Nigerian dancehall star, Daddy Showkey, on a mission to reinvent himself and his music, speaks with OLUMIDE IYANDA about his life and craft.
How is your new song, ‘Showkey Again’, doing?
First of all I thank God for the way people appreciate the song. I did not expect that kind of positive reception. The response is touching because for many years I was not as active as I used to be. I’ve done about three other singles which I have not promoted. I just decided to try this one out and the reception has been encouraging.
What happened to ‘One Day’ which you released last year?
The song is still there too. All the songs are singles that will be on my full album. I have not shot the video of ‘One Day’ or promoted it. That song will inspire those who listen to it. It says that one day God can do anything you want for you if you believe in Him
How much have you done to reinvent yourself?
I cannot say I have done this or that but I know that anywhere I go to perform the appreciation by people is overwhelming. I did some shows in December – in Abiriba, Agbor, Lagos, Kogi and Abuja – and did not expect the kind of turnout I got. I thank God that some brands still associate with me. That means Showkey is still relevant. No kain.
I ask the question about reinventing partly because I notice you are active on social media these days
I will not agree that I am always on social media. However, we are in a jet age and there is nothing we can do than join them. Even you journalists no longer write with pen and paper, but now operate on the internet. In my time we go to Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon and other neighbouring African countries apart from travelling all over Nigeria to promote ourselves. Today, it is just one click on the internet. That is why I laugh when people compare my generation of musicians with this generation because a time will come when what they have now will be obsolete. My generation didn’t fail. We did our thing in our own way. Today, I can also upload my music on the internet from my phone. Let us give God the glory.
How easy is it for you to compete with the likes of Patoranking, Oritsefemi and other younger musicians?
Music is not competition. You play to make people happy. The sky is big enough for all birds to fly without hitting each other. In my time I wasn’t competing with Blackky, Ras Kimono or any other person. I just played my music. It’s like comparing New Edition with Boyz II Men. All these people on the scene now built themselves from people like me. I just want to play my music and let those who love listening to Showkey listen to Showkey. There won’t be the present without the past. The likes of King Sunny Ade are the foundation upon which people like me built on. You cannot compete with your foundation.
Do you think you can produce another hit like ‘Dyna’?
The people will decide that; not me. Mine is to play music the way I can. I am not just a musician. I am an entertainer. I build my craft to fit whatever situation I find myself. I am a street boy. I am always ready to learn. I don’t have a monopoly of ideas. If I want something I go to who I believe can get it for me.
Why did you leave the Headies stage so early in December while people were enjoying your performance?
You know my name. That is what you call “soki” or “bintin”. I have to thank the organisers of the Headies because it took them time to get me and convince me to perform. I didn’t expect the reaction I got on that day. What the organisers did by going back to invite artistes like me motivates me a lot. They brought me, Adewale Ayuba, Ras Kimono, Jazzman Olofin and Remedies. It was really fun having those people on the same stage with the younger generation.
How big is your influence in Ajegunle now?
My influence is beyond Ajegunle now. I am for the whole of Nigeria and Africa now. I grew up from noting to something, so I use my life as testimony. I never portrayed Ajegunle as better than anywhere else. My message is about what I went through, the way I grew up and relationship with people in my neighbourhood. When I was growing up I promised myself that I was going to change the impression people had about Ajegunle and that was what I did.
How well did you do that?
You can go find out yourself. Today’s generation may not know what I’ve done but the people of my era know. I was arrested as a youngster when I went for a job because I was from Ajegunle. They almost sent me to jail if not for God. That was why I vowed that if I become something I will make every child that comes out of that neighbourhood proud of it. Maybe I made a mistake by not establishing a foundation and that is why people ask what did I do.
How do you feel seeing the likes of Kcee, Oritsefemi and other stars who came out of Ajegunle after you?
They all passed through me. I was at the final of Star Quest at the Coliseum when Kcee won with his then partner Presh. Oritsefemi was one of the young people in my neighbourhood who sang for me anything I came back from tour and I gave them money. Today I thank God he is a household name too. There are many of them that passed through me but it’s when you identify yourself that I will talk about you.
Unlike some of them, you seem to have avoided some of the controversies that come with fame
Because I know where I’m coming from and where I am going to. I grew up with violence but that was not what made me Showkey. It was humility that made me what I am today. Nobody is above controversy because it will always come. But before you abuse me that I am ugly I will say so myself.
Why didn’t say anything when 2face talked about leading a protest?
I had an experience during #OccupyNigeria protest in 2011 against fuel subsidy removal. I was shot around Agidingbi in Ikeja on my way home from the protest in Ojota. Nobody called to ask about my welfare after the incident. They abandoned me. Why then would I go to another rally? I was not against the proposed 2face rally, but I kept quiet because of the last experience.
Weren’t you close to former President Goodluck Jonathan?
I’m close to everybody. I won’t say I because I’m close to Jonathan I won’t say anything if he is doing wrong. If he does something bad I will say it. If people say it’s because I’m close to Jonathan that is why I criticise President Muhammadu Buhari that is their bone of contention. It’s like Chief James Ibori. He is my friend; he is my person. If you I have a friend that is an armed robber and he is sent to jail. If he comes back after paying his due to the society then I am free to go and see him. Nobody can deny me of that right because I am Showkey.
Why were you not at his thanksgiving service like Ras Kimono and Orits Wiliki?
I had an event on the day of that thanksgiving. That is why I did not go. But I heard what people were writing, what people were saying. Everybody has right to anybody. If you say the man is bad, well I have a lot of friends that people say are bad but they are still my friends. You are my friend; if anybody calls me a bad man will that stop me from being you friend?
Are you saying Ibori is a bad man?
I did not say Ibori is a bad man. The man was away for about seven years and came back. People have the right to thank God for keeping him alive. What if he had died in jail? If his community is happy and celebrating that their son is back; they are free to do that. Ras Kimono and Orits Wiliki are free to go to his thanksgiving. The fact that he is not good to you does not mean he is bad to them.
Has he been good to you?
Na my person o! I dey hide am? I will soon visit him.
Not many people knew you were romantic until you posted that Instagram message to your wife on Valentine’s Day
Thank God you and I have been friends for a while and you know I hardly talk about my wife in the media. But the beginning of my love life is my wife. I was just looking at those two pictures and something just lit up in my head. There were three of us in the original picture – my then girlfriend who is now my wife, me and a driver in Ajegunle whom I cropped out. That picture is over 20 years old. That woman sacrificed her life, her family to be with me. I have to keep telling her I appreciate what she did, what she is doing and what she will do. But I am romantic o.