Having being a music producer and the brain behind major hits in the music industry, Temidayo Babatope Joseph popularly known as Puffy Tee, shone in the music industry and inspired a generation of younger producers. In this thought provoking interview with SAMUEL ABULUDE, the beat maker who for 18 years made waves with the production of hits such as Olu Maintain’s Yahooze, Lo rile by X Project, Away by Ghanaian artistes, VIP and lately Igbeyawo by Oritsefemi, spoke on the industry as it is today and why beat should have a share in the royalties artistes make.
Do you feel challenged by the younger producers
Yes of course. It’s not as if I don’t hear beats- lovely, crazy and creative crafts from these boys. They are really doing well because music production is different now. Before if you don’t have all the gadgets all the major set-up, you can’t make some beats. If you don’t go to a major studio, you can’t record. But, now you can even record in your bathroom because you have just a laptop. As you can see here, my set-up is very small at least for my mobile studio. So, I won’t really say that I feel challenged by what the younger ones are doing. I have never seen myself as being long in the game. I always see myself as a new comer, I just see myself as just arrived- I just started. There is no competition, no challenges, anything they use I, use, anything I know, I know. The approach to a song is not my approach to a song. At the end of the day, I’m happy with the way the industry is going right now. It’s a wonderful step. The beat makers are happy with the way the industry right now. Back then there were few hits then. You can be the only one that‘ll have a hit song for a year or two. But now it’s different.
Do you have an edge over these young producers?
For producers, sound engineers and artistes abroad, the older the better because you’ve heard songs back in the days. You’ve made music back in the days before they started coming up. They always say this adage in Yoruba, you can have clothes more than an elder but you cannot have more rags than the elders- experience is key. Some of them don’t even know what Tommy Hilfiger is in those days. Some of these new producers don’t know what Atari is or what kickwork pro is. But they know futulope or what lotus is and I know it too. And this knowledge and experience gives me a special edge over any super star beat maker right now.
What’s your take on us having great music but no lyrics?
The things is, firstly we do not have any record labes in Nigeria. We have money making companies. People that want to make money and artistes are desperate. You go on the street and see an artiste that is trying to come up and has good talent. You bring him to the studio, the next thing, he’s recording. Because the artiste is desperate, he starts singing. There’s no structure. Normally in an organized setting, a record label will have songwriters, costumiers, stylists. They will have PR, they‘ll have managers, personal assistants. An artiste has about thirty people working with him because of different areas to make the artiste a brand. The only thing the artiste does is, he goes into the studio, performs and go for rehearsals. And go to gyms and go to shows. But here in Nigeria, we find the artiste writing their songs, you find the artiste promoting themselves, they . for money to push themselves. So, there’s too much pressure on every upcoming artiste. And these days, songwriters in Nigeria don’t sell anymore. During the time of Sunny Ade and Onyeka Onwenu, there were song writers. It’s always beats before songs. A producer will make a beat first and an artiste comes, ‘Omo dis na correct beat’ and starts free styling on it and that’s it. It becomes a song. Gone are those days that when you see an artiste, you see a guitar with him and a notebook where he writes the songs but now you don’t even see them writing anything anywhere. They just go into the studio, ‘Bros which beat you get for there? Ahh I like this song, this song is bahd! The next thing is free style. So what people do these days is listen to beat- beat first. Before, there is nothing like beat first. You take your song to the studio, a producer listens to your song, score your songs, produce, make a beat or make an arrangement for the song, then you come and sing on it. It doesn’t happen anymore until we go back to writing, having a proper structure about recording, signing artistes, having proper record labels in this country; we’ll never get better in this country. Our music will always be at the back, we’ll think the music is everywhere but it’s only in between Nigerian communities all around the world. Only Nigerian communities, ‘Omo this person na our Nigerian artiste. So many kids cannot even learn from our Nigerian songs these days. They can learn from it. There are some songs I can’t even allow my daughter to sing. ‘Stop singing that song, what’s that? But before, you can sing any song and your parents are happy you are singing it. But this time around it’s different because as the world is moving faster, we are moving with the world. We are trying to join the train. For me, until we build that structure and not everybody is a musician, not everybody is supposed to put their songs on radio or Tv.
What of producers becoming musicians these days?
The thing is here, most music producers that are now musicians were singers before turning producers. Some of them grew up in a church where they . keyboard and sang in the choir. Some of them have been in different bands. For somebody like me, I was the music director of a church for 15 years. Evening when I was in London, I was training choir. For someone like me who trained people how to sing, it means I can sing. I played the base guitar, drums and keyboard. So it’s something they had in them before producing. Most producers give artistes ideas when it comes to that song. If a song is very good, know that the producer has 40 percent or 60 percent input or idea in that song. As a producer, I do back up in the studio. The thing is here, why most of us start singing; firstly there is money in the industry the way it was before. Again the way the industry is, you take your time, you put your energy into an artist, your strength, your sweat, ideas working with an artist for a month to finish a project. The next thing, you start making money with that project, and they don’t come back to you. Most of the time, we don’t really sign contracts. We work based on ‘let’s just do it’. if you push a contract to them, let’s sign something, they ‘ll run away but because you just want to have that personal rapport ‘let’s work for now’ and you want to do the work. And as you work, you keep enjoying the company, ‘let’s do more, we are together. And the next thing, they go off with all your time. So we do our thing. We know all these artistes, have worked with them and know their strength. But if they don’t appreciate it, I pick up the microphone and sing my song. ‘Because the beat wey you dey use to make money, na me do am. So I do my own and make my own’. We also have families to feed. It’s not only the artistes that have responsibilities. We have our own too.