This Country Should Split………...African China
Dancehall sensational artiste, Chinagorom Onuoha, popularly and musically known as African China, has been a bit silent in the entertainment industry until recently, when he released a song titled 'Anugboko,' which happens to be a song he sang about the Boko Haram insurgents in the country. In this exclusive interview with Nollywoodgists.com, the artistes expressed his outmost anger on Nigerian celebrities for not expressing their mind against the insurgents until the issue now escalated.
“I am not scared of any body. If I talk, I will die, if I don't talk, I will die, so why not talk?”
Why has African China been silent for some time now?
I have been silent because I could not compete with the whole thing happening in the industry, the whole cock and bull shit, people not being able to sing song that will have relevance in the next two to five years. The kinds of songs they play these days are kind of songs that last for two, three to six months.
Are you now saying that our present crop of artistes, don't have good songs?
I will tell you whole heartedly that those artistes, I give them five years, you and I will forget about them. They will not exist in our memories.
Your latest song on Boko Haram, what was the motive behind the making of that song?
The evil in mankind. If Nigerians wanted President Goodluck Jonathan to resign, trust me, it is not a thing of killing innocent souls. If you do not want Jonathan, it is as simple as rebelling like campaign just ok ooo, you promised us good road, good health, electricity, fuel but scarcity and you have not delivered. But the issue of taking lives, I don't buy the idea. That was why I stood up to write that song. When I wanted to do the song, I called few of my colleages that I wanted to do a song of such, they were all happy and they were like its good. Then I said I wanted to talk to this dudes, everyone started running. The next thing they said was; 'na you now, you are the best man in position to talk about that thing, you know me I can't, and that was it.
Are you now saying that the song was actually supposed to be a collaboration of various artistes?
Yes, it was supposed to be a voice from the industry. The industry taking part, saying this is not nice. Do you know that Nigerians, we are so stupid that it is the White people that teach us what to do? Because Beyoncé now had on tweeter a piece of paper 'bring back our girls,' now Nigerians artistes will take paper and pose bring back our girls, stupid to all of them. Woe to every artiste that does that. If I see any artiste doing that, I will hate him for the rest of my life. I see them tweeting on tweeter.
Are you generalizing them, because it is not all the artiste that you called?
They are all the same thing. They only do what is trending. They are copycats. Because this evil thing is trending, they all want to take part. Just like when African China had issue in London, people were saying ah, no, ah no, you see artiste coming, in order for camera to show their face that they sympathize with you, they do not,. They do not have one feeling; they do not know what it is. How many of them Google. I Google every time I hear that this man Mohammed Shekarau has released a video the leader of Boko Haram, I go there to listen to what he is saying, it's just that I don't understand most of what he is saying because his wordings are in Hausa.
How has the response on the song Boko haram been?
The response has been very positive. On tweeter, everybody saying 'you are the best.' This is the only artiste that talks for the people. That is not my motive. I spoke before they kidnap those girls; I spoke before the Nyaya bombing. It's not funny.
Some school of thought has it that African China is stylishly delving into gospel music, leaving the secular music, how true is that?
Actually, I will say maybe the calling of God has started manifesting. Thing is, I will not say I am diverting to gospel music, but it's just that African China is a conscious artistes and I have a lot of gospel fans, so, my pastor adviced me to do a compilation of all my gospel songs both the old and the new ones into one CD. If you listen to the songs, you will hear those old gospel songs. So I did everything together and called it 'The Gospel.” So, I am not diverting. But if the call comes, I will gladly go just like this popular gospel song, 'here am I, send me, here am I, send me, if the Lord wants somebody, here am I, send me.' So, the gospel songs are for the Christians, while the secular songs are for those that knows African China.
The unrest in the country especially the Boko Haram issue, who should be blamed?
I will tell you whole heartedly the government has to be blamed, the leaders most especially because if I want to use the word political parties, I will be making a big mistake because right now, as we speak, some states are been ruled by some, I will say we have two strong parties, so when I say the leaders, am talking to this two parties. As long as you are a leader, am talking to you. We have a vital role to play in this issue. Now, they installed CCTV cameras everywhere in Lagos, Abuja and other states, and still you cannot tell me you saw these people, haba, why are we lying to ourselves? Yes, we want to copy the White people, but we don't copy the good things, we copy the bad things. What do we copy? Our ladies want to start smoking a hot weather, not knowing that over there, why people smoke, it is because of the cold. Our ladies in Nigeria, under the hot sun, they want to start smoking, what for? Not knowing that it affects them during pregnancy. Nobody wants to know that. The ladies do not want to know. It is fun for them. But it is not fun for us. Our ladies want to divorce their husbands, why? Because over there, it's a woman's world but here, it's a man's world, why. Her4e, we pay bride price, over there, you don't pay bride price. The bride price you pay is when you divorce, you split. How can you pay bride price here in this country? That is one thing they need to sort out in this country. How can you pay bride price and at the end of the day, your wife wants to divorce you? I want a 50 50 of your property, how? The House just needs to stop the fact that ok oo, no more bride price.
So what you are trying to say is that there is no transparency in the government of the day?
At all, the government are not being fair to people they are ruling, they are telling the people the truth. Before they tell us is cabal, but now, we don't hear about the cabal, what do we hear now, its Boko Haram.
To the Issue of the abducted girls, doo you think that the effort put into finding these girls are strong enough?
Not at all. They don't even care. The governments don't care. Like in that song Anugboko, I said the government thinks say me I don craze, they think say I be born thruway? Nigerians are like born thruway, wetin concern them. Do you know why Jonathan is concern now, it's because celebrities from outside countries are now the people campaigning that's why. If you play the song, they will tell you don't play the song on air. They are jeopardizing the image of this country, which country? If the country is not good, it's not good. Let's call a spade a spade. What is not good, is not good. If you no do good, we should say it.What happened in Egypt, Syria, Libya? You are ruling these people and they pay taxes. Where is Michelin company today, they are now in Ghana. How big is Ghana to compare to Lagos not to talk of Nigeria. This country is fucked, I think it's high time we split.
So, after much complain, what is now the role of the entertainment industry in this issue?
Well, everybody is still like what is trending, the entertainment industry is what is trending, everybody wants to make money, even me, I still want to make money ooo, I want to collect those millions other artistes are collecting, I don't want to leave myself out of the whole picture because I no come life come count bridge and that's me. I grew up all my life listening to people like Fela AnikulaPokuti, who stood for this country, a philosopher, but at the end of the day, he played nice songs like 'if you call am woman, African woman no go gree, she go say aaaa she go say I be lady o,” he played normal songs. But it is not only about political issues that he was hitting on. He had to tackle other problems. The next person is Bob Marley, he sang 'One love,' it had to do with love. So we just need to love one another. So we all need to talk about love. Like the current song am working on, it talks about love and it is titled, 'Ima,' which means love. It's a borrowed Calabar word.
Speculations has it that African China has 168 children, how true is that?
O boy, kai, abeg I want go pick my children from school and the children wey I dey talk na only two. I no know where people get such information from, it's not true. Anybody making such utterances should provide a tape of me saying I have 168 children. They have written a lot on the internet, but am telling you authoritatively that I have only two children and they are lovely girls and me and my wife still dey fight for the third one now, we still dey hustle and the reason is best known to two of us, if not, we for don end our discussion. My issue in London, does not have anything to do with me having children everywhere.
You were quoted as saying you love females and as such, you can't chase them away?
Yes, it was said in an interview in a radio station. I said I cannot chase my females fans away because they are the ones that make us. They make we the musicians. That's something that my wife knows that I will never ever chase my female fans away because I am not a snub.
Comparing when you started in the music industry and now, what is your assessment on this issue?
We will rate the industry to be a wonderful one now. The industry is big, trusts me, am enjoying everything. The figure is very big now, but when it comes to the music aspect, I would say we have talented guys in the industry with wonderful voices, but lyrical content is zero. But when it comes to voices, I rate as number one and when it comes to the pay, we are number one.
Now to the issue of piracy, who should we blame, is it the artistes who is releasing various songs every minutes or the marketers?
Blame the artistes. I have been in the position where an artiste comes to me and say I want to go and pay the Alaba international market guys 400,000, 500,000 for them to put my song on a mix-tape. Once upon a time, there was this Alaba guy who came to me and told me that some of my colleagues they come to him to put their song on a mix-tape, I thought he came to me to discuss market deals, I never knew he came for something else. I was interested and so, I asked him how can we work? He now adviced me that I should put my song The Boko Haram song Anugboko on a mix-tape and I should just bring 450k. I told him he was a fool that once upon a time, I use to pay 350k to stop you guys from pirating my songs. I told him that before they came into Alaba market, the first Pirate guy that Nigerian government arrested and the Nigerian government released then without our knowledge. Then NCC called us that they have caught a pirate that we should come and sign. We went to their office at Oyingbo, we signed that they should carry on the case. The people were released, till tomorrow wey dey go so, we no know wetin happen to those people. I told the guy that do you know that I paid 200k, 300k, 450k with abeg just for you guys not to pirate my songs so that I could sell. He said ehhhh that was then. Now you are asking me to still come back and pay you 400k to pirate the song, who is a fool, did you do the maths? I use to pay you not to pirate my songs, don't touch my intellectual job and now you are asking me to pay you to touch the job. I told him to get out, that African China is a household name and it has come to stay. African China is the pioneer of the Nigerian music industry.Even if I don't have the kind of money artistes have now, I will tell you that African China is the pioneer of the Nigerian music industry. African China is a living legend.
You did say that lyrical wise, artistes of today are poor, are you saying there is none that you could give thumbs up?
Are you sure, not even 2face?
No. The only person I can give thumbs up for is African China.
Do you belong to any musical organization like COSON?
Yes I am. I registered with COSON and PMAN.
With the recent issues going on about artistes royalties and banning of artistes songs, what's your take? Besides, how is this royalties paid?
The thing is COSON collects on behalf of the artiste. But the way they are going about it, it's not the right way. Because there has to be a law guiding it. Let's talk about promotion; The artiste labours to promote that song, and at the end of the day, you now go to the radio station and say don't play these song, do you have another job for me? You don't have another job for me, so why will you ask a radio station not to play my song, when there is no law guiding it. The radio station has every right to play the song because it's for promotion.
COSON is saying that you play these guys songs, you pay them some amount of money, isn't that fair enough?
It's fair enough in the sense that it is becoming personal business. Retired benefits for some people. They are making use of people that are still relevant which is not good. Now, they have moved from music to movie, that's to tell you how bad it is. Quote me, they are not going the right way. It is becoming personal business. If I have my way, I will quit from COSON. Infact, am already quiting. Am just waiting for my contract to be over. Once it's over, am leaving.
Do you sign contract and how long?
Yes we sign contract and it is for two years.
Do you pay to renew your contract?
No we don't pay. When they collect money on your behalf, they get their percentage out of it. So once the two years is complete, I am not going to renew that contract. The royalties they bring is peanuts. They bring us peanuts.
Who brings the peanut?
COSON themselves are the ones bringing the peanuts. They sue for millions. If you sue for millions, where is the million cheque? At the end of the day, you bring me 15,000 naira; sometimes it is not even up to. 5000 sometimes out of so many millions you sue people and I even get text messages of that, ah, oga, calm down now. Efe Omorogbe is buying houses everywhere; he is one of the board members. I will mention names.
Do you have anybody that collects the money on your behalf, like your manager or you collect it directly from COSON?
I will speak for the managers, majority of us do not go through our managers. We collect the money ourselves. Example is me. We never contacted our managers. We did it on our own, it was selfish move.
So, would you say you regret the selfish move?
Of course yes, I am regretting it. We should have gone through our managers. Atleast, I would have had someone to blame.
Fela, Bob Marley, Stella Monye, Sunny Okosun, and others, did live performances, but today digital sound has taken over thereby killing live performance. What is the reason behind this?
I would say technology advancement, but I will also say there is technology advancement on live performance. It has nothing with you performing live. Like Lucky Dube, his keyboardist plays not less than six keyboards. All the tones will be brought out. Like one thing a brother is doing, he is trying, he loops. He does what we call looping, that's technology advancement. But some of them or one other person that does looping that I hate so much is D'banj. I hate his looping. He loops and loops including the voice. I watched one his performance on the internet, I was so pissed. You could still hear the backup voice underneath. If you want to loop, you well, loop with the instrumentals, go to the studio and burn out the data that's the way they do it.
Artistes prefer buying of songs then writing their own songs, is it creative for the industry?
Yes, it is good. Michael Jackson, buy's songs. You could be a good singer and not be a good song writer. You could be a good song writer and not be a good singer. So, it helps both parties. You can still be in the industry and make your money even while not singing.
Don't you think buying of that song and making money from it, you making money through another person's intellect?
Yes, but, you would have paid him and the performance you are getting, he cannot get that because you are the one doing the singing. If he sings it, it will not sell like you and we do acknowledge the writers of those songs example of someone that does that is Davido, 2face does that and I do not too. Before, I don't allow people to write for me, but now, I engage other people also. Some just wrote a song for me which am working on currently.
Who produces your beat?
Various producers. First, you must be a reggae artiste before I can work with you. Am a dancehall person and so, you must be a good reggae producer.
What should we be expecting from African China?
African China is going to return to the old school style of dancing because that what my fans like about me, the dancing thing. Now, I want to do more of the showbiz. I will be doing more of dancing and acting too because acting is my hubby, while music is my profession. I have featured in some movies Girls in the Ghetto, Final world cup, and so on, it's just a lot.