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Why I took-on Reuben Abati–Banky W

Source: Samuel Olatunji - Nigeriafilms.com

If you call him the new sensation ,you may not be wrong. Call him the newest success story in entertainment in Nigeria, you won't be wrong either. Banky Wright has definitely made an impression on the Nigerian entertainment scene. You know what ladies?

The multi-talented Industrial Engineer and showbiz maestro is available and sizzling. Read all about it in this interview he granted Samuel Olatunji. Excerpts:

I'm sure you must have heard this. That Banky W just came like that and “blew people's minds” like that. Is that correct?
I think the truth of the matter is, there are very rare instances in this business , when you see somebody that is successful and describe him as an upstart. What a lot of people don't know is that , I have actually been in music professionally since 2002 and this is 2010.

So it has taken me 8 to 10 years to get to where I am now . Like anything, you have to pay your dues, you have to go through your rough times. The thing about my kind of music, is you have to do it for the love of it for many years before you're successful. Yes , some people in Nigeria probably knew when I moved back home, but the fact is, I've been working on it for a very long time. If I didn't put in all those years , I wouldn't be where I am now. But I thank God.

How was it when you came to Nigeria?
It was okay. I was studying Industrial Engineering in the United States. It was while I was in the university that I started to record for the purpose of releasing an album. It just kind of grew from that point slowly but surely . We thank God and we thank the fans because without God and the fans, we won't be where we are today.
I learnt Dele Momodu said once, when he saw you perform, that you have to leave that place and come to Nigeria.

Is that true?
I actually met a number of people prior to moving back to Nigeria including Kenny Ogungbe, 2face, Julius Agwu, and Basket Mouth. A bunch of people would come for events in the United States and because we performed in the same event , would call me afterwards and ask “what are you still doing here, you need to come to Nigeria where you should be”, but for me, it was a bit of a tough decision, because none of my immediate family lives in Nigeria. Everybody had kind of moved.

My parents live in another African country and my siblings live in the US. It was hard for me to say let me come back. You know Lagos is for the strong, Lagos is not for the weak at heart or for the unstable but in any case, I thank God for everybody, because they gave me encouragement. People were coming to me from Nigeria and saying “…you know what, guy this thing go make sense for Naija and you know we are there now”.

What did you do when you came to Nigeria? Did you do things differently?
I can't be Terry G, I can't be D'banj, I can't be Psquare. On my best day, I can try. I can imitate, I can do whatever, but I still will not be as good as D'banj and guess what? D' banj can not say you dey do me wrong, because that is me. I think the key is trying to be successful at being who you are. Even for the artists that I've signed-on, I look for people who are doing their own thing, who are being themselves in their genres , doing something other than just saying “oh pass me your love” is a radio hit.

It doesn't work. So, for me, I knew from the word go that I'm an RnB artist and that is what I will always be. I rap every now and then, but you know I'm Banky W and I'm okay with who I am and I guess my fans are okay with who I am too. So that is how it has always been and that's how it will always be. That's part of the reason why I'm successful and I'm thankful to God and to my fans.

So what should we expect before 2010 runs-out?
2010 is almost over, so I think we will try and finish strong as a company. As EME. Actually this month, we are shooting a couple of videos from The W experience album , because the first two songs, Strong thing and Lagos party did very well and they helped the album do very well . We want to show people some other parts of the album they don't know yet and we have some excellent and talented new artists we are working on . We are producing their albums.

We are shooting Wisky's video this month as well and then CO's video will follow. We just want to kind of finish the year on a very strong note by the grace of God and then we can go into 2011 and properly launch their careers. I don't think I will do another solo album until maybe towards the end of next year, because now, I want to kind of focus on collaboration. For instance on my two new artists and help them get to where I feel they need to be and then I will come out with another solo album.

So are you still pushing “Strong thing”?
Well Strong Thing has done very well. People still love it and we thank God for that. But we are going to be shooting some other videos from the album like No be lie, Omoge you too much. We will try to do videos from some other songs that people love.

Why don't you just pitch your tent beside somebody who already has a structure and avoid all that stress?
That's an interesting question. The thing is , I was never satisfied with pitching my tent with just anybody . You have to share your pie with that person . I always had a vision of where I wanted myself and my company to be and I kind of felt like I can never achieve it, if I do it alone or without people of like mind or signing with another record label that was already established.

It made sense to us from day one when we started EME Records in 2002 and till now, my manager and I are also business partners. We have a vision of where we are going, but we are nowhere close to it. It is important to us to really work on our vision than to just latch-unto someone else's vision. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's just not something right for us. I think we have made the right move, despite the fact that it is more stressful and more expensive. We've come a long way and I'm so grateful to God for that.

When did you move to Nigeria?
February 2008.

Two years now, and you are a multimillionaire?
You know I can't answer that kind of question.

But you are a multimillionaire?
I receive it in Jesus name (laughs)

Is it true that when ladies see Banky W, they're wowed?
I don't know. Maybe you have to come to my next show and see for yourself, (laughs).I'm grateful to God for the love and attention that I get from fans. Of course it's a plus too , because I know R and B obviously takes the ladies to some ecstatic level and it elicits some vibes from them.

The important thing is for me to maintain a level head and focus on my goals, because it is very easy to get lost in the height of everything . I thank God for my family and my up-bringing. That helps me stay focused. My associates are also important.

How has 2010 been for you?
It has probably been one of my best years ever. It's been an incredible year and I'm grateful to God for everything I've been able to do this year . I think it's just going to get better by the grace of God. 2010 has been excellent.

So, why did you take on Reuben Abati?
I did that, because fundamentally I think it is important for young people to speak-up and to stand up for what they feel is right. Let your voice be heard. I think that is the way Nigeria will change. The days of just sitting-by and letting anybody do whatever they want are gone.

I think we need to, kind of, take the power back as young people. Any change that has happened in history occurred because some set of young people or young at heart stood up for themselves, for their country and for what they believed in. Of course Uncle Abati is a respected and renowned writer , but in this instance, in my opinion, he's wrong and he was speaking on things he is not necessarily knowledgeable about.

He was contradicting himself and bringing up examples that were contradicting the point that he was trying to make. His article actually inspired me to speak. I was like, you know what, you said this but this is actually the case and I thank God that I'm not the only artist that spoke-up. Eldee also wrote something, Rooftop MCs also wrote something and young Nigerians around the world spoke-up for what we thought was right and we've met and we've discussed, so there is no beef.

I call him Uncle Reuben and he respected what I did .I think going forward is important for us to keep that mindset of if you don't like something, say something about it. Do something; don't just sit down and be like, oh, whatever. I felt it would be wrong for me to sit there and not say anything especially when he mentioned me and my comrades and things that we've worked so hard on and tried to discredit us. There is no way you can say that and we'll not voice out.

Is it true Steve or someone else wrote your article?
(Laughs) Well, I think you should talk to Steve himself. He knows me well . I don't think he was surprised by my article because he knows the kind of person I'm and where I come from and my background . But he didn't write the article . Anyone who doubts my writing ability can check out my blog at www.bankyw.blogspot.com. Sometimes, I write articles about serious matters like corruption, politics and all that, like I just wrote about my househelp whom I think was born to torture me. I write too. It's one of the things I do and I enjoy it.

So how close are you to the Chocolate boys?
I have been fortunate enough in my music journey. I've met people who share my values and views about life generally. I think we are quite similar. In fact we are very similar … Jesse Jagz , Ice Prince and the whole Chocolate City family … we just kind of connected a long time ago and so we have been quite cool and tight and we have done things together in business and the musical end.

I thank God that we have prospered , because we've influenced each other . We have challenged each other and helped each other. I think if we were not in music and we happened to meet in any other setting , probably we would have ended up being friends, so I thank God for that kind of relationship, because you need such people around you.

When will Banky W get married?
I've answered this question before. Honestly I don't know. I will get married when God gives me the right woman and the resources to take care of her and our children the way I want . Marriage is one of the most important decisions you can make in your life, because your partner will be with you till the day you die.

Your spouse may make your life a living hell and you'll have to settle for a divorce or contemplate divorce and that is just the nightmare that nobody wants to experience . I would rather take my time and not rush into making a wrong choice . I also want to make myself a better man in all aspects of life, so when the right lady comes into my life, I would be able to take that step. I'm not shy about settling down. Whenever it happens, it happens. But since I don't have the lady now, I'm just going to focus on myself and make myself a better man.

So, when will you have the lady when good ladies abound everywhere?
Well, it's more complex than that. Marriage is more than somebody being pretty or somebody being able to cook or somebody going to church. It's actually the combination of so many things and also has to align with where you are in your life because everybody has what they want to become in life. But trust me, when I feel it's the right time, I won't think twice. I will get married, but it's just not time yet.

Has any woman taken advantage of you?
I don't think “take advantage” of me is the right word. I think I've been quite vulnerable. I've been in love a number of times and may be the person offended me but I think everybody has been heartbroken or gone through that kind of situation where you are not happy and it maybe that you are the person that caused it. Nobody is perfect and we all go through these things, but I think life is about these experiences.

You know some people are lucky enough to know who their wife is. She may be first girlfriend that they dated. Some of us have to go through different relationships. You break a heart and someone breaks yours in return. Most people have gone through that and my case is not different. But it makes it sweeter when you meet the right person after you might have gone all through that. You will say this is the person I've been waiting for all along. So I'm praying to God that will be my experience.

But why don't guys want to marry earlier nowadays?
I don't know about that. I can speak only for myself and like I said before, I am not opposed to it . When I feel it is the right time I will get married . You need to get to that point and I am not there yet and I think it is more important for you to wait to make the right decision than for you to rush because you want to do it. Eventually you realise after you're married that you made the wrong decision and then you are stuck with it or you want to back-out which nobody wants to do. So I would rather do what I am doing now.

There are situations where some ladies will say to an artiste “I will get down with you at any cost”. How do you handle that? Do you just pray, run away or get down and play it safe?
Well, I think the important thing is to keep a level head and be focused. Because of the nature of our business , it is very easy to be distracted by unwanted attention of this kind. For me, yes , there are women out there who will want to get down with you at any cost as you put it, but I think the most important thing is to stay focused.

I don't think I'm where I want to be and I don't think my company is where I want it to be. Those are the things that I am looking at. So, as long as you stay focussed on your priorities and you surround yourself with people that help you stay focused, you will not get lost in distractions.

Let me put you on the spot .In a month, how many of your female fans want to get down with you?
I don't know, you have to ask my female fans.

Unfortunately I don't know them?
Then you won't get an answer to that question.

Okay, how many of them do you get down with?
None! Zero! (Chuckles) I want to leave as a no comment.

How do you differentiate between a woman who is attracted to you because of money or fame and one who genuinely loves you?
Well, that is a question that I honestly can't answer well, because I am still trying to figure that out. The truth of the matter is that anybody who meets me today already sees me as successful, so that is something I am still trying to figure out. When I figure that out , I will get married. It is something that I don't know how to handle yet. I think the best situation would have been to marry somebody that I dated from when I was 18 but since I didn't do that, you know you pray and you try to be discerning in the things you do. You pray that God guides you to the right person.

When did you start dating?
I don't know o. When I was very young, I suppose.

I know someone who is ready to swear that you and Kel had something together?
That's very funny. The funniest thing is that, Kel is like my baby sister. She has never been my girl. In fact you know Metal, the company that Kel and Osagie own, works for EME and we have an interest in Metal. So we've had a working relationship for a very long time so much so that Kel and Osagie are like my junior sisters. It's like they can come and tell me the people they are dating, the issues they have…

You know, it's like I am the big brother of the crew. So, I have never had anything to do with Kel. But the funny thing was that when we started we always thought people would think we had something going-on with each other, so we did a video shoot to be suggestive, but it never amounted to anything. So when we gave up on it was when the speculations started.

So who have you dated in the industry?
I have not dated anybody in the industry. I have never dated an artist or an actress.

But very soon you will…?
Do you have an actress for me?
What does the future hold for Banky W?
Hopefully great things. Hopefully much success in music and outside music. It is as God gives me grace and as fans continue to accept what I do.

Who else would you love to do a collabo with?
Well, I'm actually in the process of doing a lot more now. I am doing stuffs for Sultan, and 9ice for instance.

Give us a glimpse of what to expect from you and 9ice…?
Oh, it's a very good song. It's a different kind of song and I don't think people will be expecting it but I am excited about it . I will collabo with anybody that is making great music. I love great music. I buy CDs of artists that do great music. I don't accept CDs from people. I buy and I listen to them. If you do great music, I will love to do a collabo with you.