Yahooze is a Work of Art

By Osamudiamen Ogbonmwan

Olumide Edwards Adegbolu, popularly known as Olu Maintain grabbed the attention of many Nigerians in the late 90's as a member of the popular pop group, Maintain. The hip-hp trio consisting of Olu, Tolu and Bigbamo had in 1998 debuted with their monster hit, Ni Bo la Nwa Gbe Lo and for the six years that they stayed together six more albums followed.

But in 2005, the group decided to go their separate ways, with Tolu opting for a job with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Olu, who told The Source that he has always been in love with music ever since he was young, then went back to the drawing board, did some intense soul-searching and in a matter of weeks his debut solo-album entitled Maintain Reloaded hit the music scene like a thunderbolt; it contained the very successful song Yahooze.

Yahooze was to practically rule the airwaves for over a year and while it did, diverse controversies trailed it. While many regarded the song as a glorification of internet fraudsters (also known as yahoo yahoo boys or 419ners), others felt that it promotes the negative lifestyle of pomp and pageantry lived by many Nigerians.

Olu, a graduate of Accounting from The Polytechnic Ibadan, made front page news for several months, but recently, his appearances have been limited. So, when The Source recently encountered him at the unveiling of the 2009 Ovation Christmas carol theme, the music star agred to speak with us after some persuation.

We hope you'll enjoy the disclosures which emanated from our interation with this talented singer.
For about two years, you were the toast of the Nigerian music industry, but for a long while now, nothing has been heard from you. Hope all is well?

Of course, I am doing very well. In fact, I only just recently finished my American Tour and I returned to Nigeria in September. My group and I toured about 16 states in America. In addition, I took time out to finish my new album which is ready now and we are about commencing the shooting of the music videos.
So, when do you think this album would be released?
Before this year runs out, I'll be releasing the video. That's why I am seriously working to release a fresh video from that album.
Do you think this new album would be able to outshine your debut solo album, Maintain Reloaded which had the very successful hit track, Yahooze?
Let me tell you this. When I was about to go solo, a lot of people said: 'Do you want to go solo because Tu-Face made it as a solo artiste after he quit Plantashun Boiz?' I listened and I laughted. Music is my passion. Of course, Yahooze was my first statement from another direction which I left for Almighty God to best determine.
(cuts in) I have listened to some of your follow-up songs and many others who have are of the opinion that you have not been able to recreate the magic of Yahooze. Do you believe you can still do it, especially with this new work?
I will not dispute the fact that Yahooze was the key that opened the doors of many opportunities for me. Right now, I am winning and dinning with the Heads of States, the Power Players in the world. I have access in and out of Aso Rock and some people are saying after Yahooze there's nothing else that I can offer. But I am saying right now that that's not correct. I am presently inside a building that Yahooze has put me. I know the people are waiting for me to make another statement now, and I am not done yet inside the building.

So that we don't get you wrong, could you please throw more light on this “building” you are referring to?

Oh, I mean the status/stage and height which the song has taken me to. I have been placed on a pedestal that I cannot afford to disappoint my fans. That's what I mean.

So tell me, what are we to look forward to in this new album?

Versatility. This is a two-in-one album and a 21-track album that really emphasises the kind of legacy I want to be remembered for. It is produced by a very young guy called Tayo Adeyemi, a.k.a TY Snoop. People should expect great songs like Legend, Arab Money, Good Morning Sir, Eddy Quansa, Mama. And lots more. Listeners will realise that Olu Maintain is trying to create a legacy. He would want to be remembered for a long time through this album. That is why the album is entitled With All Due Respect, Press Play.

Have you started living in the house you bought in Maryland, Ikeja, because the word is that you prefer staying in hotels?

Where I stay shouldn't be a topic of discuss. I travel a lot. Not only around Nigeria or Africa, but around the world. When I travel, do they want me to go squat with someone? I stay in hotels which is easier and better, not just for me as a musician but for other people like businessmen and women. In Nigeria, I hardly stay in one place. So you see why I have to stay in hotels.

Not many artistes have been fortunate to work with Afrobeat King, Femi Kuti. But you were able to feature him in your latest work. How were you able to convince him?

I admire Femi Kuti a lot. Femi, I believe would have heard so much about me even before we met. So when I met him, I told him about my concept and he saw the quality in my beliefs and philosophy of life. And accepted to be part of it. You see, the beauty of all this in that if everything goes as planned, the proceeds from the publishing rights of the song with Femi will be five time more than all the money I got for Yahooze. This is because Femi Kuti is an international brand; his market is wide and not restricted to Nigeria alone.

Tolu and Bigbamo, both one-time members of the now rested musical group, Maintain, which you were also a part of have spoken on why the group had to split. Can you tell me your own side of the story?

All I can say is that at some point in life, one has to move ahead. As you know, the only constant thing in life is change. Tolu and I got to a point where the only inevitable development was change. And the only inevitable change was that we go in different directions. Tolu wanted to go back to 'nine-to-five' job, but I still wanted to do music. You see, at a point in one's career, its just like when you travel on a straight road, you must reach a bend where you have to slow down and negotiate the turn. That time you slowed down may be when things are not really going the way you expected and as an artiste, if music in not your passion, you get discouraged and want to move on to other things. But I was shocked when I got back from America and was seeing stuff on facebook that Tolu is trying to record again. I was like 'oh my God, what's this'? That means you've not really defined what you are committed to in life.

So you are surprised that your cousin is returning to music?

We are cousins, yes but it still amazes me that he left music when it all appeared that things were slowing down and after a while, he still wants to come back to that same music he once abandoned for me; that's challenging. It's like, is he truly passionate about the art?

How did you feel a few months ago when former American Secretary of State, Collin Powell, danced to go your yahooze song on stage with you?

That was a totally memorable experience. It is an experience that I would never forget in a hurry as it was a swell time on stage and having Powell dance to my music. Also, my winning and dinning with President Umaru Yar'Adua is very memorable.

When the song yahooze was released, many claimed it was a glorification of internet fraud. Many Nigerian hip-hop musicians do not write good lyrics for their songs. What can you say about this?
Every work of art is subject to criticism. Some are constructive, while some are distructive. But to say yahooze is glorifying scam is a very subjective point of view. I have explained before that yahooze is a unique song with a uniqe beat and a unique dance that cuts across all demographies. It is a song that I composed to lift people's spirit. It's a song that simply says when you work from Monday to Friday, you owe yourself the duty to unwind from Friday to Sunday. And as I keep saying, yahooze was not a song that propagated or celebrated scams or yahoo-yahoo boys in any way or form. The music was one that simply illustrated how money can be spent after living in poverty for a very long time. It is about the intoxication of making it in life after a very long struggle. That was all I was trying to illustrate in the song.

So, you mean yahooze is a work of art?

Yes it is.

How would you describe your success story?

The journey has been very challenging, like in any work of art. But I thank God for His faithfulness.