I first met Abdulala in person several years ago at a family friend’s naming ceremony. However, I had seen him numerous times before that on my TV screen. Any Afrobeat veteran will know that Abdulala was one half of former Afro-pop group Black Tribe. Their then hit single You’re the one featuring 2face was a favourite of mine and it’s melodies still get me in that happy groove to this day.
Now a solo artist, with two hit singles currently on the airwaves, and enthralling many a fans across the globe, I decided it was time I had an interview with the crooner; and was glad when he graciously obliged my request.
SewaFolie: Hello Abdulala, welcome to Sewafolie and thanks for accepting the interview. Please could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a bit about yourself and where you’re based.
Abdulala: My name is Abdulala. My real name is Abdulmalik Usman. Formerly from the music group – Blacktribe. I am from an area known as the Middle belt in Nigeria; from Kogi state but was born and bred in Lagos. I grew up and started writing music and performing back home in Lagos, and was part of the Festac crew who popularised the current afropop/afro hip hop of today.
I’m currently based in the UK, studying Business and Human Resource Mgt at Anglia Ruskin University, London.
SewaFolie: So we know you were previously in a group, please could you share what caused the disband of the group; your hiatus from the music scene for all these years; and why you’ve now decided to go solo.
Abdulala: The group did not disband per say as groups normally do. We just happened to fall on different things in life and somehow found ourselves in different parts of the world. My former partner in Blacktribe currently resides in the US. Having come to the UK myself to enrich my own knowledge, I decided to carry on my singing career as a solo artist.
Also, my hiatus from the music scene all these years? Hmmm, I will not really call it a complete hiatus, maybe a partial one. Even though I didn’t put out any new material as a group for those years, I was still in touch with the industry, while trying to find myself and enrich myself musically through researching different areas in the afrobeat industry to make myself a better artist. Like I mentioned earlier, I also took up further studies in order to understand the business side of the industry. And I decided to go solo because I and my former partner now have different lives and we reside in different parts of the world. I was never going to leave music. So having learned new things about myself and my music, I decided it was time to come back as a solo artist and bring something new and different to the current afrobeat.
SewaFolie: So its obvious that you now have a new branding and a change of name since your time as a member of Black Tribe , could you please tell us what inspired the name change and what this new name- Abdulala means to you.
Abdulala: Like you said, the name change is an obvious one. I am now a solo artist and would not still carry the name of the group- Blacktribe. Moreover, I didnt want people to still think of me as just the old Blacktribe because I know I am coming out with something new and different from my time in Blacktribe. The industry has changed a lot and I have come back with a different dynamism.
Also, my reasons for using Abdulala is simple. It’s derived from my name- Abdul. I like keeping things simple; no need for complications. When I was growing up, my friends used to call me Lala, so its just a combination of my name and that.
SewaFolie: I’m impressed by your recent hits Nugo and Bamidele and would like to know as I’m sure the readers will too, what inspired these songs?
Abdulala: Thanks. Bamidele is more my style of music. I like people to listen to my melodies and feel my music. Bamidele just talks about having feelings for somebody basically and wanting to take them home to see your parents. You know when you take a woman home to see your parents in Africa, that is a big thing. So im sure you can make up the rest.
Nugo on the other hand, shows the combination of the old Blacktribe and the new Abdulala as a solo artist. It is both current and a good dance track. I wanted something that has dance rhythm while not losing my style in terms of melodious harmony and my voice basically.
SewaFolie: Would you say it’s been hard getting back full swing into the music industry? I’m sure the game must have changed a bit since your days in Black Tribe.
Abdulala: I will not really use the word hard. There are always challenges and yes you are right the game has changed big time. During my time as Blacktribe, we made a name for ourselves as making good music. We had that little fame as you would call it but back then it was music for the love of music. Today, it is a massive industry and business and if you want to be relevant, you have to adapt yourself and your style of music to what people like to listen to. With the popularity of social media and all that, a lot of things have changed and that is why I took my time to really understand not just myself but the current state of the industry.
I will also say that I’ve been lucky and blessed to have known people that have been in the industry and are currently making the charts.
SewaFolie: We’ve seen your fans show an outpouring of love on your social media platforms, what will you like your fans and music lovers alike to take away from listening to your music?
Abdulala: What I will like my fans and music lovers to take away from my music is a unique blend of afrobeat and rnb, hip hop and soul. I like my fans to feel music, not just dance to it. I will be bringing different stuff out and you will understand soon what I mean. So watch this space.
SewaFolie: Are there any plans for a full album soon? If so, when should we be expecting it to be released?
Abdulala: Yes surely. We are planning something by the end of the year. I have quite a lot of songs I have written already waiting to be produced. Also watch this space.
SewaFolie: Could you tell our readers of any shows you’ll be performing at in the nearest future? I’m sure we all can’t wait to watch you perform live!
Abdulala: I will be performing at Hiptv all White party on the 22nd of August, at Nottinghill carnival on the 25th of August, Africa Unplugged- O2 Brixton Academy on the 14th of September, 2014. And a few shows planned in France and Italy, dates to be confirmed soon.
SewaFolie: Where can our readers listen/ download or buy your music from and reach you at?
SewaFolie: Finally, I will like you to share anything else you like to with our readers or offer any advice to the young ones out there trying to make a head start in the music industry or those even trying to restart their careers with the bang that you have.
Abdulala: My advice to any upcoming artist today is work hard, follow your instincts as an artist, keep it real, always listen to advice, seek the right people both in and out of the industry, do not make it a life or death issue- its a 50/50 for you to make it. Its a tough industry, but talent will always shine through.
SewaFolie: Thank you once again for sparing the time to chat with me and we all wish you the best and look forward to seeing you at one of your shows soon.
Peace & Love!