He is called the ‘Musical Taliban’, but he is more widely known as Oritsefemi. This talented young man, whose full name is Oritsefemi Majemite Ekele hails from the Itsekiri tribe of North Warri, Delta state. He has been in the music industry for a little over two decades, but started singing professionally seventeen years ago. Very vibrant, very dynamic Oritsefemi is today one of Naija’s hottest indigenous artists with incredible cross –over appeal. His remake of the legendary Fela Anikulapo kuti’s hit, Double Wahala, took the music industry by storm years back when it hit the airwaves and launched Oritsefemi to the big stage, announcing him as the next big thing to come out from the Nigerian music industry. And ever since the massive success of Double Wahala, there’s been no looking back for the amazing Musical Taliban who has continued to stun industry watchers with hit after hit. In this interview, WALE LAWAL got Oritsefemi to talk about what has kept him going in the industry for seventeen years and what marriage has done to him and his career. Enjoy the excerpts.
You have been around in the industry for a while now, dropping hits back to back. How have you been able to do this and professionally, how many years have you been doing music?
Professionally, I have been in the industry now for seventeen years, but I started music way back, my brother. It’s been a long time. I think I actually began singing in 1996, but professionally, I dropped my first debut song in 2003 and that’s about seventeen years or there about now. So, yes, we’ve been doing this for some time now, dropping hits back to back. We’ve been working continuously so we can remain relevant and contribute our own quota to push the Nigerian music beyond the African continent and I believe it’s working for us.
So, what has been your staying power in all of these seventeen years? How have you been able to remain focused and stay at the top of your game all these years?
It takes a lot of strength, it takes a lot of resources and it takes a lot of dedication. And you know, there surely would be ups and downs. If you have not experienced your own fair share of ups and down, then that means you’re not working. If people are not talking about you, either positively or negatively, that means you’re not there yet. So, when you start having challenges, that means you’re doing good and you need people to keep giving you that pressure. And that’s why I’m so excited that I’m here today. I’ve been fighting, I’ve been struggling to ensure that I keep my craft tight and I’m grateful to God that everything is working fine today.
How is Oritse Femi competing well with the young generation of artistes because you don’t even sound like an old artiste yourself?
Of course, you know what we call trends. You have to know what’s in vogue, whether it’s the sound or the look. You can’t be a top artiste and you come out without giving them that show man look. The image is very important and that is why I am always particular about my look as a talented artiste, or you can call me a young icon. My age in the music industry should also tell a lot about the efforts I have put in. That’s why I keep working so hard to ensure I remain on top of my game, even after fifteen years of professional music. You know we have a lot of artistes out there and a lot of upcoming ones as well, so you just have to keep your head up. The best thing any hustler can do for himself is to stay unique and that’s one thing that I also believe is working for me. I just want to keep doing what I know how to do best. That’s basically what has pushed me to where I am today.
Tell me, who are some of the artistes you’re feeling right now, particularly the young artistes?
Of course, that’s not a difficult question to answer. We have three young guys right now who are doing well , that’s Davido, Burna boy and Wizkid, and I think they’re doing a fantastic job. I am even urging them to push harder and do a lot more than they’re doing already. They should take our music industry to the next level because everyone within and outside Nigeria is expecting a whole lot from us and they can’t wait to see us break out fully into the international market. So, I’m hoping it won’t get into their heads right now so they don’t start thinking they’ve done enough, no, there’s still a whole lot to be done and I’m wishing them the best. Trust me, they’re doing great. After Fela Anikulapo- Kuti, I want to give it to these three young guys, they’re doing a fantastic job.
How has marriage impacted on you and possibly changed your lifestyle so far?
Of course, marriage has had great positive effect on me and I think even my appearance shows that. The way I dress, the way I conduct myself shows everything about the state of my marital life. Marriage is something great. Before marriage, you are out there doing your thing all by yourself alone, but when you’re married, that means you’re not alone anymore. So, you now have somebody you can call at anytime and discuss your problems with and help you package your brand and support the business. Really, marriage has a lot of benefits. Unfortunately, a lot of people are always talking about the bad side of marriage. They only focus on marital conflicts, arguments and stuff, and trust me, every marriage goes through it’s rough moments, but I believe every good marriage has more positive sides than the negative. And the truth is, I’m enjoying all the fun and beautiful part of marriage right now. Now, I don’t do it alone, I do it with my partner. You can’t beat me alone, you have to beat me and my partner because it’s a team now.
Some people seem to believe that marriage has calmed down Oritse Femi. You seem a much calmer person now, more reserved than you were before and more focused too, is that correct?
Yes, I think that’s correct. I’m a little bit different now from the way people used to see me. Right now, people are seeing me more as a responsible man, a responsible artiste and showbiz personality anyone will be comfortable to do business with. These days, I try to put the celebrity ego aside and focus more on the business and so I know exactly what I’m doing. Marriage is great and I urge anyone who’s ready for it to go ahead and do it. Don’t let the scary side of marriage frighten you, yes, it will always be there, but trust me, the good sides are far more than the bad sides.
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