Former member of the disbanded boy group, Plantashun Boiz Black Faze, real name Ahmedu Obiabo, is attempting to pick up the pieces of his once thriving music career, having gone underground for so long.
A conversation with the soft-spoken singer and song writer, who classifies his style of music as universal flavour, gives a peep into the lonely world of a once celebrated soul struggling to get his voice out in the now competitive Nigerian music terrain.
He is careful with his words and intermittently begs not to be quoted out of context. But this does not come as a surprise, as the singer, who lays claim to having written some of the finest hits of the Platashun Boiz, has been a victim of bad press.
As expected, there have been rumours milling around him. For instance, it was said not long ago that he was accused of defrauding some show promoters of a huge amount of money. Also, he is said to have been dumped by his wife of five years – as a result of bankruptcy. The surprising thing, however, is that he takes these allegations in good faith though he denies them substantially.
Black Face says, “I am not broke. You must understand that people will say what they want, but what they don’t know they don’t know. I was once married but have now been separated from my wife for some years now. Music is taking all my time and I’m not in any relationship now. There is no chance of reconciliation as I am married to my music for now. My kids are with her.”
Attempting to ask any question about his relationship with his former band mates, 2face Idibia and Faze, appears to be a case of opening up old wounds, considering the fact that he is the least popular/successful of the trio.
On his relationship with both artistes, he says, “I and 2Face are good. If you ask them they will tell you the same thing because there is really nothing to talk about. My fans have been waiting on my new album for so long. So that is paramount now. I really don’t miss Plantashun Boiz days because better days are ahead. I have learnt that life is a sport: sometimes you lose and sometimes you win. But when you lose you can always practise and come back better. More so, believing in yourself is more important than people believing in you. “
Although Faze confirmed that plans were in the works towards producing a Plantashun Boiz comeback album before the year runs out in a TV interview in July, Black Faze debunks the statement with the wave of a hand.
“That project isn’t on, my dear! 2face just put out his album, Faze also. I am working on my own album titled Defender. So, I’m busy till that is achieved. Other things can wait for now. I have been working on my album for like two years now. I basically went to hell and back to get some experience. I say so because I have had a lot of experiences: difficult times and when no one believes in you, you have to go against all odds to achieve your goals. I have learnt a lot even as a pioneer of this game and you know what? I’m back! Singers stay away for years to write some real music for fans. Music is of the spirit, so you just can’t force it,” he stresses.
As he puts finishing touches to the release of his album, Black Faze adds that he has been dealt terrible blows in the past by phoney marketers and pirates and is not in a hurry to fall for their antics again.
“I am still uncertain about the release date for now, because I am still trying to have the distribution figured out as these marketers or distributors do not want to pay artistes for their works anymore. If it is about royalties, they won’t want to pay what is due to the artiste and they don’t pay outright anymore. So, I am thinking it is best to give it out to the masses for free or hold on till a distribution agreement is met or arranged by my label, Skyhigh Music Incorporated.”
On the dearth of boy bands in Nigeria, he says, “It is not easy to form a boy's band and have it survive. My strong-willed nature kept Plantashun Boiz for as long as it lasted. I always insisted that work gets done, on rehearsals and a lot of other things. I used to challenge every member of the group to be at their best at all times.”