Innocent Onyebuchi Onyemuwa, also known as Daddy Fresh, has come a long way in the Nigerian music industry having started in the early 90’s with the group Pretty Busy Boyz which had as members the duo of Daddy Showkey and Cashman Davis. Upon going solo, like every member of the group, Daddy Fresh has made a remarkable success of his sojourn. In this interview The Source had with him recently, he spoke extensively about his professional and personal life
About two years ago, you almost released an album but never did; thereafter, you just disappeared. What really happened?
It is true. I had to stop because the guys I was working with on their label were not serious. I have a lot of reputation in this industry and they seemed not to understand that fact. I wouldn’t want anyone to come to me under the pretence of being a very good record label owner or promoter and at the end, ends up to be the opposite of what he says he is. So, I had to put a stop to it.
What’s the name of the label?
They are called Goodfeel music.
That means the last time you released an album was when?
Don’t you think that’s too long a gap if you want to be seen as relevant in the industry?
Again, it’s true. This is show business and if you don’t show yourself you are done. For me, being one of the pioneers of the industry, I need to be there for the upcoming artistes regularly. Well, I wont blame myself but the industry which house is not in order. The music bodies in the country are not functioning, all they are concerned about is how to enrich themselves. The leadership of PMAN(Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria) has failed the upcoming musicians and Nigerians – as a whole. The offices are highly politicised. Our interests are not being protected as piracy is eating deep each day. I found out that the Pirates we are fighting are within us. We work with them and that is one of the biggest reasons why I decided to do my own thing. I have come to understand that the industry is a dog-eat-dog institution. Right now, what I do is that I release songs and I know that if it is pirated or not, I will smile.
That means you have been releasing singles?
Yes, I have dropped at least two so far. Right now, I am about realeasing another album on my own label called Fresh Records.
The impression many of your fans got a few years ago was that you have dumped music for politics.
(laughs) That’s not true. I only did some commercials for some politicians like Chief Orji Uzo Kalu, Ambassador Musiliu Obanikoro and also for the late president Umaru Yar’Adua.
Why do you think they picked you?
My credibility matters to me a lot. I am not one of those who believe in celebrating mediocrity. I believe that anything I get should be by merit. I believe that I merited it. That of Uzor Kalu, I did it out of love. But to my greatest surprise, after I found a way of sending it, I heard that of over 2,000 artistes that sent in theirs, mine was chosen. Obanikoro said he had always liked my music that was why he chose me. I never knew him before then. He asked around for me and said I should come to see him. I am not a politician, that’s why I didn’t go into it fully. All I did with these people was purely business. Some of the leadership of this country have failed and I do not want to be a party to failure . Besides, as far as we are consigned the government have failed us, especially in the electricity sector. Unemployment is getting higher and they fail to understand that with electricity employment can rise. I think this problem has a political undertone, some serious government backing. If not, we wouldn’t be in this situation. It hurts me.
How would you describe yourself?
I see myself as a very gentle man who runs away from problems. I am a very happy person and I love the business I am doing. I embrace love and peace. Now, that reminds me, I am also a United Nations Peace Ambassador. I always want to support the needy that’s why I am also a big supporter of the up coming artists. Ask them, they can testify. People like D’Banj, Tu Face, Black Face, et cetera
Why do you think you were given that honour?
I dey my own jeje and they say ‘this guy deserves to be a Peace Ambassador too, just like so many artistes.’ It’s not all about being given the award but all about being worthy of it. I have always embraced peace all my life, but get violent when I see one being oppressed.
Some people have a rather negative impression about you. They say you are a big snub. Have you heard it before?
Yes. I have heard it so many times, even to the extent that a lady I have never met before and who doesn’t even know me facially was talking negatively about me in my presence. When she got to know who I was, she started apologising and said she heard it from some people. So, people just say it. I know where this rumour started from. It’s one of those people who out of inferiority complex wanted to destroy another. A close pal of mine started this anyway and he made sure he spread it everywhere. I am glad that when these people meet me, they find out that I am not the kind of person they were made to believe I am. I have met over a thousand and one people who have this impression about me but thank God they now know the truth.
I don’t actually believe in the words of man and that’s why they say that it is not always good to judge from afar. I am loyal and down to earth. No pretence.
Talking about friends, why are you not close to Daddy Showkey, especially since both of you started in this industry together as group members and he is married to your cousin?
Sometimes in life, everyone has to define his part. We both started together, fine. He is married to my sister, fine. But what matters most is that… musically we don’t play the same kind of songs. Well, there was a time we had a little misunderstanding but that is by-gone now. Its in the past.
Are you saying both of you are now close?
We don’t have any problem, our relationship is very cordial. If he comes in here now, you’ll see how we relate. You know, atimes, all these things you hear are just hype.
Are you still living in Ajegunle?
Ajegunle is where I grew up and nurtured my career. Even if I am not living in Ajegunle right now, I never gave up my house because its my foundation home. I presently live in Festac and very soon, I’ll be through with my house in Lekki.
Why did you choose music?
I am from a musical family. My mother had the loveliest voice I have ever heard. She actually inspired me. I never went to a music school or voice training lesson. My elder brother too was a big time disc jockey back in the days.
What kind of music do you play now, are you a gospel musician?
I grew up from a strong Christian home and I have the fear of God in me. One of the things that almost cost problems between me and that friend of mine was when he came and tried talking me into diabolism and I never wanted it. I told him that he should have known the kind of person I am since he lived with me for three or four years. Tomorrow, if you hear me sing any song you would hear me praise God. Musically, you can describe me as a crossover artiste. I play a mixture of dancehall, reggae music with a fussion of R &B and African rhythm with a touch of hip hop sometimes.
Tell me about your family?
I am happily married with three lovely kids. Two girls and a boy.
I learnt that you droped out of the University; why?
Well, this is what caused some problems between me and my family and my quest to pursue music. I was a brilliant student and I actually wanted to drop out of the University of Lagos in my first year, but my family stopped me but in my second year I had to because of the fame and money. It was hard to concentrate in school. Well, I’ll be going back to complete it soon.
So has music been worth your while?
If there is any source of joy in my life today, apart from my family and God, music is it. It is my greatest joy.