Babatope Temidayo is his real name but music fans know him as Puffy T. This dude, who started singing in the church choir is the man behind a number of the hit songs on radio, some of which include Olu Maintain’s ‘Yahoozee!’ and X-Project’s ‘Lori le.’ Puffy T has since parted ways with Maintain and in this chat, he explained why to Correspondent, Kemi Yesufu.
How did you get into music production?
I have been here for over 10 years. I started playing the keyboard at the age of 11. My dad used to pastor a church in Oregun, Lagos; he bought me a small piano, which I went to school with sometimes. I am self-trained as nobody taught me how to play the keyboard. In 1996 when I left secondary school one of my big brothers, Peterson Agu, saw me play the keyboard and he took me to Even Ezra Studios in Victoria Island. There I learnt how to use the computer to produce. It was in 1998 that I did my first track ‘Sleeping Open Eye’ by African Angel. From then on I worked with many artistes some of which I cannot remember now. I was there when Plantashun Boiz, BlackTrybe, Daddy Showkey, Baba Fryo worked on their albums at the Even-Ezra studios. I also worked with Foster Zeno, Nelson Brown to produce the A.I.T jingle ‘mama, papa o/AIT na we station.’ Each time I hear the jingle, I feel proud, I remember that I played the bass guitar and lead guitar. I left Even-Ezra in 1999 as the studio supervisor after Foster Zeno and Nelson Brown left us. I left to meet up with Foster Zeno, who was my boss to work in a studio at Apapa, which was where I produced the Father U-Turn album that never got released. It was also during this period that I met Alariwo (of Africa), while he was working on his album, which had the song ‘Yawa Go Gaz.’ I asked to work with him and he replied asking me what a small boy like me could offer. I felt bad. I almost quit producing because of how Alariwo spoke to me. But I am glad I did not because recently Alariwo asked that I produce for him.
What was you father’s reaction to your choice of career?
My dad always knew that I loved music. I started singing in choir from my childhood. My mum used to lead the women in church on a particular day she was to organise a women rally. All of the instrumentalists in choir did not attend the event. I came to my mum’s rescue, that day I played the drums though my feet could hardly touch the ground. And with the drums we did the praise worship session successfully. From then my parents knew that I may end up in the music business.
Is your dad comfortable with the kind of songs you produce?
The first gig I performed at was opposite my dad’s church while he conducted Friday vigil. At about 4 a.m. when the worshipers were about to leave the church, they must have paused to look at those doing bad things opposite the church, which led to my dad catching me red handed. When my dad’s eyes met with mine, I dropped the guitar I was playing and ran away. When I got home I thought my dad would kill me. Rather, he spoke with me like a friend and a father. I told him I wanted a career in music. He then advised that I stay away from the church because it wouldn’t be nice that he preached while his son played at party taking place in a joint opposite his church. At first my dad did not like my going to shows but my parents have come to accept what I do.
Did your love for production affect your education?
I did not go to the university so music did not affect my education. I went straight into the industry after leaving secondary school. My dad sold his plot of land to buy me G.C.E forms. Guess what I did with the money he gave me? I used it to buy strings for my guitar. My dad was very angry. But I told him then I will make the money back when I become big in music. My prediction came to pass.
You went straight into production, why not singing?
Funny enough I used to be the music director for my church choir for five years. I led praise worship. I recorded a gospel album in 2002. But to my surprise when I got to the studio the next day the system had crashed with all of the songs I recorded. This incident made me switch to producing secular music full time.
Many would say that ‘Yahozee!’ The song you produced for Olu Maintain is one of your biggest achievements.
I joined Foster Zeno at Plaque Studios in Ikeja there I met Edrees Abdulkareem and I co-produced the Nigeria Jaga Jaga album. I worked with many other artistes like, V.I.P, Artquake, Tunde and Wunmi Obe, I did ‘Mo gbo mo ya’ for them. During this period I met Big Bamo, who introduced me to Maintain, still then a duo. I did the song ‘Looking for a wifey’ for them. From then Olu and I became friends with time we became close. So close that we would wear the same clothes. When Olu brought his album to Plaque Studios it sounded wack. The guys in the studio were laughing at him after they listened to the album. He said the songs he recorded were all he had. So three of us, Foster Zeno, George Nath, and I advised that he repackage his album. I then remixed his song ‘Fatima,’ which I featured Lord of Ajasa. We even launched the song at Soul Lounge in Shoprite; we spent a lot of money to promote it. But the song did become a hit. While we lived in Olu’s house in Ogundana Street off Allen Avenue, Ikeja there was this guy called Eddy King who was fond of saying ‘I go yahozee for café, if I hammer omo na my hummer.’ He would say things like that all the time. Olu and I were quite broke then so we would save money just to be able to go to the cyber café in the evening to browse. We almost got caught up with what Eddy King was saying because then we were so broke. Latter things picked up for me and I was producing songs in the studio and with the money I made I tried supporting the guys around me. When Olu got into the studio he didn’t pay for session time because we were friends with the guys in the studio. We first made the beat, and then we used what Eddy King was always saying to create the chorus. ‘Yahoozee!’ was recorded in the night everyone in the studio put in a word or two. My brother LKT did the fuji verse and I also sang a part in the song. I had some money so I paid for the production of the promo CD. Magically, the song worked out. I did not sign a contract with Olu because I thought we were close friends. There are so many crazy things Olu and I did as friends I thought we were inseparable.
So how come you guys are no longer friends?
I discovered that Olu had his first show with Zain in Ibadan only when he had returned. I asked him how far? He told me he had to pay his rent and settle one or two bills. But the same thing happened when he went to Ilorin for a show. I noticed that he had changed and was acting funny. He shot the video for ‘Yahoozee!’ and I did not know though we lived in the same house. He had a show in the UK, I was supposed to go with him but he removed my name and put someone else. I was pissed. I told him since I was producing his songs; we should work things out in a way that it will be mutually beneficial. Don Jazzy and D’Banj are a good example. Do you think D’Banj cannot afford to pay (American producer) Timberland to produce his songs? D’Banj is making a lot of money, he can pay anybody to produce him but he still sticks with Don Jazzy because he has the winning formula. I even told Olu now that you have made money let’s open a studio so that for your next album you don’t have to pay for studio time. He did not do so. Just to cut the story short I left Olu to do things the way he wanted. I am doing my own thing. I just got back from South Africa where I am working with some people on different projects.
You’re not the first producer Olu’s had problems with. How come you did not sign a contract with him?
Let me tell you the truth some lessons are hard to learn when you’re not involved. Let’s take for instance the case of relationships, just because you were disappointed by your last lover doesn’t mean you should take it out on the next person. Even when I told people how Olu treated me most of them said ‘so you don’t know Olu has treated others before you like that?’ I should have known better. Olu is the kind of person that when he needs you, he gets close to you, once he gets what he wants, he leaves. Most people in the industry cannot be trusted so I have learnt never to do anything without signing a contract.
In Olu’s current album he mentioned in the credits that Snoop is his best producer ever. A columnist in a national daily wrote that he was referring to you and his past producers. Do you feel the same way?
The producer that gives you a big hit doesn’t have to be your best producer. If he (Olu) feels that the person he is working with now is his best producer time will tell. Olu and everybody knows that he is still being invited the world over because of ‘Yahoozee!’ not any of his new songs. The producer he is saying is his best ever is because the guy is yet to wise up to Olu. Once he starts asking Olu to pay him for his services he will stop being his best producer. I speak with the guys that work with Olu and they all complain that he takes them everywhere to perform but he doesn’t pay them. Some guys who don’t like the people that knew them when they were broke. This new producer doesn’t know much about Olu. I don’t know everything about Olu, not even Big Bamo his former manager/producer or Tolu his second half in Maintain does.
Are you married?
The only thing I have is my studio and my career. So let’s leave that aspect of my life.
How did you get the name Puffy T?
I used to eat puff-puff and tea a lot. My friends would say ‘what’s wrong with this puff-puff and tea man?’ That is how I began to call myself puff-puff Tea, less than three weeks after I modified my name to puffy T.