Ibrahim Okulaja is a seasoned entertainment entrepreneur. In 2006 he signed 9ice to his record label Edge Entertainment. Since then, he has worked several A-list artist including indigenous rapper Reminisce and several others. In this interview with Independent’s Lukmon Akintola, he talks about parting ways with Reminisce, his regrets and what the future holds.
There have been speculations about what led to your parting ways with Reminisce, what really happened?
Well, there are a lot of speculations but the real reason why I was sacked is because he is no longer comfortable with me. The reason is simple, he is manipulative and I will never allow that regardless of the situation.
People have insinuated that your parting ways is money-related, is it?
No its not. I have always kept a clean accounting records since I started working with him in 2011, I am a man of integrity and everyone knows it.
Was there any issue before this breakup?
Yes I must say, we did have some issues here and there and I always found a way to settle it. Even when I am not at fault I apologize and move on, but as human, I have a limit.
The two of you have come a long way; couldn’t this misunderstanding have been settled amicably?
We’ve come a long way indeed and things were fine before he got his stardom status. Things got really worse when he started his LRR Record label and signed Sojay and Oladips. I’m always of the opinion that business is business; you don’t mix emotions just because you’re the boss. There’s a contract and it should be honored.
Do you know why he parted ways with you a week to the release of the album El-Hadj?
That was well planned and executed by him, he sent my management company a termination letter six days to the album release, I was shocked when I saw it. I just woke up on Monday, August 22nd and got a termination letter via e-mail, I was so surprised but due to series of events that had happened the week before I think I understand why the action was taken.
Are you saying that all these were pre-planned?
I am saying that it was all well calculated because the letter came in 9am just 3 hours to release the El-Hadj track list which had my company logo and contact on. I know sending the termination letter had to come so he can remove all my credits off the album covers.
Has something like this happened before?
This is not the first time he will do something like this. Sojay, an artist on his label has had two termination and one eviction letter within the space of six months just because the boss is angry about something that has nothing to do with the obligations of Sojay as an artist of LRR.
There seems to be more here than you are saying, could your termination have come because you were taking sides with his artist and not him?
The issues we are talking about here are basically emotional stuffs. My termination of contract came just three days after he evicted Sojay out of the house. He evicted Sojay out of the house on Thursday, August 18th, simply because the boss was angry.
He forcefully evicted Sojay the same day he gave him his eviction letter, an issue which I disagreed with. There is a contract between the artist and the company and even if you need to evict someone, you should give few days for him to move out but he wouldn’t do that. Reminisce chased and packed Sojay’s bags outside just because of an unconfirmed speculation that Sojay was having an affair with his 26year old niece.
Did you see this separation coming?
Yes I knew. I knew the moment I put my foot down as regards how he treats his signed artists especially Sojay. I have been involved in a lot of arguments with Reminisce over Sojay for a while, and I knew a day will come when he’ll sack me. However, I just didn’t see it coming this soon or just a few days before the release of El-Hadj because I worked a lot on the project.
What were your contributions to the album?
I did A&R for the album and even gave the album the El-Hadj title. The cover art concept and direction were also my work, but he took away all that credits with just one letter.
At a time, Reminisce stopped coming to your studio to work, was that not a sign of trouble coming?
No, it wasn’t. Every artist needs his home studio where they can record easily. For me, that was okay and besides, it got to a point when it became stressful coming all the way to my studio in Fadeyi.
We heard that after the issues Reminisce tried to make amends with you, is this true?
That is not true, he actually thought I’ll come begging him after sending me a termination letter. I laughed about it because that would have been the joke of the century.
Can you flashback to when you both started, what was it like?
It was really cool but challenging. I’ve worked with several artistes before him, I signed 9ice on my label in 2006, worked with Jahbless too but I only had a management deal with Reminisce, we had big dreams and I’m very happy and fulfilled with what we achieved together, it was a really good ride. I enjoy what I do, so it was really easy for me.
What was working with the popular Reminisce like?
I started working with Reminisce before he became popular so his fame meant nothing to me.
What challenges did you go through?
As an artist, he had challenges with finance but we were able to pull through regardless.
Since you parted ways with Reminisce what have you been up to?
I have been working because I do lots of consultation, A&R for other artistes too so I’ve been concentrating on my other clientele.
Who are your other clientele?
I have a few other artists I consult for, the only person I did fulltime management for was Reminisce, but I have few other artists like Sheyman, Phlex and an actress Adunni Ade who I consult for.
It is often said that musicians are ingrate and if you spend all the money in the world on them they will still dump you when they are made, do you agree?
Well that has happened to me before, but I think if you get a good entertainment solicitor to work properly on your contracts then you won’t have to lose anything. We live in a world of law and order.
Do you have any regret giving Reminisce his break?
No, I don’t regret anything because normally we can’t work together forever and there’s always room to evolve and grow.
Can you still make another star like Reminisce?
First, I didn’t make Reminisce, no one has the power to make or break anyone, but God. My experience in entertainment is vast, I’ve learnt so much so I can always outdo myself as many times as possible, I don’t regret.
What has your encounter with Reminisce taught you?
I learnt that everything in life has an expiry date, it just re affirm my philosophy about life never to depend on anything as change is the most constant thing in life.
Would you work with him again in future? Right now I’m not sure about that because I’m not sure how long I’ll be in talent management for. I have other creative ideas I’m working on but I enjoyed the most part of working with him because it was just a dream for him and we made it a reality.
Ola Dips and Sojay were signed by Reminisce, what will happen to them now?
Ola Dips and Sojay were signed under LRR which is owned by Reminisce. Basically, what that means is that since the contracts still exist they will honor it.
What is your estimation of the music industry presently?
The music industry is huge, but the lack of structure and togetherness is the major problem we have at the moment and that’s what we’ve always had. Artists don’t understand the power of having a strong team and workforce, you know the way it is here in Nigeria the artist is the front runner so it’s possible to feel like he did it all without any support of anyone but ordinarily what is an artist without a loyal fan base?
Would you say that the economic recession has affected the music industry?
Yes it has, the economic recession is affecting everyone and everything including the music industry.
Tell us how you start Edge Entertainment
I started the company accidentally because I was just trying to make music with my friends and discovered there are a lot of talented artists (studio rats) who had good materials, but lacked the push to ignite their career. As a regular guy who is passionate about helping people I decided to assist them and that is how I found myself promoting artists. One thing leads to another and I found myself establishing a company. I dumped music just to focus of developing talents.
What were the challenges like then?
For me, the challenges I had was that I got into the business by accident, so I had to learn the hard way about what it took to be a talent manager as well as the business side of it. It was really tough because I spent a lot of money and got nothing in return, not even appreciation.
How would you describe yourself?
I am an all day positive vibes kind of person
Let’s talk about growing up, what was it like?
Growing up was a distraction for me because I’m a product of a broken home. However, my father was a really great guy, but a polygamist. He died at a time I needed him the most. His death till date has a lot of influence on my person and how I treat people because no one knows tomorrow.
What influenced your choice to be in the music line?
That’s definitely my dad, he was a music fanatic. He has over 1000 music records from all genre of music so he was a big influence on why I had to do music and eventually entertainment.
Are you fulfilled in life?
Not yet, there’s still more to do, there’s more to achieve but I’m ready for whatever life throws at me, I’m a never say never kind of person.
Thanks for Reading this!!!
Source:- Lukmon Akintola || Reporter Daily Independent Newspaper