'The Problem With Nigeria's Upcoming Artistes'--------Hillary Uchenna, a.k.a Mistikal
Hillary Uchenna, a.k.a Mistikal, is an upcoming music artiste that believes that anyone with good talent can become big in the entertainment industry if given a chance to prove him/herself. In a chat with Reporter, Ifeoma Meze, Mistikal, an indigene of Eza, Ebonyi State explains the challenges of upcoming artistes and why they should be given a chance on stage. Excerpts:
How did you find yourself into music?
I went into music when I was in the secondary school in 2002. In My JSS 3 I used to be in a group called The Sainticate Boys. We did lots of recordings then but right now we are no more together. We were three in the group. I wrote most of our songs. We did more of dance halls and Konto kind of songs in those days. Later, as music advanced, we went into dancehalls that was more of raga music. That was how we started and we performed in a lot of street shows around Ikeja, Opebi, and in school most times.
Why did you guys split?
After our secondary school, the level of seriousness was not high. We found it hard to rehearse. One of us got admission into the university and the other guy was not really serious about it any longer. Since music was what I loved very much I had to move on my own since I was the only one standing.
So presently, you are not in school yet?
Yes, but I still hope to go to school in the nearest future. For now I do music and I produce too. I will study Theatre Arts in school when I get admission because I am also good at acting. Though I have not really acted in any real movie before, but I look forward to acting.
Acting and music, how do you intend to combine the two?
I really think it can work because I know how to act and I have some characters that can actually bring me out. But right now it is music first.
Why music first?
Because that is what I have been pushing right from the start.
What kind of production do you do?
I write songs for people and also do some sound, instrumental production and mixes for them. Most of my songs, I write and I produce as well.
Have you written any song for any popular musician?
Not really. But some of the songs I have written, I am looking for a good bargain before selling off.
Right now, what are you working on?
I am working on my own album. I just got signed into Skyblue Entertainment Studio and that is where most of my works are being done. I am almost through with my album. By God's grace by the middle of this year it will be out.
What kind of music are you into now that you have gone solo?
I do varieties. I am a versatile artiste. I do R&B, Raga, I write Raps but I actually don't rap and more of Afro hip-hop too.
How come you write Rap and you don't rap?
I rap but I don't use them as my songs. I prefer giving them out to people that do rap music.
Did you go into music because that is what is making young boys popular these days?
No. I started singing when most people were not into music. Then I used to sing most of other people's songs i.e. what we call miming in those days before I started writing my own songs. It was people that encouraged me to get into the studio to record my songs when I started writing and presenting my own songs. I went into music because I knew I had the talent. People who understand music read my manuscript and ask why I am still wasting time.
What do you think that will make your music special or stand out from what others have done?
Everything I do in my music, I do in my own unique way. The message that would come with my song will be part of what will make it special.
Miming people's songs is quite easier than writing your own songs, so how easy has it been?
When I said miming, I was talking about when I started which was in 2002. Right now I write and sing my own songs. Nothing good comes easy. It takes a lot of brainwork to write songs and make meaning out of what you write. It is really tough. You don't get to perform in shows when you are not known, which would help you come out to be known. You are like chaff; people don't recognise you because you have not offered anything. You don't really have support. Most people believe that until you are on TV, then you are not there. Some upcoming artistes have good songs but cannot promote them because you do that with money. Since they cannot promote their songs because through promo people get to listen to your songs and they cannot be allowed to perform in shows because as far as the organisers are concerned, they are nobody, how would they grow or become big? To me, you cannot condemn someone until you get to know him or her and see what he or she can do. Some of them even beg to perform in shows free of charge and still they don't get to be accepted. These people that are big today started somewhere and very small.
So what height are you looking forward to take this your music career?
I am looking forward to becoming an international star. I don't only want to be known, I want to create good impression to the society. I would love to also help people too.
Have you performed in any of the current shows?
In Nigeria people believe that you have to have a popular song on air or have a big name before they can call you to perform in shows. I performed in the last Miss Nollywood held in Abuja, besides that I have not performed in any big show.
In your album, how many tracks should we be expecting?
10 to 12 tracks. I have eight songs ready and soon I will be going for my promos.
But since you love music this much why are you not studying it in school?
I don't think I need to study music although it would be okay to do so because there are most things that you need to learn. I believe that with what I have, I don't need to study music.
What kind of songs do you listen to?
I listen to any good music. I listen to Bennie Man. His songs inspire me to write my Raga songs. I listen to Asa and Fela songs too. I love 50 Cents songs.
Do you think young people should be supported in music career?
Most of them have the talent. I won't say all because not all the people that sing have the talent of music. They just sing because others are singing. So if you notice that someone has the talent, why not help? To me it is more like an investment. I believe it is necessary to help talents in Nigeria to grow because it is a plus to our name when they become known internationally.
Do you think helping youths with talent will help people to stay off crime?
Yes. There are lots of talents on the streets that have given in to crime just because they do not have people to support them. Some of them can no longer see any positivity in themselves any more because they lack encouragement. So they believe it's not worth it to start striving. Not just helping people that have music talent but also in other areas, I think it will go a long way to lessen criminality. But that does not means it would change people who have already made up their mind to be lazy.