Thursday, April 23, 2009

Naija Music Star: Wande Coal

Who is Wande Coal?
My real names are Ojosipe Oluwatobi Wande. I'm a student and an R&B artiste signed on to Mo'Hits records. I come from a family of two boys, the first-child. My mom is a teacher and dad, a businessman. I went through Federal Government College, Ijaniki, before gaining admission to UNILAG, where I did Curriculum Studies. Along the line I met Don Jazzy and D'Banj, and right here Wande Coal is a brand signed on to Mo'Hits records for Nigeria.

How did you get into music?

Basically, music has been there from childhood. I started music from the church, Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). Then our house used to be near the church and they kept the musical instruments in our house. I started from teenage choir, adult choir through to mass choir. From mass choir I moved to a group called Salvation Boys. We picked ourselves from different parishes of the church. We were about eight boys singing Acapela. From there I got into UNILAG, where I could not go for church programmes and handle school at the same time. But meanwhile, I had been listening to Michael Jackson and had been dancing by the side. So, it is not just the vocal thing that I have alone as my gift. I have the dance side as another aspect, which is going to be portrayed in the videos coming out soon. I continued dancing for different shows in UNILAG and my first paid job was for Mainframe Production, Segun Adeshila, where I danced as a soundtrack artiste. My second show was for extra smooth. I have been in the industry for a while dancing for different artistes. I have danced for Angelica, Boulevard, and Asha, when he used to handle Rock the Mic programme for Channel One, on Toyin Street. I moved from Ijaniki to Mushin, where I stayed with my grandmother. It was Mushin that groomed me. I was going to dance and music lessons. It was from Mushin that I moved on to school and D'Banj and Don Jazzy had come into the Nigeria entertainment industry. I saw them and had been dreaming to meet them. Luckily, I met them when I performed at a show with Konga in UNILAG. Konga later took me to D'Banj and Don Jazzy and asked me to perform for them and I did without thinking whether they would sign me on or not, I did very well. This was in early 2006. I was beating my chest and performing for them, while they sat in a circle and listened. They got my number and called me the next day. Since that day till this moment, I have been with Mo'Hits record.

What is it like working with Mo'Hits Record? Have you met that anticipation you had from the outset being with Mo'Hits? Have you realised it?

Right from the first time I met them, my heart has always been with them. I did not have any biased mind, I just wanted to be music. As I met Don Jazzy, I felt so privileged because there is nowhere, they could sign anybody like that, with the same kind of good production and management because, as an artiste, I have learnt a lot through Mo'Hits records. I started featuring with D'Banj on Loke. I did a couple of things in Why Me. I was not good then, I had to go through a lot of process. They did not even allow me go on stage yet, as they put me with their live band. So, I started as a back up singer for D'Banj, not as an artiste. I used it as a learning process. They now pushed me on by putting me on Mo'Hits CV album, comprising the entire artistes on Mo'Hits record. Even at that, I was not still good. They could not allow me come out like that. So, I had to learn. Mo'Hits records: comprising Don Jazzy, D'Banj, Wande Coal, Prince, Kswitch and Dr.Fresh, is a family. It is a family thing; Mo'Hits record is a big family.

Do you think you have achieved your dream?

I have achieved my entire dream. The reason is that while in Mushin I discovered that to be a recorded musical artiste is not easy because you might have a good song but might be awful. To make good music, you need to have a good video, standard management and all these you can't do on your own. I have achieved a lot because for the first time, I went from Mushin to the United States of America (USA) as a back up artiste to D'Banj. So, I have been elevated by God, from there, we toured five states in the US and moved to Germany, where I stood with D'Banj to receive his MTV Base award as a back up artiste. I had not recorded an album when all these happened. That alone is already okay by me.

What do you think has endeared them to you?

Number one, my complexion, voice and God, because we have a lot of talents out there, why me? I am not so special, we have people that are better than I do hundred times but God favoured me.

You started your musical career not too long ago and suddenly you have reached the top of the ladder in your career, did you think you were going to move that fast.

I didn't think it was going to be like that but I always saw myself there. As I said earlier, the first time I saw D'Banj and Don Jazzy at the PMAN anniversary, where I performed along side Angelica, I could not go and meet them to introduce myself but God brought them to UNILAG. And I just performed, and they got my number, and called me up the next day. Right now, I have achieved because now they know my name and everything is going on smoothly. So, I will say Mo'Hits is the Koko.

What do you say, at this stage, is the sweetest thing about being a singer?

When you have to go outside and people call your name. I did not have that in Mushin at all. Back then, in Mushin I could go out play in the ghetto, sing, and freestyle in the hood because I always did that everyday. And everyday I must get a new song. I didn't want to know whether you knew me or not. I could go to any ghetto beat my chest, sing and entertain people but now I can't even go outside. I have learnt to know when to start and stop, because basically all those things I do back then are being limited now.

What inspires you musically?

Surroundings, my thoughts. Don Jazzy inspires me with the beats and other different artistes.

You are hyperactive on stage do you do drugs?

It's a culture. I'm a small boy I don't do drugs. My mummy is a teacher. I can't do that.

What of marijuana?

I don't know anything about that! I don't do that too.

My mom is a teacher, who impacted a lot of wisdom in me. And when I went to Mushin, I lived with my grandmother, who was also very strict and would not allow nonsense. I mixed a lot with different people but I still didn't forget where I was coming from. I knew where I was going because I could have become a Fuji artiste, but Don Jazzy will not sign me on.

Hip-hop music as you know, has gone a different way and form, how would you describe your brand of music.

My brand of music is a new style. It means a lot of things to me because I have been looking at the music industry for a while. Actually, I think this is the right time to release a good music that will appeal to people, not just mincing words. I am a brand and I know what I am bringing into the music industry, a new syllabus entirely. I call Don Jazzy my brochure because I can change style at any point in time. I can do any kind of music. I want other artistes to be able do any kind of music, not just focus on one thing; it makes us stagnant in the music industry. At least, when we make different genres of music, we can mix with the international act easier. It has become a general thing that most artistes have to adopt Yoruba slang but you have to do songs in English so as to aim for Grammy.

Tell us about your new album.

My new album that is pirated already is titled Ololufe and that is the fake copy. The new album is called M 2 M (from Mushin to Mo'Hits). Recently, I went to a show and the girls said they wanted Ololufe, not in my new album but I had to buy this fake album on the road to perform Ololufe. I will say piracy is not good but is good for me because am just a normal boy and they are already pirating my work. But it is not good for an artiste because it affects the market value of one's work. M2M is a 16 tracker, with tracks like 'You Bad,' featuring D'Banj, 'Confused' also featuring D'Banj, 'Na who born the maga,' 'Sope ti e' and others. The pirated one, already released contains taboo, 'Bumper to bumper.' Don't buy it, please is fake.

Which of the tracks do you consider the hit track?

I don't consider anyone the hit track, but let my fans judge.

How did you come about Wande Coal?

My name is Ojosipe Oluwatobi Wande, as said earlier. Wande is my last name. I picked Wande and added my colour, 'Charcoal.' I removed the 'char' and adopted the 'coal.'

You are known with your Bling Bling and dark eyeglasses but why are you without your glasses today?

Basically, it's when I am on stage that I use it as a trademark and get less distraction.

Do you still see some of those your peers back in the days in Mushin?

Funny enough, since I finished this album, D'Banj and Don Jazzy don't allow me to go out.

Why?

When I go out people just want me to sing for them and in the name of love you may be compelled to do it but it is just a programming of an artiste. As an artiste, I don't have to go out always, so I don't lose my value and become a 'see finish.'

What is the hard part of stardom?

Managing it. As for any artiste, I am advised. Managing stardom is very hard but you have to be humble and cheerful at the same time.

How long did it take you to put this album together?

I did not start working on this album until D'Banj finished the Entertainer album.

How much of Wande Coal, rather than the Mo'Hits rhythm, attitude and style is in this album?

I will say a lot, just buy the album and tell me what you feel.

What is the craziest thing a fan has ever done to you?

Remember, I have not even done CV album. I just did a song with D'Banj and why we invited one aunty from London and said I should sing for her. I just sang and the aunty who was standing just fell to the floor.

Anointing?

I don't know but I was scared. I just thank God, everything I put to Him, I have been in the church, especially the choir. So anything anybody says about my song, I thank God for everything because He is the one that gave me the talent.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I would have added more years to my age. I will be a big boss. May be telling Don Jazzy and D'Banj, lets sign on more artistes to Mo'Hits records. But I see myself established. 'Wande Coal' is more than Wande Coal, and this is more than music sense. I am talking about business sense and international collaboration.

We learnt that at some time you had an accident with the car you won at Hip-hop award, how serious was the accident and the state of the car?

Well I will say thank you to my God that I'm alive. Anything accident, I don't want to be associated with it again. But I am fine, the car and everything is fine. I should be thanking God that I even have time to release this album.

Do you have role models?

From the beginning, I will say Michael Jackson, then Usher, Akon, T-pain, Don Jazzy and D'Banj.

Stardom attracts women, how do you handle women?

I try as much as possible to keep it as a mutual respect like 'Wande you have a good music I love, and 'I love you too.' I don't take it more than because the most important thing for an artiste is to be successful. I don't let that get into my head.

So, who is the woman in your life?

I am still a small boy; still have a lot of things to achieve. I am 22 years old.

The special woman in my life is in the studio, my music. Music is my girlfriend. I kiss and love music.

What do you cherish most in a woman?

Good attitude, maybe because I have not tried to look for one.


I have been able to perform on different stages, on the same stage with international artistes as back up artiste, and it is not done anywhere. The likes of Jazzy, Miss Elliot, Beyoncy and others. It is a pride for me to say I have performed on the same stage with them it is not easy. I have not seen any back-up artiste who has done that. I had thought I was not going to travel outside Nigeria but I thank God, I met Don Jazzy and D'Banj. Another achievement is Wande Coal, a brand. I did not think it was going to be so. If I go out now, I hear people say Wande Coal, they don't even just say it, they sing it. It is a great achievement for me I thank God.

It is obvious that God has been good to you, what more?

Apart from these, I intend to go into different collabos internationally. We are working on that. I am aiming for the Grammys, and we are working on a song, that when it comes out will bring Grammy to Nigeria.