Before he made his entry into the Nigerian reggae music scene, King Wadada was just a street kid in Benin City, ekeing out a living as a peasant farmer and really not knowing what nature held in stock for him.
But fortune eventually smiled on him, as he stumbled on a box guitar. Made it his closest companion and in a short period, he had started twanging reasonable notes on it. He then headed for the centre of excellence in search of greener pastures, a dream he pursued with undying drive, even as a homeless sojourner. In Lagos, he formed a one man band and with his box guitar hawked music at drinking joints for monetary rewards. After some period of seeking to make a musical statement, pay day eventually came for him, as an opportunity presented itself to record his debut effort on vinyl, which successes catapulted him to musical limelight.
He spoke to AZUKA MORDY in this interview. Enjoy:
How many albums have you made so far?
Tell us their titles
The first album was titled “Holy, Holy, Holy” and the second was titled “If men were God.
Why did it take you this long to come out with a follow up album.
I am currently working in the studios. This time I am working with two producers; Chris Okoro, who produced my first two albums is producing with Victor Enang. I trust them to give me the musical standard I require.
Describe your brand of gospel music
I play spiritual music, not just gospel music.
What is the difference?
I call my brand of music “Ntambala” root rock reggae, which means African spiritual reggae music, not just ordinary gospel music where people keep shouting Alleluya.
African spiritual music?
What has African spiritual stuff got to do with gospel?
Are you sure you are not delving into something else. I find it difficult to marry this new fusion of yours with the message of the gospel. It is pure African spiritual music.
I have heard people say that Wadada gets invited to big church events to play. You were not the only artiste mentioned, but they say you are not equipped enough with the word of God to be called gospel music minister.
We are the people that own gospel music.
In what way?
We have the word. The word is with us, God gave it to us.
How much of this power of the word are you investing in your third album that is still in the works?
A lot of it.
What is the title of the expected album?
It is titled Supernatural
How many tracks do you have in it?
Describe your experience since you came into limelight.
God has been so wonderful to me. I have released two solid albums, which were accepted nationwide. God has blessed me with every good thing.
May we know some of the good things?
I have a good wife, three beautiful kids; one male, two female. I have a car. When I came to Lagos I squatted with people for a good while, later I secured a one room accommodation. But today I am comfortably living in a three bedroom flat with my family. Construction of my own house has commenced also.
How was life for you before you made it?
Life was very rough for me.
How did you get your break to success?
God provided it for me. He gave me the first step and also made me.
Tell us about your contract with Harry Mosco Music for your debut.
It was actually another record label, “Salt records” that I was signed to. Though the music was recorded at Harry Mosco studios. But when my original label owner became bankrupt, because of some challenges he faced, Harry Mosco decided to sign me on. At that time my music had started receiving good air play.
How did you receive the instant success of your debut album?
It took me to another level. I was instantly transformed. Even though the album did not bring much money because of the activities pirates in the country, I made a lot of money from live shows.
You say you are a king? King of where?
I am the king of reggae music of the word
When you said king of reggae music of the word. Which word, God’s word or any word?
Who crowned you?
Rev. Okotie and King Sunny Ade.
There has to be a ceremony to crown a king, where was yours held?
Rev. Okotie crowned me in his church.
You mean he organized a coronation ceremony for you in his church?
No. during church service. He was the first person to proclaim me a king.
Where did King Sunny Ade crown you?
In his house.
Have you considered the fact that there are other gospel singers in reggae music? Tell me, what makes you think you have to be their king?
The word of God.
What do you think is the future of reggae music in Nigeria?
Reggae music is the root of all music. It cannot die. It is just that people that play reggae music in Nigeria now are few. But the real problem is that we do not have record labels to support us. Before, we used to make demo tapes and take to labels, but now the reverse is the case, we are expected to use our money to do our work.
I want to ask you this. Is it that the young crop of musicians in Nigeria are more aggressive than those of your set? Because despite the challenges you have just mentioned, they do things with their money. They are thriving and making a lot of impact and money too. They are also very organized. We need record labels… We need support.
At the last Nigerian Music Awards, Timaya picked up the award of the best reggae act, what do you say of this?
Timaya is not a reggae musician. The only musicians now in Nigeria playing reggae music the way it should be done are King Wadada and Righteousman. What Timaya plays is highlife dancehall.
Why did an experienced musician like Tony Okoroji give Timaya, best reggae act award?
He should know better. They can give whatever they want to give to anybody. I remember when they gave African China award for best reggae album in Nigeria. African China does not play reggae music.
What do you call his style?
African China plays galala dancehall. It is not reggae music.
How did you learn to play music?
I thought myself. I never went to a music school.
Where do you hail from?
I am from the heartbeat of Nigeria, Edo State.
What were you doing in Benin before you came to Lagos?
I was a small time farmer.
What did you do to survive in Lagos initially?
I worked with the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti. I helped to pack instruments during road shows. I was also one of those responsible for selling igbo (Indian hemp) for him.
Were you smoking too?
Of course. I smoked heavily.
Are you still smoking?
No. When I turned to God, the Holy Spirit arrested me. Then I discovered that the “highness” igbo was giving me was fake. The Holy Spirit started giving me greater “highness” and better inspiration.