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If you think piracy, think Alaba market — 2Shotz

By Bridget Amaraegbu
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He was precise and didn't mince words when the issue of piracy was brought up. The conspirators should be brought to justice, he said. “If you think piracy in this country and you don't think Alaba market, then you are not in Nigeria” the Umuahia, Abia State-born musician lamented to Bridget Amaraegbu in this interview.
So what does this artiste have against Alaba traders?

Find out and a lot more as you read on.

A lot of people know you as 2shotz but I believe you have your real names so let's talk about you?

My real names are William Orioha from a family of three and I come from Umuahia in Abia State. I was born in Surulere, Lagos, and have lived nearly all my life in Lagos.

I attended Government College, Umuahia, back in the East for my secondary education and I went further to study Industrial Relations and Personnel Management in Lagos State University (LASU).

After studying industrial relations and personnel management, how then did you come into music?
It wasn't after my university education, I actually started doing music when I was in secondary school as a hobby. So, after my secondary school, I decided to pursue music as a career before I went to the university.

Are there any challenges in doing music in Nigeria?

A lot but the major one is staying relevant in the industry. It is not enough just being an artiste but making sure that you always have something new to give to your fans, yearly. At least you must have something to contribute to the industry.

It can be very challenging for someone who has made a big hit to always try to remain at the top because sometimes you can have some artistes who will just come and drop one hit and you never get to hear of them again. For me, that's a major challenge.

Some young Abians are really doing great in this industry, is it that you all put your heads together and then distribute songs amongst yourselves......

Actually I think it's all about trying to identify with where you come from but we all do our things in different ways and at the end of the day, it is where we come from that really takes the glory. We are just doing what we can to put our lineage in the good books of this country.

How do you cope with the hustle and bustle of this career?

It can be very difficult and tiring sometimes, like I've been away to Abuja to have some rest and it really helped my whole being but as soon as I was boarding the aircraft back to Lagos, I began to feel like, Oh God, I'm going back to this hustle and bustle of Lagos again knowing that I'm back to all the troubles.

I must say that it is not easy but that is what comes with the job, you can't sit at a place and expect everything to be working for you. Coping is something I just can't avoid so I just have to cope with coping.

Business-wise, will you say this career is worth the trouble?

Yes. So far so good. I'm comfortable, thanks to God for everything because looking back at where I'm coming from to where I am now, I know I've really achieved a lot. I know that a lot of people can actually give their two legs to get to where I am today so I thank God and ask him for more strength to continue working hard so as to earn more.

What can you say about the distribution network in the entertainment industry?

When we say distribution, we mean marketers, when we say marketers what comes to mind is Alaba and when we say Alaba we mean piracy.

Talking about piracy, that brings about no money in the artiste's pocket. Channel of distribution is really the most important part of any entertainer because if your work does not go round the country for people to see what you have done and appreciate it by buying, it means you are not doing well as an artiste.

The problem we have right now is with the Alaba people, they have turned the whole thing into a mafia thing and I don't think any other channel can really survive if at all we can have another.

The government should step into this matter because it should not just be one channel alone as it leaves the artist with no other option than to comply.

We really need to have competition among the marketers so that they can stop molesting us and acting like mini gods to the Nigerian artiste.

What record label are you signed to?

Right now, I'm under a label called Umunnamu Music and it's owned by my humble self.

Still talking about music, what really caused the problem you had with Biglow?

Oh that's an issue that has been sorted out a long time ago. We don't have any scores to settle any longer, and I really don't want to talk about it.

If you have an opportunity to make a change in the Nigerian music industry, where will you start from?

There are lots of angles to handle but I will rather start from distribution. We have so many problems in the industry like management, artist right, recording company wahala. For me, out of all these problems, distribution is still the major one because the marketers don't have any respect for the Nigerian artiste.

They see it like they are doing us a favour. So I'll like to make sure there are so many other channels of distribution, I will be very happy if we can have more distribution channels in this country.

What do you think about the present musicians union?

For me, PMAN, MCSN are all good ideas but I believe we should have a new union so that if you don't like the programmes of the existing ones, you can join the new ones. I don't see why they should be fighting themselves over who should have copyright for the artistes.

Any dreams you will want to share with us?

I want to live in Abuja (laughing). I've just discovered that life can even be more beautiful in Abuja than staying outside the country. It is not like I'm running away from Lagos or my job but I like to own a house in Abuja where I can always go to chill out after hustling.

How often do you get contracts to stage performance and concerts?

It depends on how it comes, sometimes it will just slow down like during the rainy season. Most of the concerts are done in open places and so it is not very easy for the artiste around this period.

At this point, events planners and organisers have problems in organising concerts and sometimes I may be doing a recording deal, that can also slow down my performance on stage.

Are there any sad experience you've had on this job that you'd like to share with us?

I know I have but can't remember any of them right now.

Are you a designer freak?

I'm not much of a designer person but I'm more of a colour person I like to match colours and my best colours are yellow, red, orange, green and recently I fell in love with purple.

Talking about falling in love, are you into any serious relationship?

I don't want to talk about. Ok I'm not married, I'm still a bachelor but if you catch me unawares, then you can tell for yourself.

Do ladies make passes at you?

Yes they do it a lot.

Some of our male celebrities like to make do with sugar mummies, do you also sign in to that?

No I don't do that, I get along with my peers. For those who do it, I think it's their business and I know there are side effects for all such things. I've never found myself doing any such thing and I don't know why they choose to do it but then, everybody has a right to choose whom he likes to stay with.

Who is your role model?

I love Jay Z in America and Eldee the Don in Nigeria.

Apart from 2Shotz, can you describe the real William Orioha?

He is a quiet person who does not talk when it is not necessary. I don't like trouble, I think, worry a lot and I like staying indoors to watch TV and browse on the internet. I like taking care of people and I'm not a loud person. I'm the opposite of what people see on TV, “no be like say I no get craze sha” but it will take a lot to bring out the animal side of me.

What will I do to really bring out the animal side of you?

You really have to piss me off to do that, maybe gossip about me wrongly. Again, it depends on my mood.

How are you able to cope with fame?

I still move around like any other person even though people stare at me. I can walk around my street, buy biscuit and eat. I still do anything I want to do not minding whether people are staring at me or not.

Sometimes I notice people especially ladies using their eyes to size me up or even undress one but then, we musicians are used to all that now after all, that's the path we've chosen.

How have you been able to cope with scandals....

It is just knowing and avoiding the things that cause scandals. Firstly you must try not to offend people and even if you do, make sure you apologise. You must try not to owe the wrong people, avoid too many friends that don't have any impact on your life.

And lastly, stay more indoors when you do not have serious things doing outside and anything you are doing which the Press can carry and it becomes a scandal, please avoid it.

I've had one scandal before when my younger sister was harassed by area boys and my cousins went to her rescue, one thing led to another and the Police got involved but the Press wrote that I was beaten up because of a prostitute which was wrong. Some people who knew me very well just said no it can't be 2Shotz.

Which of your tracks will you rate as your best?

I like my new song which I did with Timaya and it's titled In case you never know. It really pushes me.