2015 WOULD BE THE YEAR OF THE UNDERDOG – A-Q
2015 WOULD BE THE YEAR OF THE UNDERDOG – A-Q
Hip-hop/Rap music is, arguably, one of the most technical genres of music in Nigeria, and around the world today. It is also interesting to take a trip into the minds of some these Hip-hop ‘heads’. JAMES SILAS indulged GILBERT BANI or A-Q as he is popularly known, and the rapper talked about himself, his music, online Rap lists and lots more.
Which of your songs would you say, brought you into the limelight?
To be honest, I don’t know which, between “Names”, “Champagne and Rum” and “BANG” with Femi Kuti, because each of these songs contributed differently to my career. “Names” made me a force to reckon with in the Hip-hop industry; “Champagne and Rum”, brought me recognition in the Pop culture, and “Bang” solidified my stay in the industry in general. I would not say it’s any of these songs that brought me to lime light, but my continuous strive to think outside the box and give my fans quality music every time I work on a project or release a single.
What does A-Q stand for?
The acronym A-Q comes from the many questions asked in hip-hop, like who is the best rapper, who is the greatest of all time, who has the best album and so on, so I simply just put all that together and became the A – ANSWER (TO THE) Q – QUESTION
What are the most interesting memories of your childhood?
I would say the most interesting memories of my childhood would be my secondary school years. I attended Kings College, Lagos and the social life among the students were at a very high level. I performed at most of the our social competitions and even if I am not proud of the fact that we sometimes jumped the school fence to attend clubs and parties around the Island where the school is situated, it was a lot of fun.
What else do you do apart from music?
I am a script writer, I own my own Entertainment Company called, ‘Hustle Ink Entertainment’. We are about to expand, sign more artists, go into movies, advertising, animation and comic books
We don’t see you on most concert bills, yet you keep pushing and releasing new materials; what is the motivation?
The motivation is simply knowing that most of the things going on now would fade away, and one day, the industry would recognize how great I am.
Have you at any point felt the urge to give up on your music career?
Yes, I have. I feel every person that has put in so much effort into something and has not quite gotten his/her desired result would at some point, feel the urge to give up.
You have released three Mixtapes (THE COMMISSION, LOVE AND MONEY and SON OF JOHN); one EP – MAKE YOUR BEST RAPPER LOOK STUPID; one compilation – LISTEN AND OVERSTAND, and one album – THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE; tell us about the growth process.
The growth process has been amazing, considering the fact that I started very young. I was 17 when I released my first single titled, “Wrap Nigeria”; it has been slow, but it has also been awesome seeing myself evolve as an artist. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that with every project or single I put out, I have moved an inch closer to my set destination.
Which rapper(s) you are feeling in Nigeria today?
I like Ice Prince, because I don’t know how to make the kind of music he makes, so simple, yet so effective, and it challenges me to simplify my own music most times, I like Jesse Jagz, because you can tell there is a huge amount of effort put into his music and it’s always amazing when your effort comes out the way you pictured it and it’s also appreciated by the fans. I like Phyno, because he is very believable, he actually looks like everything he raps about.
At what point are you convinced that an idea is ready to be recorded?
Back then it was an inspiration, a certain concept for a song comes to you and you just want to lay it out on a beat, but these days it’s more like a job. If you work in a bank, you would not go to the office only when you are inspired to, so now inspiration or not, I see it as a job. I and the team hit the studio every time we have a chance to, and drill it out till we have a good song or project.
Do you play any music instrument?
No, I do not play any instrument. I don’t feel the need to, however, I make a lot of live music.
What is good music to you?
Music that passes a message or touches the soul or does both.
What did you read in school?
I studied zoology.
Really? Tell us about it.
It’s an interesting course, because it’s the study of animals and their characteristics. It helps you understand a lot about life, especially when you find how much humans and certain animals have in common. I am not practicing it, because it was never what I wanted to study in the first place and it’s not in line with my dreams.
How seriously do you take those ‘best or most gifted rappers’ list site admins post on their websites sometimes?
I have never taken any ‘List’ serious in my life, not just because they are not credible and are influenced by so much industry politics, I know who I am, and I know my capabilities. I do not need any individual that does not have a broad knowledge of what the art form is about to categorize me by numbers. People have different opinions about everything. Before Jay-z dropped the album, ‘BLUE PRINT’, he was not in most people’s top ten, but look at where he is now. So for me, I’ll say let’s see what happens in the long run.
If you were to speak to the industry at an event, what key message would you like to pass to them?
I would let everyone know that we are not making a tenth of what we could make in the music industry, if we handled distribution the right way. We all seem to be content with the distribution model the industry has been running on, since the late 90’s. Maybe there are a few improvements here and there, but we are so resistant to change and this has stunted the growth of the industry. There are no records of sales and even where there are, it’s all fabrication and lies, we can actually make a lot more from proper branding and marketing of our music.
What should fans and music lovers expect from you in 2015?
2015 would be the year of the underdog, even-though most people feel like I am underrated and I have not achieved what I truly deserve. I am thankful for everything that I have achieved thus far and how far I have come. In 2015, I intend to go the extra mile in the almost saturated music industry, by kicking off with a new video titled “Counting My Blessings”. It will be released on January 5, and that would be followed closely by another video, and another Mixtape and then an album. I shall also cross into other aspects of entertainment. A movie, titled ‘THE 6TH REUNION’ is already in the works.