Obesere: How I made more money from a song in one week than I did 19 years ago

Abass Akande Obesere returns to limelight 19 years after the release of ‘Egungun be Careful,’ one of his numerous albums. The hit song from the self-titled album has suddenly become the favourite of many Nigerians on social media. The unexplainable resurgence of the hit song has seen reigning Afropop acts flocking Obesere for collaborations. Though the Fuji singer still can’t figure out what led to the song’s resurgence, he says it’s a huge plus, in this interview with ADENIYI ADEWOYIN.

You’ve been the buzz on social media in the past few weeks over one of your hit songs, ‘Egungun Be Careful’, which was released 19 years ago. What’s behind the resurgence?

There is nothing without God’s knowledge. I will say thanks to the Almighty who let that happen because all I was told is that it has never happened before.

I remember that even the time I dropped the album it was really accepted as well. It is beyond my own imagination as well.

One thing I know is that the kind of music I play never fades. In whatever you’re doing, don’t limit it to just today but always think about tomorrow.

I may be singing with slangs but all the slangs that I use have meaning and that is why ‘Egungun Be Careful’ is still relevant today.

‘Egungun Be Careful’ is just like a warning that anybody can use anytime. You may be going out with a lady that doesn’t suit you but you don’t know and people will be telling you that you better be careful with that lady you are going out with. I sang the song then like fun but the way it came out again, I still can’t understand because it’s beyond my imagination.

It is believed in some quarters that you actually paid social media influencers to kick off the trend. How true is this?

I must tell you for a fact that before you can do such, that means you must have spent billions of Naira. I think it’s God’s work because calls came in from outside Nigeria as well and that was why I said it from the beginning that everywhere you go na God.

So you’ve been receiving calls from abroad too over the trend?

Everywhere, not only in Nigeria.

How did you get to know about the sudden trend?

I’m also on social media as well because I usually give my people audience. At the same time, I have people around me that are working with me as well and who understand what is called publicity and social media management.

‘Egungun Be Careful’ was widely accepted when you released it 19 years ago, how would you compare its success then and now?

When the album was released by Mr Gbenga Adewusi of Bayowa Films and Records International, I collected my money and I am still collecting my royalties on it.

Now that it has come out again in a bigger form than when it was released, I am still making my money on it, so, it is a plus for me. I thank my star and I still appreciate all the fans that gave me the opportunity for more recognition.

When will the remix of ‘Egungun Be Careful’ with Zlatan be released?

The project will be released very soon but by next week Monday we will know the date when we will be shooting the video.

Will you consider cross dressing again in the video or should fans expect a calm Obesere?

The director will tell me what to do when he listens to the music.

Some people are of the opinion that the sudden trend is a result of the renewal of your alleged fetish powers. How true is this?

Everywhere you go na God. Even if you visit Babalawo or Alfa or Woli if God doesn’t stamp it, believe me, nothing will happen.

It is believed that your ratings dropped since you stopped cross dressing. What do you have to say to this?

I am a professional musician. It depends on the occasion, I am still agile as you are seeing me, the energy is still there and that is why I can still be recognized by corporate organizations like Nigerian Breweries. All they want to see in me is the way I perform on stage.

So it depends on the kind of occasion you pay for. Wedding performance is quite different from concerts or burial ceremonies and so on. I dropped the female costume more than 18 years ago after I have achieved what I wanted.

What did you want to achieve then?

It was to cut across to people that do not understand Yoruba by doing something that will catch their attention.

People have likened Naira Marley to your brand saying he is the new Obesere with lewd lyrics, what would you say about that?

I think it’s a plus for my brand as well. Some people have criticised my brand before but now I have a lot of followers in the Fuji way and Hip Hop way so I thank my star and that is why I also appreciate Naira Marley.

He was supposed to be on the ‘Egungun Be Careful’ remix with I and Zlatan but he was on his way to Dubai on the day we were recording.

What other collaborations should we be expecting?

Aside from ‘Egungun Be Careful,’ we can still do something else. I wouldn’t want too much remix of the song. After this one with Zlatan, maybe we can do two more then close the chapter and move on to something else.

I am the Paramount King of Music. ‘Egungun Be Careful’ is a song that re-blow me. I appreciate the Hip Hop people. In the olden days if you want to listen to Hip Hop you have to listen to the appropriate one.

Either you listen to Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown or Usher because we didn’t have much of our people doing that genre then but now it is a different game. You can see that I and some of my other Fuji colleagues have also mingled with the Hip Hop acts.

The kind of song that we sing is traditional music and there is no way it can fade. Hip Hop is just like a borrowed culture but we thank God that it is now in the hands of Nigerians, even American artistes are trying to feature Nigerian artistes.

How many copies of ‘Egungun Be Careful’ were sold when it was released 19 years ago?

More than a million copies and I’m still making money.

How will you compare the success of the song 19 years ago and now?

I have made more connections and more money in the past one week trust me. When you have confidence in yourself and at the same time have your God and never give up on whatever you are doing.

What is your assessment of Fuji music and do you think there is a future for Genre?

There is a future for Fuji music. Like Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, who died years back, his songs are still selling. When you want to listen to sensible music, you have to listen to Fuji music, so Fuji music can never fade.

How would you describe the late Barrister?

A very straightforward person, a father in the music industry, Fuji music creator. Those three are okay to describe him.

What is responsible for your idea of direction of music?

You have to do something that people will recognize you easily. If you are copying somebody else’s style people will not recognize you and by so doing, you are giving that person more publicity. Just be unique with your thing.

How do you source for your slangs?

I am a very good listener, we may be talking now and I will pick a few things from what you’ve said and you won’t know and I will turn it into slang, and you won’t know that I picked it from you when you hear the slang except I tell you.

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