Up close and personal with Iyanya
Lately a number of African and international musicians are known to stage shows in Nairobi. Reason?
It is no secret that Nairobi has become the central entertainment hub in Africa, with almost every other African musicians and some of the international artists coming in to showcase their skills. The magical city has indeed created a great platform for most musicians – myself included.
You seem unstoppable ever since you won the first season of Project Fame West Africa. What has kept you going?
The grace of God, my love for music, immense support from fans and my family. I am indebted to them.
Were it not for the platform – do you think you would be where you are today?
As much as the podium gave me a rare opportunity to showcase my talent making me known, but there is no denying that music has been a great part of me ever since I was a child. I believe I have what it takes in terms of good music and one way or the other, I would have made it.
Despite your success and fame critics are of the opinion that your style of music, dressing and dance style tends to lean towards that of Congolese musician Fally Ipupa?
People have different ways of seeing things. If you must know, my role models are America's R Kelly, Craig David and Nigeria's 2 face Idibia currently known as Tu Baba. Not only do I admire their music but everything about them.
Do you write your own songs and what inspires your music?
Although I do write my music but there are times when it takes a collaborative effort of a good song writer.
Let us in on your latest projects?
My eight track Signature EP which is also my debut under Marvin Records is what I describe as unique and different. Producers Don Jazzy, Altims and Babyfresh did a lot of justice to it. Prior to this, I released my debut studio album, My Story, in 2011 under the record label Made Men Music Group I co-founded with Ubi Franklin in 2011 before I decided to quit in 2016.
How easy was it for you to walk away from a company you co-owned to sign a new deal?
It was not easy but there comes a time in life when you have to let go of pride and act like you never had a hit in the first place. I have just turned 31 and I am trying to show people a new side that there is to me. Despite this I will never disrespect Ubi for any reason and continue to pray for my former label and former band mates.
You have been dubbed one of the most controversial Nigerian musicians going by the various circumstances surrounding your music deals and your love life?
Well, controversy will never cease to follow you as long as you are in the limelight and doing well. It is something I am getting used to.
What of Kenyan singer Jaguar recently accused you of frustrating him by making unnecessary demands during his One Centimetre remix in which you were featured?
All I can say is that I gave it my best shot and that is one of the reasons the song turned out huge. It is not my fault that I believe in doing quality music and videos.
What of your much anticipated collabo with Kenyan top rapper Khaligraph Jones that never took place?
I am not aware of any collabo with him. However, I have one with singer Habida that is already out
You are known to use sexy movements on stage and videos. Is this your way of staying relevant and ahead of your peers?
Nope. I believe my music speaks for itself even before I can add visuals to it. Everything else is an assumption.
Having turned 31, don't you think you are ripe for marriage?
It's not easy and if I had my way this marriage thing would have been history. It's not easy to get my music right and also get married. Everybody may think that I have that bad boy reputation but I respect marriage a lot. I don't believe in separation or divorce that is the reason I don't want to rush into it.
Are you dating?
I am single and searching – a message relayed in one of my tracks Baby Answer off my Signature EP.
What qualities do you desire in your dream woman?
It's extremely hard to find someone who truly cares for you when you are famous. You see, I probably fell in love with a girl three years ago, only to realize a year later that she was sleeping with my colleague. Maybe this is one of the things I regret. I should have gotten married way back when my late mother urged me to. But I was just 22, at the time. Despite this I am not giving up on marriage or love I just want get my music right.
What do you miss the most about your late parents?
The fact that they were always there for me through my most difficult times when I was hardly known. My father was also my best friend. That is the reason I did a song in their memory titled Not Forgotten on the Signature EP Title.
So, will you pull a D'banj move on your fans?
I may also have a secret marriage because I want my marriage to last. I will keep it off social media as much as I can.
What has fame deprived you of?
Fame gives you almost everything but then it takes away almost everything. Before I step out my house each day, I am always conscious of my appearance but sometimes I erroneously repeat an outfit twice. When this happens I shy away from taking pictures at events. But I am thankful because this is the life I have chosen to live.
Is social media a blessing or curse to your career?
Social media puts you under so much pressure hence it is not a place you should depend on for strength.
It should be a place where you just go in and go out since your fans are there. Give them what they want in terms of good music videos. It is not a place to display your girlfriend or personal stuff – or it may end up costing you a great deal.
How would you compare Kenyan music scene and that of Nigeria?
I would say African music as a whole has come of age and is being appreciated across the world. It is no longer a thing of Nigerian or Kenyan music. I am just proud of our African sound and what every musician has been able to accomplish.
Do you have any regrets so far in your career?
I feel like in the last years I've tried to be extremely commercial which takes away the originality of my music and craft. With Mavins right now I have gone back to singing but also commercialize my music. Whenever I'm working with my producer Don Jazzy I try to do something different that is appreciated by majority of my fans.
- On YouTube, one of his official videos for the song Kukere has over 19 million views
- His favourite singles include No Time, Love Truly, Desire, Kukere, Ur Waist, Flavour, Sexy Mama, and Jombolo.
- He won the Artist of the Year award at The Headies 2013.
-He attended Calabar primary and secondary schools before pursuing a degree course in Bachelor in Business Management.
- His songs are inspired by the little to the biggest things he sees around him. "I can cite Africa as my biggest inspiration"
- He loves going to church every Sunday and paying his tithe
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