He is popularly known as Eedris but his colleagues call him 'One Man Ranger’. Eedris Abdulkareem is an artiste who has often been criticised by the government and those who feel offended by his songs, One of which is JagaJaga. After a long wait, he finally broke his silence in an exclusive interview, saying, 'Now is the right time to speak'. Anthony Ada Abraham brings you this and other sundry issues. Excerpts.
Your contribution to the group Remedies was great, but you chose to go solo afterwards. Tell us a bit about the group and life as a solo artiste.
Okay, Remedies was the beginning of Afro hip-hop, contemporary R’n’B revolution in Nigeria and I was so fortunate to be one of the pioneers. Going solo was the best thing that ever happened to my music career. It made me more focused in my career.
It was once rumoured that your relationship with Kennis Music had gone sour, can you clarify this?
Laugh; when you are focused in everything you do nobody can bring you down. In so many ways OgaKeke, is my boss; he is the reason why I came into limelight, he gave me the opportunity I needed and he remains my boss for that singular reason.
Obviously, I started a record label to help other upcoming artistes, which gave people like Timaya the opportunity to perform on a mega stage at the Kennis Music annual Easter Festival and Star Mega Jam. Today, he is doing well on his own and I am proud of my Protégé making history.
I am happy because I have been able to reach out to others, the same way Oga Keke reached out to me when I needed one. So I run my own label to give room for upcoming artistes to express their talents. However I still do business with Baba Keke because I am not done learning.
Does it mean that you left singing partially to concentrate on your record label?
It was just for a while and I got the blessing of my boss Keke before taking such strides in my career.
Some artistes do not credit their success to anyone when they get to a certain level who are the other artistes you groomed apart from Timaya and how would you rate them?
Timaya can only be as brave as the lessons he got from the Lakareem family. It is not just Timaya alone; lots of big producers in the country went through the Lakareem Intellectual Radical Street Credibility. Also, my homeboy Innocent Idibia, I call him 'FuskaBiyu', meaning 2face. He is my contemporary.
Yes 2face is my 'personal person' I guess in our era we are the only ones still on the street bombing them like ‘Boko Haram.' Producers like Puffy T, also went through my street school of credibility. Yes Timaya is my boy and he tells everyone that cares to know. Soso beat and the likes are also included.
I am the only artist that goes to the street and makes a mad man a superstar; lifting people from nothing to something. You know I refused to blow my own trumpet all this while because if you are a Don in the business, you must wait for the right time to speak. And now is the right time.
Tell us about Lakareem records...your label.
Well, I registered the company in 2004. We are also affiliated to other companies in Europe, Asia and Ghana.
Tell us more about Eedris Abdulkareem?
I am a Nigerian; but do not ask me where I hail from because I believe ethnicity is one of the problems in this country. I grew up in Kano and had my primary and secondary education there. I attended Army Day Senior Secondary School in Kano and Nigeria Military School, Zaria. I also went further to study Mass Communication at Bayero University Kano.
I spoke to someone last week and she said marriage slowed you down a little bit...how true is that claim?
I grew up with older people, intellectuals who made me realised that if you are not married, you are not a man because you do not have responsibility and I saw it as a challenge that must be conquered as a man.
Today, I am grateful and I can say authoritatively that I am the only hip-hop R'n'B artiste who has stayed married. I will celebrate a decade of being married by December 14th, which is a plus as most people see musicians as irresponsible school dropouts.
It is a big lie; some of us are focused and know what we are doing, just as much as, some people are not focused. My marriage is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
I want to use this opportunity to thank my leader and father, people’s man, freedom fighter, revolutionary governor of our time, Oshiohmole. Congratulations well, one thing you must understand is that some of us are very passionate about Nigeria.
Though the rift between you and 50cent made lots of news, some people are saying? It was just a script acted out by both of you. Was there really a misunderstanding, I was surfing the net and found a red carpet display of you beating some artistes, what is your take on that?
I have said that I would not answer this question again because I have told my bit of the story and I have moved on. I do not want to talk about it but as a point of reference 'oyinbo no fit come my country meet me for seat inside plane, tell me say make I stand up, for my own papa land.
What is different in your songs now compared to what you used to sing?
It is obvious that I have been vindicated because it was approximately 12 years ago that I released Jagajaga to inform and educate my people and now it has been confirmed in the recent spate of kidnapping and insurgency of Boko Haram in this country.
Isn't it actually a strong word?
Laughs Very funny, it is called sweet nonsense. They are all sounding alike with no content of value added to the consumer who patronises them and the student who needs to know the basic history of the present and past political propaganda.
Well, I cannot blame them because some of them got into the business like the normal Nigerian sense of belonging called 'pure water business'.
How would you rate the music industry today?
Anyway, I would not call it music industry because we do not have a music industry. Preferably, you can call it a music scene where everybody is working for himself. It is purely individual effort. The industry must be regulated before it can be called music industry.
So what is your message to political office holders in the country especially now that the country is in turmoil?
Our political leaders should remember Gaddafi and also stop crediting the act of terrorism that is eating up Nigeria to religious crises. Act performing of terrorism, which is eating up Nigeria so fast in the name of Boko Haram, is politically motivated, Nigerians should rise up against it.
Nigerians are not supposed to be scared of the government, because theygovernment is answerable to the people.
How would you rate Nigeria?
A country of quite lots of opportunities and resources with no dividends of democracy.
Are you working on any album at the moment or when should we expect one from your record label?
My new single is already enjoying air play and the video would be out next week, titled 'Clean Up Nigeria', a job by Lakreem and Kennis Music.
Collaboration...that is good...There are lots of good producers and artistes like Suspect, who are from the streets. Would you work with any of them? I listened to his songs, the guy is doing great!
I currently have two songs with suspect. He is a creative, young, talented artiste out there; I would do anything for him. Watch out for Papa Razi with suspect.
For old times' sakes would you be willing to bring back Remedies?
Laugh; most definitely, Insha Allah.
Any message to Nigerians and your fans in these difficult times?
Thank you for the love...it is time to stand up and cleanup Nigeria, everybody, from the presidency to the States and local government, including everyone on the street.