OBESERE CROWNED PARAMOUNT KING OF MUSIC
Alhaji Abbass Qudus Obesere next Sunday, February 24 will be celebrating his 25 years as a professiona artiste. Through his God-given talent, Obesere in the 90s created another style of fuji music which had lots of vulgar words. His kind of music till date is called 'Asakasa'. In this interview the Paramount King of Music gives an amount of his grass to grace story, career, family background and other details about himself.
Q:Tell about yourself and family background?
A: I was born on 28th January 1965 in Ibadan where my parents lived then. I was only 3 years of age when my mother relocated to Lagos. I was enlisted into St. Paul Primary Ebute-Meta in 1971. From there I proceeded to Jubril Martins Secondary School, later the Schools Board renamed our school as Iponri Grammar School which was in the same compound. I am from a music family.
we hail from Ajalaroro compound Opopo Ye Osa in Ibadan. It is compound of drummers. Alhaji Tatalo Alamu the popular talking drummer and singer hails from this compound. He was born after my father, Alhaji Lasisi Ajalaroro who loved politics during his life time. I can remember he did not contest for any post but he was a close associate of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. He was a contractor with the government. He was a polygamist who had 5 wives and we were 17 children. I am his 5th born. He died in 1995. While my mother whose name is Alhaja Taibat Omobonike is a true mother. Then she traded and I grew up to know she dealt in planks used for building houses. She has 6 children I am her second born.
My mother initially kicked against my being a musician she wanted me to a graduate like most of my cousins. After a while when I started playing, close friends to my mother advised her to encourage me and bless me. I thank God that since the day I got her blessing I have never had any cause to regret I took up music. But my grand father was a drummer before Tatalo Alamu took after him.
QHow did you become a professional artiste?
A: It was while I was in primary school that used to sing with fellow class mates. Then we improvised with desks while I sang and other students danced. Whenever I discovered that they got carried away by dancing while I danced I would sneak away. That was when I was nicknamed 'Omo Rapala' (which literally means the artful dodger). While I was in secondary school I had started singing but along the line as a young school boy I decided that if academically I could not make it I could try my hands on a few trades or train as a technician.
This led me to learn the techniques and other essentials of how to operate a printing press with a man named Al-Wajud. Though I joined the training class when closed from school but I could hardly learn anything. While others were working I would be singing for them. I can remember they only sent me on errands
to buy yam and beans meal for my superior colleagues at work. I eventually dumped the idea of being a printer. It was also at Ebute-Meta at Apapa Road.
After a while I went to learn how to fix electrical appliances since I love electrical appliances. My believe then was may be if I became independent I could be fixing and selling electrical appliances. It turned out that I would only sing while my other colleagues worked. Again I was sent on errands to buy meals for superior colleagues. It was then I started realising that I had to take music serious and knowing that I am from a family that music runs in the family I decided to take up music professionally.
When I started singing I did not get help from anyone but through divine intervention I met Late Ajisafe Aremu who lived in Ebute –Meta. I had a show so I went to watch him perform. Immediately he sighted me he asked why I was not performing that day. I explained to him that I did not get support from anybody. Fortunately one of his backup singers did not come so he requested that I be his backup singer for that night. After 20 minutes with him on stage Alhaji Ajisafe Aremu left the stage for me to lead other band boys that he wanted to get something from his office. The crowd that were thrilled by my music so they requested that I continue singing. By the time he returned to continue singing his fans told him to allow me entertain them. That was the first time I will ever sing with microphone. That was in 1981, the show was held on Apapa Road in Ebute Meta. I automatically became a member of his band.
I served Alhaji Ajisafe Aremu for 2 years. On a particular day Alhaji Ajisafe to everyone to go their way that he had disbanded the music group. Meanwhile we used to play every Sunday at Canary Club and I was already known and my fan base was growing. The proprietor of Canary Club called me and asked if I could handle a band I said I could. We had a deal so I took up the Sunday show that used to be for Alhaji Ajisafe and his band. After a while he said all the band boys should return to the band. But at this particular time I was already used to not having to report to anyone. I was already in charge of a band, I had begun to have an understanding of the sharing formular of money we made at shows. All other band boys returned to Alhaji Ajisafe but I did not return to his band. After this I started my own band known as Fuji Posky Band in 1983. I was also known as
My first show was at Ilogbo in Apapa Ebute-Meta. I discovered almost immediately that I needed someone to be financial assistance. Fortunately I met one Mr. Shina Bakare who also lived on Apapa Road. He was a banker he gave me money whenever I went to him and interestingly he did not demand for any returns. He was just of great help and assistance to me. Later I met Tunde Olufowobi, Sanjay Oloruntoyin and others.
Q:How did you come about the name 'To si be'?
A:It has been basically through the help of God. My music asakasa or identity known as To si be is what happened in late 80s. I was going with a friend I remember it was around the National Stadium Fly Over bridge. My friend wanted to urinate but was apprehended by a man who said Ma to si be yen (do not urinate there) he moved forward again and the man said, “Are you blind? Can't you see it has been written do not urinate there? He later moved forward and the man said “To si be yen” (urinate there) that was how To si be became a slang in my music.
Q: As a devout Muslim who observes the tenets of Islam and became an Alhaji last year one may find it difficlult to believe that your choice of words in music are far from being moral. What do you say about this?
A: I must confess to you that 70% of people believe I am a specialist in Asakasa or use of vulgar words but it is not true. What I am doing through my music is to try my best possible to make people happy. I am versatile in other aspects of music styles but I came to lime light through the use of vulgar words in my music. That is why I would also be seen as a man who freely uses vulgar words in his music.
Aside this, my profession and religious affiliation are two different things. When I am on stage I make sure I put my best into what I am doing and once I am not on stage I am a different person entirely. My view is that if God is not in support of what I am doing I will not experience any form of progress in my musical career. If God does not permit me I would not be known as Obesere today. I believe they are two different things. As a matter of fact I have a mosque in my house why muslim faithful say prayer especially the Friday Jumat prayers.
Why the choice of vulgar words or Asakasa music?
As a versatile artiste I can sing different styles of music. But I came to limelight through Asakasa music. That is why I have been tagged Asakasa or vulgar music
Q:You are from a family of two other brothers who sing …
A:Music runs in the family. Music is an innate thing. For instance three of my kids are showing traits of loving music. I am just pretending as if I have not seen them but what I want to do is make sure they concentrate on their studies at school while not discouraging them from music. For Fatai Valentine and Asimiu they are talented artistes.
Q:What did you go through before you produced your first album?
A:I must say God has been very faithful to me through the years. I may have gone through some things which one may consider as rising through the ranks but then
it was necessary when they happened. When I started, I packed musical instrument with my band boys . I was known through production of recorded life show tapes. In fact there were several pleas before I produced my first album. I produced recorded life tapes for 3 years. I produced my first album entitled
'Introduction' in 1990 under Marvin Giwa Record Label.
Q:How did you come about the name Obesere?
A:There is a young man named Adeleke he is one my of band boys he plays the cymbal. I sang praise of him in my album entitled 'Asakasa'. Literarily I sang Adeleke will soon travel abroad with the cymbal. I think they called him Obesere to mock him. He did not find it funny he fought who ever called him that name. He fought everyday because he detested the name.
He became popular by the day but throughout the neighbourhood he was known. On a particular day I composed a song in which I tried to relate the name Obesere to my mother. Sooner than later I was referred as Obesere in the whole of Ebute Meta. Eventually I dumped the name but another fuji artiste from Ebute-Meta East had adopted Obesere as his stage name. One of my band boys who went to one of his shows called my attention that the name I dumped another artiste had taken it up. It was then I decided to take up the name Obesere as my stage name.
While I was playing during my next show I sang that my mother's name is Obesere and so that it would be respected. It is a comic nick name. It is a name that has worked for me.
Q:What of the young man who was earlier nick named Obesere?
A:He is still in my band and we have travelled to virtually all the continents of the world together.
Q:How did you meet your wife?
A:I met her in England in 1994. I told her I like her and I lied that my name is Bobby. She was suspicious that I bear such a name as a Nigerian. Eventually I told her I am Adeniyi. I did all that deliberately to hide my identity. Funny enough she does not know who is Obesere. After about two weeks we started speaking regularly on phone. About 2 months later she came home (Nigeria).
I sent my junior brother to her family house where she stayed to give her some gifts. She was not in so he left the gift with a message that it was from Abass. Sensing that it was an ambiguous name my brother was probed further he had to tell them it is Abass Obesere that sent him to drop the gifts for her. By the time she returned they told her Obesere had come to drop a gift for her.
She insisted she does not know Obesere After some hours I called and asked if she got my gift. She asked if I am Obesere I could not deny it. But I had to explain to her that I would not marry her based on the fact that I am Obesere, moreover I have my private life to live. That was how she got to know I am Obesere. I married her the same year.
Q:What was the reaction of her family when they got to know you were going to marry her?
A:They did not react negatively towards me. They are quiet enlightened so they was no problem marrying her.
Q:What does she do for a living?
A:She is a business woman based in Republic of Ireland with the children.
Q:How many children are you blessed with?
A:For now I am blessed with 5 children. For your information my wife and I will have not decided to put a stop to child bearing.
Q:How many wives do you have?
A:I have just one wife. Though I used to be married but we divorced in 1993. It was after then that I met the woman God created to be my wife in England.
Q:What really happened that you had to divorce then?
A:We were not compatible.
Q:For the past 25 years are there some things you wished you had done some other way?
A:Lots of things have happened in my life. I really thank God for his glory and the fame he gave in music. I don't think there is anything that I wish I had done some other way.
Q:Do you have any regrets?
A:No. I thank God for everything.
Q: What are your plans for your music and what should your fans expect after the celebration of your 25 years on stage?
A: Like it is my principle I am not a stereotyped musician. In fact my latest effort 'New Face' has proved that I am a versatile artiste. And fuji music nowadays is no longer meant for lazy artistes. My plan is to embark of projects that will encourage unity among showbiz artistes. For instance my programme running on Lagos Television (LTV) is meant for this purpose. I
also intend to float my own television station. I am also working on my own record label which will produce works of music and movie artistes. It will be called Sidophobia Entertainment. I want people to rise to stardom through me and the fame I have.
Q: How many albums do you have to your credit?
A: I have so many albums to my credit. I don't want to give you a wrong figure but they are many.
Q: There is a jeep displayed at LTV 8 premises for a bonanza. Can you tell us what it is all about?
A:It is a competition based on my latest album 'New Face'. Whoever can mime the whole album wins the chirokee jeep. I decided to let a jeep be the star prize because I love my fans.
Q: How did you become the Paramount King of Music?
A: on 28th December, 2007 I was performing at Airport Hotel, Ikeja when a London based organization known as Pinnacle Magazine sent their representatives to meet with me. They called my attention that they want to give me an award which will also be a kingship title. I said the issue of kingship recently caused rift among fuji artistes and I don't want to be involved in any controversy over kingship or any titles.
They explained further that the title will be 'Paramount King of Music' and I will be entitled some money as monthly salary. Meanwhile it had been prophesied that God wants to add to my title in the New Year. So I thought of it that I should accept the title since it is based on merit.
Q:How come you being crowned the Paramount King of Music was not trailed by any controversy?
A: It is God. It has been accepted by all the music artistes. They will not antagonize me. When K1 became king, Barrister and Kollington accepted him. Now I have been made Paramount King of Music everyone knows it is the work of God.
Q: Lately you are called 'Ologbojo I'. Can you tell us how you came about this name?
A: My mother gave me the title 'Ologbojo'. Ologbojo in Yoruba cultural is the greatest masquerade She prayed I will be music 'Ologbojo' of our time.
Q: What is the secret of your good looks?
A: I give myself rest of mind and I don't over do things.
Q lots people believe music artistes make use of charms and other diabolical means to be relevant what do you do in your case?
A: I pray and believe strongly in God.
Q: How would you describe yourself?
A: I am a complete gentle man, a man who does not underrate anyone and I hate when there is injustice around me.
BY TAIWO OBATUSIN FOR WWW.NIGERIAFILMS.COM