After A Decade, African China Is Ready To Return
If there was any man who had the guts to call out the government with his lyricism, back in the 2000s, it was definitely African China.
His name, which is a bold affirmation of his evergreen pan-Africanist agenda dubbed, ‘African Children Have Ideas Natural For African,’ continues to ring through the consciousness of Nigerians who once enjoyed the music from the Orile-bred superstar.
After a smooth sojourn down the hall of fame, with a robust discography laden with classics such as ‘Mr. President’, ‘Crisis’, among others, Chinagorom Onuoha, or African China as he is better renowned, snoozed off the scene shortly before the doorsteps of the 2010s. However, once in a while, his music resonates with the times, the most recent being the #EndSARS protests of October last year, where his music was among themed songs for the demonstrations.
No doubt, African China is a solid gem in the treasure trove of the Naija music scene and as is common with colleagues in his set, such as Ruggedman, Darey Art Alade, Daddy Showkey, among others, the Afro-pop singer is set to make a comeback to the music industry.
In this interview with ENIOLA DANIEL, he shares his plans for his widely anticipated rebound, as well as his pastimes during the inactive years.
Tell us why you drifted from the music scene?
I HAVE paid my dues and I am at a stage where if I have to make any music, it has to be top-notch. I have to push the song to the level that will be satisfactory. So, let me make it clear that African China has been fine and I am doing very well with myself.
I am doing shows currently and I started some recordings last year but my producer told me that the system crashed. So, we lost a lot of recordings. I was discouraged and weak when I learned that but he has retrieved some of the files. I just need to go back and reproduce the songs.
So, you don’t feel tired?
If I am tired? For the country or what? Why will I get tired? I am not old; Sunny Ade, who is my father, is yet to retire. So, why will I? I can’t retire.
Now that you are planning a comeback, what should we be expecting from you?
I have been playing music and I am not quitting as some people may have suggested. African China remains a great act from Nigeria. Nigerians should be expecting a lot from me. We were supposed to start dropping songs at that period but because we lost the files, we need to start all over again, and I am not the type that records and won’t listen to it. I love to listen to myself; I love to do songs that I can listen to and enjoy even five years after dropping it. I don’t want a song I will be ashamed to listen to years after.
I am not quitting the industry any time soon. I am only taking my time. I don’t do freestyle in the studio; I do my freestyle on stage. I am working on songs that will outlive me.
Tell us more about your plans for a rebound?
The people love and recognise good music no matter how long it takes. Some of us who have been around for a while understand this and we are conscious of the kind of music we put out there for our fans. After 18 years, some of the songs I released back then are still relevant today and people love them.
What do you think about the music of today?
I won’t say that I am sad; I am only disappointed. But what can I do? I only pray that with time, they undergo and begin to change tones and presentation of music.
Their kind of music is not peculiar to Nigeria. I was watching Snoop recently and he was expressing his dissatisfaction with the kind of rap some artistes in the U.S. produced. I just hope that now that they still have the strength, they can make changes and consider the fact that our children listen and dance to their songs.
It’s painful sometimes when my kids listen to some of these songs. I don’t allow my children to listen to the songs produced by most of the artistes because they are not relevant.
Nevertheless, artistes like Chike and few others do good music. Artistes must pitch their tent with people who do good music and humble themselves to learn. It is either the artistes don’t understand what they are singing or they don’t care about what they serve the public.
There are good love songs, not love songs that call women charger, orgasm, and all sorts of names. Are women now chargers? So, it’s crazy because artistes are supposed to use their music to change the society, change Nigeria because the country is deteriorating and if the government can’t do anything, we can call their attention through music.
Meaningful and conscious songs are missing today in the music industry. The industry has improved in the area of sound and exposure, but when it comes to meaningful songs, it is a far cry from what we used to have.
The good job must continue. I will remain a sad man if good music does not come back to our consciousness.
Music production has improved in Nigeria. It is on another level now and I must commend this generation for that. However, lyrically, some are good while others are not.
So, how ready are you for a return?
Crisis is 23 years; Mr. President is 20 years; London Fever is 18 years. If You Love Somebody is 13 years. I am 90 per cent coming back to the industry.
Should we be expecting songs that tackle bad governance and speak about social ills from you?
I am not changing my style of music; I am not changing who I am. People should expect love songs, situational songs and inspirational songs. Nigeria is not getting better. We have to speak to power. Look around you and ask yourself if things are getting better or if there is any hope for the young generation in this country. I appreciate everyone that has been there for me, supporting me and I am coming back to do more music.