Ibrahim Hassan, known as ‘Ibro Zule Zu,’ one of the popular ‘Zule Zu’ artistes of ‘Kerewa’ fame, is a familiar name in Nigeria’s entertainment industry. The acrobatic dance steps of the group and the originality of their songs were among the unique features that went for them. Ibro tells REPORTER, Ifeoma Meze, why not much has been heard from the group of late and why they have decided to go solo. Excerpts:

How come for a long time not much has been heard from Zule Zu?

Actually why it took so long for us to come out is because there was a new decision. We call it a new beginning because we decided to go solo and come out solely too and it is taking us very long time to package it. We need to come out with a different concept.

Michael, my partner is working on a different concept and I working on a different one too. That is why no one has heard from us for a while now. It is not that we have quit but we are coming out differently now.

After that first album, did you release any other album?

Yes Michael and I had two other albums. After kerewa album there were Chimkpam and Destiny albums before the split.

When was Destiny released?

It was released in 2008.

How come it was not popular?

Actually, the job was prepared for somebody who paid for it but unfortunately he was not promoting the album. For that it was not as popular as chimkpam and kerewa because he is somebody who doesn’t know much about the business. He is the person promoting and marketing it. That is why people did not hear much about it, though still in the market.

Does it have video?

No it does not have video, just audio tracks.

How many songs does it have?

It has eight songs. Amongst the eight tracks in it are ‘why fighting,’ ‘ojodumi.’ There is another one called ‘cha cha,’ I did it remix in my solo album, that will soon come out.

There is this rumour that Michael is not feeling too well, what actually happened to him?

You know, he is a star and when a dog bites a star, it becomes news. He was actually sick but a very long time ago. He is all right now. As I am talking to you now, he is almost through with his own solo album. He is only waiting for me because he wants to feature me in two tracks.

In your first album, you guys sounded like nothing can ever come between you, so why the sudden split?

In showbiz, one should expect the unexpected. We never wanted to split but it just there is a new concept between the two of us that we should come out with an album that will make our fans feel different about us and the message in our songs.

What kind of music are you doing now?

It is a new dimension. It’s a new kind of music. We call it Takporokpo beat. We formed it right from kerewa and that is what I am continuing with. I can only switch to root reggae because there is a lot of reality in reggae music and this why in any album I go solo, there is always a track that is reggae rendered in conscious lyrics.

After Destiny album, have you released any other album on your own?

The album I am about releasing now is the first album I am releasing after Destiny. This, my current solo album, is titled E dey pain you? The audio is in the market already. I’m working on the video.

How many songs does this your new album have?

It has 12 tracks.

What would you say was the reason that prompted the ban of one of your songs?

The ban of that song, I will say is out of the backwardness of our leaders, because they did not take their time to understand the song better. Kerewa was fashioned to heal ills in our society; to help stop adultery in our society, thereby making marriages last, and to take away some evil thoughts in our women’s mind. Married women should stay with their husbands and take care of their homes. That was the message the music was passing.

So not necessarily that there was any other thing in the music that warranted it ban?

No. We are not encouraging corruption, we are against it. I am a professional dancer so whatever I sing, I demonstrate. I believe it is the movement and the dance that they saw that made them say that these boys were corrupt. In Benue State where I grew up, they do not see such dance steps as anything. Many years ago if you visited a Tiv man and he liked you a lot, if he had more than one wife, he would give you one to entertain you. But that was a long time ago. It is an abomination depending on how you go about it. We believe that the dance with the waist is something that has been there for a very long time. But if that is the case, the videos we have now, are not much different from ours. There was no nude appearance in my music, but just strictly African culture.

When did you start seeing the music side of your life?

I started singing from when I was born. When I was just two weeks old, my cry was music. When I was crying, you would enjoy the sound but sometimes you would pity me as a baby. I think I started making music sounds from when I was a baby and since then it has been music and entertainment all the way.

My parents saw the bright side of my talent and they always wanted me to utilise it. They gave me all the encouragement I wanted right from day one.

I went to school like everybody. My parents did not have the means to sponsor my education to university level. But if you ask me how I came about my profession, I studied on the street, like 9ice will say street credibility. It was on the street that I learnt everything that I am doing today in music and dance not in any school. I even learnt how to behave from the street too.

So you are saying that growing up on the street does not make one bad?

We have positive and negative traits on the street. It depends on the path you want to follow as a human being. If you want to follow the negative path, no one will stop you but it is always the end that justifies the means. I discovered who I was from my childhood and decided to follow the good part.

What other talents do you have aside music?

I am a flutist. I blow all kinds of African wind instruments except sax. I do all kind of dance, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo, Idoma, Tiv, Berom and even modern dance steps. I can also teach music down to the dance steps. I am also a costumier. I make the costumes in my videos. I teach choreography for some music videos but as for costumes, I am working towards making costumes for other musicians. For now, I make costumes for my music alone. I also want to go into African fashion.

What is your current album all about?

Out of annoyance from the ban on Kerewa, I have decided to go blunt in this album so that they know when someone is encouraging corruption or against it. I have songs that one can brand as corrupt in this album. E dey pain you? album has a song with the same title. The song has a deeper meaning from what is actually saying. The song is saying Nigeria is hard and rough but we are managing it. There are so many things happening in the secret place that people cannot say out but I want to say them.

Don’t you think it will make them keep banning your songs?

I did not do that song for them to play it on air. I did it for clubs, and strictly for the club.

Does that mean that you are not going to have a video of it?

I have done the video. It is still on the streets for people who really want to listen to it.

So it might not be aired publicly?

I gave it to some TV stations and they are scared of airing it. I do not care.

Do you have someone you respect in the music industry?

The only person I respect is Fela Kuti. I respect him because he was realistic, and he spoke the truth. He fought for the masses. He did not think about himself alone, he thought about others and that is who I’m.

If you have the opportunity of going to school, what course would you study?

If I study music they will spoil my flavour, because I have a natural flavour that I learnt from the street. If I have the opportunity, though I have the opportunity but I am looking at so many things at hand, I would like to study Psychology. I love learning about human behaviour.