Host of Malta Guiness Street Dance, Deji Falope, tells ADEMOLA OLONILUA why he left Soundcity, the reason he dropped out of the university and why he is not considering marriage yet in spite of pressure.

Did you stop braiding your hair because of criticism?

No it was not because people were criticising it. Some people actually loved it. Once most people do not know why you braid your hair, they tend to criticise you. Most people actually loved it. Some even offered to braid it for me. I believe that as we grow up, we get more mature. I am not saying that those who braid their hair are not mature. But I just felt it would be wise for me to evolve as a brand and grow out of certain things. So, I left the braids. I also let go of a lot of flashy jewellery. Now I use simple but expensive accessories. Quality does not come cheap. Instead of all the blings on my neck and ears, I deal more with reserved accessories.

Are you saying that back then you were not mature?

Everybody grows up at one stage in their life. I do not think anybody can stand up and say he is the most mature person in the world. One thing I know is that men would always be boys and women would always be girls in their hearts. We grow up and we learn new things everyday I know less now than I am going to know tomorrow and more today than I knew yesterday. The things we like and are interested in are evolving. The only constant thing in life is change. The same thing happened to P. Diddy and Jay- Z. Everybody has evolved with time. It is natural.

You studied Architecture at the University of Lagos. How did you become an entertainer?

Everything I know about entertainment I learnt at the International Church of Christ–how to get on stage, how to manage stage fright. In fact, they gave me my first opportunity to get up and speak in respect of HIV and AIDS That was how I started, especially with female hostels on campus. I was going to the hostels to enlighten ladies on the need to use condoms with their partners. I became popular with that. With time, a number of NGOs called me to speak on the topic, most times out of town. The more exposure I got with that, the more television shows invited me to come and speak on it. On the first show I did, people actually thought I was the presenter. I had to correct that. The producer came to me and told me that I had to do a show with him. I agreed. I got five minutes on DBN. From five minutes, they moved it up to thirty minutes. With time, the producer told me I was good, and he gave me the whole show. That was how it started. I was getting paid. From DBN, I moved to other stations. I worked with NTA 2 for a while. I did it with NTA network briefly. I did Rhythm FM briefly too. It just got better. MTN called me. Guiness called me. Soundcity called. It just kept getting better and better.

Tell us about your family.

My parents have five children. I am the first son. My elder sister is married with children. I am next, and that is why there is a lot of pressure on me to get married. I am not going to rush into it. I have a kid brother, TK Hollywood, who is doing very well in America. A lot of people do not believe he is my brother, because he has done a lot of things with the Black Eye Peas, Snoop Dogg, and Mos Def. He has done so many things over there. I have got another kid brother who is a computer engineer. He is also into music. Everybody in my family is into entertainment. To think of it, my mother was never into entertainment.

How about your father?

I did not grow up with my father. He left when I was three years old and I never met him till I was about 23. It was awkward trying to get along with him. But now it is all right. You can not miss what you do not have. I grew up being the dad of the house, and I am used to it. I have respect for him though, but there is no feelings. I can not force it. It is not just going to happen. He is a great guy apparently, because a lot of people thinks so. They know him a lot better than myself. My mum raised six kids, my cousin inclusive. That is a lot. With that, I love and respect women more every single day, because there is a lot to deal with as a woman–yourself, men, kids and so many other issues. They go through a lot and still keep a smiling face. I am from Ikole-Ekiti. At least that is where my mother comes from, and that is where I claim that both of my parents are from Ekiti. I grew up in Lagos, Festac Town. Funny enough, I grew up alongside Tuface, Faze, Sound Sultan and Azadus. We all grew up in the same neigbhourhood. Tony Tetuila used to come around. I grew up around guys in entertainment, so those guys kind of raised me. At a point, people thought my younger brother was Tuface‘s younger brother. We were that close.

How was it growing up without you father?

I had to grow up fast. A lot of people do not know, but I could not afford to finish my studies in the University of Lagos. I was in my final year. I had to drop out of school to fend for my family. I had to go and work and earn some money for the family. I had to get mature real fast because I had to be the daddy of the house, take care of everybody. If they are happy, I am happy. It made me to work hard.

Why did you leave Soundcity?

Soundcity is a great place to work. It is great to work for people mostly because of job security, because I grew up without a dad. I developed a mentality of thinking ahead real quick. I had to think of the next five years. It was my responsibility to plan for me and my family, and I figured that if I stayed in Soundcity and kept earning a regular salary, I would not be able to provide what my family would need in the next five, six years, plus my wife and kids who would eventually come. I figured that I needed to take a risk since I am young. If I fall and make a mistake, I know I am still young enough to pick myself up, dust myself and keep going. I knew it was now I need to make career decisions and that was what I did. I started making decisions. I started working hard. Those were the scariest moments of my life because there was no job security, and I was out there all alone. My phone stopped ringing for about a year after I left Soundcity, because everybody thought that was the end for me. And all of a sudden, they began to see me in different places. Within that one year, I was in Abuja, learning a lot of things. Now I can do a lot besides television and radio presenting. I can do graphics, editing, animation, computer networking. I can direct in my sleep. I can do marketing communication and branding. Even without my degree, I am two steps ahead of my mates with degrees, because a lot of what I know, I learnt them the hard way. I learnt them because I needed to learn them. So, leaving Soundcity drove me to work hard the way my father left and I was driven to work hard. So, when I left Soundcity, I thought at this point in time, I had two options: to make it or to break it. And I knew that to make it was what I had to do. And that is what I have being doing ever since.

You went from Soundcity to MTN Top 10 Countdown, and then to Malta Guiness Street Dance. How did you bag all the big jobs?

The bible says God has no favourites. I read the bible a lot, and that is absolutely true. I am grateful to God for his kindness. I believe womens‘ prayers get up to heaven faster than those of men, so I know my mum‘s prayer helped a lot because she prays everyday for her children. I also have to thank people who believed in me; people who actually gave me the opportunity. Truthfully, it is not about me but the people who saw me and believed that I could do a great job. And because they gave me a shot, I vowed not to disappoint them. I work hard, rehearse my scripts, and lose a lot of sleep. I believe that if I am not at my best, someone else would come and take my spot.It all happened beacause there are people in the industry who have intergrity, who respect the positions they hold. They fear God and do the right thing.

You sound religious. Are you?

Yes I am. I read the bible a lot. I am a born again Christian. I go to church like three to four times a week. I hang out with my friends in church. To be honest with you, it is not easy to be a Christian and be in entertainment. There are a lot of ladies who would come to you, and it takes only the grace of God to remain strong. I have the bible on my phone and laptop. I can read it and listen to it. The bible has helped me to be a better person. It has helped me to be more patient and shrewd.

Sometime in 2008 you were involved in a serious accident with your powerbike. Did that accident make you change in any way?

What I learnt from that accident is that if there are people who love you, appreciate them and never forget them. I know how my family feared for my life, and it made me realise how much they love me. People who love you, let them know you love them in return and learn to work on those relationships as much as you are working on you career. You have to work on your relationship with people that care about you and make sure it is good. Whatever you are in this life is not as important as people who care you.

You could not complete you degree programme due to financial constraint. Now that you have the money to do so, do you have any plan to return to school?

I have enrolled in some schools now. But because I am so busy, I pushed most of my classes to December, which is a busy time but a bit saner because it is more organised. Right now, I am going for courses that I am practising, which is marketing communication and public relations.Out of those in entertainment, I can say I am one of the best when it comes to packaging entertainment and selling it, because I have been successful in selling it over the years. So, I want to be an expert in that. I want to be able to take a pen and and make everybody in entertainment buy the pen because a particular celebrity uses it and make it sell.

You said your mother has been on your neck to get married, are you in a relationship right now?

It is difficult, I have a software on my phone that can block a call I do not like. I love my fans and appreciate them a lot, but sometimes the love and appreciation gets weird. Sometimes when I get a call late at night from a girl I do not know, saying how much she loves me, I try to be nice but I do not want to lead her on. A lot of calls come in like that, so it is difficult balancing that. And because of the relationship I want to build in the near future, I know it would be with somebody that is very godly, whether she is in entertainment or not is irrelevant. I have to make her happy. I need a woman I can take care of. Timing is key. But right now, I have met one or two, but it is either the timing is not right, there is age difference or what we want is not the same; I am chasing my career and she wants to settle down or vice versa. So there is nobody I can zero in on and say she is the one.