the older actors because the younger ones can't seem to get along with me. (Laughs)
D: Why? Do you feel threatened?
J: No! No! They feel threatened. I don't want anybody to circumvent my position or feel any form of threat but the only way you can feel threatened is if you don't have your individuality and flair, then there's a part of me that's created basically for you. I've never allowed challenge to bother me; I see it as a stepping stone. When you recognize it as a challenge, it becomes what it is, a challenge. When you recognize a threat, you start treating it like a threat. You steep you organization, you steep your challenges, you steep your approach to it and thereby you employ all kind of ways to deal with it by stepping up your game but if I look at you like a colleague and nothing more, I don't see where the threat is coming from. I've never lacked rule, I understand my power more than anybody else in that industry. It's just a question of my persona, and I have a totally detached approach to Nollywood. A lot of people think I'm not for them because I don't play the politics of the game. I'm not in meetings or whatever it is in the so-called 'posterity of the industry' and I think I've also been quite vocal and seeing that it's an industry that operates under the services of so many umbrellas, it lacks a “unified voice”. It will always have an unequivocal approach to all its initiatives and for that reason, it's one that you can't begin to bask in or have an interest in for the future. So, a lot of people think that Nollywood is the middle front that sponsors my other initiatives, but I love what I do, that is what they don't understand, they don't understand the passion.
It is in the same regard that I look at AMAA, I think AMAA is a complete waste of time. It's the most organized waste of time in Nigeria right now. How can you explain the fact that the industry lacks to take itself to the so-called next level when it's the third largest industry in the world. Technologically, it's completely obsolete; we're dealing with Hollywood and Bollywood, with the kind of drummed-up support and all that. After looking at what they did with 'Slumdog Millionaire', we should be ashamed of ourselves. It's a low-budget movie. We have enough skills, technology and capable movie makers that really understand the business. Why were they not given opportunities? We're decried the fact that we don't have enough funding to take it to the next level and yet you're forming AMAA. A multiple, multiple, multiple multi-nationally sponsored award and you spend up to a million dollars bringing a celebrity of international recognition to an award. You keep a jet for this person, a 24-hour jet to take them for an award; and this is a multi-billion naira sponsored event. So, what is the truthfulness and transparency in this? What is it about the international artiste and you spend that much money on that is not African? Are you trying to say that you can drum-up that kind of sponsorship but you can't put together enough funds to make a major movie with Will Smith or Whoopi Goldberg or Angela Basset in it to support the industry? The Government doesn't want to support it, if it's not oil and politics, they don't want to get involved and we all know that. We have ministers of information and they are totally ignorant of what is happening in the industry. Look at how rich this nation is; if they do like Hollywood and say “you know what, seemingly out of nothing you created this awesome presence, Isn't it time we waded in?” Are you trying to tell me that Nigeria through the banks and their shortcut loans and oil loans that they give to people that don't even payback any of the money can't sponsor a Nollywood movie that will bring Will Smith and pay him $5 million to take a role to support an African movie? They can't do that! They can't even follow the decrees that will safeguard the artiste.
Look at what Paris is doing to us; look at the share volumes of movies that have been made. The MPI noted that a movie called “I dollar” sold over 2 million copies in America and Europe. Can you begin to equate that into pure monetary sense? So, you're trying to tell me that you can't drum-up that support, you cannot bring it into being and yet you can bring in sponsorship to pay $1 million to bring in artists to attend a show and wave at us and go back. How do you weigh his option? How do you weigh the sensibility behind it? How do you weigh the logic behind it? How does it begin to equate itself? Then you want me to sit down in a conference room and you'll tell me we're getting there, don't worry we'll keep fighting because we don't have the funding to take this to the next level? Somebody is in denial and it's definitely not me that's boycotting it.
D: So, are you saying that throughout the 9 years that you've been here, the industry has improved?
J: It has improved. The growth is what we're talking of; the possibility of growth is what we're complaining about. At this point, it's supposed to have gone to a whole new level. Some of us have gone abroad to train ourselves and bring ourselves to the present scope of things internationally. Hollywood is difficult, look at the financial disaster that's going on; the catastrophe. You think Hollywood is not going to be happy to bring in a superbly talented African artiste of African origin; not the ones from Europe, straight from the African soil to take a major role from a major American? You think they're going to sit back and watch it happen? It's not going to happen. You can't take sugar from the typical American's mouth. Look at what's happening in London, when they gave some of those jobs to the Spanish people, they came and protested that British jobs are for British people. Take care of yours first before others. That's the truth; the fact is that you're bringing in international artistes and you make us look inferior in front of them. And here is the annoying thing about AMAA, nobody for the past 2 or 3 years that has won an award, has received the money that they promised to give. They will never nominate me in those awards and I'll tell you why; because anybody that promises me money and gives me an award will pay the money, one way or the other, you will pay the money. So, you see that's what we're dealing with, its politics and I don't want to play the game. I play my game, I circumvent things and I measure things. I've been into that which suits my circumstances and I'm not complaining at the moment.
D: Thank you very much. Apart from the launch of your new album, “Who am I”, what should we be expecting from you in the future and besides, how did you get into music?
J: Well, like I said, I've always been in the circle of people and at a point of my life I said, “It's not enough to sit on the fence anymore; go be what you preach”. I'm the kind of brother that doesn't only 'talk the talk, I walk the walk'. I decided it was time to get off my black butt and walk the walk. And I had to create the kind of music that was original to my personality. And again, I'm not in competition with anybody; people see my inclusion in the industry as some kind of threat. I know a glorified Fuji artiste that I approached for collaboration and he was excited at first and the next thing he was dodging around and then he vanished. Fear is an incredible thing. There are far more generous people like '2face Idibia', what makes him an icon is his generosity; his ability to share with anybody at anytime. This is the 3rd initiative; he has followed me to Liberia before, when my NGO went there to raise money for orphanages in Liberia. When I started music, he said “okay listen, you've got game, you might have an incredible 'swag' and all that but everything has a rule”, and I know I'm used to breaking frontiers and bending rules and generally not doing things in the orthodox fashion. Then he said, “There are conventions that must be followed to make this a success” and he showed me. I followed his advice, and I think by every estimation, we came out with an incredible album.
D: Who else did you feature in the album?
J: Sound Sultan was also there because I think he's one of the most gifted musicians in this country and Yinka Davies, she's an incredible phenomenal, that is the only word I use for her. Yinka Davies is another example of what it's like to be completely uncelebrated in your land. If you're not half naked or jumping around and singing very unintelligent songs, some people don't think you're the bomb, but this is a lady that speaks nothing but pure unprecedented talent. And because Nigerians will think her days have passed, she won't be celebrated. It's pathetic, but I love her. She holds her head up high when she does her thing both personally and professionally, she's one person that I'll love to associate with any day. And then I have 'Nii', a talented young man that was in the project fame competition, though he was the 1st runner up, am glad I made music with him because I thought he deserved to win. I did another one with a guy called 'RV'; he is also on the record label that is doing my downloading internationally. It's in my album; you'll find a little piece of you in different songs. I didn't want to address a certain stereotype or put myself in a box or address a certain frontier; come and pick what you want. It's again another way of provoking the rebellious attitude. I can never deny it that I'm a rebel but what you're rebelling about has to be pretty much transparent as well.
D: How many tracks are in your album?
J: We have 12 tracks and 3 instrumentals which gives 15.
D: What else would you like us to know about Jim Iyke?
J: It's basically the way I live and what saddens me a great deal is the fact that people perceive me in a whole different way. Like I said, you don't judge a book by its cover. I'm finding my own demons; I'm dealing with my own mistakes and insecurities. The true nature of a man is his weaknesses, his imperfections and your ability to deal with it. I can't deal with you on the basis you want me to everyday. So, sometimes you see the authority and the complete passion and the strength of character that comes into being in the roles I portray and they think he should be able to execute that in real life but when there's Karma, there's always a big one. I'm most expeditious in that world, that is my scope, it's my fantasy, it's where I live, that's what strikes the balance in my life but after that I'm just another insecure, sometimes unhappy, sometimes happy, sometimes weak and sometimes extremely strong dude that wants to rap in to an umbrella and be as normal as I can.
D: Fabulous! So are you single?
J: Yes, I am single.
D: Most times, the rumours that fly about you are quite shocking! What's the recent one?
J: In fact, the recent one is that I'm dead! Have you heard that one?
D: Although I haven't heard that but then, I'm glad I'm not speaking to a Ghost. (Laughs).
J: Recently, I was in Russia and they said I was dead. I know the press can be crazy but this one is sick; they sent text messages to some major celebrities and said we'll like to condole with you because we heard Jim Iyke had an accident and died. My mum made a midnight call to Ghana (she doesn't cry, I'm the one that does the crying) and she said “are you okay” and I replied “you're definitely not talking to a ghost”. So, she said “he's fine, he's fine, go and sleep”. My P.A was running around; they know the kind of person I am, they thought maybe I had an accident and was hurt badly but didn't want to tell anybody because my mother will absolutely kill herself if anything should happen to me. I'm not a mummy's boy, but I think it's the pure symbolism of what I represent in my family. Simply, if anything happened to me, in the traditional sense, what would she do? She understands my strength and independence and the fact that anything I find a major attachment, I rebel against it. That's my life, I can love something to a point of obsession but if I find a certain attachment to it, where I can't live the fullest of my life without it, I rebel against it, including my mother. When she begins to fear and whine, rebellion starts; but if you let me do things on my pace and terms, I do it best. It's normal because if anything happens to me, she wouldn't want to have another son, and those are the things you must consider.
I just can't imagine what is present in the mind of someone that is callous enough to provoke that kind of rumor. It must be someone that is truly sadistic to say the least because you're not dealing with only your hatred for me, there's a bigger picture and this person surely understands the full ramification of what they're doing. These are the things in my life that makes me want to completely alienate everybody and just be in my own zone.
There's a guy that saw me once and said I've seen you 5 times in 3 different countries and anytime I see you, you're in your own world. And I said, “There are too many neighbours around my world, always looking into my business, closely related neighbours”. So, they look in, they see me only when I come out, when I exercise, when I sleep with women, when I talk dirty, when I'm well dressed but they don't know what goes on inside my house and they'll never know because 80% of the time, I'm outside doing stuff but that 20% inside the house, I'll guard it with all my life. They see this outside and they judge and confuse facts. The inner part of me, I will not share and I think that's the part anybody that truly loves me should not.
D: So, what would you advise upcoming actors in the game?
J: The individuality and flair is perhaps the chief parliament that is needed to stand out. Don't ever try to be anybody. People's substance is the measure of what makes them truly unique but not the outcome of who they are; you'll lose it. Everybody was created individually, so is the person that is striving to succeed. So, if you find that which is your talent and then learn to embrace the element of what people imbibe to get to where they are, You'll actually succeed and above everything else, the ability to put every step that you make in the hands of God.
I think I pray the dumbest prayers in the world. I'm the kind of dude that doesn't believe in anything that is orthodox. I'm in a car, and I tell God, “I'm driving out now o! It's up to you”. That's a prayer. And sometimes, things are not going well and I say “listen, I don't understand what's going on, it's not my portion to live this kind of life, this is the big thing I want to do, I can't live like a mediocre, and it's not my section”. A lot of people might see it as arrogance but the only thing that should matter in your life is God. I can't call my mother and say “Give me 10 million Naira “, where will she get that kind of money from? I can tell God “listen, I have 3 million, why will I go and search for 7 million when I have you”. I'm serious, I'm not playing. It's sick, its unparalleled, its metaphysical; but 90% of the time, I get what I want. And I think that's the way to do it. The absolute belief and conviction is that everything that you want to do in this world rests in your hands and in your ability to communicate with God.
D: Sorry! I never asked about the NGO. Can you give us a brief on that?
J: Some years back, I went to in Kaduna, to an orphanage and I found out that the kids were living in a 2 room apartment, over 60 of them. They were living in the most deteriorated state of human existence and it was perceivable. So I asked about their teachers because they had a classroom there and they said they left because they weren't paying fees. Immediately, I pulled out my cheque. My P.A. thought I was insane. I wrote a cheque to cover the arrears and fees and we brought them back because knowledge is power. Keep a child educated, keep his brain modest and you've perpetuated his zeal for life. The second thing was that, the landlord was so callous that he was going to kick them out of the residence because they couldn't pay the rent. We had an option to raise their rent for them, 2 years that they owed and another year to pay or buy the building. To buy the building was a mere 5 million naira. In fact, I've been with dudes that spend 6 million naira travelling, shopping, air flights and hanging out with women. What was frustrating is that, what is 5 million naira? I bought one piece of jewelry before worth almost a million and I know people that have so much money, that it comes out of their nose, literally. So, I went there and organized a fund raising for them alone.
The next morning, I had an accident on our way; my friend, Chike was with me and he sits on a wheel chair till now. I broke 3 ribs and was in pain for months. The children of the orphanage insisted they were going to perform for me that night at the event. The doctor said I wasn't going to go; he was going to give me a shot to sleep. Anyway, he insisted and gave me the shot. I believe I'm quite developed mentally; he gave me the shot and I started fighting. I was drowsy and I just kept fighting. I kept my mind alive somehow and I stayed awake. Now, I planned with two of my personal assistants and a friend of mine; they smuggled me, I acted like a girl, I'm an actor, (Laughs) and they smuggled me out of the hospital. By the time I got to the event, I was half-fainting already but I saw the performance just before I passed out.
Now, the only thing the press could make out of all these things was that it was another way of enriching myself. Just before then, we had about 25 children that came from the orphanage to perform, including the matron. The campaign was eminent, it was positive and yet they kept writing for over 2 weeks. I left the country after that; I stayed away for 2 months. I was totally demoralized and depressed about it. So, we've not had any initiatives since then. I was just saddened that “what can we do in this country that'll be appreciated, how far can we go'', maybe give your blood then they will know you mean well and don't have an ulterior motive. Nobody is talking about the hundreds of thousands I spent paying fees and all that. And nobody is going to write that what I did was good, but if I meet a girl next week, someone who just appreciates my career, it'll be automatically said that I'm sleeping with her and it'll make headlines next week.
There was another one that happened in Benin; two ladies were standing next to me, they wanted an autograph and there was a guy standing next to them. So, the guy told the girls to move away that he wanted to take a picture and I said, “No, ladies first!” and I had two of my friends who came from the states with me. He pushed one of the girls away and I told him to leave because I wasn't signing his autograph, he got angry and the next thing he did was to grab a bottle; he broke it and was going to stab me with it. I defended myself and I was at the worst end. The only thing that could come in the front headline was that I stabbed a fan.
Recently, I was out of the country shooting my videos, and it was said that I abused my girlfriend to a point where she was beaten beyond recognition. When I pulled out the ticket that said I wasn't in the country for 2 months within the time they said this thing transpired, and the girl had not been in the country for 6 months and again the PPR of Police, Mr. Frank, attested to the fact that I was not arrested for anything; they wrote a retrieval letter. And there are so many other cases.
How many times have I run into cab drivers that tried to bully me just because they feel inferior and I get angry? I know a colleague of mine that 'Area Boys' stood up till they collected 30,000 Naira before they could leave him. They don't do it to me. If they do it, I'll pull a gun! It's as simple as that. They know that I'm not weak and I will not take bullying of any type, in any form. Nobody tramples on my fundamental right and doesn't expect a reaction. I'm well informed and physically well-tuned and that, for now, is part of what led to the end of the NGO.
We're doing something special with TV Africa in Ghana. I'm signing an album release, having an album party and an autograph session there and 40% of whatever we realize is going to an orphanage in Ghana.
D: Thank you very much for your time.
J: LET'S EAT!!!