I Trekked From Ajegunle To Stadium Before My Breakthrough – Daddy Fresh
Innocent Onyebuchi Onyemuwa, popularly known as Daddy Fresh, was one of the forerunners of reggae music from Ajegunle alongside the likes of Daddy Showkey, Baba Fryo, Father U-Turn and a few others. Back then in the early 90s, Ajegunle was to the Nigerian reggae music genre what Brooklyn was to funk music. It was the golden era of reggae music and Ajegunle and its residents were in the limelight.
Daddy Fresh became popular with Eleru gbe eru e, Daddy Showkey blew with Congratulations and Baba Fryo got people hooked with ‘Demge Pose’. Ajegunle simply had the country’s music life by the jugular – until hip hop found its footing.
In this interview, the OND holder, talks about the future of reggae, hip hop, his career and why reggae may be making a great comeback.
Were you born in Ajegunle?
I was born in Lagos, Ikoyi to be precise, in a very humble Christian home. My mother was a Deaconess. When we lost my dad, we moved to Ajegunle.
Between you and Daddy Show key, who started music first?
I released a solo album before him in 1993, while he came out in 1994. We were in the same group named, The Pretty Busy Boys. I was the leader and lead vocalist of the group then, I was also the songwriter.
Can you tell us who invented Galala dance?
Galala dance was actually invented by our friend called, Echo who is late now. In the early 90s, we used to attend a club called, Raja Dub Chapel. It was there many artists came to showcase their talents. Then we also used Sunrise Hotel which we used to call Second Dancehall. That was where we discovered Echo who later became a dancer for Showkey. So Echo invented the Galala dance.
Ajegunle has totally died off as the heart of music in Nigeria, why is it so?
You see, education is very paramount. What I will attribute as the killer factor is that, the Ajegunle musicians couldn’t defend their music. So, the hip hop artists, saw the loophole and capitalized on it. I remember one Ajegunle artist told me he couldn’t attend interviews because “I no fit speak the kind grama dem wan hear oo.” Till now, Ajegunle music is still fantastic but about 60%-70% can’t defend themselves. It limits their exposure.
How can you compare reggae music and hip hop music in terms of acceptance in Nigeria?
Believe you me, you can’t compare them. Reggae music dominates any day, any time, because of the lyrical content. I play both but till tomorrow, I prefer reggae music.
But do you agree that reggae music is dead or dying in Nigeria?
You are wrong. Reggae music is coming back. Surely, it once faded out. It’s only in Nigeria you find out that a particular genre of music reigns and fades away then another comes. It is unlike the contemporary world where everything goes at the same time. For me, reggae music is coming back. At the moment, it is reggae artists the people are really clamouring for. To me, hip hop is repetition. I am a crossover artist. I play both hip hop and reggae. Most people then had to sell their properties to sponsor themselves unlike the hip hop artists who now have sponsors.
You said a lot of Ajegunle artists had to sell their properties due to lack of sponsors to promote their music?
Yes, I am a living example. I put my school fees into music; I sold my shoes, trekked from Ajegunle to National Stadium before the breakthrough came.
What was the breakthrough that came?
Yeah, that was in1993, at the Nigerian Music Carnival organised by some people. Then D1 and Kenny Ogungbe were the anchors of the show. I walked up to them, to give me a chance and I remember Kenny asking me if I could thrill the crowd and I said yes. Those that were billed to perform were the likes of Weird MC, Blackky and others. They actually gave me the opportunity which I really utilized. While performing my first track, the whole place went gaga. I was looking at Kenny’s face who seemed surprised. After the first track, I wanted to come down but the whole crowd started asking me to stay. So I was allowed to do two more tracks. The moment I came down, I saw the satisfaction on Kenny’s face who later invited me to Ozone nightclub same day and after the nightclub, he invited me to Radio Nigeria where I got to meet the likes of Bisi Olatilo, Zakare Mohammed and co. And that was how the press blew Daddy Fresh. I was all over the media; I was also nominated for Fame Music Awards, Best Male Artist, and Best Male Vocalist which I won.
It’s been a while we heard from Daddy fresh, what have you been up to?
I have been into music, after my Ele ru gbe eru e album, I did another album titled, “Thank you Jehovah”, with songs like, “This world na wa”, “my friend ” and they got a whole lot of awards too. After then, I also have been dropping singles. In December I dropped two singles and before St Valentine’s Day this year, I dropped three singles and they are all doing well.
Who would you like to do a collabo with among the recent hip hop artists?
I have done some anyway but I am good to do collabo with any Nigerian artist provided they can tag along with my tune. I have done collabos with 2face, Blackface, Oritsefemi and I am planning to do with Phyno, Reminisce and Wande Coal.
Who would you say is the king of reggae in Nigeria?
Without feeling funny and with enough respect, I will love to give it to my elders in the industry. That is among Majek Fashek, Raskimono and Orits Wiliki before you start talking about Daddy Fresh.
Is it possible to be a big artist without dating many women?
There is a saying that music and women make life. Women are your fans. It really depends on what you want and what they want from you, but surely, women must come but all depends on the way you treat them.
It is rumoured that lots of artists take substances before they go on stage, do you agree?
Yes, that is very correct. I have seen a lot but I wouldn’t want to mention names. But I don’t buy into it.
You agreed that reggae music once faded out. What are your plans to revive it?
We have started already. At lekki, we have Beni P doing it, we have reggae nation, and many parts of the Eastern Nigeria love reggae music. And here, we have the reggae thing too. The big news is that I just acquired a club and we will be naming it Club Fresh which will be used to enhance reggae music.
By Adeleke Ademola