Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Banky on Bella...

It's been a little hectic lately because I have so much to do in terms of collaborations in the studio and a host of videos we're about to start shooting, so I haven't had much time to do any writing. In any case, I recently did an interview with Bella Naija that turned out quite nice. Shoutouts to their reporter Glory Edozien who did the interview and the entire Bella Naija team. I've decided to copy + paste the interview here for your reading pleasure until I return with more random rants. Hope u enjoy it. (The original link can be found at http://www.bellanaija.com/2010/08/19/my-banky-w-experience-the-interview/ ) Lemme know what you think... cheers!!

My Banky W Experience: The Interview! (by Glory Edozien)

I personally believe I was the envy of most women as Olubankole Wellington, aka Banky W and I sat down for a quick repartee at Sway bar. In my mind, I imagined it was a blind date that would somehow end up with Banky going down on one knee, confessing undying love for me and eventually proposing marriage. Alas it was not to be! This was strictly a BN correspondent/musical artist relationship. So there I sat beside one of the hottest men, both musically and physically, ever to grace the Nigerian entertainment scene behaving like butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth, while my mind focused on other things not entirely print worthy☺.

With 3 albums under his belt there is no doubt in our minds that Banky is Nigeria’s, and perhaps even Africa’s answer to RnB. From sultry songs like Ay Mami and Strong Thing to party stoppers like Lagos Party, we can categorically say that Banky has mastered an art that some people have been struggling to achieve for years.

The Interview itself lasted about 50minutes. Banky and I chatted freely about his love for music and even shared some stories on the challenges he’d overcome so far. Without doubt he was easy to talk to, confident and incredibly knowledgable about his craft, definitely one of the best interviews I have done…..

The music in the man…..

We would then go to hair and nail salons in the neigbourhood, and beg the owners to let me sing for their costumers and if they let us we would do a little acapella.

BN: How did you get into music?

Banky W: I’d been flirting with music all of my life. I don’t remember exactly how old, but I know I was incredible young when I knew that I wanted to be a singer. What tends to happen is, as a child, you have dreams of what you want to do whether its being a policeman or a fire man but you take care of life. You go to school, work but you don’t do anything about the dream. Everybody who knew me knew that I sang because I was always singing in school or church. When I was in university in New York, I got together with a friend of mine and was like, ‘we are always joking about this music thing, if we don’t put money towards it, it will pass us by’. So at that point I hit the studio, I probably started recording seriously around 2002 and it built it from there.

BN: You’ve achieved so much in your career already, but what challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Banky W: For anyone in this line of work, there will always be rough roads. Everyone you see with a certain level of success has had times when they paid their dues. My story is no different. There are some years when you put in a lot more than you get out. The biggest challenge when you are starting is getting people to stop and listen to what you have to say because there are so many people doing music.
When I started, we started selling my CDs out the trunks of our cars. In NY, my two friends and I would put our money together and print a couple hundred CDs. We would then go to hair and nail salons in the neighborhood, and beg the owners to let me sing for their costumers and if they let us we would do a little acapella. My friends couldn’t sing so they would be in the background snapping their fingers and I would sing for the ladies and then we’d sell our CDs five dollars a piece. That’s really where my first income from music came from. Those are some of the challenges and they never really go away, they just get bigger and different.

BN: But that must take an incredible amount of Self confidence to do that

Banky W: Yes, absolutely. It definitely takes a lot of self confidence but it also takes having a support system no matter how small. There is no question, I wouldn’t have come this far if I didn’t have one or two or three friends who where like ‘Yo! This my guy can do this thing’! They kind of tap into the dream at an early stage when there is no payout from it whatsoever. And we were all spending our savings and drinking garri together.

I'll tell you this funny story, there was this time in Yankee in school that we were so broke! I used to go with my friend to his church in Brooklyn because they served food after the service. There were a couple of Sundays when we would just go there and pack enough food to last us a few days. God puts you through all of that, so you become a stronger person and you learn how to deal with not having everything. Shout out to my guys that really held me down. They know who they are. There are always moments of self doubt but when you see your guy put in his own hard earned money, you are like well, if I don’t believe it for myself , I better believe for this guy. So shout out to Tunde, Tino and Segun and everyone else.

BN: If you weren’t doing music what would you be doing?

Banky W: There are quite a few things that I have always been interested in and might have been good at. I studied industrial engineering, so when I graduated I was working for an engineering company and at that point I was doing pretty well. I could have continued and would still be doing okay. So I actually took a risk quitting that. I have always been interested in teaching. My only problem with teaching is that I feel they don’t make enough money for the incredible job they do. I am very success driven so that was the draw back. But you never know when I am done with all this I might decide to go and start teaching somewhere. I was also pretty good at drawing, so I could have been an artist. I am also very much an entrepreneur. So anyone of those things could have been my other job but I am glad that music has worked out so far.

BN: SO are we! Your love for music is evident but are there things in your life that have suffered because of that love?

Banky W: I think there are positive and negatives in everything you do. Now I thank God for the success that I have and I am very grateful for it. But you end up in a situation where your relationships suffer and not just with your girlfriend but really with family members and friends. You are always on the road and when you are not on the road you are so tired. Eventually you are not as in touch with people as you should be. It comes with the territory, you try not to let too many people down along the way and you pray for the wisdom to balance it; Because at the end of the day you don’t want to be old and successful yet unhappy. My family is the most important thing in my life, so for anyone to loose that or never have anyone to love it’s really sad. If you have everything in the world and you don’t have that it doesn’t mean much.

BN: The Nigerian music industry has doubtlessly come a long way, but how do you see it progressing?

Banky W: I think the BET nominations are yet another testament to how far Nigerian music has come. To see two of our home acts nominated with best international acts around the world and you still have Shade and Wale who both have Nigerian roots. I think it’s a beautiful thing and I am proud of where we are.

But I think what we need is to really bring the music industry up as a whole. We need to enforce certain laws and put certain things into effect, it would automatically elevate our music. That is what is holding us back. When you can start paying royalties you will see a significant number of investments from record companies around the world and from those of us that have record companies locally too. The whole infrastructure would make more sense and you will be able to do more and achieve more musically. It will no longer be an industry based on shows.

He does the Ladies Strong Thing

I am the kind of person that would surprise a girl with flowers at work, pull a spontaneous trip out of no where or the quiet dinner on the beach. For me romance is spontaneity.

BN: Are you single?

Banky W: Yes. It’s tough. It is a question of time. I literally have very little time on my hands. This has been the busiest year so far in my career. Within the next 30days I will need to travel to Benin, Abuja, Yola, the States, Dublin and South Africa. My schedule is hectic and to be able to build a relationship you need to commit a certain amount of time and energy. I’d like to think that I will eventually make a great boyfriend and husband. I try to be a romantic guy. I am very spontaneous. I like to enjoy my relationships. When the time is right I will be able to do all of that.

Also, apart from time, there’s the question of trying to find the right person which is the million dollar question. Because in my line of work you tend to meet with either real big fans or people that you just don’t really identify with. There is always the question of whether this person will love the real me. Everything is so jumbled together because my music personality and my real personality are kind of the same... So I don’t want them to hate the fact that I do music but then I don’t want them to be consumed by it either. There are so many uncertainties that having a relationship becomes so much harder. Also being in a relationship with me will definitely take a toll on whoever is with me because my job comes with a lot of female attention and that is hard for anyone to deal with. But I believe that God still loves me enough to give me the right person to settle down with.

BN: What sort of girls do you find attractive?

Banky W: Physical beauty is important to a certain extent because you have to be attracted to someone to want to get to know more. I like girls that are independent and ambitious, that I can have a real conversation with. Because if you are beautiful and dumb when we get past the physical intimacy there is nothing more to be said. I like fun girls; girls who love music and can dance because I love to dance. If you can cook it’s a huge plus because I am a sucker for good food. I am not a sweet tooth; I don’t eat cakes, candy, chocolate etc. I will eat ice cream once in a blue moon but if you give me goat meat, rice, chicken or beef, I am VERY happy. I also like friendly, go-getter girls that have their own thing going on. So I can be inspired by what they do as well.

BN: What Physical attributes do you find attractive?

Banky W: I’m not into ridiculously skinny or ridiculously overweight. I like the grey area in the middle where they is ample supply of everything. In terms of height I could go either way I have dated girls that are taller or shorter than me. I am attracted by girls who have a semblance of the whole package. You carry your self well, you know how to dress, and there’s a kind of x factor kind of thing. I have been attracted to all kinds of women, it’s difficult to explain but I know that thing I like when I see it.

BN: Would you describe yourself as romantic?

Banky W: I am the kind of person that would surprise a girl with flowers at work, pull a spontaneous trip out of no where or the quiet dinner on the beach. For me, a big part of romance is spontaneity. For example, there was a time over Valentines Day where instead of just celebrating it the one day, I did like a three-day thing just to vary it up otherwise it gets boring. I think one of the keys to having a good relationship is to keep it interesting.

Keeping it Grown and Sexy

I am a grown man, so I decided to keep it sexy grown and sophisticated.

BN: How would you describe your sense of style?

Banky W: I don’t know how I would define it. I think it is very much who I am and how I feel at that particular moment. When I moved back from New York, it was that point in time when it was fashionable to wear the Arabian scarf around your neck, So I had a lot of that; but then I went to a show and it seemed like 95% of the Nigerian music industry was in that show, dressed alike. It was like we were in some huge boy band. Just crazy! It looks nice, but we can’t all be on stage in a t-shirt and jeans and an Arabian scarf. At that point I realized I had to do something different.

I am a grown man, so I decided to switch it up and keep it grown and sophisticated. From that time I switched to ties and suits consciously. I mean shout out to everyone that dresses that way, there is nothing wrong with it. I just wanted something different. Nowadays I vary it up between dressy and casual, but it depends on my mood and what’s going on at the time. In any case it’s the same issue with music; if you make the same music everyone is making you won’t differentiate yourself and you could get lost in the crowd.

BN: Who are your favorite designers?

Banky W: Mai Atafo, Okunoren Twins, Muyiwa Oshindero and Babs Familusi. I rarely buy suits from outside the country now. Those are the people I patronize.

BN: You’ve done so much already this year, but what’s next on your agenda?

Banky W: Right now I am doing a lot of shows and on some tours but I am also going to be shooting a few more videos for some songs off the W experience album. The ‘Thief My Kele’ video is next on the list. I have two new artists, which I am incredibly excited about. I think they are two of the most talented young Nigerian men I have seen in a long time-Wizkid and Skales. So I am executive producing both their albums. We should be shooting WizKid’s ‘Holla At Your Boy’ and “Tease Me” videos anytime now. The same goes for Skales with ‘Heading for a Grammy’ and ‘Be Mine’.

I have a charity organization, which provides university scholarships to Nigerian universities called The “I am capable” Scholarship Fund. I am also involved with the Light Up Nigeria and Enough is Enough Nigeria campaigns. In addition, I have an initiative with MI and Eldee to get young people to go out and register to vote. It aims to get young people involved in the future of Nigeria. At the moment the initiative is called ‘ready for change’, but that name might change. Its kind of like a vote or die thing because you see people like Barack Obama become president and you know that was possible because the young people were interested in the future of America and I think young people should be interested in the future of Nigeria.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'm Back... But you probably shouldn't bother reading this one...

Sooooooooooooooooo.... guess who's back? It is I... King of the Lagos Party. Hehhehehehe.

I realize it's been AGES since I last wrote anything new on here, and I apologize. It's Twitter's fault. Someone once told me "people are starting to realize that twitter is to blogs, what emails were to letters"; and it's soooo true. It is ridiculously convenient to just vent in short paragraphs on Twitter and engage people in their responses, and walahi (talahi gimme lighter) it has totally murdered my blogging habit.

In any case, I'm on a mission to attempt to fix this. I refuse to let go!!! Blogging/Writing/etc is a huge part of my artistic expression!!! (That sounds way more impressive than it actually is). Seriously though, I do hope to try and blog often again, because I enjoy it, and apparently some of you do too. (Sidebar: Thanks so much for all the comments on here; and a HUGE Thank you to everyone that follows the blog and has taken the time to read my random rants. I appreciate you guys, you're the best).

This particular post isn't anything special. Primarily, I just wanted to apologize for being missing-in-action. And now that we've gotten that out of the way, I'd also like to vent about something very serious. No it's not politics or corruption (feel free to scroll down and read my last 2 or 3 posts for that). It's about my househelp/caretaker/etc. Let's call him "Simon". Feel free to stop reading now. Really.

I moved into my new house about 4 or so months ago. I hired Simon shortly afterwards. I'm now convinced about a few things. For one, Simon's main mission in life is to torture me. Really. I shall explain. Simon almost definitely has a severe case of A-D-D and SEVERE language/communication problems. I understand that he hails from a French Speaking African Country, and thus English is something he's picked up along the way, but damn. How he has survived in Naija this long without being able to properly communicate is nothing short of amazing. You tell him something and he turns around and does the EXACT opposite; and if you call him out on it, he gives you what can only be described as the best "deer-in-headlights" look you'll ever see. 

Me: "Simon, abeg, only use water from these bottles to fill the ice-cube tray. No dey use water from tap oh! Because e no clean. U Understand? Na only this bottled water u go use oh! ONLY bottled water!!!!"

Simon: "Yes."

PS: I think he answers every statement with "Yes". But that's another story. 

Two mins later, I come downstairs and guess what? Yes. Simon has fetched tap water in a bucket and is  now filling the ice cube trays with it. 

He's also either incredibly inept at budgeting, or he thinks he's incredibly smart at duping. Allow me to give you an example (there are so many to choose from)

Simon: "Oga, we need fruits. And shoe Polish"
Me: "Okay, pls write out the list and the total price"
Simon: "Yes"

Simon comes back with a list as follows: Bananas, Apples, Oranges, Pineapples. Black and Brown Polish. And a brush. N10,000.

Yes. TEN THOUSAND NAIRA for fruits and shoe polish!!!! You'd think the fruits were coming with a supermodel to feed them to you. You ask him what the hell he's thinking and yes, you guessed it... "Deer-in-headlights" again. And these are just two of MANY examples. Don't get me wrong though, he has his good sides. He's a nice guy... and I think he generally means well. Oh! And he's great at ironing. (That's if the clothes actually make it through the wash without discoloring or disintegrating. And... okay.. I'm reaching here... Okay I got nothing else at the moment.

But with Simon, I've come to realize that this is just who he is. He's a terrible cook, thus the meat will ALWAYS be too hard, or so soft it shreds into the stew. And it's either the food will be absolutely saltless or WAY too salty. The Jollof Rice will never ever ever be quite the right color. And every month, after receiving his salary, he comes to ask for a raise. 

Luckily for me, now that I've moved into the new place, my folks flew in to visit for the first time since I moved back to Nigeria. So I have Mom's home cooking for a couple weeks before they head back out. I'm seriously hoping that some of her cooking skills rub off on Simon, otherwise we will have to end our business relationship. Because in the wise words of great songwriter/poet who's name escapes me at the moment, "I can do bad all by myself".

Good to be back. Now log out and go follow @BankyW on twitter.
~ B.W.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What are you capable of?

Certain people feel like young people are incompetent, and incapable of leading Nigeria.. My natural reaction would be to rush to our defense, by referencing all the incredible things young people have done. History is full of instances were young people were the catalysts of change and victory all over the world... From the Biblical days of David & Goliath, to recent times when it was the youth that voted in President Obama.

But instead of trying to defend the youth, I choose to challenge us. What are the youth in Nigeria capable of? The time has come where there is no tomorrow. 60% of eligible voters in this country are classified as young. We can either choose to take back the power that has been taken from us or we let sleeping lions lie. One thing I know for sure is this: if we choose to, as in times past, tolerate the way things have always been; if we choose to do nothing... if we choose to say "God dey" and "it's Naija"; one thing is certain...NOTHING will change.

Albert Einstein said "insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. Nigeria, is and always will be, a sorry shadow of its potential if we choose to let her remain that way. An unconscious/sleeping giant is less effective than a hardworking ant. The time is now. There is no tomorrow. We must collectively decide to change Nigeria. Now. Today. This very moment. The bad news is, big wheels turn slow. I don't expect PHCN/NEPA to give me electricity when I get home tonight. The good news is, while big wheels DO turn slow, they will turn. Or they'll get replaced.

America moved from being the chief proprietor of slavery to electing a black man of African descent as its President. This is no small feat. Call it blind optimism, but I believe Nigeria can achieve similar results with our Nation's historical problems. We can move from being a country rife with corruption, where power and governance are seen as a birthright, to a real true progressive democracy, if the young and young at heart collectively decide that enough is enough. Change begins when we decide that it should. Its about me. Its about you. Its about Us.

If Martin Luther King and Malcolm X (RIP) didn't decide to do what they did, America wouldn't have come this far; if people like Chief Gani Fawehinmi didn't stand up against all odds when he did, we wouldn't be here right now. Chief Gani Fawehinmi, after decades of fighting for justice, rejected one of Nigeria's highest honors in protest of the many years of misrule since Independence. These are people who believed in our freedom and potential so much that they paid with their lives. May we not let our passiveness result in their fighting and dying in vain.

If we do not stand up to become the architects of Nigeria's future, the opportunity will pass and we will have failed future generations. I don't want my unborn children to witness the same Nigeria I'm seeing now. Change begins with us, if we want it bad enough. If we really feel like enough is enough. If we believe and work hard; if we we sacrifice some of our convenience for the greater good, we can do this.

We must register to vote. We must select and vote for the right candidate. We must vow to defend and protect our vote. The ball is in our court. If we choose not to take back our power by not voting, then we have no right to complain when the same old villains loot and steal from us. We give up the right to complain about the problems later, when we choose not to vote in the first place.

To paraphrase an ancient proverb, we do not inherit Nigeria from our parents. We borrow it from our children. It's time to pay with interest.

~ B.W.

PS: I'm teaming up with some friends and colleagues (M.I., eLDee, #EnoughIsEnough, #Cool2Vote.org, #LightupNigeria etc) to put together youth voter registration rallies and efforts. As soon as its in order we will announce them everywhere. Please spread the word. It's not only cool2vote, it's necessary. Let's do this.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hell is empty, and all the devils are here

"Hell is empty, and all the devils are here." - Shakespeare

First, please read the quote pasted above. Let the gravity of those words sink into your system. Then, if you haven't already, and if you're strong enough to stomach witnessing sheer and absolute horror, please click on the following link: http://www.anglicandioceseofjos.org/dogo.html

There is no other quote that better describes the recent inhumane attacks in Jos, Nigeria. If "a picture is worth a thousand words", then what do we say of pictures like these? It's unimaginable. Each picture represents a horrific, gruesome murder. Innocent women, children (and men) were brutally ambushed, attacked, maimed and murdered worse than animals. It's unthinkable that in 2010, after the world has gone through so much progress and development, some of us in Nigeria are still living like this. It's heartbreaking to witness these events. It's heart-wrenching to think of what happened on the morning of March 7th. It's unfair and deplorable. It's mind-numbingly sad, pathetic, and downright insane.

But this is the Nigeria we live in. A country full of extremes. Extreme wealth and extreme poverty. Extreme Joy and extreme pain. It's hard to imagine that this is the same Nigeria that just hosted the U-17 World cup; that just celebrated it's 50th Year of Independence and boasts of some of the most expensive luxurious lifestyles in the world.

Nigeria is the most populous Black Nation in the world; it is also very much a melting pot. It is home to 250 to 400 different ethnic groups, and is almost evenly split amongst Muslims and Christians (not to mention various other traditional Religious Belief systems). However, while in some metropolitan areas of the world, vast diversity is generally a positive attribute, in Nigeria that diversity is ripping us apart. We are different, but that should be a strength.. not a disease. Instead of learning from each other we resort to fighting. Instead of maximizing our varying degrees of potential, we resort to killing each other.

How men can devise this kind of terrible plot is beyond me. News reports have put the death toll anywhere between 200 and 500 people. Probably More. Innocent lives snuffed out for absolutely ignorant, ridiculous reasons. Mothers and children. Families destroyed forever. All because of some ethnic disputes, disagreements over land, or even religious differences. What's sad about occurrences like this is the fact that usually, there's some underlying resentment towards policy, authority, Government or the powers that be. But instead of finding some other way to address these issues, people resort to killing other innocent (and probably-frustrated-as-well) human beings. Maybe you're justifiably upset at the way things have been... is that reason enough to take the life of someone else who is innocent, and like you, probably just trying to get by in these harsh times?

The worst thing about the Jos attacks is the fact that this is not the first time that we've witnessed such horror, and conventional wisdom says it won't be the last. There's a song on my last album called "Why", where I tried in my very limited capacity to speak from the heart on situations affecting our Nigeria. I specifically mentioned "fighting in Jos, killing one another no remorse". This song was created by Cobhams Asuquo and I over a year ago; I was inspired to write, when similar killings occurred and a friend of mine lost 2 immediate family members. Little did we know that the song would prove to not only be an account of times past, but a prophecy of things to come as we are now witnessing the same evil history repeat itself.

My heart aches for those that lost their lives in Jos and for the families that mourn them. My heart aches for the present state of Nigeria. My heart aches for the future of Nigeria, but it shouldn't have to. I once read that the definition of Insanity is repeating the same actions over and over, while expecting a different result. We are all frustrated with the political and economical climate in Nigeria. We all complain and we are quick to point out everything that has been so wrong for so many years, and rightfully so, because it's just pathetic. But if we decide as a generation to do nothing about it; if we decide to turn a blind eye and ignore the need for change, then our future generations will inherit the EXACT same issues. And that will mean that we have failed them.

We all witnessed the inauguration of President Barack Obama in the not too distant past. The whole world watched in awe, as America, once the chief criminal in slave trade, voted in its first Black President. We all know the U.S.A. still has issues its dealing with, but President Obama's swearing-in is a day that will forever go down in history as a day that changed America. Prior to Obama becoming Commander-in-Chief, most people thought that there would never be a Black Man voted in as President of the USA. Prior to Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and co, most people thought black people would never be able to vote in America and that Segregation would never be demolished. I put it to you that we CAN change Nigeria's future, using similar formulas. Obama became President largely because the younger generations (and those young at heart) decided to exercise their God-given rights by voting for change. We can do the same here in Naija.

Change does not happen overnight... Some will recall that in the USA in 1994 there was a revolution of sorts, but partly due to somewhat dubious circumstances (Florida, etc), the Bush Regime lasted an additional four years. We are used to Politicians in Nigeria treating Power as a birthright and votes not counting, despite our calling it a democracy. But in the same breath, how many of us actually turn out to vote? 2011 might be the year that changes our country forever. We may or may not succeed in toppling the "birthright-mindset" of our leaders immediately, but we MUST, in the very least, get the ball rolling. We the (young) people must decide that we are fed up of the nonsense we've seen for years and vow to change things.

We still have no constant power supply. We must vow to do everything within our power to get our government to #lightupnigeria. We have leaders that are complacent and corrupt. We must vow to register-to-vote and to actually vote. We can, possibly, abruptly change and take charge of the future of Nigeria in the 2011 elections. Or in the very least we can IMPACT it so that it never stays the same. We are fortunate enough to not have to deal with any Natural Disasters, like the recent earthquakes in Haiti, or the Tsunamis in Asia. It's time for us to stop BEING the disasters, and to start being part of the solutions. I will be one of many young people completely devoted to bringing about change in this country because I believe we deserve it and it's long overdue. I hope you will too.

Lastly, my heart still bleeds for Jos. I will never claim to be an expert on the problems that the region is dealing with, or the solutions. I do know however that we must all decide to collectively be a part of the change we all desperately hope for and deserve. May those who died Rest In Peace. May their deaths not be in Vain. May Peace reign in all parts of Nigeria and Africa. And lastly... May Change Come. Enough is enough.

~ B.W.

I will try and update this blog post with any relevant links for people that want to get involved, for now please check out: