King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall the first (KWAM I) is the self-styled King of Fuji music, who broke away from Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister’s band to form…
his group in the early 80s, coming out with the Talazo hit. K1 as he is fondly called, became an instant favourite. Today, with over 15 albums, and several European and American tours to his credit, he is a toast of the populace. K1 speaks with Funmi Salome Johnson about his love and passion for music.
You seem to be having a good time?
I thank Almighty God, we are surviving.
This is more than survival, don’t you think?
We are surviving in a situation where not all expectations or goals are being met. You can say it is sour and sweet.
Can you share some of those goals that you are not able to meet up with?
Let any artiste in this country of today come out and beat his chest with his hand that I can boastfully say I enjoy the benefit or the result of my hard work 25 per cent, the answer is no. An average American artiste will tell you he enjoys the job 100 per cent. Their country and their society understand them and understand their plight, their ups and downs. An average family in America believes that what daddy is doing can be done by any of the children or even better and so that makes everybody to put their hands on deck, they want to see entertainment growing and growing, they do not want tot see entertainment pending on the life of a daddy.
Can you share with us, your experience during the last US tour?
Every of my tour is always full of new things. The experience I am talking about has to do with people that you meet, things that you see and the things that you do. What you never could come your way and you find on your way and you are able to do it well and even better. Also, discovering new things about yourself, about things and about people around you is another experience for me. All in all every of my tour has been one success story or the other.
So can you share one memorable experience you had on one of such tours?
I have loads of experiences in the US, New Jersey and all the countries of the world. there are these new sets of younger fans that I just discovered with age range between 18 and 22 years of age. I have some within the ages of 18 and 22 years old that has been my fans since the last 25 years. they came to this world to find that popular music of mine called Talazo and you see them so crazy about it. they were not up to twenty five when they started being my fan twenty five years ago. some of them will tell me that when I celebrated my first birthday, that particular album was played for me and some will say it was played for them when they were celebrating their second birthday. So people like that come to say I am this and I am that, so there are new generation of people that I find around me now who enjoy my music and they are asking for more. So by the time you add those fans of twenty five years ago to the existing ones in the age bracket mentioned above now, I found that I have more than numerous fans. I also discover countless fans who has been asking their parents to ask me to come play art their weddings and function… I make a lot of discovery all the time like that. so that is the success story I am talking about, it is not about the money you make into your pocket. whether you like it or not, a hardworking person will definitely see the result of his hard works. I am talking about discovery of people and that is what I enjoy not only in Nigeria or America but the world over.
What do you think stands your type of music out from other Fuji music?
It is because most of the time, I have repeatoir of my music that can take me up on stage for as long as six, seven hours non stop. sometimes I lost count of my music, I even find myself in a dilemma of which one sing and which one not to sing. When you give people the choice to make request, you see people asking for this and that, you’ll be surprised that sometimes, on my own, I may not even remember he number, so that is one of the things that stand my music out from others. That has been the secret that makes K1 the ultimate very thick.
What do you think is the future of Fuji music in Nigeria?
The future of Fuji music is common sense. When I say common sense, I mean when people understand that whatever we are doing now whether we like it or not, we are doing it to leave a legacy just like I told you about my discoveries of a younger set of people between the ages of sixteen and twenty five, the dream of a sixteen year old boy or girl is the time he or she is going to stand in front of King Sunny Ade or Wasiu and that still tickles him till this moment. so that is the future, the future is the legacy that we will leave behind.
In your years of singing Fuji, do you have any regrets being a Fuji singer?
I have no regrets whatsoever playing Fuji. I have no regrets whatsoever because I have my eyes and ears widely opened and I make use of the very many people I have around me so that makes it very difficult for me to have regrets. I have some people that are in control of my movement whenever I am doing things that they consider too far, so t hey check mate me.
Recently, Pasuma was used for a Glo advert, don’t you think that suggests that he is more acceptable as a Fuji artistes than others?
That is the kind of development we are talking about. It is not because he was used by Glo, Glo is an establishment in Nigeria that is doing very well across the globe and who are the artistes that is expected to be used? It is the home based artistes that are expected to be used because we have them very many doing beautifully well in their chosen fields. Glo will not be making money in this country spread across African countries and the rest of the world and say they want to go to America and they pomp in money on artistes from America, they don’t need the artists because as much as we have them in America, we also have them here very many who are doing beautifully well too, so what do you expect. There is nothing so fantastic about any organization in Nigeria using home based artists to advertise their products because that is what they should do, after all charity they say, begins at home.
In an interview recently with Abass Obesere, he said the only Fuji artist he respects is Alhaji Agba, what do you h ave to say about that?
Everybody have their own opinion and if I am to start mentioning the people I respect, the whole newspaper will not contain them. What comes to mind sometimes is what we pick from the angle of the press as a statement. If you actually ask him another time, he may answer it very differently to another person.
What is your relationship with other Fuji artists and how do you find working with them, have you thought of doing a collabo with them someday?
I have not been able to do that because I am very busy here and there on what I am doing and on what I have my hands on so much so that even my own album, I am yet to complete talk less of doing a collabo with anybody. Collaboration is a mixture of you and somebody else. So before talking about doing a collabo with somebody else, the question is that have I succeeded in completing my new album? So that has been the situation. Talking about my relationship with the new artists, I am very cordial with them. Many artists do have good relationship with one another, it is some stupid marketers who probably believe they can get good returns by scheming. Some of them will tell their clients never to say that they have good relationships with their contemporaries so that people will not think that they don’t know how to sing or will prefer others to them and that to me, is a very stupid way of marketing. It is just a way of creating a situation where there is none.
So you actually think all the wars you have in the Fuji sector is the handy work of the marketers?
Yes it is the people looking for the returns of their labor in a very cheap manner. I have been very long in the trade and I understand ll the rudiments of the trade and what makes it very thick. I was well tutored when I was growing so I know that it is the work of those cheap, lazy, seriousness and unproductive set of human beings that find themselves in a Jack of all trade that you will see instigating people against one another. It is not only in the musical circle alone, they are also in other trades. The do these just to attract some patronage to themselves and it is those who are not sure of themselves that fall prey of such ones. The marketers size people up before coming to them with such offers. When they see that a man is hungry, they will come to such ones and tell the person that we can do it, this is the best we can do it, another tell you , you can get more of what they are giving to you. You know an empty stomach can take anything and that is why people lead very many people to their death. So in a nutshell, it is the marketers that are playing those pranks to attract patronage. I can not imagine any marketer coming to me now to think that I can be pushed in that manner, it is impossible because the kind of shield I have around myself and the kind of people I have around me will not make such possible at all.
Has the ban on public spraying of money affected your business in any way?
I never think it works because when you go to various parties, people still spray so it is something that I doubt if it will ever work. The issue on hand for the government to sort is much more than anybody running after who sprays at a social function. We have other more serious issues like governing the people well. This country has a lot of unresolved issues that bothers people and serious people in government than using the policemen to harass anybody because you worked for your money and you just want to spray it. the problem of corruption in this country is so much higher that even EFCC if given such an assignment will definitely play down on it because many cases of billions of dollars of our money that is supposed to be used to serve the people in the country are being embezzled by some few individuals and what bothers on the leadership of the country is to look into those areas where people make mess of our economy not about running after musicians and people who have come in to enjoy themselves and spray their money. I can’t see that policy working and besides this has been our culture for long so I can’t see it working here. If one say stop spraying, that is something I will call educating people. You should educate people about decency, they should be educated about what is called decency and that is if you feel their level of understanding of what is called decency is so low, then educate them about what is called decency.
So you think that spraying of money is indecent?
Spraying of money is the most appropriate thing to do because it has been on for years since the days of our fore fathers. It is a way of appreciating what you love and something you find yourself enjoying. It has been on like that for years and I don’t think that can change now.
Were your parents supportive when you started out as a Fuji singer?
Yes they were supportive, although I lost my daddy when I was at a tender age but my mum had always been very supportive. I started out some thirty nine years ago at the tender age of nine or thereabout.
Is Wendy, your last wife your final bus stop or you may still marry more wives with time?
No man like changing women like the blue jeans inside their wardrobe. A relationship is of two like minds and in whatever you do, understanding matters and that is why a lot marriages fail because what we are looking at in a relationship is different from what we should be looking at in a relationship. Sincerity of purpose, trust, understanding, not just for a man or a woman to say with his mouth; ‘I love you’ and what the person is doing does not truly shows that the person loves you because love is a thing of the heart. Love does not hate, love does not fight, love is never violent but when a woman says she is in love and she does not show respect for the man, she does not show respect to people around the husband or people that works with the husband, then she is not in love. A woman whom I share my life with does not understand all that and sees everybody around me as a threat, then what love does she have for me? The container of love that leads to every situation in our life needs to be critically looked in to. I am in show business and in Show business, you see very many people, when you talk about women, you see many women in different shapes, sizes and you see the beauty in different shades, so when you love a woman because of how beautiful this woman is, you are wrong because not all that glitters is gold. So when you asked me if she is my final bus stop, it is not just about myself because I am happy changing women like I am changing cloth but it is about sincerity of purpose, it is about understanding, it is about knowing what we are in to, it is about being affectionate. A woman that does not show affection to me and still says she is my woman, how do I reconcile that? I can not show affection to my wife and I say she is my wife, it will definitely fail. It is like having a plant in your house and you don’t water it, how does it grow. Love is a thing of the heart, love does not hate neither does it fight. Love forgives and forget, you must love to understand to forgive, to forget and to tolerate.
In my own book, no woman who has less of these qualities can not have anything to do with me so my prayers right now is that the situation that I am enjoying now that God almighty should continue to bless the situation for me and brush it up for me so that I can see the very best of it for many years to come.