MI – The only thing Americans do better than us

In this interview, the new CEO of one of the biggest record labels in the country, Chocolate City, with over 13 artistes signed to the label, talks about his music career and his plans for brand extension:


As the new CEO of Chocolate City, where do you think the record label will be in the next five to six years years and your opinion on rap music?

First of all, as the new CEO, we want to be number one every year. You should not compete unless you want to be the number one. Talking about rap music in Nigeria, I think I became a little bit relaxed at a point as a rapper because the competition was not like that when I was coming in. When I came in, we had the likes of Mode 9, Ruggedman, Source-kid, Ikechukwu among others.

There was no way to pass but at certain point I dropped African rapper number 1, it became a little bit very competitive because I was like the only person running the show. But now I am grateful to go to shows. We see the likes of Ice-Prince, Vector, Ilbliss, Olamide, and Reminisce as rappers. We have rappers everywhere and that competition is there. So competition is not only in record labels, it is also in music.

Aside doing music, what other plans do you have for your brand extension?

There is a plan for that and that will come out very soon. I also want to go into clothing and stuffs like that. I am willing to go into fashion but you know, you need to be very careful because fashion has its own attitude. In fashion you have to be very careful but there is a serious plan for that. We will get there.

Don’t you think that if you want to go into brand extension you have to do something that is in line with what you are known for? Take for instance D’banj going into garri production; what do you have to say about that?

Dbanj before now, had worked with a lot of agriculture- related NGOs. They have been tackling the problems of agriculture. So the day he launched the koko garri whether he sells or not, he is very successful. It is not about the product itself or symbol but the target audience that he is trying to get has already been communicated. So you can see it is already a huge success. We are the people that will write the story. And the message is telling the youth that agriculture is the way to go. He has been successful in creating that product.

Secondly, you are not being fair to him if you say that Koko garri is the only brand extension that he is doing now. Remember that from Koko mansion, we went to koko mobile and all of them have been very successful. He has over time, shown the power of his brand. I think the Koko garri is another thing that he is doing and you must go deeper to understand the concept of the Koko garri.

I think right now as a young person, if you talk about agriculture, the country should sponsor whatever that you are doing. I come from Taraba state and I know there is a huge farmland there. I would like to have a farm, I might not call it MI farm but agriculture is certainly the way to go forward. Hopefully, we are going to get to a point where everyone will accept Koko garri and probably see it as a rival to Ijebu garri.

Take for an example, when you think about Kellogg cornflakes, you don’t see it the same way you see Koko garri, you see it as a nice brand. If Kellogg will endorse Dbanj as their ambassador you will all like the brand. There are so many different markets and the people will soon buy into the Koko garri, just as they have accepted Dbanj. So, for me, the Koko garri story is a huge success.

Lets us not forget that Dbanj is the only African act to have Drebeat, he is also the only ambassador of Drebeat that has a colour made especially for him. Every other person is endorsing the brand for themselves, but he has a special gold colour made for him which is coming soon. So for everything you say about him, I just see a success story and a business man who is not afraid to try. I think his effort should be applauded.

What do you have to say about the recent song by one of your artistes, Cooker which he did in pidgin?

When I talk to rappers about the language, they always tell me that I have to sell out and it always offends me. Because, pidgin, is a beautiful language and any time I am hanging out with somebody from Warri and those areas, I always enjoy myself. There are things you cannot say without speaking that language so why are we trying to create division between the language and English.

Our culture is very beautiful. We just need to do it well. You can do American music poorly jut as you can African music as well. One of my artistes signed to our record label that goes by the name, Cooker who recently released a song with a mixture of that. I think Cooker’s music is great and I hope it would be properly promoted. Because that song is a throwback to sound of old and for a young guy at that age to do that kind of song is quite good. The guy is also very respectful.

What determines your beats?

I listen to people’s opinions so much and I also understand that their opinions might not always be right. People would like to talk about you without really knowing what you are doing. I could remember then, we had the likes of Mode 9, Source-kid and others but there was never a rap album. There was no album that you could play for anybody and they would say ‘yes’, this is a good album.

When MI too came out with African rapper number 1 people accepted it with pinch of salt but when I was recording the song my CEO then, Audu Maikori was so sure it was a hit. But at the time, I was not comfortable with the beat. When you are writing a song you have to start somewhere and end somewhere.

It is like you are having a conversation with someone. You find out that in the process of rapping, we say things that don’t make any sense at all. Sometimes, you can have good lyrics in rap music that does not mean anything. When you are writing a song, your communication must change. Until you communicate with that person you are having a conversation with you have not made a good beat or good lyrics.

What should we expect from you in the next one year or two in terms of music?

This is probably my most productive period. I am shooting a lot of videos. I am also making a lot of music. I have seventy songs left over from the Mr Chairman album. I recorded them as an EP but I don’t want to put them out now. I have an album that is waiting, but again, as a big artiste, I have been talking with Tyga to feature in my album.

So it is not what you will rush into, it is going to take time to put all those things together. The bigger we get here in Nigeria the more we are noticed internationally even in America. The only thing Americans do that is different from what we do is that, they sell their identity so well but the reality now is that we are not so far behind them.

We had Jay Z’s cousin here in this our office recently and he was talking to us. He said that because Nigerians do not know that their music is good enough, they don’t sell it like the best music in the world. He said that is the only thing that is missing in our packaging and advised we should sell our music like the best in the whole world. There is no magic in what they do in America. I am excited about my works that will soon be out and I was also excited to sign a Globacom deal last year for ring tones. We have the potential to be the largest market in the world.

Aside doing music, what else do you think you can do well?

I would probably be playing for Nigerian Super Eagle as a defensive midfielder and Arsenal FC as well. I would also have something to do with music or advertising.

When is MI getting married?

You see, what I am promising you is, when I know you will be informed, but for now, I do not know yet.

Is there any person in the picture?

They are many, one of them is married, Larry Hood, another one passed away recently.

Who is your ideal woman?

You know that picture of a real African woman? I think we have not really done much to appreciate African mothers. Do you know what they do? They take care of the kids and shop and take the kids to school and do many other things. Talking about the physical side of what I want in a woman, I want my children to be tall, so, she must be tall because I am not tall.

Then I don’t care about complexion. If she is fair, that would be a problem because I would have to see her childhood picture to confirm if that colour is natural or artificial. Most ladies that claim to be fair or appear to be fair these days use unnatural means to achieve it. So, getting her childhood picture would tell me all I need to know concerning her true complexion.

If someone should walk up to you now and say that she is pregnant for you, will you accept that? 

Yes, if I have a proof that we have been together and done it because I believe that the best way for a child to be raised is for the both parents to be around. Look at somebody like 2Face he has shown love to all his kids and they are very close. Not only that, he has also maintained a good relationship with the mothers. When such situations arise, the best you can do is to make the most of them by staying true to yourself and be fair to all concerned

Does any woman have a baby for you?

There is none that I know of.

Talking about your education, do you have plans of going back to school?

I wanted to but as soon as I came out, I have been working since so there is no chance of going back any more. I am looking for a time that I would be able to finish my education and get my degree and we will take it from there.

SOURCE: vanguard

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