Chinagorom Onuoha, popularly known as African China, has always been known to use his music to remedy some of the ailments in society as he keeps the government in place on its toes. Removed from the music scene for a few years, crooner Mr President returns with something for his fans. In this interview with SEGUN ADEBAYO, he talks about his absence from music, his imminent return and what people can expect from him
You’ve been away from the music industry a long time ago. You’ve denied many of your fans new songs. What happened to African China?
You attacked me with questions and you also tried to play smart trying to give me a soft landing. Let me start by saying that I haven’t strayed from the music industry and never will. I think what a lot of people haven’t realized is that I’m not new to the music industry and therefore my approach to music has changed over the years. I’ve paid my dues and I’m at a point where if I have to make music or drop new material, it has to be top notch. I can’t drop new content and beg people to promote it for me. I have to push the song to a level that will be satisfactory. So let me clarify that African China is doing well and I’m doing very well on my own.
How was it to not drop songs for years and what did you miss?
I tell people that I don’t miss anything because I’m not far from the industry. What is there to miss? I understand the industry and how it works. I went through a rebranding process and am now working with new management. I can assure you that very soon you will start to hear something nice from me.
You entered people’s consciousness through music and you were one of the musicians who gave people hope with your conscious music, but you didn’t have a major impact on the music scene. for a few years – no new songs or videos. What kept you busy away from music?
I played some music and I keep on stopping like some maybe suggested. If you say that I haven’t released new songs for a while, you are right, but my name and the impact I have had on the music scene cannot be forgotten or misused by anyone. African China remains a great act of Nigeria. Everywhere I go people are talking about me. They know me and they know my songs and my sound.
You may not be as rosy as before …
Even though I haven’t released a song lately, I still have the vibe that can sell any show or event. All of my songs are evergreen that people still love until today. Who Doesn’t Like or Remember Mr. President (2006); The Return of the Legend (2008); No condition is permanent; London fever. These are songs that came out over ten years ago and are still very relevant to what is happening in Nigeria today. Music kept me busy. Something big is coming from me this year. My fans should wait for the big news.
Are you making a permanent comeback this time around?
Yes. Why did you ask if this would be permanent?
I asked because you once said you were back a few years ago …
I was back and never left. This time, I won’t deny my fans good music anymore.
Are you saying that there are no more good songs?
You can ask yourself this question again. What you have now is show business, not music.
The last hit song you had was about 15 years ago, how are you going to make a comeback this time around and get people going?
People love and recognize great music no matter how long it takes. Some of us who have been around for a while understand this and we are aware of the kind of music that we bring to our fans. So after 18 years some of the songs I released back then are still relevant and people love them.
I think the music industry has moved away from your type of music; it seems that no one cares about conscious music anymore except Falz and a few others. What do you think about this?
I think you should wait until my next single to find out if people are still listening to my kind of song or not. It has been over 20 years since Fela Anikulapo passed away; can you say his music has been forgotten? His afro style has been adopted by hip hop artists today and they travel the world playing his sounds and style of music. What I’m trying to convey to you is that good music doesn’t die even if the singer is gone. For someone like me, who has dedicated a great deal of their life to creating musical content that a lot of people love and enjoy, I have no fear of coming back now to take the big stage. This is nothing new to me. I understand the music industry very well.
What are your plans for the return?
I’m releasing some singles very soon. My producers and I have worked day and night to make sure we don’t serve anything less than what people know me for. The industry has reached a point where you need to speak with the right group of people and have a memorandum of understanding with whoever will do your work for you. If they don’t meet expectations, someone will have to pay for not doing their job well. What you have in the music industry now is not music but show business and I’m not ready to jump on the bandwagon.
The songs released these days barely lasted three months before they could not be heard from again. You have songs that are still relevant even after 15 years, what do you think is the problem with this generation of musicians?
I think the problem is with the artists and the media. Artists don’t understand what they’re singing or don’t care what they’re serving the audience. Then the media chooses that song and plays it to people who take it to clubs and other places. This is how the trend continues but it doesn’t last because the songs have no substance, no positive message that can change people’s minds for good. Young people don’t understand what it means to make relatable songs; everyone wants to make money. The boys at Yahoo love songs and are willing to spend a fortune at the clubs where those songs are played. The point is, in the next five or ten years you won’t hear anything from these people or their songs.
What do you think of the music industry today?
Meaningful and conscious songs are lacking in the music industry today. If you say the industry has improved in sound and exhibition, I agree with you, but when it comes to meaningful songs, that’s far from what we had to do. time, but we must not give up. The good work must continue. I will remain a sad man if good music does not return to our consciousness.
You were very critical of the government in power, have you noticed any changes today?
I haven’t seen any and this country is not changing. The truth is, those in the leadership position are not being truthful. The country is not getting better. We must speak the truth to power. Look around and ask yourself if things are getting better or if there is hope for the younger generation in this country.