Culled from Thisday
The name P-Square will definitely ring a bell anywhere music is being discussed in Africa . They have become one of the biggest music exports out of Africa . They started their career with nothing but talent, courage and the determination to succeed. Today, they have become one of the richest acts in Africa driving choice cars and living in posh apartments. They have carved a niche for themselves through their soothing lyrical wit coupled with percussive beats. They spoke to SEUN APARA
They looked so simple and casual last Monday evening watching the on-going Africa Cup of Nations and at the same waiting for this reporter to arrive for their interview. After exchanging pleasantries and catching up on old times, we moved from the sitting room to the dinning to conduct this interview.
They have not actually spoken about the success of their latest album since it was released. That was where the interview started from. “It is a successful album. We sold a million copies after eight days. That was fantastic. We performed almost everyday through out the month of December and the album is now everywhere in Africa . We are getting ready for Invasion Africa season two”.
How did they receive the criticisms that followed the release of the album? “It’s bound to happen. We will tell you that we didn’t even receive much criticism on this one like the ‘Game Over’ album. It seems as if people are now used to our style of music. All they do now is to buy and listen”
“We came to realize that one of the problems we have right now in the industry is that people believe the songs that are played in the clubs are the hit songs and they lose focus of releasing songs with good contents. All we need to do is to do music and the society will choose their favourite. Some people now believe only in the instrumentals but music is more than that. The beats, the songs and the delivery should be perfect. When you have a better understanding of what music is, you will let it flow. ‘E No Easy’ was not recorded as a club song but is now one of the most played songs in the clubs. We advise that people should do good music”.
Lots of people refused to play ‘Danger’, one of the songs on their album in their various homes during the festive periods due to the lyrics. It’s however suprising that they felt the same way. “Even we P-Square felt the same. Nobody wants to see wahala (problem) or danger but that is not the concept of the song. At every point in life, one is bound to face danger. The song literarily explained what we went through in our career before we got to where we are now. It means that anybody that wants to enter our shoes too must see danger (laughs). Anyway, Danger was not the main song on the album but only an introduction to it.
They revealed what kept them going. “We believe it is the love for what we are doing and because we know what the people want. We have not changed and we don’t listen to people. We tried to develop ourselves which has really helped us. The ‘Do Me’ track you listen to in Nigeria is different from the Do Me you will listen to in other countries. They tried to play it with their own house beats”.
What informed their decision to start performing live? “We believe that is the way music ought to be done. The truth about this issue is that we play with a live band most times outside Nigeria . Why are we not replicating it in our country? Why are they always making us to perform with CDs? We have stopped that anyway and there is no show you would catch P-Square performing in that act again. Even when the organizers cannot afford the equipments, we go there with ours. We believe it should be encouraged by all the artistes. It is time to start doing music. People need to hear something different from the CDs they listen to every time in their respective homes”.
The twin brothers also explained why they sampled Busta Rhyme’s video to shoot theirs.
“It’s very simple. One of the reasons was that we are tired of seeing some videos we see on air everyday. They all look the same. The same song-Danger was meant to feature Busta Rhyme before everything turned apart. We only tried to do an international video out of Africa and people enjoyed it.
“The new one too is very simple. We just want to do something different. We have done so many love videos in the past where a guy will be holding a lady’s hand and be singing for her. So in this case, we decided to do something simple without any complication for the artiste. Soit is simply for people to enjoy the song”.
They explained how they feel being one of the most popular groups in Africa “We feel great and honoured. We are doing everything possible to maximize it because every artiste has a life span.
They can’t even count how many shows they play week in week out. “That is a very difficult question to answer. We play gigs like everyday. We know of the places we are going next week but we don’t know the ones that will follow. It’s very difficult for us to count.
“We are working on whole lots of stuff. People should expect the Invasion Africa Season Two. We are also working on Invasion Europe and America . At the same time, we are working on some other videos like Possibility and Break It. We are working on lots of things actually. Due to our time table this year, we might not be able to achieve everything but we pray that God will help us.”
They also took their time to speak on insinuations that they have been boycotting awards organized in Nigeria or by Nigerians. “For P-Square, we are occupied. If what people think is that we are boycotting award ceremonies, it’s not completely true. You don’t expect us to return money for a concert we have been paid for because of an award. Another important thing is that we have created a name for ourselves.
So other artistes need the awards more than us. Look at our shelves, they are full of awards. We don’t even have space for them anymore. We are sorry to say this but awards mean nothing to us again. Some will even call us that if we didn’t come, they will give it to someone else. We just felt other artistes need them more than we do. What we are saying is we can’t cancel our show for any award”
“ It is true that we cancelled a show for MTV Africa Music Awards in 2008 but it will never happen again. We knew how much we lost for that single show”.
They refuted allegations that stopped because they didn’t win some categories as expected. ‘Let’s even face it. Everybody loves awards but does it put food on our table? Definitely not! There are lots of stuff that happen behind all these awards that people do not know. When the sponsors give them money, they will go ahead and do whatever they like and be deceiving people. We know all these but for P-Square, we don’t need it”.
“There is no credibility in all the awards organized in Nigeria . I think they have to hear it from the horse’s mouth. They should be doing the awards for the upcoming acts and not for P-Square, 2Face and the rest. We don’t need it”.
Why the sudden change because they loved awards in the past? “Yes but not anymore. It got to a level that it became a headache. I don’t think R-Kelly won so many awards. We just advise they give it to the upcoming ones to ginger them up. We are old now (laughs)”.
What if they are nominated for Grammy? “That is the step. Not these ones. We will definitely go for Grammy”.
“We will definitely go for Grammy. We will cancel the show because it’s worth it. Would they still attend awards organized in Nigeria ? “2010 is a new decade and there are whole lots of things to be achieved. If we are free, we will attend. If we deserve it give it to us but if you we didn’t, give to the person that deserves it”.
“Maybe we have already made up our mind actually because there are whole lots to be achieved in the industry not awards. We don’t even have space for plaques anymore. Let them give it to those that need them. We are not saying awards are completely bad; they are good no matter how old you are. Some little kids from one school recently gave us an award and we love it. Even though it’s made of wood but we still appreciated it. But you know what; P-Square is much occupied. Award organizers are doing their awards to make money; we too should be doing our concerts to make money, Period”!
“It now looks as if they are sharing it. Many of them will come out and campaign for people’s votes but the votes were never declared for once. They enrich themselves through that means and they think we didn’t know (laughs)? If you invite an artiste for an award, you don’t have to beg him to come. Some people will go to the extent of begging us that if we didn’t come, the awards will not be fantastic. My God! You don’t have to do that. If it has credibility, nobody will want to miss it. You will leave whatever you are doing to be there. We have been to international awards and we all enjoyed it. Another problem is everybody is doing awards. We too can wake up tomorrow and do P-Square Awards.
You can imagine the number of awards in Nigeria every year. We just felt these things ought to be checked. The sharing we are talking about is awards A will give best song to his person while awards B will give same category to his own person. The same thing happens with all music awards in Nigeria . It calls for reasoning. One will start wondering if it’s not the same set of people that are voting for the categories. Everybody is just after their pockets. We think they should all come together and put a stop to it.
They also commented on the state of the music industry. “The most important thing right now is for us to do the right thing. Even though the leverage is still there for us and things are getting better by the day, so many things still have to be done because it’s not applicable to other acts. God made ours possible because we do lots of shows especially outside the country. There should be a way to curb piracy and encourage royalty from airplay.
Even if we A-list acts try to enforce it, the upcoming ones will still offer them money to play their videos because they are very desperate. So many things are even wrong with the Nigerian system. We have not had a president for more than two months”.
“We are getting the fight wrong because we are doing it by ourselves. We need to involve the government. LASTMA has been able to curb traffic in Lagos and EFCC has been able to curb corruption. So let the government create a security outfit like that for piracy. If our CDs are selling for N500, they can take N100.
EFCC are fighting corruption because they know that something will definitely come for them anytime they win. We still feel that the body should be under EFCC because it’s part of crime. We heard some people did hunger strike at a time. They demonstrated and later went to Abuja to collect some millions”.
“That is what we heard. Let’s assume we have been on hunger strike since then; we would have been dead by now. Nothing good came out of the hunger strike”.
The brothers are not planning to get married soon. “We will get married someday but we are not thinking about it right now. We will do that at the right time.
But Peter is already a father? (Peter cuts in) There is nothing wrong with being a father but marriage is a different thing. And Paul has a fiancée in the University of Abuja? (Paul screamed) who told you I have a fiancée? You revealed her to me about two years ago?
Yes I did but I didn’t say she is my fiancée. She is my girlfriend and we are still dating. She is about graduating and after that she needs time to settle down and be independent. At the right time, we will all get married. I can’t imagine my wife telling me that I should stop removing my cloths on stage (laughs).
They also spoke about celebrity marriage break ups in Nigeria . “We think people got to know about these break ups because they are popular. There is divorce in every sector of the society. We musicians need to marry someone that is our friend. Someone that is used to us and understands us perfectly than marrying someone who barely know anything about us. It’s a very sensitive issue”.
They felt bad for their colleague- 9ice who recently broke up with his wife. “We felt very bad. We are good friends because he is a wonderful person. He was actually here and the only thing we could say is sorry. When we read it in the papers at first, we thought it was not true until we saw him and he confirmed it. He knows better actually because he is the one wearing the shoes. So who are we to comment? But we were pained when we heard.