His music has transcended beyond the shore of Nigeria, selling greatly in Europe and America. Gafaru Azeez Omogbolahan a.k.a Oyama Azeez; having toiled and labored relentlessly has really found his feet in the world of Fuji music. With many albums recorded without seeing the light of the day, Oyama Azeez can now boast of being heard, love and cherish amongst music lovers both at home and in the Diaspora.
In an interview with this Magazine, he did bare it all on his sojourn so far and his intention to take Fuji music to the next level. Excerpts:
The name Oyama, how did you come about it?
My name is Gafaru Azeez Omogbolahan a.k.a Oyama. Oyama as a name was given to me by an Ebira man that was living in my neighborhood then. It simply means new thing.
Taking up fuji music, how did the journey start?
Taking up fuji music as a profession dated back to when I was very young. I put in all I had so that I could be at par with those that were professionals then. I took it as a serious business right from day one and that is why I am different from many out there. Then, it used to be passion, that passion I had in music was what really drove me into it.
At first; my parents never wanted it because of different tales they have heard about musicians. I was born in Mushin in Lagos. My parents had to relocate me back to my town in Ogun state, Omu-Eleni just to dissuade me from singing. But when I got there; the music in me grew stronger and the struggle continued.
When I came back to Lagos, my mother had to follow me to a show, when she saw my performance she was dazed and the orientation people have given her about musicians as regards the use of drugs before going on stage and other vices made her detest the profession. But that day she went with me, she discovered I wasn’t into any of such and that was how I won her over and the necessary support a mother would give a child, I got all from her.
Music then and now, how would you rate the difference?
Joblessness has made many take up music these days as a way out; and the result is what we are all seeing now, too many junks out there, those that sing real music are few.
That is what makes the difference between those that got involved in music right from childhood and people who delved into it mid-way when there was no other means of survival.
Having started very young, that’s what made me well vast in the profession and that has earned me the title; Professor of fuji music because I am well loaded.
How many albums do you have to your name?
Four albums; they are Quality time, Kick off, Real Fuji, and nowFuji School of Music. That is my latest album. The album has become a block buster, it is sold #2500 in Nigeria; its special edition is sold £7 in London and $10 in America, it is powered by Golden Egg entertainment.
In one of your albums, you said the road was tough, could you expatiate on that?
I have faced many things, there was a time I put in all my best to record beautiful albums and those great songs I composed never see the light of the day. I was young then, talented and full of vigor to explore the world of music but those that knew too well I was coming to do better than them used their influence and my albums were not released.
Who are those you believed sat on your album that made it not to see the light of the day?
I wouldn’t like to mention names here, but God surpass them in His bids to get me up here, He has done it for me, so instead of mentioning names of my detractors, rather I will be all praise of His names!
Your latest album, what brought about it, meanwhile many believed it could stir up controversy again among fuji artistes.
It is a great content that I put together to right the wrong in the industry. I never meant to use it to cause any disaffection. When I did my album titled REAL FUJI; one of my senior colleagues started blackmailing me because he wanted to snatch the Content from me. Immediately I noticed this, I quickly put my acts together and did FUJI SCHOOL OF MUSIC.
The message in the album is simple; I want people to know those that really know their onions when it comes to music. Late Dr Sikiru Ayinde Barrister gave himself the name Fuji creator. General Kollignton Ayinla was the first person that introduced Bata drum to fuji music and he named it Bata Fuji.
Different fuji Acts had one time or the other came up with a name and style, we have Classical Fuji introduced by King Wasiu Ayinde, Bonsue fuji by Adewale Ayuba, Asakasa Creator is Obesere; while Rasheed Ayinde did well with his Merenge fuji; Orobokibo is not left out, this was made known by Alhaji Wasiu Alabi Pasuma. Now it is my time, and that’s why I did come up with this great Tag for myself, Modern Real Fuji. The innovation came up in 2014 and it is has been a great ideology with messages many have come out to appreciate. My Modern real fuji has a lot it entails, ranging from good conduct, smooth relationship and inventing new things into the system with an intention of making it better than what we were used to.
In 2015, King Saheed Osupa did testify and made commendable remarks about my innovation in his album. For him to have made my innovation a reference point, this shows that I have an impact as a stakeholder. In 2018, Saheed Osupa too came up with a name, Hip-Fuji, this is a clear evidence that branding is necessary in every trade.
Who were your contemporaries in your growing up years?
I have got a whole lot of them, amongst them were, Oladele Yonsiyo, Tope Osibanjo and Serito band, the leader of Serito band is known as Owolemi. He is a good dancer, we always met at the final, and it used to be a tug of war, because he would always contest my victory, He could dance well, while I sing very well. I always won on the premise of my versatility in singing. Amongst those I have mentioned, only Yonsiyo still sings, he is a gospel Act now.
Many out there said, your album Fuji School of Music was another means of causing controversy, how true is this?
On the contrary, that album was accepted by all. People in Nigeria even far beyond appreciated it and it sold very well.
Having carved a niche for myself by creating an identity with a name as Real Fuji creator, many have toed the line as well. The evidence is there for all to see and I believe a lot is still coming and this would help to distinguish individual’s brand of music.
Taking after someone in music, what is your take on this?
I believe so much in being real. Many then who were playing King Sunny Ade style, where are they today? There were some who took after Ebenezer Obey and many more. These great maestros are living legend, but those copying their styles; where are they today. Realness in everything is the best for any reasonable person. I have my style and it wasn’t gotten from anybody. I am who I am and that’s what makes me different from many out there. I am blessed with great lyrics that encompasses different flavor of music.
How far have you gone taking music beyond the shore of Nigeria?
Music has taken me out of Nigeria and there are plans to do an oversea tour soon.
What are the gains so far?
I am always grateful to my fans; their love alone has kept me going. Their words of encouragement and the great love they have for me is something I consider as great blessings that is greater than material thing.
Any regrets so far?
I have got no regret; I am always contented with what God has blessed me with. Also, I make sure I don’t get myself entangled in controversy especially when fuji world was hot with issues of titles, I stood firm with a great focus as regards my career.
Though there were periods when I felt bad, there was an incident I would always remember, a fellow fuji act once instructed a security personnel to throw me out of his stage, meanwhile I was there to appreciate him with some cash. The security man later begged me and told me he acted on instruction. I was injured and I wept that day for being maltreated by a fellow musician.
My music is for all irrespective of age, status and gender.
Oyama music has become a reference point. Our intention is to make fuji music generally accepted irrespective of colour, this is what distinguishes me from others.
Your advice for the upcoming ones
All upcoming fuji Acts should remain focus on how to promote their own brand. Have you ever seen MTN taking up the promotion of another brand like GLO? This can never happen.
All Young artistes should forget about seeking for titles from senior colleagues. This title of a thing was never done in good faith. No musician will relegate his brand for another brands, everybody should seek for a better means for himself.