Like somebody who had since imbibed the America culture and ways of life, Bunmi Fapohunda, massively addressed as Asha on the beats scene do not believe in unnecessary hype. Rather, he settles strongly for the magic of professional musicianship which actually shot him into focus. Asha elaborated on this and how he used his Rock Da Mic show to expose the likes of Timaya, Wande Cole and others. These, he bared before IFECHI OKOH during an intensive close-up on the bulky-looking controversial act. Excerpts
I am Asha bunmi Fapohunda from Ondo State. I am an R&B/hip hop artiste. I grew up in Nigeria and I had the better part of my growing up in the United State of America. I started my music career in 1998, and I have work with a lot of major acts in the United States before I decided to come home, with a view to establishing my career in Nigeria. To God be the glory that I did in 2005 with the release of my first single titled “Nike” and later “Dami”. They were both successful. After that, I decided to stay back in the background because of the situation of the market at that time. I have since engaged in promoting upcoming talents through my platform ‘Rock da Mic’. That platform has been instrumental to the discovery and grooming of big acts like Timaya, Wande Cole, Soul E, Konga and many others. They all use to come to Rock Da Mic before they became what they are now. I wrote the Ninja Bike song which I featured with Charly Boy. After that, I came out with my own single ‘EFCC’ and since then, I’ve been working on my album due to be released any moment from now. Rock Da Mic is currently going through rebranding phase.
You at a time backed out of the music scene because of what you perceived as a poor marketing concept in Nigeria. How can you compare the marketing strategy then and now? Does it mean that the marketing system has improved making you to come back?
No, the marketing structure has not been any better. However, the industry is still very vibrant that you can make your money from serial incomes. You can’t make money from your albums alone, because it’s more encouraging to make money from shows.
Having been around the industry for about fourteen years now or thereabout, what are the challenges you have faced so far?
Basically from an artiste’ point, not having proper backing is always a pain, in whatever way one looks at it. For instance, socially when you can’t do the thing that you need to do to get you where you’re expected to be. As an artiste, you go through different creative modes. You can do albums. But, if you can’t bring out just an album, it becomes frustrating. You now have to start all over again. Take for instance, R. Kelly can do any song on stage if he feels like. This is possible because of the structures in place and the atmosphere too. That is not the case here which have been making go through this difficulties as a result of lack of support which I need at certain times.
Let’s talk more about “Rock Da Mic”. Can you further explain?
Rock Da Mic is a platform for all the up-coming artiste to catapult themselves from oblivion to stardom. The Nigerian music industry, is a very unique market in the global entertainment industry. So “Rock Da Mic”, has been able to identify the needs of the average up-coming artiste and as a result created this necessary platform for them to get to the next level.
Which artiste(s) has Rock Da Mic shot into focus?
Konga, is number one among others. The rest of the artiste, were the ones that we discovered along the line. We never brought them to limelight, but we served them the platform to with that made them famous. We noticed that Wande Cole and LKT were more interested in singing than others during the Rock Da Mic exercises. Timaya too, was like them. His most celebrated song, “Dem Mama” which gave him all the confidence to go into full time musicianship and encouraged us to printed almost ten thousand copies during our marketing deal.
You’ve been in Nigeria music industry since 1998, yet you don’t seem to be as popular as you ought to be. What do you think is the major problem here?
Though, I have been in the entertainment industry since 1998 unofficially. But in 2004, Icame into the business fully. So I have been active in the Nigeria music industry for 11 years. The first two years, was when I did “Nike” , “Dami” and “Ninja Bike” which I was the sole behind it. It’s not that I don’t want to be popular, but I don’t just put myself in the media very unnecessarily. I must confess that I don’t necessarily have to entertain every publicity channel. As a matter of fact, I shy away from them, expect if a particular media house is persistent in interview me.
Are you saying the media has no role to play in your career?
Not quite so please! I know that the media is one of the key elements in promotion of an artiste. The artiste is like a product, and to market this product effectively, the media is the only channel to get the artiste across.
They say “he who goes to equity must do that with a clean hand.” When you decided that you wanted to do music you should have known that you are bound to become a public figure along the line. Talking about not wanting publicity, is it not a contradiction of your ultimate desire as a star?
When you look at the entertainer, industry here, I expect you to look at it from the marketing point. I mean as a product ready to be lunched. At this point in time, the artiste has to activiate his media strategy so that everybody would key into the promotion provided by the media. That is why I maintained earlier that it is unnecessary to be in the media at every point in time. I have been very silent for reasons best known to me. To me there is nothing I think I want to talk about for now? I have taking a strong stance on how entertainment celebrities should strategize effectively from a disciplined standpoint.
Can you put us in the know of the album you are working on now?
Expectedly, I have been working on my new album as an artiste. I go through different phases in getting things right. I am comfortable where I am now and I believe that I am ready to release the album as a result. When I come out fans will know why I am underground working on it since the past four years. I don’t do albums for commercial reasons and that’s why I have been underground working on my album.
What are you going to sing about in your next album?
It’s about the struggle of every average Nigerian youth.
Commercially, how successful has Rock Da Mic been?
It has been very successful as far as the impact is concerned. Commercially, we have not launched it, so I can’t judge from the commercial standpoint. But from comments from industry watchers, we have done well because we have won the hearts of those who know that Rock Da Mic doesn’t exploit, nor give dull hopes to talented and aspiring star musicians. Rather it is a platform to network with those who will help them to get to the next level.
At which point of your life did you decide to do music?
After I discovering my talent in 1998. That was when I decided and before my decision, I spoke to God and he gave me the go ahead.
What has stardom or being an entertainer taught or deprived you?
It has exposed me so much that I have been robbed of my privacy in the end; I can’t do normal things that I ought to do again. Now, I have a false standard of living. Stardom has taught me that I have to use it positively, impacting on peoples’ lives.
If you have another life to live, would you still want to be an entertainer?
I wouldn’t know! Who knows whether life will permit me to have my way. I am not on this world on my volution. That is why I can’t help what is happening to me now.
Who is one person in this country that you cherish so much and why?
I respect late Gani Fawehinmi so much, and the reason was that he stood for what he believed in.
Two things are involved in being a celebrity. One is attaining stardom, while another is maintaining it. How prepared are you to keep the stardom you’ve attained?
I keep coming with the good songs that people would like and that’s coming up with good products meant to endear me to my fans for as long as possible. I also tried to live a good a life worthy of emulation and capable of inspiring my generation.
What are your regrets as an artiste?
I have no regretted whatsoever till now.