I Don’t Feel Anything Special For MI – Starlet Singer, Lami Phillips


Why I have been away for a while

It was deliberate. We did not expect the first album to do well; we did not expect to be recognised. I always use ‘we’ because I’m in a team. We found ourselves shooting the videos and I’m really grateful for that but somewhere along the line, I realised I was losing focus. I started getting streamlined into hip-hop. More importantly, I might be wrong, but I feel that I was one of the first persons to do the type of music I’m doing in Nigeria. I call it soul; some call it afro-soul or phunk-soul. There are more people doing it now, but then I was a lone ranger. So I thought if I was going to do it, I needed to lean back. Now I’m working on the next album, people have their expectation of what they are supposed to be listening to, so I needed to take a break. It just went too fast, after the first album, everything went too fast. I saw myself travelling a lot and always in the studio or always at a shoot and always having all these events to go for. I needed to click ‘refresh’, leave the country and be inspired for the next album.


Coping in a male-dominated industry

A lot of time we do not want to say the truth, we don’t want to say it is hard, but the truth is that it is hard. It is hard being a female in the industry and it is 10 times harder doing the kind of songs that I do. It is even impossible for you if you refuse to remove your clothes in your video and do the ‘shake your bum bum’ routine. I just stay focused.


Semi-nude women in music videos

I blame the women, not the men. In most of those videos, the men are fully dressed. They are always really fully dressed even with jackets and they keep shaking and shaking it. I’m not trying to be morally superior, but we need to be very careful as women to give good examples. If you tune in to any music video channel, four out of five videos, they look the same. They are in the club, the women are naked and the men are telling them to shake their butts. It is a bit played out if you are at a pool party or it’s a birthday at the beach or if the concept requires it which is what they do in western videos. They listen to the song and then they work according to the concept. It doesn’t always have to look like that. If the video requires something like that, fine. Shout out to Timaya. If it is every time, the songs sound the same, for me it is boring.


Sticking to my kind of music

I think about it, switching like Iyanya did. It is not because I’m stubborn or I have a point to prove. If I was a hip-hop head, if that was my talent, I would do it. I wouldn’t think about it because my life is not about pleasing people. I just have to be happy and please myself. That is not who I am. I am not a hip-hop head. I am a music head. So if I do soul, there is a hint of hip-hop in it like if you listen to ‘Orimi wu’. The rap before the song is a little bit of hip-hop. If you listen to the stuff I did for the first album, there is a bit of hip-hop in it too. I do get crazy when I’m spending time with some of my music friends, I can lean that way. Also, when I’m doing a chorus for somebody else, I can lean that way. At my core, that is not who I am. At the end of the day, you cannot give what you do not have.


About my song with MI

I wonder why people say we had a good chemistry. It made me laugh. I did not live here all my life and I’m used to seeing maybe Madonna and Justin Timberlake in a video and nobody is thinking about the chemistry. All they are saying is that this is a very good video. I think that was the first time that Nigerians would see that kind of a video, especially with a rapper. They were used to seeing MI do the hardcore rap. I don’t think it was about the chemistry, I think it was because it was something new. I think Nigerians need a love story but, unfortunately, it is not here. It did not even come to mind.


Travelling a lot as a kid

I grew up in America, Nigeria and Europe. My parents were the reason I travelled a lot as a kid. My dad used to work in an oil company, so they moved him around a lot. Some of us were born there, so we started off there. Then we came to Nigeria, when it was time for me to finish high school, he felt it was better for me to finish there so I finished in the UK.


Most romantic thing a guy has done for me

What I consider as romantic is not what most girls today see as romantic. It is the little thing that matters to me. To give an example, a long time ago, when I was in high school, a guy wanted to date me and I did not like him. I was not feeling well and he realised that my friends and I wanted to go out. He sent a car to pick us and take us to an amusement park, everything all thought out. It was nice. It was a good gesture, but it is not the kind of things that get to somebody like me. Things that get to me are remembering the little things that I don’t think you are paying attention to. For instance, maybe you take me on a date and I order for something. The next time I go on a date with you, you remember what I ordered, it shows that you are paying attention. It is not the flashy things that get to me because those things can come and go. It does not really show the kind of person the person is. If you are really into somebody, you’ll pay attention to the person. You’ll ask questions more than you talk. I don’t like self involved people. I don’t like people who think they are too fine or too cool.


My love life

I’m in a relationship. He is awesome. I’m a tough nut to crack. He got to me because he is God-fearing, funny and humble. He tells it to me straight without being afraid to do so. He is hardworking.


What I don’t like about him  

He happens to be right a lot. I’m a stubborn person, so this doesn’t work for me. When you are arguing, you need to feel that you have points. But most of the times, he is right; so that pisses me off.


How it happened between us

When I met him, I knew he is a good guy. There are not many good guys anymore; there are not many good people anymore. I knew he was a good guy and I liked him. He is handsome and funny. He did something funny that caught my attention; he was dancing in a most obscure way so that was how I noticed him. He then turned around and I realised he was good looking and that helped. We were somewhere and he was dancing, I did not know him and he did not know me. He was dancing like a mad man and people were laughing so I wondered who he was. When he turned around, he greeted me and I greeted him back. It was his birthday. I like food so he gave me cake. The cake was sweet and it is always a good way to start a conversation.


My current project

We just put out a video for ‘Titi lailai’; that is a song that I did with Femi Tones. He has worked with people like Amy Winehouse and George Benson and other famous people. That is what I was doing in London. The video is out and getting good reviews. I have a single out, ‘Romantic voice’, featuring K9, it is getting a lot of airplay on radio stations. The next thing is working on the video and the next single. We also have an acoustic session with Lami where every week I go into the studio and I do different old songs. Last week, we did Lauren Hills’s X-factor and John Legend’s,’ Ordinary people’.