Though born in Lagos, Gabriel Oche Amanyi, popularly known as Terry G, hails from Benue State. He was not born with a silver spoon, yet he has been able to overcome the challenges of a poor background to become a success. He has stunned the Nigerian music scene in the last three years with his weird but addictive brand of music, chante-chante. OSEYIZA OOGBODO met him recently and they chatted about his several controversies, pet project and why he is bent on re-branding his kind of music. Excerpts:
Congratulations on the Hip Hop World Award you won. How do you feel about it?
Very happy. I never expected to get any award because of the controversies around me, but at the instance of my crew, I decided to attend because being absent may cause further controversy for me. Winning the Headie means a lot to me as it is a proof that my music is appreciated by my fans.
You have been linked with several controversies in the past few months. How have you been able to cope?
I cannot deny these controversies because the news of them has gotten to that level that I cannot stop . Sincerely speaking, until I was faced with all these issues, I never had thought that secular music is a political game. You have to win somebody’s soul and mind before you get certain things. All these controversies were never planned by me
Are you saying they are mere fabrications by people deliberately out to destroy you?
They are not deliberate because I think it is what they hear they say. Some people may not like you so they go out there to spread baseless rumours. They only know Terry G and not Gabriel. Maybe if they do, they probably would have a change of mind because Terry G doesn’t plan the controversy, he just finds himself in it. Gabriel is shy and responsible.
After all your controversies, how do you intend to protect your image in the industry?
Presently, I want to re-brand my image and my production outfit because some people consider it as a rascal outfit. For now, I don’t want to have anything doing with campus shows. Also, I’ve held a press conference to re-build and correct the impression people have about me.
Do you think you are a threat to many in the industry?
I don’t think so. Everyone has their own role to play and so I try not to offend anyone. I feel the industry is too political, so when you blend too much, it causes disrespect and conflict, so it’s best to stay on your own. I believe everybody is unique in one way or the other.
How did music begin for you?
It started at Redeemed Christian Church of God, Praise Palace, Oko-Oba, Lagos, where my mum is a chorister. As the first in a family of two boys and two girls, it was compulsory to go to church everyday, so in the process, I started playing the drums, keyboard and bass guitar. I began singing in church and at a point became the choir master. My sisters also sing and I used to sing at the Redeemed Camp about five, six years ago. At some point, I began recording and people encouraged me to sing so I did my gospel/inspirational songs demo as I didn’t have enough money to do an album. When I needed sponsors, I met Ayo Animashuan of Hip Hop World who introduced me to Faze. I later worked for Faze as his back-up singer. Later, I began to change my style of music to secular.
What is your relationship like with Faze?
Let me say this. Working with Faze was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. He broke me into the industry, and it was rare for people to know that I was his back-up singer because our relationship was more of the brotherly type. I will never forget him for the reason that he taught me so many things about music, equipment and production.
What was your first major production aside working with Faze?
My first production was Kemistry’s single, Shake Shake. She was the one who made the name Terry G stick in the industry. I am also very grateful to her for that.
Critics say your second album’s title, Ginjah Your Swaggah, isn’t your coinage?
It’s mine, but I also don’t know if they coined it. You see, these are words which won’t last for life. Before, it was ‘free me’ and there was controversy. I’ll advise them to keep updating their game. I need to change my style and do something differently so with Ginjah Your Swaggah, I was trying not to bore my fans and at the same time update my status. I needed a difference. It means putting zeal into whatever you do.
Why is it that most of your productions come with the same beat and sound?
The fact that people complain about the similarities in most of my beats does not mean I will change my style. When a makossa singer produces his songs, you get to notice the same beat also. This is so that you don’t lose your identity. I believe my music productions have a consistence of beat. In a nutshell, the beat may doesn’t sound similar but familiar.
Some people say you started as a dancer?
Let me clear this once and for all. I never started as a dancer but as a vocalist. My dancing on stage and in most of the videos I feature in is not for any other reason than to make my fans happy and appreciate me more. I don’t believe in an artiste who feeling pompous while performing on stage. I believe if a fan wants to listen to your songs, he/she would probably go buy your album. But when they come to shows to watch you, they want to see something else entirely, so I use my dancing to create an impression.
In what way are you contributing to the music scene in Nigeria?
My contribution to the Nigeria music industry especially is in the upbringing of upcoming artiste. In a nutshell, in future, I see myself bringing out the best in others.
What is House of Ginjah project all about?
It comprises of myself, Rakwell, Prince Banton, D Money and IQ and it’s going to be a continuous recruitment exercise. These artistes will be the first set and after the album has been released, I will pick up new acts. It’s my own way of helping upcoming artists and I won’t be a member of the next set. The album is titled 8th Mainland Bridge because we are projecting into the future.
Where do you see yourself in the nearest future?
I see myself doing what I know best, dodging from controversies, and more importantly, being of the best behaviour. So also, I see my record label, Terry G’s Production, growing fast in the industry.
So what do you think differentiates you from other artistes?
To me, the uniqueness in every artiste makes us all different from each other. Take for instance when I’m performing on stage. I go to the extreme to do some crazy stuff to get the love of my fans. Artistes can never be the same because we have chosen different genres of music.
Are you in a relationship?
Yes. I am currently in a serious relationship that I think may lead into marriage if things work out as planned. People sometimes refer to me as gay, but in spite of my serious schedule as a producer, I still make time for love.
What has fame done to you?
Frankly speaking, I try not to get carried away by my success. Before me, many people have walked this path and I ask myself, where are they today? Even as I speak, many more are coming. So, the advice I’ve given myself is that fame and success must not go to my head because when I allow that to happen, I’ll start misbehaving and I don’t want that to happen to me.
What message do you have for your fans out there?
My gospel message as I want to refer to it to my fans is that I will never disappoint them and I will behave myself very well because there are two different images. Terry G the artiste and Gabriel as a person.