One of Nigeria’s legendary producers, ID Cabasa, has spoken out about the success of Olamide and 9ice in music.
Legendary music producer, Olumide Ogunade, popularly known ID Cabasa, is a beat maker who brings his artistic value to both music production and business. He has helped young acts take their music career to the next level. In this interview with OLAITAN GANIU, Cabasa bares his mind on the challenges of promoting indigenous rap, tackling consumption of hard drugs among youths and conflict between record labels and artistes, among other issues.
What inspires you to go venture into producing music?
If I say I saw anybody as an inspiration, I will be lying to you, because as at the time I started, people were not making money from music production. Few people I used to hear their names were Laolu Akins, Tunde, Yomi Omidiran and Lak Adeniran, I think he is late now. He was a studio engineer at Afrodicia Record Studio formerly known as Peca. Unfortunately there’s no history about this studio till date but that studio has actually produced legend artistes like the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Ebenezer Obey, Sunny Ade, Shina Peters, Barrister, Onyeka Owenu and others. I used to walk down to the studio to see how they did things because it’s not far from my house in Akoka.
The truth is, you can’t say you’re really looking up to these producers because people only celebrate the artistes but my desire to produce quality beats that Africans can feel pushes me to know what’s cooking behind the scenes. Generally, producers abroad ring bells more than our local ones.
Professionally, when did you start your career?
I started as a teenager way back in the late 80s. I was in the secondary school while also doing music by the side. But, professionally, it was around 2003 after I left the university. I worked in a corporate company for a while before I left to fully focus on music production.
Is that when you started Coded Tunes Record?
I started Coded Tunes production in my house in 2003. But before Coded Tunes, we had a clique called, The Smiling Head Soldier which was headed by 2phat. It comprises me, 2phat, Lord of Ajasa and MC Spako. And then, we used to have a lot of squads coming to make beat in my studio. There was this massive squad called, Yabtown Squad which is where Reminisce originated from. It is a clique of both rappers and singers and some of them were my juniors in secondary school.
From there, we decided to gather momentum and create something larger than just being Smiling Head Soldier or Yabtown Squad. And obviously the name of the studio that unites us is Coded Tunes. So, that was how we started Coded Tunes.
So, Coded Tunes is not directly owned by you?
I can’t say Coded Tunes is owned by me. Though I own the studio but the Coded Tunes clique consists of other friends. Probably, because I was the only producer amongst them, that unconsciously makes people believe ‘ID Cabasa is the head of Coded Tunes’. Though, it later became a bit formal, and I alongside 2phat and Lord of Ajasa became the head.
Coded Tunes is known to promote aboriginal hip hop acts. Tell us about it
It was something we started subconsciously but we are very proud of it today. As a musician and producer, I love to be original in all I do. I like to sound not local but indigenous because the way to get to people’s heart is majorly from their culture. There is a Yoruba language that says, “Ile latin ke so r’ode”, meaning charity begins at home. Obviously, the law of attraction worked for us, I met 2phat and Spaco who are infusing Yoruba to their hip hop music and that is what I also wanted to do. It was 2phat that later introduced me to, Lord of Ajasa who raps strictly in Yoruba.
Our staying originality then also attracts 9ice, Seriki and even Reminisce that you see today rapping in Yoruba. He was actually rapping then in pure English and he is very fluent. The same things apply to Olamide; he rapped in English, but when you move with people you will get influence by them.
Today, the industry is dominated by indigenous artistes. How does this make you feel?
I don’t think every Nigerian agrees that these things actually started from us. We live in a country where we don’t have or read history. Over the years, people are attributing the King of Yoruba rap to the late Dagrin, claiming he popularized it. Dagrin listened to the likes of Lord of Ajasa, 2phat and Coded Tunes before he summoned courage to do Yoruba rap. I remember, few months before he died, we had a chat and the young man was hailing me, saying, ‘Baba, e yin la n wo’ (meaning we are following your footsteps). So, for me it’s a thing of joy if people understand that we pioneered it. I’m happy that some people still refer to Coded Tunes as the pioneer of indigenous rap. We are the ones who created something that other people can actually live on and express themselves and that’s my definition of greatness.
You’ve been a blessing to many big stars of today. Do you receive accolades for this?
I will say I’m one of the few lucky ones that got the accolade that I deserve. In fact, I get more accolades than I think I deserve because all of those I’ve worked with till date are still much loyal to our friendship and some of them still mention my name in their interviews. Last year, 9ice titled his album after me. Olamide still doesn’t believe we are in a way apart. He doesn’t see me as ID Cabasa who just produces beats for him but rather sees me as his father and always consults me at any of his projects. We still play and do things together. The same goes for Reminisce, Seriki and every other guy, even the ones that are not part of Coded Tunes family which I’ve worked with. They still appreciate me; the likes of Banky W, Ruggedman, Durella and co.
How did you discover Olamide?
Olamide came with a friend to record in my studio; a friend was featuring him. I fell in love with the young boy of 13 or 14 as he delivered his rap line. I could hear a depth that you won’t get from most of his age mates. I was so impressed that I told him that he’s free to come to my studio at any time. He will come to the studio, then I will make beat while is writing his lyrics. From there, the interest to have him as part of Coded Tunes developed and the rest is history. By the time Coded Tunes transited to a proper recording label, Olamide was the first person signed alongside Seriki and Kayefi.
You’ve not been producing music like before; have you opted out of the game?
I laugh most time when I hear questions like this. I still produce, but I don’t think I have anything to prove again. I don’t fight to get production credit. Many people don’t know that I’m the one that produced Olamide’s ‘C-Ronaldo’ song. And on every Olamide’s album aside last year, I’ve been the one producing virtually all of it. The same goes for 9ice, and Lord of Ajasa’s album and a couple of other big artistes in the industry. I just stopped being the rookie ID Cabasa that artistes will be shouting his name on songs.
In your opinion, what classifies as the slang, ‘blow’?
The term, ‘blow’ does not mean you will be rich. Blowing does not guarantee success. Anybody can blow and it is very easy to blow but how long does your impact last? It’s just like a bombshell. People dance to songs after a month they get tired, so don’t just blow look for acceptability. Upcoming acts should ask themselves how they can sustain their relevance. They should better look for acceptability not just popularity. They should gather disciples rather than getting fake fans and let their content have a depth that can last for long.
What is your take on the high rate of hard drugs consumption among youths?
For every human being there’s a hunger for one to be high. I mean the hunger of seeking for more and people like to isolate themselves. They are looking to get to seventh heaven but unfortunately, it is a means to a particular end. If they understand the end before the beginning, they will know that you don’t need drugs to get to that end. When you smoke Marijuana to get inspiration like they say, it will only get you isolated. What inspires is right inside you. If you don’t give your mind capacity, you’ll get to that place of highness and nothing will come out. These guys don’t know they are destroying their destiny. But can you be so high and be higher than the Almighty God? It is impossible. For someone like me, if I want to get high, I’ll just close my tinted windows and put on loud music till I get high, that is the way I meditate. I don’t need to engage in drugs to get high.
I like the fact that the government has stood up to eradicate it but I don’t think they can eradicate it by just banning the importation of codeine, because codeine is a medicine just like Indian hemps. Depression is actually pushing people to do drugs. If the government can have plans for the youth who engage in drugs the level of consumption will automatically reduce.
What is your advice on conflicts between musicians and Record Labels?
The most important currency that we spend in business is trust, and this comes from building honesty overtime. An agreement is an agreement; artists should not come to the table of negotiation with desperation. Your need can force you to sign a wrong deal because that’s what you’ll be asking for and once that is supplied, you have lost value. Don’t come to sign an agreement because you want your investor to get you a luxurious car, standard apartment and different stuff. Come to the table with a value and depth you are bringing in. If you don’t understand the contract, get yourself a good lawyer that can interpret it for you.
As for the record label or investor, if you know you don’t know anything about music business like putting structures in place, handling PR, branding and promotions of the artiste, all you have is your money, please, don’t invest in music. Because, if you do; you’ll lose out eventually.
My advice for both parties is to sign deals as worst enemies but work as best of friends. Never allow emotion to get into signing deals.
What are you working on currently?
Presently I am working on our concert, Korinsodi in which we are featuring YBNL princess, Temmy Ovwasa and Lyta, Devolee and some other independent artistes. And I am focus on the academic aspect of Coded Tunes so as to help upcoming artistes understand the music industry.
How do you combine work with family?
I always balance my time with work and family, when it’s time for business I stick with the business so also the family. I don’t work round the clock though there are days I do that and I’ve been married for 11 years now, but the good thing about this job is that I can work anywhere. Sometimes, I have to work from home and still communicate with my family. My wife is also a singer. She has done backup for a couple of artistes like 9ice, and Lord of Ajasa. She still sings. Her latest work is titled Akikiitan by Sijuade which is presently enjoying the airwaves.
Source: The Nation
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