African China: I Sold Sachet Water in Lagos Traffic 

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One of Nigeria’s biggest dancehall stars, African China, is back with a new project, Letter to the President. In this interview with Tosin Clegg, he talks about the revolution behind he song, Letter to the President, his career and the music industry. 

What inspired my new project 

The rumours I read about myself on the social media are that I have collected money from the government and that I don’t speak the truth anymore and I don’t speak for the people. So, I wanted to prove a point. Also, many people would feel that since I have not released a new song, I am out of the business. I’m giving a positive vibe, as I am not out of business. 

 I will be releasing an EP soon 

I would do a three-track EP and I have a feature with Oriste Femi. The idea behind the song is that it’s a letter from celebrities, from their fans to the President, asking questions.  If you look at it well, Davido, Wizkid, 2face have more than two million fans and most of them are Nigerians and right now the state of the country is in a mess. Everyone wants to know why things are this bad and why so much poverty in the land. 

So, I did this song because a lot of people have been asking me to do a remix of Mr. President, which to me is a classic and I have told them several times that I will not do it because it doesn’t need any remix. 

I have been working on businesses

I don’t want to be a problem to anybody, because I want to be that person that can cater for himself and family. I don’t want to be that person that would be calling for people’s assistance and all that, after making a lot of hits. 

 Though, there wasn’t much then, but the little we had was used. So, I started by investing in one or two things just like Jay Z and a lot of the big names did. I invested in real estate, sound, events and also I’m the CEO of China Town Unisex Saloon. 

Threats were coming at some point 

If the person threatening can’t show his or her face, but hides behind the camera, then I have no fear, because if you are not bold enough to come forth then I have nothing to fear. But it has been God all these while, as I have been working and travelling, doing tours and shows despite the state of things. 

 How I respond to negative comments 

That’s the whole idea of this project. These are the people I want to talk to in a bigger form, to let them know I am not on your level. 

Most of these people are expecting me to come to their doorstep to tell them that I am still doing this music, but the only way to take this to them is through this medium. If they don’t get it, then they don’t belong to my class. 

I can’t do shaku-shaku kind of music 

My ideology doesn’t take me to that area. I can still do love music and other genres and pass messages. I do not see myself doing some kind of Shaku Shaku music, and we are two different types of people here. Where they get the shaku-shaku from I don’t know and, I must know what I am saying. I’m on the side of moral music; these are songs my kids would grow up listening to. 

I’m very spiritual 

Very deep that I really don’t know how I can explain it. I’m a Christian and my elder brother is a pastor, if you want to know. 

Today’s music is having a negative impact on our youths 

In the last few years, we have had the police telling us some people died of intoxication and alcohol abuse, which wasn’t happening so much back then, as it was hidden. But these days, it’s like they are campaigning for it just like we campaign for elections; they say go and do it, because it’s good. So, that moral part is being chased out of our lives and kids. It is as if you go to a restaurant to eat the same type of soup, but they won’t taste the same. Production of music is better now as more sophisticated softwares are now in place, but lyrically I would prefer my time. 

 What triggered my hit sony, Mr. President 

Growing up in the ghetto was really tough for me, as I would trek to school and trek back home. It wasn’t something that seemed cool as at then. Also, I grew up with a single parent, just a father, who had to work to cater for everyone and at the end of the day, we had to struggle to survive. I sold pure water, ice water, which we started with. Traffic was my house, because immediately I returned from school, I would go and resume at my office inside the ‘go slow’. At some point, you see other people’s kids happy and then you ask yourself what’s happening? Then one day I sat on the pavement and the lyrics started coming up. I started writing them down and I focused on the things I saw around me. Then, it was really dance hall business and it was a big deal and I took the music as my life and as what I needed to console myself. 

Upcoming artistes need to be focused

Don’t let the things around you make you lose your focus in anyway, rather take humility as key to everything you are doing. It’s like when you are in the ocean, it’s either float or drown, but if you lose faith, you get to drown.