Adewale Mayowa Emmanuel popularly known as Mayorkun is Nigeria’s fastest growing music act. Mayorkun attained stardom within 10 days after his debut music video, Eleko hit a view rate of nine hundred thousand in nine days of posting on YouTube, Nigeria, making him the latest Nigeria to accomplish such feat. The record breaker, who is currently signed to Davido Music Worldwide, in this interview recounts the story behind his debut song, the journey to DMW and his views on relationships.
What is Mayorkun’s real name?
My name is Adewale Mayowa Emmanuel, the first child of a family of five. I studied accountancy at the University of Lagos. I am an artiste and a prospective boyfriend.
Yes, I don’t have a girl and I don’t want to have for now. It is a personal decision.
But there is a girl on your screensaver.
[Smiles] That wan na London babe. It is just a wallpaper.
What is your opinion about women?
To be honest, if you asked me this question like eleven months ago, my answer would have been different. Eleven months ago, the girls that I met were natural and genuine. They didn’t show you much, but they wanted me to believe that they were good.But now, most of the girls come with their own agenda. You might feel amazed that they are throwing themselves at you, doing anything you want them to do and showing you everything you want to see. The truth is, they are aiming at something especially when you are an artiste. If you are a random guy in the midst of artistes, no girl for you. I think artistes don’t get real love, real friends, anymore. Everybody just wants to be your guy for one reason or the other. There is no genuine relationship in the celebrity world.
Could it be that some of these people genuinely love your work?
The fact is everybody can’t love your work. There are too many people in this country. Even for the A list artistes, not everybody loves their works. Judging from the Instagram following, the highest followed celebrity in Nigeria is Davido who has about 3.3 million followers. On the scale of 100 per cent that is like 10 per cent of the population of Nigeria. If Davido is the highest followed celebrity in Nigeria and he has about 10 per cent of Nigeria’s population as following, isn’t it clear that everybody cannot love your work?
Isn’t it possible also that there are fans, who are not on Instagram?
Definitely. Even when you add those ones the total cannot be more than twenty percent of the population. What I am trying to say is that your work appeals to a certain kind of people, not everybody.
Should we then say that the ladies that come around you like your work?
There is that. And that can be about 70 per cent of them. Others like your work because other people like it. They just want free banana.
Is this the reason you don’t want to have a girlfriend?
Yes, for now.
If you find a girl with a genuine interest and feelings for you, would you settle down with her?
Hmmm. Well, she has to have what I don’t have. I will not appreciate a girl that has the same things that I have. I am a dark person, for instance. I would like a fair lady. She has to complement me. Where I am not smart, she has to be smart there. I can’t be ugly and marry an ugly woman. If I have money, she may not have to have money. She can’t be rich when I am rich. It will be difficult to control things. There are plenty things.
Let’s talk about your work. Your first song, Eleko, was about whom?
Eleko was about a girl I tried to ask out back then. She did not share the same feelings as I did. Her reason was that I did not have money. And she was right. At that time, I was still collecting feeding allowance from my mother. But I told her that I could be rich tomorrow and I could pay for her make-up shop. She also told me that she was older than me with like four years. That was when I knew that kolewerk [It would not work]. Knowing that it wouldn’t work, I wrote a song about it, to keep the memory.
And that was the song that brought you to limelight?
Yes, that was the song everybody loved.
Is she aware you wrote the song for her?
Yes. She is. We still talk. She is married now and has a child.
After Eleko, you have been everywhere. But how did Davido find you?
On twitter. I was bored at the office, a bank, one day; just while I was pressing my phone, I impulsively posted a video I had recorded, where I was playing the keyboard of one of Davido’s songs, The Money, on Twitter. I wasn’t expecting anything. It was on a Friday and I was supposed to resume work in another bank the following Monday. Well, Davido retweeted the video. And he later sent me a direct message asking if I had other things I did besides playing keyboard. I told him I had some songs. I sent like six songs. He liked one of them. He said if he came back from ATL (Atlanta, Georgia, USA) he will sign me on. He collected my WhatsApp number. Because I was shaking, I typed a wrong number.
There is something peculiar about Davido on the phone. How was the first call?
Yes, it is the voice. Bad baritone voice. He was like, [in deep raucous baritone voice] “Hello, it is OBO”. It cannot be faked. I just knew he was the one. I was literally shaking. (Not really, but my mind was racing.)He also called Dremo for first time like that. I was with him when he called Dremo. So, I came to this house [Davido’s house], signed the contract on this table [pointing to the dining table at Davido’s house, where the interview was conducted] and we made the beat (Eleko beat) on this table. I wasn’t going to use Puffy-Tee for the song, but he was chilling with Davido at the time. David was like, “Puffy-Tee, you go do beat?” He agreed and we went upstairs and did the beat.
Rewinding to your banking days, was there a time you knew music was for long time?
Well, it might appear that I officially started my music career suddenly after Davido’s call, but I had been preparing myself for a long time. The reason I was working in a bank was because my mum suggested I make some money to sponsor my music. And since I had a certificate, I decided to use it. I got a job in a bank. The pay was small. I also enrolled for ACCA. My plan was to become chartered because I was told my salary will move up if I became a chartered accountant. And I intended to use the money to push my music. Music was in the picture, but on a low key.
In your opinion, how would you describe your stay in Davido’s Music Worldwide?
To be honest, the platform has helped my music in many way. I could have dropped my first song from my house and maybe nobody will know about it. The DMW platform gave the right push and here and I am today, even granting an interview.
People think DMW is a break away from HKN. Would like to shed some light on that?
There is no break away or break up. It might appear so on the outside. But Davido still owns HKN. It was his first label.
One of the clauses in Sony’s contract with Davido was to open a new imprint to sign onto his own Sony deal. So he opened DMW for that reason. As at the time I got into this house, I didn’t know there was anything like DMW. My mind was on HKN. It was when the Sony deal came through that we had to differentiate things. For now, in HKN we still have B-Red and Shina, while Dremo and I are on DMW. Davido is on both.
AI think in Nigeria, we are just starting. How is the country as a whole? We can’t catch with America, but we are certainly evolving. For me, there is no record label in Nigeria. All we have is artiste management. Someone like Davido can break it down for you because if you compare his deal with Sony and some of the things we do here as deal in Nigeria. No one really cares about royalties in Nigeria. No radio pays an artiste for playing their songs. People download songs here for free. But these things are paid for elsewhere. It makes the structure of record labels stronger and better for the artiste. There are so many things that need to be set right in Nigeria. There are so many bodies that need to be in place. The only body I know that regulates music in PMAN. So, we are not there yet.
Talking about the challenges in the music industry, how have you adapted to these challenges personally?
I believe there is a target market for every song. Any time I am recording a song, I know the set of people to whom my song will appeal. I shouldn’t don’t expect someone outside the targeted audience to feel my music and for me, generally the set of people I appeal to are the youth.I don’t expect a seventy years old man to like my song. I am talking about girls, money, youthful exuberant.
In spite of the targeted audience, do you sometime observe a spill over of audience?
Yes. I get surprised when old people dance to my song. I feel it is because I use Yoruba in my songs. I have been in a wedding where old men will be dancing to my song.
What is your projection for 2019? Would like to release more inclusive songs?
Yes, I think the more I release more contents many more people of different age brackets will embrace them. I have only released one major song. My project is that in the next one year, my songs will be able to appeal to a wider range of audiences.