Why I Became A Farmer-Eedris

His last album was released seven years ago, a development that
has ensured he has been off the musical radar. But enigmatic rapper,
Eedris Abdulkareem, has not quit music. In between that time, apart from
appearing at some select shows, Eedris spends most of his time in Kano,
where he is involved in large scale farming. In this interview, with Pm News, he explained why he has been off the scene and his new
project.

You recently launched the “I Am Nigeria Project”. What is its focus?

 It
is for Nigerian youths to stand up and assume leadership positions,
with a view to moving our nation forward. We also want to deal with the
issue of employment by encouraging our youths to go into agriculture.
All they have to do is to go online and register for the project.
Everything is not about white-collar jobs. But we are ready to go to
various ministries to look for jobs for our people. This is a cause we
have put upon ourselves and will pursue it vigorously. We don’t have
money, but we are very positive that when the time comes, some people
will support us. Part of the sensitisation for the project is the
release of a new single, Godfather Godson, which has been on the
airwaves for some time.

Listening to that song, one is tempted to ask what message you are trying to get across.

That
is a very big question. From the beginning of my career, I have always
been a social crusader. I have had the opportunity to praise-sing some
top individuals, but in life I believe everything should not be about
money. I believe in dignity and responsibility, virtues that are not
really common in our part of the world. If you go back to the time I
started singing, you’d notice some positive changes that some of my
songs like Mr. Lecturer and Nigeria Jagajaga brought to our society.

This
time around, I can see a new picture that is very positive in the
polity and I feel it is still part of my responsibility to speak out
whether anybody likes it or not. There is a lot of propaganda and
godfatherism playing out in recent times. Through my new work, I am
telling everyone that enough of this godfatherism. I am asking the
godfather to show us his report card and also ask the godson to let us
into what he has done so far. We need to compare their successes. We
need to tell the godfather to allow the godson a space after all he
brought him to the position he is now. Why is it that the same godfather
is the one now trying to run down his godson? Is it because the godson
is no longer protecting his godfather so that he (godson) can really
work and succeed?

•Eedris Abdulkareem

•Eedris Abdulkareem

Who is this godfather? Who is the godson?

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan, of course.

So, the new work is to highlight the achievements of President Jonathan?

Not
really. But don’t forget that I don’t like either the godson or the
godfather. If you recall, during the fuel subsidy protest in January
2012, I was in Ojota and yabbed Jonathan.  I accused him of acting his
godfather’s script. I accused him of being a fraud.  I didn’t know what I
was saying. Now, I can see that the godson has been trying to put
things in order. We can see what he is doing in the area of
transportation, with the restructuring of the railway system, renovation
of airports and building of roads. So, if I could yab him then and
given what I am seeing now, it is my responsibility to speak the truth
and let people know what he is doing.

Are you not bothered that people will see this work as one that is slyly campaigning for the President?

People
can see it that way; I don’t give a damn. What matters is my own
opinion and as a social crusader, I am entitled to my opinion. I am not a
politician. I don’t belong to either the All Progressives Congress,
APC, or Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. I am a social crusader and I have
to tell the truth whether anybody likes it or not. I have never met
Jonathan, but the truth must be told. For a social crusader who has been
criticising the government, if I observe any positive steps, I should
also point them out. If people feel disappointed now, sometime in the
future, they will realise the point I am making. That was exactly what
happened when I dropped Nigeria Jaga Jaga. Some people were excited by
the message of the song and others were not happy. With this new song, I
don’t expect everybody to be happy.
Who is sponsoring this project?

Eedris Adbulkareem.

Are you that rich?

But
people need to know that apart from music, Eedris Abdulkareem is also a
graduate who can use his brain for different endeavours. By the grace
of Almighty Allah, I have been involved in a lot of NGO projects and
most importantly, I am a farmer. Since 2001, I have been fully engaged
in agricultural activities and have investment in metals. I have a vast
land in Kano, where I plant maize and other fruits for export. I have
not really revealed this aspect of my life so as not to be distracted.
People only see you as a musician and believe that is all you live on.
They think my entire life revolves around music. They do not believe one
could have other ideas that are sustainable. I am a Northerner. I grew
up among people, who encouraged me to invest money I made through music.
They believe things may not always remain the same and I heeded their
advice.
That is why I invested in agro-business. Sometimes, when I
travel to Europe to perform, as soon as I finish performing over the
weekend, I put on my suit, take my proposal and go to investors and
people who will need my crops on Monday morning. These are the things
most people don’t even know about me and I wish they don’t know more
than what I have let out. But I can’t solely finance the project. We are
very positive that by the time we get one ministry to believe in this
project and support us, others will follow.

Why has it taken you so long to release another album after the 2005 release of Letter To Mr. President?

For
me, music is a calling. At the level I am, I can’t just go into the
studio and record songs because I want to make an album. Whatever song
Eedris will drop must be about something positive enough to cause a
change. If you listen to all my songs, they are inspired. My job is to
push out good songs that will add value to life of the people.

There are assumptions that you are afraid to drop an album for the fear of it turning a commercial failure. 

No
way. Have you forgotten so quickly? I am the king of commercial music. I
started with  Oko Asewo. I taught many of today’s hip-hop stars what
commercial music is all about. I am still relevant on the scene.  How
many of today’s artistes can pull the number of shows I get now? Mike
Adenuga (Globacom Chairman) gave me 43 shows. It was my old songs that I
performed and people kept asking for more.

Confirm from anybody or go
to Globacom. They gave me 43 shows. I was in different places and stole
the show. With the way people reacted to those songs, it was like I just
released them. The truth is that songs made with people in your thought
don’t die. The songs will always be there. I don’t rush myself to do a
song. I don’t need to be on television everyday. I am okay as I have
other things that keep me busy. When inspiration comes, I dash into the
studio and record the song.

Are you satisfied with the state of the music industry?

Yes,
because it has created a lot of jobs for Nigerians. The music industry
has provided a shed for thousands of youths who would have been in
robbery or other criminal activities. I am satisfied with the growth in
the industry because the industry is not regulated by the government
like the telecoms or banking industries.

All these successes and growth
are efforts of some individuals. Don’t forget that part of this
revolution started with my beef with 50 Cent. It was then that I told
some people that enough was enough and they should stop disrespecting my
people. We demanded that Nigerian artistes should be paid well like
their foreign counterparts invited to perform here. It was after my
issue with 50 Cent that Nigerian artistes started getting their due.
This drew many people into hip-hop and now, they are making money. That
alone is a big plus.

Eedris

Eedris

There
is this belief that Eedris would have been bigger if not for your fight
with 50 Cent. Did you at any time regret that action?

No.
Never. Do you know why? At that moment and up till now, I feel I am the
Rosa Parks of Nigeria. We don’t really appreciate our own. We don’t
value what is ours. You are paying someone $1.6million to come and teach
us about sex and drugs. The artiste came here to show us the number of
bullet wounds on his body. How much are you paying the American and how
much the Nigerians are getting? Who are the people drinking the beer?
Are they Americans or Nigerians? Who are the people buying your stocks? 
I guess because of the level of my education and things that I am
exposed to, I am way ahead of some musicians.

Omo,  a o kin s’egbe  (we
are not mates). What I see that will add value to the life of people,
they don’t see. They prefer to just rush to the studio, do a song, come
out and beg for shows. But you can do better. As a musician, it is a
tool to add value to the life of the people in the larger society. Also,
it is an opportunity for you to open other doors and create employment
for people around you. That is what I have been doing and I learnt that
from the North. I never regretted that action because I am the reason
everybody is getting paid very well now. Food don done and everybody
carry spoons; na dem mama cook the food abi na dem papa cook the food? I
am glad with the result. We are the elder statesmen that started this
game and it gives me joy.

What is the relationship between you and former band mates (Tony Tetuila and Eddy Montana)?

Wow!
I will want to say that Remedies is the best thing that has ever
happened to the Nigerian hip-hop 
scene. The Remedies started the
revolution and made way for every other person. I am very happy about
that. Remedies will be coming back because we are recording. We just
want to clear a few things that we have been doing. Eddy and Tony have
been busy with some projects; they are working on underground. When
everyone is okay with our individual projects, we will all come out to
record our reunion album. It is going to be a 23-track album.

What is it the problem between Mode9, Don Jazzy and yourself?

I don’t have issues with them. But what you should have asked is what went wrong and then I will tell you.

What went wrong?

This
is my three decades in music. Before Remedies, there were other hip-hop
musicians like Dr. Fresh, Pretty and Junior, and Weird MC to mention a
few. With due respect, they were always there, but never made any impact
like what the Remedies made. That impact that we made has created a lot
of jobs today in the shape of all the guys that are coming up now. And
if rap music has created such employment for all of them, no one has any
right to go on the internet to insult us by tweeting: ‘If you are a
rapper, your father will never be proud of you.’ That is stupid.

Are you referring to Don Jazzy’s tweet?

Yes.
First of all, why didn’t he stay in London for the British government
to give him a record deal? Shebi all of dem stayed in London, while some
of them, like Banky W, went to America? But they all rushed back to
Nigeria because it is here they could make such money. Of course, in
America, they will not get paid $10, 000 for a show. Even some of the
Americans like 50 Cent, the highest they will get for a show in their
country is $50, 000. But they get paid $500, 000 here. If you could make
such money here, you don’t have the right to stand up and say as a
rapper, your parent will never be proud of you. Fortunately, it was
money from rap music money that I used to build my houses. It was
through rap music that I could venture into other businesses and do my
agricultural project. It was rap money that I used to sponsor other guys
on their trips to Europe. When Don Jazzy posted that Twitter message,
he specifically said: ‘For example, Mode 9’. He did that because he knew
Mode 9 will not do anything to him. Why didn’t he mention Eedris? I
would have sent people to bring him and get him flogged very well.

But he later apologised to you?

Yes.
But I would have used that to teach him a lesson. Some people may call
it controversy, but I will say controversy loves me. It is important to
address that issue. This guy has allowed everything to get into his head
quickly. He was feeling like Meen, so na Nigeria we dey make all this
money now? The British government wouldn’t have given him that
opportunity. So, it is we that made rap and R&B possible to the
extent that you get paid nicely that you are now insulting. Apology or
not, it was important that I addressed that issue.

What do you say to those who see you as being troublesome and a thug?

Funny
enough, I am happy that they called me a thug. At least, I am an
educated thug. People can say whatever they want. Some even say Eedris
is proud. I am proud because hip-hop is proud. But the problem is that
dem no know my secret. Dem no know how I dey take dey survive. I never
come to dem papa house come ask for money before. The money some of
these guys are making in the industry, I am the one that ignited the
revolution for them to make it. I am fine and happy that I am doing very
well. I am a musician, farmer and businessman. I know what I export to
Europe. Germany is my base. I speak German. I am a businessman. I know
where I am coming from. I am not an idiot.  Let them call me anything; I
have friends in the industry, but I am very choosy. 2Face Idibia is my
very good friend, Dr. Fresh is my friend and Terry G is my brother. If I
am not friends with you, that mean say we no dey the same level and I’m
not going to force myself. Na Eba I wan chop, you say make I chop
amala. Na by force? In life some people will like you and some won’t.
What matters is that I live a plain life and pass across my message.

Do you have any fears?

I
don’t have any fear, just as I am not afraid of anybody but Almighty
Allah. In life, fear is the beginning of stagnation. You claim to pray
and fast everyday yet you are not successful and you wonder why? It is
because you only do all those things but not practical as you need to go
out there to get what is yours.

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