Nigerian rapper and CEO of The Goretti Company, Illbliss has worked hard to remain relevant after 8 years of releasing his debut album titled ‘Dat Ibo Boy.’ The ‘Oga Boss’ who’s part of Ice Tour of seven cities speaks to SAMUEL ABULUDE on his relevance and also his joy of fatherhood after many years of marriage.
You recently became a father. How it fatherhood turning out for you?
Yeah, this is my first child and it is special. It took a while but it came eventually and like I said, God does these things at His own time. It is awesome and I must tell you being a father is different; it comes with a whole lot of responsibility. Now everything is money, before you move you have to think. I am sure you have a family and can relate to that. You don’t just go out; you go out to make money else your kid will be looking at you and wondering what you are doing.
Knowing you have been there and done that, what is the Illbliss brand projecting going forward?
The Illbliss brand is all about being consistent, it’s powerful, self-driven, entrepreneurial, and motivational. The brand is Nigerian, Igbo and youthful. I want young people to look up to me and say I like the way he moves and I can do it too. He never has crisis, no scandals and he keeps it clean.
What are you bringing on board as one of the headliners of the Ice Tour?
We have done the Owerri leg of the music tour along with Zorro and Smirnoff is the brand, we have a number of activations together in the past. We were in Enugu a couple of weeks back and it was awesome and they host the most amazing raves and parties and we are going out there to connect with our fans and it is going to be crazy. Smirnoff parties are always crazy and we are looking forward to having loads of energy and a fine activation. It is good to be on the road with Smirnoff once more.
What makes you stick to the brand?
I stick to the brand because it is young, it’s alive. Young people love Smirnoff and it is always linked to stuff like that and I am always studying what young people want and Smirnoff stands right in the middle of the youth culture.
As much as a lot of people want to party, how are you preaching the gospel of drinking responsibly as one of the headliners?
I always preach that; for me it’s about drinking a little, it’s never about drinking and hurting yourself. A lot of people are abusing alcohol and drugs in recent times and as role models, what we do is to go out there in as much as you are going out with an alcoholic brand, you tell them to drink responsibly before the performances, during the performances and even after. It’s a campaign that I align with and which I run even without being told.
For somebody like you, Owerri is a kind of homecoming
I don’t know but I have done shows everywhere. So everywhere is home for me but Owerri is great, I went to Secondary School in Owerri so I guess I could call it that because it’s massive for me. My mother lives in Owerri so it feels like going home and giving back to the people and shout out to Smirnoff for making that happen.
You are still relevant over a decade after but you seemed to have mellowed down on the Ibo boy personae?
I was that Ibo boy and then I grew up and became that Ibo man. But really when it comes to my music, I didn’t really mellow it down; just that the brand keeps growing; keeps evolving and I have to appeal to more people that Igbo people. That is because I am a Nigerian at the end of the day and my music must cut across.
Do you share industry observers’ feeling that you are one of the people who have not really been recognised as much as they deserve?
I don’t know why they keep saying that. If I haven’t gotten the deserved recognition, I won’t be sitting here right now, I have got loads of recognition and I am happy where I am. I am happy to still be in the business and I guess God does His things, he has a way of writing you into His book of relevance so that I have been here for years and I am still doing this shows it’s all good. I just advise everyone to just know what he or she are doing and keep pushing.
You are still on the rap lane, staying true to the game but you have experimented with different genres. What has that experimentation done to you as an act?
As artistes, we are built to experiment and music is changing, the vibe keeps changing and so is the way people buy into music. The audience keeps changing and you must move with the times, so you must study the audience and look at yourself within to find something you can give artistically. I would never give anything I am not comfortable with and so far everything I have given out has been 100%. Then when rap music changed and a lot of local content came into it, I decided to change alongside so that I could appeal to the audience and also appeal to the industry.
With just to two months in the year, how would you describe the last few months?
It’s been awesome, crazy, I have been busy all around. I put out an album in July and that’s my fifth studio album and for me that is consistency. I just put out a new video for the song titled “Fireworks” and before then it was “Alert” featuring Runtown and before then also, “Jawon laya” featuring Reekado Banks and Mr Eazy.
If the music is taken out of you, who would Illbliss be?
I am just a regular guy, a passionate young man who supports Arsenal Football Club. But I know we are not doing so well but we are trying to get it right. I won’t switch teams. I am a proper fan; not just a guy wearing a red and white jersey. However, I won’t lose sleep over them.
How do you cope running the show in the area of artistes’ management?
I run a management company as opposed to a record label, we sign artistes, we train them and project them while taking care of my own music as well. But right now, the focus is squarely on me as an artiste, we don’t have any acts we are dealing with right now. No distractions, we are focused on pushing the brand for them while also looking out for talent.
What are some of the plans you have in place already for 2018?
It is about giving back to the country. A lot of people keep bitching about the country but as an entertainer who has a voice, I plan to work on giving back and be responsible.
You can control many things now but how did you manage to stay out of trouble when you started out?
I have been lucky and I have been guided. I am principled around certain things but I guess I have been lucky and I keep a low profile and let the music speak for me. ( Leadership)