I ONCE SOLD DRUGS TO PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE — ALAYE
When he featured with one of Nigerian Hip-Hop group, P-Square on their Temptation remix music video, everybody wanted to know who he was but he was a lost Nigerian trying to get to his roots when he met the group. In this chat with AHAOMA KANU, Alaye opens up on how growing up not knowing his Nigerian family affected him as well how he had to go to the extreme to fend for his siblings following the death of his mother.
MAJORITY of music lovers in Nigeria got to know about you when you featured on P-Square's track Temptations and your rap delivery was good, can you take us retrospect on how you got into the music scene?
I come from a mixed parents form the Caribbean and Africa; my mum is Half-Jamaica and half-Nigeria while my father is Canadian. My mum was adopted so I never met my grandparents. I have been into music my whole life; I started in England and came out for the first time in 2006. I had collaboration with P-Square in the track Temptations both the music video and the song and ever since then I have been in and out but I am planning to release an album this year probably two; one geared towards the Nigerian market and another for Europe. The album coming out is a joint collaboration between my record label, Sugarcane Records and Storm Records. Expect to see some big collaboration on the album; obviously me and P-Square is gonna go back into the studio to do something for my album, me and Tuface is gonna get something done as well. Also I am talking to D'Banj and 9ice also.
Every musician always say they started singing from the choir in their local church, did do you fit into that category?
I started from school; I had a music teacher I got along very well with. I used to play a lot of instruments because I believe music runs in my family somewhere, I grew up with one part of my family which is my father's side; I don't know a thing about my maternal family. My paternal family were not musically inclined so I believe that I must have gotten the gift from my mother's side but unfortunately, I don't know them. I started in school and it was all I wanted to do my whole life. I started from college while living with my mum; she died two years ago while I was still in school doing my A-Levels. So I had to start looking after my brother and sister with the whole racism stuff. I have done so certain things that weren't right just to get through the hustle; in my life, I have sold drugs to put food on the table so that we can eat and live. I have just been pursuing my music ever since.
That was quite pathetic. Tell me, how has not really knowing your roots affected you?
I know my parents and see them often until my mum died but I did not grow up with them, I grew up with my paternal grand-parents; I don't know my Nigerian grandparents. Obviously it affected me a great deal especially when I was younger, it's like you don't know where you are coming from or you only know one side of where you are coming from. But then I just looked at it as one of those things in life because everyone can't have the same story; my mum was adopted so obviously my story is different and I just really dwell on it too much, I just do me.
What kind of songs did you grow up listening to?
Everything from Highlife to Afro beat; my dad was a good friend of the late Fela Kuti and I grew up on his music. I grew up on Calypso, Reggae, Pop and Hip Pop.
At what point in your life did you decide to make music a profession?
Since I was about four or five music was all I ever wanted to do; I never used to say anything about it to my family or friends because to them you have to get a real job. I had always known what I wanted to do and was a very stubborn person; sometimes I am too stubborn and as such, no one could tell me what to do. When I make a decision, that was it. I have never done a job, I have never worked like doing a regular job or anything, I have always done my music and it has always made money for me so I had to other things to make money in order to consolidate. But the money I make through other means to put food on the table, I put back into my music; in the studio. I have my own studio in the house. It has been music for me all the way and now, the sky is the limit.
How can one categorize your genre of music?
To be honest I don't really like to categorize my music into hip hop because I rap but I can go over in any type of music. So you will hear some Highlife on my album, you hear soccer influences and you will hear Reggae and also Rock. I am surrounded by so much music that I just prefer to refer to myself as an artiste because I also write songs; I write R&B songs as well and I produce songs. So I don't want to put myself in that hole, Hip Hop, I am a rapper yes but I do music. I don't want to stay on one genre of music like a lot of artistes do.
The Nigerian music scene knew about you through P-Square, how did you hook up with them?
Its funny how I hooked up with them; during my first trip out here, the family I am staying with here told me that he was putting up a show that P-Square was performing in at Benin and I was performing too. We were put together in a bus; it was a New Year show in 2006. We traveled together from Lagos to Benin and inside the bus, we got talking and I had my laptop with me, I showed them my video. They loved it. When I met them, I didn't know who they were but when I saw them playing the guitar and other instruments, I knew that these guys were great and wanted to do something with them. Then I saw Bizzy Body and was like these guys are cool. After the show, we got talking and they told me about the remix of Temptation that they were doing and that was how I got in.
Is this going to be your first album?
Yes, this is going to be my first album; I have mixed tapes that I have been using to promote my record label. My first mix tape was used to launch my label, I did that with two of the artistes on my label but God bless the dead, one of them got killed; he got shot in the head. He was killed on the road that leads to my house and that kind of turned everything upside down for me. I then decided to run it on my own. Ever since I have been in Naija, it has all been smooth.