All I wanted to do was dance for Mo Hits — Wande Coal
Neither of his parents sings, but that he cannot trace his voice origin is inconsequential because right now this dude is raking in millions of naira and topping almost every song chart you can find. Ojosipe Oluwatobi Wande is the Coal of Mo Hits records.
He's black, very black, outrightly gifted and very lucky. Fortune smiled on him approximately two years ago when he met Mo Hit frontiers; D'banj and Don Jazzy in UniLag and he succeeded in impressing the duo. Today the humble, non-ambitious Ogun state hailing young dude is overtly grateful to Don Jazzy for his fortunes and fame.
The launch of his debut album 'From M to M' saw him get N10m richer, courtesy of Don Jazzy. His song 'Bumper to bumper' has stayed on your Top 7 songs chart and so naturally, Wande coal qualifies for an interview. Here is his account of his walk into limelight.
Did it ever cross your mind that you would get into this much limelight?
Well I'm sure I thought that I would get into limelight sometime along the line, but I didn't think it was going to be this fast.
I thought it was going to be in some ten years from now maybe when Tu Face would be 50 years old and D'banj 40 (laughs). But I had always had that dream. I saw myself there; only that I didn't have the resources to get there.
What was growing up like in Mushin?
Growing up was average; it was normal although it wasn't easy. I come from a family of four including my parents. It was just hard. I had to move from Ijanikin to Mushin. I did all my elementary schooling in Ijanikin before I went to live with my grand mum. When I gained admission into UniLag, it wasn't easy. There was no money; I was just hustling. Meanwhile
I was doing my dancing alongside.
Have you always been on the big side size wise?
Do I look big? Well I was slim while dancing but both my parents are big so its their gene.
How did you get into Mo Hits?
I went to dance in school (UniLag) at a show with a couple of friends. D'banj and Don Jazzy were supposed to perform but I don't know what happened with the organisers because they didn't get to perform. They just sat back stage. So Konga took me to D'banj and said 'Let's entertain you. This guy can sing'.
I started singing, making beats with my mouth and Don Jazzy said he's used to different artistes coming up to him singing other peoples' songs. So I started free-styling and sang as many as ten songs of my own. Some other of my friends too did their own songs but I was the only one that was given the number (Don Jazzy's contact) and they called me to their house the next day. Since then, there's been no stopping.
Tell me the truth. As soon as you were given the number, did you feel like you had hit it?
No. I was like 'Okay, I don't know what exactly theses people have in mind'. I just want to be happy alongside with D'banj and Don Jazzy.
And what happened on your first visit to their house?
Immediately, I told them I wanted to dance for them; I didn't want to sing. Don Jazzy said 'You have the talent for singing. We'll groom you'. He played a couple of beats; I flowed on it and D'banj free-styled too. I saw that there was a kind of chemistry so... They showed me much love and that alone will make me stay with them no matter what.
When did you begin to sing?
Singing began in the church. I'd been singing special number; moved from children church to teenage church then adult choir. You know the thing about music is that it is very hard to breakthrough. I thought dancing would pay off so I'd begin to major on dancing.
What's the biggest thing that being a member of Mo Hits has done for you?
The first big thing they did for me was when I left Mushin and my first journey was to America. I had not spent up to five months since meeting them before they took me to America. You know its hard for someone who doesn't know you to just see you out there in the streets and just pick you to America; no biological ties, nothing. And it was only me that went with them.
So you see a lot of people don't get to understand that these two people are icons; they are God sent.
So do you think you could have become successful doing music on your own without Mo Hits?
Its like Justin Timberlake without Timberland. Don Jazzy's my Timberland. In fact, he's more than Timberland; Don Jazzy's my Don Jazzy.
We've seen you move from Mushin to Mo Hits. Where is the ultimate destination for your music?
I've left Mushin for Mo Hits. From Mo Hits, we're moving to the world.
If tomorrow Don Jazzy says he's not interested in music business anymore and D'banj has to go solo like every other artiste on Mo hits Records. What do you think are your chances of survival in the Nigerian music industry?
It's a supposition you're making so until that happens, then we'll know where we to go from there. Mo Hits is my Mo Hits; there's nothing you'll say now that'll make me change my mind about this. My future's projected via Mo Hits already so don't 'technicalise' things. But even if..., God dey.
Did you write 'Bumper to Bumper'?
How did you arrive at the song?
I don't know how to explain it. It just came. Don Jazzy did the beat, we sat down, I got a hook, then the chorus and others. Look, first of all, Don Jazzy will not just allow you to drop any song any how. You have to sit back and think, 'What do people want?' Check the radio and look out for the missing songs. 'What can I do to differentiate my song?' What kind of voice will I use to catch these people? To make a good song, one needs to provide answers to all of these questions.
The first 15 seconds is very crucial. You have to create a 15 second captivating hook for every song, then you work on the song because there are critics.
When I write a song, Don Jazzy will take my paper, ask me to sing and point out things I should change. So apart from everything, Don Jazzy's my coach because without the beat, there'll be no 'bumper to bumper'. Don Jazzy will not let you record without written down lyrics- no free-styling. He'll tell you, 'take your pen and write'.
How long did it take you to tidy up the song?
Thirty minutes to one hour.
Did you think the song was going to gain this much ground?
Well, well, I knew it was a good song but you know you can't just judge because Nigerians are not predictable. Its left to the fans.
What do you think attracts people to the song?
I think it's the beat.
How's the album doing in the market?
Its doing great from the reports that we hear from different quarters. Its in PH, Benin, Abuja and I'm very happy. I went to perform somewhere recently and I had to buy my album.
Because I do not have it; even on my phone. It's a good thing to see my face on the streets.
I'm sure you've had some low moments even with Mo Hits. Share some with us.
There was a day I went off key on stage. I watched the video of the same show afterwards and I was feeling bad for the artiste on stage. Don Jazzy scolded me for it and it gingered my spirit. While I was at Mushin, there was no money for recording. I was going to school, work and dance all at the same time but now I'm focussed on my music business.
What's your family's reaction to your involvement in music?
They're loving it. I have every support from my mum and dad. They were at my album launch too. My younger brother sings too. He's called T-josh. He's coming up soon.
When will the video to 'Bumper to Bumper' be released?
The video's been shot in London but we're doing some renovations on is so we're shooting in Nigeria again. It should be ready by May. We're mixing foreign and local content. I'm not ashamed of my country nor trying to run away from anything. It is being directed by Sesan; the same who did D'Banj's 'Suddenly'.