Terry Amanyi Gabriel, a.k.a Terry G, a fast-rising producer and artiste on the Nigerian music scene, speaks with ‘NONYE BEN-NWANKWO about the controversies that have dogged his career.
Why I created Ginger Your Swagger
I don’t want to be like any other person. Free Me was my first album and it was very responsible. I recorded the album with zeal and passion, but it didn’t make any impact. No matter how you sing, no matter how professional you are, there are other people who sing like you. I had to be different. That was why I created Ginger Your Swagger. It means putting zeal in what you do. Ginger is zeal and Swagger is what you do. If you don’t put in that zeal, you will not have the ‘swagg’. That was why I changed my style in that album. I wanted to put zeal into it. The album is different from the first album.
Why I decided to become a music artist.
My production got into the market and people started believing in me. I never had plans to sing, though I used to sing in church. I was a choir master. I have always believed in coordinating people, and I still do that till now. My collaborations just shot me into the scene. It wasn’t as if this was what I wanted to do. It was through Timaya and 2shotz that people started noticing me. People believed so much in me and I had to start doing music.
So far, I have no regret. I still produce. I do more of production than singing. If I don’t make the beat, I can’t sing. I don’t write music. My production inspires me. The beat gives me the kind of lyrics I sing. The beat determines the mode of my songs. I don’t sing. I only do music. Music has to do with tones and alphabets. There are keys in between doh, ray, mi. I don’t want to do the same thing that people do. I will break the rules that favours me so as not to follow the trend.
My popularity and the controversies
Nobody expects to be big. You only work towards it. I am surprised. This is an opportunity to say thanks to God. I always worked for celebrities before now. I knew what it meant to be a celebrity and I knew how to mange it. Even if I wasn’t the same character as my boss then, controversies around me would have been different. Sometimes, you don’t plan controversies, they just come up because of the events that occur in your life. Some of the controversies are accidental. They are things you didn’t plan. Somebody may invite you to a show and if you fail to reach a compromise and you miss the show, that becomes a scandal. It is not as if I did anything bad. If you don’t have opportunities, there will not be controversy. I thank God for the opportunity.
Between Terry G the musician and Terry G the man
People see another image on television and when they see me on stage, they see a mad guy. Now, it is not about singing any longer. People need to know who I am. There is a big difference between Terry G and Gabriel. Gabriel is very shy and he is just a good person who will never forget his rules, even if he is recording secular music. If you are in the public domain, act like a leader. If you don’t act like a leader, you lack the ginger. My mum is a deaconess, my dad is an elder in the church. All the things I do outside, I don’t do them at home. Tell me why I will not be responsible. If I do something crazy, my parents may even die.
I will never forget where I come from. The fact is that everybody knows the rules and breaks the rules. Thank God, there is grace for that which He has given us. You can always go back and apologise to God. This is a world filled with sin. Being 100 per cent righteous may not work out. We all know what sin is. The diversion had to do with the situation I was in. There was nothing happening. I used to be a good singer but I just had to change. I had to do something different. I went into secular music because I needed comfort. I was playing good music, but it wasn’t making any impact. We needed support in the family. I am the first born in my family and I had to struggle. If you do one thing and it does not work, you have to get busy with something else in order to put food on the table. I tried the other line and it worked. That doesn’t mean that I will not go back to gospel.
Why I dropped out of school
I finished O’ level. I didn’t continue thereafter. There was no money to take me further. After secondary school, the money for higher education was just too much for my parents. They couldn’t cope. But now, I am back to school already. I am currently in UNIBEN.
The UNIBEN story
The story is somehow true. I was begged and paid to perform at the show. But who has not missed a show before? You know how students behave. I agreed to perform. I always fly business class each time I travel out to perform. But the students begged that they didn’t have money for business class. I eventually agreed and told them to book economy flight for me. Apart from that, there was no return ticket. We all know how students behave. They wouldn’t pay for my return ticket. Still, I decided to go for the show. Somehow, I missed the flight before I could get to the airport.
They wrote a letter through a lawyer. I had to pay close to two million naira for damages.
My brushes with other people
It is not true that I got involved in a fight with a prostitute in Lagos. That is a big lie. There was nothing like that.
No beef with Mallam Spicy
I remember that I just came back from Malaysia on that day. My friends had organised a welcome party for me. There were many people in the bar on that day. The bar is in my hood. I don’t club, I only have fun in my hood because of my peeps there. We were all having fun and the DJ started playing Mallam Spicy’s songs. One of my fans went and told the DJ to stop playing the song. They started having a misunderstanding. The fight was between my fans and the DJ. Why should I fight in public? I am a musician. Even before now, I was never a fighter. I even had to run away from there.
Mallam Spicy is a very good friend of mine. He is like a brother. He used to live with me in my former residence. We used to record songs together. He was the only one that I featured in my first album because he was a very good friend. I know him so well. Why should I have a conflict with him? I just made a mistake that I will regret throughout my life. I did a song and I didn’t know the song would be a hit. I just said ‘Me, I no bi Mallam Spicy.’ Part of that song was just a freestyle. It wasn’t the only thing in the song. I didn’t have any bad intention. I don’t have any grudge against him.
The UNILAG incident
It was crazy. I went for the show. We were taken into one room. I didn’t know that the room belonged to the Axe Men, a cult in the school. Other fraternity wanted to see me. I thought they wanted to guard me from those fraternity people. It was just crazy. I had to leave. It wasn’t about performing again. I got to leave. I had to throw my accessories into the crowd to create diversion so I could be able to enter the bus. I entered the bus and people were shouting. They were saying that I was behaving like myself; that I would be paid for a show and I would not perform. But they didn’t know what was happening. I just had to leave that place that night.
I did the song with this guy you are talking about and I just read this issue somewhere. I have never been confronted with it. Nobody has asked me about it. Thank God, we recorded the audio of that song. He paid me for the audio. He didn’t pay for the video and you are coming to pay my management for me to appear on the video and they didn’t accept. You didn’t come to a compromise with my management. That is why he is complaining.
I don’t have any problem with him. Everybody is doing his thing. It was just painful that there was a controversy around what didn’t make sense. I do not hear Ill Bliss complain if I sing his song. I just didn’t want to respond to what AY said. I knew what was going on. It was just the song that was the problem. We didn’t have any personal issue. People were feeling me so much in that song and as a human being, he had to feel bad about it. It is good to be the subject of a controversy once in a while. At the end of the day, if I had been cool and nobody noticed it, and I changed and people started noticing me, it makes a lot of difference.
I don’t choose those that I collaborate with. Music has got to the stage where anybody can blow up. A whack artiste sings for you and you want to vomit. But as a producer, you can refine it. A professional singer will come to you and sing a song and you produce the song the normal way. But if somebody that is whack comes to you, you will inject so much seriousness in his song to get it refined and it will make sense. I am a small boy. I learnt from a lot of people in church.
House of Ginger
People always ask me what ‘Ginger’ is. But everybody knows what it means. ‘Ginger’ is hot and spicy.
In the context of my music, it is not a slang for marijuana. If you like, smoke 100 wraps of marijuana, it won’t make you do what you have to do. Marijuana does not give me the ‘high’. It is just my creativity and my background and the way I place myself.
How I felt when I made big money for the first time
I felt very good. I felt so blessed.