Africa: I used to work as conductor, sell scraps – Baba Fryo
I used to work as conductor, sell scraps – Baba Fryo
Ghetto singer and Dem go dey pose exponent, Friday Igweh, popularly known as Baba Fryo, has lived all his life in Ajegunle, a suburb of Lagos. In this interview, the Delta State-born musician recalls how he used to pick scraps in the refuse bins to sell, and his life as conductor, before he eventually discovered his talent and became a musician. He spoke with FLORA ONWUDIWE.
Who is Baba Fryo?
The name Baba Fryo is a stage name. When you are going into the art, you need to have a stage name. The name Baba Fryo has fetched me a lot of goodies in life, including fame. I am a down to earth person; I don’t live a fake life. I live a natural life because I was born and brought up in the ghetto city of Ajegunle. I struggled to attain to that fame. When I was in the ghetto, some of my friends who used to watch us then have not made it in life till date, but they were there when we used to rehearse every day. They felt that we were disturbing them, but now they are the ones disturbing us.
What was life in the ghetto like?
Life in the ghetto, everything was raw; you need to struggle before you can make ends meet. Then, we used to go to the refuse bins to pick some things; then we used to call it ‘Boula’. We sell these scraps, and we do motor conductor work too. I give thanks to God. When I really faced music I began to find goodies in music.
What inspired you to go into music?
Music has been in me as a teenager. I love music. I used to rehearse alone, until I met a friend who loves music. He played his song to me, I quite liked his song. I was working hard on my own music too, and I met another friend who was a guitarist. I am a keyboardist and a vocalist. We did a demon together. I listened over it, I was not impressed, I decided to do it alone and that was how I came about the name Baba Fryo.
‘Dem Go Dey Pose’ was a mega hit. What inspired it?
You know in the ghetto, we live some fake lives, especially those who travelled to foreign land. So when they come back, they will ‘waka kurukere’ movement go, and when they come back, they begin ‘denge’ for us. These people will go abroad not through the legal way, and when they come back ‘Denge go dey pose’. And some of them are not doing any legitimate work abroad. That was why I said denge go pose, denge go dey waka kurukere. And I said the gbanjo (fake) shoes wen dey buy, dey wan take do shakara for me.’ I called the lyrics a mega hit, because it lasted over two years. It is not the kind of music they have today. The kind of music they have today, it expires after six or three months. Our kind of music then, two years people are still enjoying it.
How many albums do you have to your credit?
I have three albums and I have some singles too. I have ‘Dem Go Dey Pose’, ‘Notice Me’, and ‘Country No Send’, but I am coming out with a new one called ‘Iniquity’. I decided to stay away for some time because I have to work on something new. When I released my first album, I did not have a family. But now, I have a family and I also have other things doing and I have to attend to people too. The situation in the country does not affect me because I don’t live a fake life, so I am used to the hell fire in Nigeria.
The issue of piracy, does it affect your work?
Yes, I think I will say if they are given awards to the most pirated artiste, I will say, I am the most pirated artiste; ‘Dem Go Dey Pose’ is the most pirated song in Nigeria. Pirates did not allow me to reap the fruit of my labour. I think I pay my bills through live shows or concert. The recording company will say there is no money.
Who were the artistes that you were looking up to in life at that tender age?
Oh yes, they were so many of them. People like Bob Marley, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Sunny Ade, Peter Tosh, amongst others, those were my mentors, because they talk about reality of life.
Especially, the man Fela used to take stimulant before performing live on stage; do you emulate him as far as that level?
Yes, I used to take Indian hemp before, but not for performing live on stage; I took it for inspiration, but it does not enhance my performance on stage. I also smoke Indian hemp when I want to relax, because it helps me to relax my nerves.
What can you say about the government with the music industry and the musicians?
The government never had anything to do with the musicians from the onset. What is their support, are they supporting PMAN? For instance, we have COSON and MCSN, they want only one group of collecting society and the musicians are saying no, if you don’t like COSON you go to MCSN or vice versa. You must not make it only one group. But the government is saying no, that they want COSON, but we are not interested in COSON. We are interested in MCSN. But I don’t want COSON, I prefer MCSN.
Why don’t you like COSON?
Because COSON was former PMRS, I remembered when I registered with them, they paid me N1, 500 for how many years and I have been performing for one stage to another, and they only had N1, 500 to pay me.
Have you had the opportunity of performing outside the African shores?
Yes, the Ireland in Dublin, I played at Hardcuck and Gaul way, I played ‘Dem Go Dey Pose’ and ‘Notice Me’. I never believed that the Oyibos (White people) can dance to the culture related to the ghetto.
Tell us about your new album Iniquity?
It is all about the general thing that is happening in the country.