Popular Fuji singer, Abass Akande Obesere, lends his voice to the raging controversy about the origin of fuji music in this chat with TOFARATI IGE
What is the origin of fuji music?
Fuji music is the fusion of some genres of music including were which was usually sung by Muslims during the Ramadan period. However, it was the late Barrister that created the brand called fuji because he fused several genres together and created a unique sound, calling it fuji.
What are your thoughts on K1 de Ultimate’s claim that Barrister wasn’t the originator of Fuji music?
During his lifetime, Barrister boldly said it that he is the creator of fuji and I think the only person that is qualified to have disagreed with him is Kollington Ayinla, and since he hasn’t said that Barrister is not the originator of fuji music, who amongst us, the younger generation, has the right to say otherwise? The only thing Kollington said was that God should bless the work of our hands that it is not all about titles. Even K1 said so himself in his first album released in the 80s that Barrister is the creator of fuji music. Why is it after the death of Barrister that he is now saying something different? It is a pity that this has to come from someone like K1. Barrister picked him from the gutter, washed him clean and gave him opportunities. Barrister trained him and what other fuji acts did not enjoy from Barrister, K1 got. Barrister never took offence with K1 even in instances where he should have; rather he handled issues diplomatically because he didn’t want to be seen as an elder who was envious of a younger one. Wasiu Ayinde should go and think deeply. Why is it that he always rubbishes everybody who appreciates him? That is why I can never associate with him because he always messes people up. Anybody that God wants to keep away from disgrace wouldn’t go near K1. When I said I didn’t want to get close to him, people thought I was a bad person but now they know better. In spite of how Malaika used to respect K1, he eventually abused him with a whole album. Even though Saheed Osupa acknowledged K1 in the US, and people thought they had settled their differences, Saheed later abused him again because K1 tried to mess him up. When Barrister proclaimed Saheed Osupa as the king of music, K1 was annoyed that why should anyone else be named king instead of him. Meanwhile, all these titles are just to appreciate ourselves. There is no musician that wouldn’t call himself the best so it’s all normal. Why is it that K1 is always having issues with people? He is envious of the people behind him, he is jealous of the people ahead of him and now, he is fighting with the dead. Why hasn’t anyone come out to abuse me? It is because I always give people their due respect and I’m constantly working to improve myself.
K1’s name was initially Wasiu Ishola but he adopted the name Wasiu Ayinde Barrister to promote himself as a protégé of Barrister. K1 is just an ungrateful and unappreciative person. When Barrister was alive, K1 used to treat him like a god. But those of us who know how to interpret music know that K1 used to abuse Barrister stylishly with his songs. When he was alive, I once told Barrister not to tolerate nonsense from K1 but he said he didn’t want it to seem like he was envious of his protégé. But can you see the result now? Even though I’m not up to Barrister’s level, I am sure that K1 can never disrespect me. Barrister was supposed to perform at the inauguration ceremony of Oba Rilwan Akiolu years ago but because of K1’s closeness to Tinubu, he managed to corner the deal for himself. Even then, Barrister wasn’t offended.
Now, K1 is saying that all those who have been disagreeing with him on his latest claim are uninformed. So, is he the only wise person? He feels he has gotten to a height where no one else has gotten to. Meanwhile, all what he has is nothing in the sight of God. He is only known among the Yoruba people, not the Igbos or foreigners.
What are you doing to ensure the growth of fuji?
In the recent past, there was nothing like hip hop in Nigeria, it was all about fuji. In those days, what was known about hip hop in Nigeria were songs by American singers such as Usher, Puff Daddy, Jay Z, among others. But now, Nigerian hip hop has taken over the whole place and I think it is a plus for us because there are elements of fuji in most of these songs. People who sing strictly fuji music employ their traditional language in their songs. As for me, I’m a Yoruba man from Ibadan and there’s no way I would sing without using my native language. And because fuji music is done in a local language, it can never go extinct as long as the language still exists. Hip hop is only using its time.
What have you done to preserve Barrister’s legacy?
There is no time that I don’t sing about Barrister. I have even recorded a whole album for him. What I am doing right now is also part of the efforts at keeping his memory alive because we have to let people know the important role he played in Fuji creation.
What do you think the future holds for fuji music?
Fuji music can never fade away. Right now, fuji is used to sing hip hop so you can say it’s in another phase now.
Do you agree that it is no longer as popular as before?
It’s not that it’s no longer as popular, everything in life is about time and that’s what I want you to understand. That’s why people like us are playing along so we would be relevant and fuji music wouldn’t die. Besides, hip hop artistes cannot be invited to perform with bands at weddings or other social occasions. They would only come there to mime about two songs of theirs. It is usually fuji artistes that perform with bands and praise-sing people.
What has your experience been as a hip hop singer?
I have gained more fans. My fuji fans still remain and I also have hip hop fans. Fuji and hip hop artistes need one another. Some people listen only to hip hop but when a hip hop artiste features a fuji singer, they get to learn more about the genre, and vice versa.