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I once hawked plantain chips, pure water in Port Harcourt, says Timi Dakolo

22 Jun , 2015  

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Bayelsa State-born Timi Dakolo has become a household name in the Nigerian music terrain. He is the winner of the first season of Idols West Africa in 2007 and some years down the line, it is difficult to argue against the fact that the ‘Iyawo Mi’ singer has cemented his position as an A-list act in the highly competitive Nigerian music setting….

The soul musician grew up in Port Harcourt before moving to Lagos to pursue his music career. In this this interview with NET, an excerpt cut from it revealed he once hawked plantain chips, pure water in Port Harcourt, see how he said it below

How was growing up for you in a place like Port Harcourt?

I grew up with my grandmother in Port Harcourt. I grew up to know that my grandmother was my only parent. She used to have a shop at Mile 3 market in Port Harcourt. After school, I would join her at the market. I hawked pure water, plantain chips etc. I did a lot of hustling as a young boy. But the truth is, what I went through while growing up made me who I am today, the experience taught me that hard work pays.

 

What’s the new project you are working on?

I am working on music. I have been recording.  I have loads of songs that I am working on.  I dropped the video of ‘Iyawo Mi’ not quite long ago and I have also released the video of my new song titled ‘Wish Me Well’. The song chronicles the story of my life. The story of how I came from Port Harcourt to Lagos. It’s the real story of my journey. I have truck load of songs that I will release in my album titled Love and Consequences.

When is the album coming out?

Very  soon.  Me and my producer, Cobhams (Asuquo) are seriously working on it.  We will finish up the album any moment from now.

Cobhams produces most of your songs, why do you always work with him?

Because he understands music a lot. Sometimes music comes to me in form of humming and I won’t have words for it. The first person I call is Cobhams. For example , I got the inspiration for ‘Wish Me Well’  when I was playing video game with a  friend of mine, so he was  winning me and I wasn’t happy about it,  because I hate to lose . All of a sudden, I started humming and then it sounds good. I then went to Cobhams and I told him this is how I want the song to sound and he said ‘don’t worry’. We talked about the songs for days and we were able to come up with good words for the song. Cobhams is a genius.

It was difficult for you to gain acceptance initially because of your kind of music.  Many thought you would switch to a more commercial kind of music but it never happened. Did you at anytime think of changing your style of music during that period?

Trust me, I am a very stubborn person. I have been a rigid person right from childhood. If I am doing a wrong thing, I can make you believe it is right. I was brought up to believe in what I feel is right for me. My grandma used to tell me that: ‘when you have an idea and nobody believes in it, trust me everybody can be wrong. Your idea might just be right, but you have not sold it enough for them to buy.’

When I say this is the kind of music I want to do people were like ‘it won’t sell in Nigeria’ but I believe good music will sell regardless of the style you use, the message is what will sell it. It is easier to do less publicity for good music, you don’t really need to force people to listen to it, once it’s good, it will fly. So I have always known people will accept my music.

One thing that stands you out is your powerful voice; we would like you to tell us the secret behind it.

Trust me, na God give me the voice. I have never gone for any voice training in my life. I don’t even know what voice training entails. The only thing I did that I know also helped my voice is I read that voice is like a muscle, the more you stretch it, the bigger and better it takes shape.

Is it true that your mum is a Ghanaian?

Yeah, my mum is a Ghanaian; I was even born in Ghana, Accra precisely. My Ghanaian name is Kwabna, meaning that I was born on Tuesday. I was born at the Legon Teaching Hospital. I have relatives in Ghana, my grandparents and my cousins are in Ghana.

Do you speak any Ghanaian language then?

No, I don’t. I came back to Nigeria 9 months after my birth. I grew up in Port Harcourt.

When exactly did music start for you?

It started after Idols competition, trust me. I wasn’t doing music before then. Even during the competition, I never knew I could get anywhere. I was always like who will vote for me? I felt I couln’t get to the final because nobody knew me. But I was hoping to be back every week so that I can eat free food and enjoy the air-conditioner. But along the line I realised that I have this connection with people when I am singing. So I said to myself, what is worth doing is worth doing well.

At a point, I began to put effort and I was rehearsing as if my life depended on it and I found myself in the final and I won.

You are one of the heavyweights in modern Nigerian music today, would you say winning West African Idol helped you get your big break?

The big break didn’t come immediately after Idol. Despite that fact that I won the competition, it was very tough for me when I started my career. I had problems such that I didn’t know my left from right. It was very tough for me and winning the competition put a huge pressure on me, people were expecting me to hit the ground running but nothing was happening. I wasn’t releasing songs; I didn’t even know where to go from there. I later met Cobhams, I told him I may not have money to pay you now but I will pay you someday, let’s start making music and that was how my story changed.

You live in your own house in Lekki and your garage houses latest automobiles. How do you make your money because people barely see you perform at the major shows in Nigeria?

I make my money from shows. Because you don’t see me on these publicised music concerts doesn’t mean I don’t get shows. I make money performing at corporate events. I get paid well for performing at birthday and private parties.

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Watch, share and enjoy!

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Just wrapped up the “RockStar”video. I dunno wat I can possibly say to prepare y’all for this 1 but trust me, Be Prepared!

Enjoy!!! Burna Boy – Rockstar

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Get your headphones out and enjoy!

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