Interest in Niger/Delta
I am a Nigerian and our country is a great one and as an Olympic touch bearer and role model, I believe that in the Niger/Delta, North, South or East we need peace, my prayer is for peace to reign in this country. So my responsibility is to make sure that I do everything in my power to see that there is peace and development in the country and since Niger/Delta is part of this country, I owe it to the people of the region to also see that there is peace and development there.
Interest in the less privileged
I am interested in the less privileged because I never believed that as a person I was going to get to where I am today. My dad wasn’t a governor, minister or senator; I was just a focused boy that grew up to become a national star in table tennis. At the age of 14 I was already playing for Kano state, then at 16 years I became a national player and I went to All African Games, where I represented the country.
I was receiving salary at that age so I believe God brought me to that stage for a reason. Then I grew up further and became a music star so I felt that I needed to pay back to the environment that helped me be where I am today. Government can’t do it all alone; we have to support the government, especially one that is good and supportive.
Why write a song about Barack Obama?
I am very happy to be alive to see the first black president of U.S. The black American was a slave many years ago and for the first time there is a black president. Martin Luther King tried to talk about it but he was killed for that, Malcolm X the same thing. Obama’s victory proves that the black man can actually be anything all over the world. The album will be coming out two months from now with the videos.
Is your album The king is back a success?
Oh yes, it is a success. If you listen to Koleyewon, one of the tracks in the album, it is explaining what really happened between me and 50 Cents, me and Obasanjo. I have found out that in this country of ours, as a social crusader, I am bound to speak the truth always. But we don’t like the truth in this country and that caused my problem with OBJ. I am fulfilled and happy about the outcome of the album. And the king is definitely back, I can assure every one.
What made the king go underground in the first place?
In a country like ours, where you sing a song like Nigeria jaga jaga and the president comes out on National TV to say that it is the father and mother of the musician that is jaga jaga, this means my message got to the president and the truth is bitter. I felt that if I told few members of the press what went wrong, not everybody will write the truth so I decided to come out now with The king is back, which tells my story. I went underground to cook the soup very well and bring it back so people can test the truth.
Don’t you think being underground has made others overtake you?
No, no, my vacancy was there and nobody could take it. How many of them can walk up to the government and talk about the reality on ground, and talk to the government the way they are supposed to be talked to? None of them, nobody is that bold. They rather talk about girls. Music for every artiste is different, for me, my music is to be able to speak for the people what they want to say but cannot say it. My own kind of music is on the next level of saying the truth and hitting the nail on the head.
I have fought for the industry. I had an agreement with the multinational that brought 50 Cents, telling them that they have to give me what they will be giving 50 Cents and the next day everybody said I slapped 50 Cents. I fought for the industry and today, a lot of Nigerian artistes have been paid well. I have made an impact and revolutionized the industry and I am fulfilled. The multinationals have started paying Nigerian artiste well and they decided to mess me up but they forgot that I am an intelligent and smart guy, I don’t need them to survive and make money but my music will still be my music.
Do you feel bad that you no longer reign like you used to?
The king is back and I am on the throne. I am reigning, whether people like it or not. I have my fans out there, that I went underground doesn’t mean I am no more in the game. I am back and there is still a lot that will happen, I am back with a bang and I am better.
Don’t you think pride have a hand in your musical decline?
Pride is me. I am a hip hop artiste and every hip hop artiste must be proud and that is what makes you a star. I am a proud hip hop artiste, I am not an errand boy, and I don’t suck up to anybody. I know my rights and I do what is right, I do whatever I want to do that I know is right. You cannot tell me to do what you want me to do. Hip hop music is pride; if you don’t have pride as a hip hop artiste, then it is not hip hop you are doing.
Don’t you think you would have progressed further, If not for the clash with 50 Cents?
Point of correction I never had a problem with 50 Cents, the organization that brought 50 Cents did not do its job properly. What it should have done basically was to make sure that the relationship between him and the Nigerian artistes is stronger, not that 50 Cents will come into the plane and feel that there are no other artistes in the plane, so he can send someone to tell the artiste to “get the fuck out of that seat.”
That kind of language is not used in my country and why would he come here and order me to get out of the seat in my own country? I told him I am Eedris Abdulkareem and that he can’t tell me to get out of the seat, asking him to talk to the organizers, only for the organizers to say that they did not know me, so the guy came back and asked me to get up from the seat. I was humiliated and Nigerians in the plane saw that an American was humiliating me and they said nothing, but I was not surprised. But I survived it and I am back. I do not regret anything that happened.
What did it cost you to apologize to 50 Cents?
I had to do it because 50 Cents is a hip hop artiste and a black brother like me and he never knew about the politics that was in Nigeria before he came and I felt he did not really know what happened. Because I had overheard him asking who I was and he was told I was a Nigerian artiste and he said he was not told there was any Nigerian artiste on the plane, that he was told those on the plane were all workers. So he just fell into the politics of the so called client of the multinational. So I decided to make peace with him, as a peace ambassador I had to apologize and it takes a great heart to do that.
Now, corporate organizations don’t invite you to shows…
Cuts in…who told you that? I have a lot of corporate organizations that invite me to shows; it must not be a particular one. I am fine and cool, I have everything I need. I even organize my own shows, I am growing, and the challenges made me grow. I don’t need their money, I don’t need their hype, I don’t need their promotion, and I am satisfied. I would have had problem if after everything that happened and I am not progressing, they will be laughing but I am doing good.I am bringing in foreign investors into the country through my brand as an artiste so it is not about waiting for one organization to call me. I am not a lazy boy.
So what else are you doing?
As a youth ambassador and with my popularity around the world, I travel to Europe whenever I am doing my concert, I submit my proposal to foreign investors with the hope of bringing them into the country to invest, especially in the area of fertilizer and construction and God has been wonderful.
Is it true that you are erratic?
That is not true. When people disagree with you because they want you to do some things that you don’t want to do, they will basically say that you are this or that. I just want to be myself. I am Eedris Abdulkareem, not anybody else; I am always fighting for my rights.
Do you take plenty of weed?
I used to take weed because I don’t smoke cigarette. I believe weed is herbs and it’s medicinal. When I got married, I stopped smoking weed because I had become a father of two kids, more responsible because I have to take care of my family. I have to be an example because I have a lot of people that work for me.
Handling female admirers
It’s about focus and it’s about what you want. All my female admirers, I still play with them, give them time as my fans and they even appreciate me more because I am married. Anyone who is interested in something else will not succeed because it’s too late.
Balance being a father, husband and career
You need understanding from your wife to be able to balance it well. I have that understanding from my wife and secondly, I have God. With these two it is easy.
In the next five years In sha Allah I want to see that I am part of the people that helped Yar’Adua to realize Vision 2020 and that vision will never die. I came out with a song Nigeria jaga jaga during Obasanjo’s regime, now I am coming out with another song called Made in Nigeria.
I have to thank the only mother I have in this country Dr. (Mrs.) Dora Akunyili, whom I met when I was nominated as an Olympic torch bearer in 2004. Now she wants to change the Nigerian logo and do something new for Nigeria. I will do everything possible with the power of the microphone to preach about that.
Advice to youths
Know where you are coming from, know what you want, be determined, have God in your life, don’t be scared of opposition, keep your head high and you will make it.