African Entertainment: I’m fighting hard to reclaim Ajegunle’s lost glory- Oritsefemi
Afro-beat singer, Oritsefemi Majemite Ekele’s career has been on the rise since his remake of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s song, Double Wahala, sometime in 2013. The singer in this interview with FAVOUR IGBAFEN speaks about his career, daughters and more .
What do mean by ‘Corporate Miscreant,’ the tittle of your last album?
You can describe ‘Corporate Miscreant’ in your own way, but I call it the abuse of responsibilities. You know many people are looking for responsibilities, they are looking for something. When we were on the street, people always said more money means more problems, but I know some people do not care about the problem that comes with money. These people just want to be rich. I feel many people misuse their offices, opportunities while others are looking for these opportunities badly. The name you call people who misuse opportunities are ‘Corporate Miscreants.’ I am referring to people generally; you could be a lawyer, a president, or a doctor. Also, it applies to rich people who are defying little girls and getting married to them, I do not think it is proper and I call them ‘Corporate Miscreants’. A lot of things are happening in this country.
You’re using this album to correct ills in the society?
I think it is part of it. The tittle of the album alone is instructive and has corrected a whole lot of things because nobody wants to be called a ‘Corporate Miscreant’. As we speak, the phrase is all over the street and people have been asking me how I arrived at it. This is the time for us to be careful in this country because this is the only country we have. We need to work together because the truth is that nobody will repair the country for us expect ourselves.
Do you have a favourite track on the album?
I think my favourite is the last track on the album, ‘Give Thanks’. I did it before I travelled to Europe. It is a way of thanking God for all He has done. I get touched whenever I play the song and I know a lot of people would like it. It is radio friendly and something you will like to hear while driving. My album has a lot of commercial or party songs but with messages. I think it is good when songs carry messages because they travel far and wide. This is an amazing album and was released on November 1, 2016. I have 21 tracks on it and it took me 11 months, almost a year, to put it together. I expect people to like different songs on the album because all of them are good.
‘Double Wahala’ was more or less a remake of late FelaAnikulapo-Kuti’s famous number and again you are using your new album to speak of the ills in the society. Are you inadvertently following Fela’s footsteps?
I am following my footsteps; Fela is a role model. Fela has done everything and we are thriving on his legacy but with different minds. Every step we take today as Afro-beat musicians has been there and FelaAnikulapo-Kuti was the kingpin. My music is mine, while Fela was Fela. I am not trying to build a magic that Fela never did. But I have to be myself and I am trying to push my own gospel in my own way. I have been inspired by Fela, no doubt.
You’ve moved from Ajegunle to Lekki and that means you now mingle with rich neighbours, has that changed anything about you?
No, I remain who I am. I do not think money can change me. I try as much as possible to wear my character, the one many people have always known me for. It is not easy, but you do not have to change that. What you could change is your lifestyle because change is constant. There are some radical things one did in the past that you do not like to continue. I still hang out with my old friends, but it is not easy to play on the street like I used to. Since the street made me, sometimes I go there to relax with them and it is always rowdy. But for some time now, I prefer to stay indoors; it is always from my bedroom to the studio. The game is not an easy one and you must always think of the next things to do to stay in it. I could have been coming out with singles here and there but the truth is that I needed to finish work on my album. This is why I have been indoors working.
How do you intend to give back to Ajegunle?
I have plans, but I must first start from where I was raised. It is an area called Tolu, a riverine area. We have many market women and fishermen there. They now dump waste there. Many stars actually came from this area. We have a field there where everyone played football, including myself and that was where I even got my music inspiration. Most people who knew me then know what I’m saying. But I am not proud of the situation of the place right now. My brother, Ighalo and Brown Ideye played football at Tolu too.
I am looking at how I can stop them from turning the place to a dumping ground. I do not even know if the government knows what is going on there. If at all they want to be dumping refuse, there should be a barricade and it should not affect the community.the field is been affected by the dump site and it is the only place they have to play football. What I hope to do isto put the field in good condition.we also had a massive concert on January 1. I hope to get many of my colleagues and brands to support me more going forward. I am from that area and I do not want people to go back to crime. It looks like there is no hope for Ajegunle people anymore and I have to give back. I am the only person they are looking up to at the moment. I have to reach out to them, with the help of my colleagues and motivational speakers.
In the ’80s and ’90s, Ajegunle was producing great musicians. Not so much of that happens now, where did your people get it wrong?
There is no encouragement anymore. We used to produce great dancers and footballers in Ajegunle. Unlike before when we had plenty playgrounds, we only have one in Ajegunle now at Tolu. Even if you did not stay in Ajegunle, you must have played there. We used to know Ajegunle as a home of talented people. I want to build a music school and encourage people to come there. We have many talents in Ajegunle and we dominated the scene before things went bad. You cannot talk about street songs without Ajegunle.
Looking back at those days preceding your fame and fortune, how do you feel today?
I feel great. This is why I always thank God in all my songs. I am like a role model to a lot of hustlers out there. If Oristefemi can make it, they can also become somebody tomorrow. Being a role model makes me happy.
How about your parents and siblings?
Many of siblings are working now. I try to advise and support them. I lost my father in 2014, may his soul rest in peace. I miss him so much, he is my role model. My mother is still alive but does not work anymore. I do not want to stress her because I still want her to be around for so long. Whatever she wants, I know God will provide. She has done How about your parents and siblings?
Why do you prefer to feature white ladies in your musical videos?
I try to balance things because of racism. It is an issue being talked about all over the world, but a lot of white people like me even though I do not know why.
How close are you with your two daughters?
They talk to me like a friend, not a father. If I do not make myself available, I will not know what they are passing through and they might be keeping things from me. I do not need to tell them I am their father because they know that already.
How have you been able to combine music and fatherhood?
I do not think there is any father that will want to disappoint his kids because they look up to you. They know I am a superstar, the reason I must work harder. If I do not have kids, I might say I do not have responsibilities at such. Having children is a huge blessing; you cannot compare it with material things because without them all your money is a waste. If you do not know, most celebrities feel great whenever they have kids because it is like a double blessing.
How about the mothers of your children?
They come around to check their kids and the girls visit their mothers too.