The singer sat down with Seun Apara in Lagos few days back. (Seun Apara is the CEO of Media & Marketing Experts LTD and a columnist with Thisday Newspapers. Follow him @seunapara).
One of Nigeria’s prolific singers, Omawumi is no doubt doing well in her chosen career and doing Nigeria proud. Not relenting on her oars after the great success recorded by her last single, Bottom Belle, the singer spoke exclusively to Seun Apara few days back concerning her oncoming new single that will dropping before the end this month, her performance at the CAF event and meanings of Kokoma & Bottom Belle that has caused heated arguments in different quarters.
What should be our expectations regarding the new single you are about to drop?
I have always been very unpredictable. I at all times put out what marvels the people. The way to do it with our music industry is that when you release a single, you release another single that sounds like the first one, so that the leverage that you have from the first one will carry on, but that’s not my style. My style is to make good music because I am a music lover. Anytime I enter the studio, I deliver anything that comes to my head as long as it is good music. That’s how I have always being. Now that people have heard ‘bottom belle’, don’t expect to hear another highlife song because before ‘Bottom Belle’, you heard a 70’s classic song called ‘If You Ask Me’. So if you are expecting to hear something like Bottom Belle, I’m sorry because it is something totally different.
Well, my new track called ‘Stay Alive’ (Jeje Laye) is still a build up to my second album, but what I hope to achieve from it is the gospel of the music, what I am saying in the song. What I am saying in the song is you need to just relax and take things easy because some people don’t. Every day, you see people trying to acquire wealth or get to a level where they can forget their troubles. But the thing about it is that you just need to slow down a little. As long as you have the basic requirements of the three square meals, try to stay alive and be concerned about your well being before you concentrate on acquiring wealth.
What could you remember from your recent performance in South-Africa?
It was a fantastic opportunity and I didn’t believe that I will get that kind of leverage that I got. I performed alongside Mafiki Solo, a very big band in South Africa. I admire their music and for me to have the opportunity to perform on stage with them, is a big thing for me. I remember I used to save 1,500naira to buy their CD because they don’t sell their CDs in the normal market. It was a privilege to me and aside from that, to be able to perform in the presence of the president of South Africa, CAF president and other big shots.
What do you think makes your music different from other artistes?
Well, I think it has to do with God. I can’t attribute anything to myself. Sometimes, I might wake up and tell you this is how I’ll do my music to come out good, but I realize it doesn’t have anything to do with me. It is just the hand of God in my life because I am not the best vocalist in the world nor in my country but when I come out and I sing, there is a kind of respect and acknowledgement that I get. My music is relatable, it has nothing to do with me, it’s just the hand of God.
Basically, when are you releasing the album?
I was tempted too by my manager, Mr. Sundeay Are. He was troubling me that I must release an album, but the thing about it is that I feel my fans and listeners deserves a lot more. It is not that he doesn’t want the best for me, he does, but I need to be able to bring out something fantastic. All I am begging for is a little time, my album is almost ready. Now it might get to the stage where all the songs in my album are going to come out free of charge, but I just need time to be able to pass the message I need to pass across because they are only like a few channel for people to get my messages or get inspiration. In Nigeria these days, not many people talk about what really happens in real life, now I have the opportunity to do that. So, I need a little bit of time because there is a message I am passing across.
Your videos come with different interpretations, what should we expect from this new one?
I can tell you that it’s going to be different. It is just a total interpretation of who I am.
Basically, the word ‘Kokoma’, what does it mean?
I came back from America with my daughter when she was about two and half months or three months. My mum was with me for about four months to take care of the baby. When my mum was with me, I used to sing ‘Omawumi’s baby, Grandma Warri’s baby, Grandma Lekki’s baby’, and so on.
Kokoma is like a drum beat or dance style of highlife that could be related to Ghanaian highlife in the 60’s or 70’s. When my mum cooks, that’s what they sing- ‘kokoma, I stand by, Adebisi Konga‘. Adebisi konga is the name of a guy that used to play drums, his name was Adebisi, but we call him ‘Adebisi Konga’. Then before I released the song, my mum used to sing the song. When the producer of ‘Bottom Belle’ called me that he’s taking the song to Flavour and that he needs me to come out with something different because Flavour will surely bring in his own style. We did it and the song became a hit. Now, a lot of people enjoy the music, from six months to 10 years old. That’s satisfaction to me.
What is ‘Bottom Belle’ itself?
Bottom Belle! I get tired of answering that question because everybody has the idea that it might be the bottom of the belle. The song was originally done by Victor Olaiya. I got ideas from him and a couple of other artistes. Basically, I wrote it in my concept because it was released in the 60’s, 70’s and then bell bottoms were in vogue. A woman will tell me buy me bottom belle, give me bottom belle to cool my heart. Then the in-thing was bell bottom trouser. So when they tell you give me bottom belle or buy me bottom belle, it means buy me bell bottom trouser, so that I will feel among and be happy. Bottom Belle in my own concept means going the extra mile to make your woman happy.