Williams Iheaka Orioha a.k.a. 2Shotz is a familiar face in the music industry, but he is particularly reputed for doing his songs in collaboration with other artistes. In this interview with NONYE IWUAGWU AND LANRE FEHINTOLA, he explains his love for collabo and why he opted out of his relationship with Lagos big girl, Sade.
How did you come about the name 2Shotz?
The name is like my real name now. It was a combined name given to me by a lot of people when I was in the secondary school. Then, I was a basketball player because I love the game. One day, our team was playing with another team and we were losing. Towards the end of the game, I made two shots and we won the match. From that day, people started calling me 2Shots.
Again, I was the shortest guy in both teams.
Were you comfortable with that name then?
I didn’t like the name. I felt it was an insult. But usually when people give you a name you don’t like and you react by saying you don?t want it, they tend to persist.
With time, I got used to the name, kept it and tried to look for a way to spice it up. So, I changed it from two shots to 2Shotz.
Do you still play basketball?
Basketball is a game I love a lot. It took a lot of my time then. I love artworks as well, because I used to draw.
As time went on, I discovered that music is time consuming too. Then, I used to play basketball every evening. Later, it turned to be every weekend and then to once in a week.
You sound like somebody who has not experienced the hard side of life?
I had a butter and gutter life experience.
What do you mean?
I mean I have had fun and no fun. My background is okay. My parents then could take care of the immediate family and friends. My father was a pilot while my mother was one of the managers in Leventis Stores. So, we were very okay.
Were you born in Lagos?
I was born in Surulere (Lagos), but grew up in Ajao Estate.
I was the first born in my family.
How come you said your life was no fun at some point?
My father initially did not want me to go into music because I was the first born of the family. He wanted me to go to school, get a good degree and a job.
I never saw myself working for anybody. At that time, I never knew what I was going to do, but I just knew that I was not going to work for anybody.
So when did music come on board?
My father would come back from different countries then with tapes he used listening to wherever he was.
What I did then was to take those tapes into my room to listen to them. Gradually, I started loving to listen to music. I always wished to have my father back home, not because I wanted to see him, but because I wanted those cassettes he always brought back. I grew up loving music.
And was that when you decided to become a professional musician?
Not really. One day, while in the secondary school, I ran into my seniors who were in charge of the dining hall, and I saw them reciting one R&B song, which I loved to listen to. So, I went back home and started listening to rap music. The first song I ever wrote, down from the beginning to the end, was Naughty By Nature?s Hip Hop Hurray. I learnt the song during the holiday and when I returned to school, I went back to the dinning hall to tell those seniors that I could do something and they allowed me. I did the Hip Hop Hurray and I was the youngest guy there then. They were shocked at my performance. That was how my music career started. I got to perform at Press Day in my school and in other schools. So, I got really exposed to stage performance.
As time went on, I became popular.
You really have not told us why you said life was hard at some point.
I was popular as 2Shotz when I finished from secondary school. I came back to Lagos and stayed for a year. I worked with a few records company to see if I could get something, but it didn?t work. I was wayward then. One day, I came back home very late. My daddy saw me then as a nuisance because I wanted to do music. So, I came back late and my dad kicked me out of the house.
It was raining and I had to sleep in one mechanic’s shop opposite our house. The following day, I slept in one of my friends house. From then on, I would sneak into our house to change my clothes. So, I started moving around, trying to do something. I later went to FESTAC to stay with my dad?s elder sister. She got tired of me, so she kicked me out. I thought of going back to school, so I went back and got admission into Lagos State University.
The idea then was maybe I could work to get some money to bring myself up. Life was harder in school because I didn’t have money to pay my school fess.
Didn’t your father take you back when you decided to go to the university?
I was just an outcast in my family. I did get money from friends to cater for myself. Sometimes, I went to school hungry. This continued until I recorded my first album. I was surprised when I started hearing it on radio.
My song was very popular and I felt happy about it.
From then, I started getting shows. I was able to do another album and I went to Alaba to look for a marketer with the belief that since my album was popular there, somebody would listen to me. I went to TJoe who did give me an audience. He told me my album was already in a pirated compilation and he asked me why he would market what he already had in his shop.
So I cried, but still left the album with him, thinking that he would change his mind. A few weeks later, he called me and told me that he wanted to help me. He gave me N50,000. I didn’t have a choice because I needed to take care of myself. So, I took the money and sold the album. I used N30,000 out of it to shoot one of my albums, Odieshi. The song became a hit.
That was when you became really known.
Yes. Tuface and I became the highest selling artistes at that time. The album was really selling. I became popular. People started calling me for shows. I got a car and a lot of money to go out with. A lot of money started rolling in. I told the friend I was staying with that I was going to move out. Then I got a flat and moved into it. I also shared it with my friends. That was where I was until I released my second album. Later, I moved to Surulere.
What is your relationship with your father now?
Apparently, when I became popular, he discovered that the music I was doing made sense. At times, some of his friends would tell him that they saw me on the TV and I was doing well and he would say okay. He was proud to tell his friends I was his son. One of my aunties called me from Abuja one day and told me to meet her somewhere and I went. She took me into the house and we made up. But I don?t live with them. I haven?t lived with them since I was 18. It has just been phone calls or they come to my house whenever they like.
You had a problem with Big Lover your single, Delicious?
It was a long time ago. There were two versions of the song and either party had the right to put whichever he wanted on his album. I am not a greedy person. I believe in eat your own and let me eat my own. I will never think of cheating you. The first release hit the market and the second version, which was a remix and whose video we shot, was the one the entire world loved. At that time, my own album was coming out first; the video was going to come out later on. Then I felt that since I had a lot of songs that people were already aware of in my album, it would be very selfish of me to put those two versions of Delicious in the album still. So, I thought of taking the old version so that people would know that there was an old version of the song, which they might have forgotten.
When I did that, there was a conflict. I didn’t take that seriously, because my marketer wanted the song in my album as well. At a time, it got out of hand. As for me, I don’t believe in fighting because of a song. It really doesn’t make any sense to me. Even the old songs and every other thing in the album, I didn’t need them, but my marketer needed them. Sometime, if two people are moving and one tends to be moving faster than the other; there may be jealousy or envy. Things change. But I really had to keep quiet because I had to be mature about those things.
There was a time one musician called me to join him in shooting an album and I told him I could not come for the shooting of the video since it was taking place at Big Lo?s house. After much persuasion, I decided to go.
Big Lo walked me out of the house and I think that was what really blew up the fight. Everybody there got upset, because when I left the house, everybody came out and the shooting of the video ended.
How is your relationship with him now?
We are cool. We settled the issue about three years ago. We just met at a club one night and we started drinking and all that. Forty per cent of my new album was done in his studio as well. In fact, the whole idea came from him. He has really helped me, so he is still my friend.
Are you doing another collabo with him?
We have an album already called Marketing Strategy.
We shot the video for that song. It was edited at Sound City and it is going to be released before my album.
You were once with 2sly?
How did you know? I haven’t heard that name in a long while. It was the first group that I actually started.
We formed the group called Foremen. We broke up in 2000.
We formed that group in 1999 and we broke up a few months after we released the album.
I felt I was being cheated because I was younger. He was more advanced. Then he was in the university and had other things he was doing. The first album was all about him. I was really suppressed.
So you broke up and joined Eldee in Da Trybe.
You really know me so well. Do we have a common friend? This was a long time ago. I became a member of Da Trybe, and it is something I know I will always be. We became like a family. We were like a large family and the whole idea was to blow everybody and from there find our own levels as individual artistes. After that, everybody started looking for greener pastures. Big Lo came in because he was my star and wanted to work with me. I met him there. He had his own studio and from there, we became friends.
In recent times, you have done two hit songs with Timaya and 9ice.
People could say you can not stand on your own unless you do a collabo with another artiste?
That would be a lie. I have had Thief, Ole Carry am Go, and it was a hit. I had Odieshi, Na Dem Sabi. These were hit songs as well. I have had a couple of other songs, which you all know. But in recent times, I have grown to understand that the Nigerian market tends to bend you to assume other roles you don?t want, just because you want to entertain those people. Secondly, you have to eat. Because of that, you have to bend those rules.
What do you mean?
For instance, KC Presh was a gospel group before. What are they doing now? You have to eat and at the same time entertain your fans. Right now in Nigeria, R&B has the biggest fans. We found out that just a few rappers survive now. You survive because you have a name that you have been building for a long time. If you are a fresh rapper, it is going to be very difficult to make it in the country. It is just the likes of me, Ruggedman, Nigga Raw and Lord of Ajasa that you would say have been into rap music for a long time. We already have a fan base that would never die, so whatever we do, we would always satisfy our audience.
I also grew up to understand the fact that you need to add a lot of R&B to your song if you want it to sell. So, as much as you are rapping, you need to sing. That is why I feature some of these artistes.
What can you say about this beef between Ruggedman and Mode Nine?
I don’t understand why people are tagging Ruggedman and Mode Nine. They don’t have any quarrel. I don’t know about Mode Nine but I know Ruggedman has no time for quarrels, because he is a businessman. Obviously, Ruggedman entered into the industry as a person who is prepared to tell you to your face whether you are good or not. People have always attacked him because of that.
Mode Nine is a bragging rapper, which I don’t see anything wrong about. That is the whole idea of hip hop and rap.
You have to brag and be able to say what is on your mind, not minding who you are saying it to. I don’t know about R&B, but in rap, you talk and you walk.
Ruggedman talks and walks. It is just normal that people see you as a bragging artiste. It is normal if they engage in war of words. I don’t think there is anything personal.
When you were mentioning known rappers, you didn’t mention Mode Nine.
Mode Nine is also a known rapper. We are called commercial rappers, but he is more interested in doing hardcore rap. I did hardcore rap, but it didn’t pay me.
Mode Nine is still doing what we did in 2001 in 2008.
Things change, but he doesn’t see it that way.
When he attracted a lot of people to his side was when he did Cry. He has not been able to do such again. The song was a commercial song. The story made sense and people related to it very well. If he could do that song and it blew up, why couldn?t he continue with such songs? It does not make him less of a rapper.
You are one of the musicians that have never travelled abroad?
Is it because you have not been able to get a visa?
No. I have a phobia for flying. It is just by choice. I have a couple of visas in my passport but I have not had the courage yet to fly long distance. Flying interstate is enough nightmares. Those are the ?torture moments? of my life. I usually take sleeping tablets or knock myself out with drinks in order to sleep. But I have found out that those things don?t work for me anymore. I now depend on watching a very interesting movie until I touch down, just so that I can forget that I am airborne.
You used to date a lady called Sade?
Ha! How did you know? It is as if you have been following me right from when my mother had me. She was one of my girlfriends.
One of your girlfriends?
Yes. I have had like two girlfriends after her.
How come you guys broke up?
I am always very serious each time I go into any relationship. But I have found out that I always have to prove myself to the girl. They would never understand. It may be because I have not met the right person yet.
They would never understand the nature of my job.
My job makes it difficult for a girl to be comfortable or to trust me. I have to continue proving myself to the person, and I am really tired of doing that. I don’t care anymore. She would always feel insecure and she would start doing some crazy stuff. Again, I never liked the idea that my girl and I would be in the same kind of profession and be out there all the time. Sade and I had issues about that. It just didn’t work out. I think I know what I want now and it might take me a while to find what I want.
Who are you dating now?
Lets just say I would want to keep my private life private.
Is marriage not on your to do list?
It is not on my list at all. I will get there. I don’t know who I will marry. I am not thinking of it yet.
You get so hyperactive on stage. Do you take anything to get high?
No. I can never smoke before going on stage. I tried it once and it didn?t work for me. I was so high that I didn’t think I knew what I was doing on stage. While I was on stage, I knew I was misbehaving. Since then, I don?t take anything.
You surprised a lot of people at the Nigerian Breweries? Star Trek in Awka recently with your performance even when you were not billed to perform at the show…
That show was a miracle, because a lot of things started happening. Before that show, my album was just picking up. The money I got, I had just used it to do some things.
I was a bit low on cash then. Ruggedman was the one billed to perform at the show and he invited me. I was supposed to do one or two things on stage with him. I told him he would give me some little money out of what he was being paid and he agreed.
Much later, he told me he would not be able to give me anything. I understood because he needed money badly then.
Well, I just decided to go without considering the money.
We left from my house and we got to Awka, and you know what happened. Gbenga Adeyinka started it by telling the organisers that I could be a good replacement for the artiste that couldn?t come for the show. At the last minute, they took me to a room and told me they would pay me if I played. I came for the show without even thinking I was going to get a dime, but things turned out that way. But then, I took a risk. I told them I would play for free but that once I came down from that stage, there would be a relationship between the organisers and 2Shotz.
They agreed and they still told me they would pay me. People said I scattered the show that day. I don’t know how I did it really. But I thank God. Since then, the organisers have been calling me for shows, no matter how little.
What do you hope to achieve in future?
I want to have a very solid TV programme and I want to own a very popular bar. I am working on these projects now. Regarding music, I have never stressed my music. I do it as it comes.