Abdullahi Isma’il, popularly known as B’meri Aboki, has in recent times been gaining grounds in the Nigerian entertainment industry. The Kano-born 24-year-old Lagos-based artiste speaks on his career, rising above the challenges of the industry, and more.
Weekend Magazine: How did you get into music?
Abdullahi Isma’il: Music had been my passion since childhood but I did not get to explore my talent in it, until much later in life. I started by miming artists like Tupac, 50Cent and a lot of rap artists during our own local shows. Gradually, my talent as a singer got the better part of me and I started writing. I also started singing my own songs and people really appreciated what I created. In a short time, I got a lot of fans and my name became known.
I decided to create my own kind of music with a blend of Hausa, Yoruba and broken English. I am into what is presently termed as Afro-Rap.
WM: Why not songs in Yoruba since you are in Lagos?
Isma’il: Yes I am in Lagos, but do you think I will do better with the language when compared with the original owners of the language? I don’t think so. Moreover, I know where I come from and as far as I am concerned, the lyrics and the rhythms in what matters in music. We have seen songs in some foreign languages getting wide popularity in this country. For instance songs of Awilo. That is why I adopted blending different languages to make my music sound more Nigerian and more meaningful.
WM: Do you face any challenges being a musician?
Isma’il: When it was apparent that my interest was in music, my father wasn’t so keen about it. He didn’t want me to do it and I had to put my passion for music aside for a while. However, after his death, my inner passion for music resurfaced and my mother seeing that I wasn’t into drugs and other vices gave her support. She really supported me and here I am today. I have travelled a lot outside and within the shores of Nigeria. I have an album with sixteen tracks and I have videos of many of my singles making wave in Nigeria and outside Nigeria as well.
WM: Were your signed under any record label?
Isma’il: Initially, I was with ATM Yale records and I also worked with Idris Abdulkareem for about two years. To God be the glory, I now have my own record label based in Lagos where I do my recordings and also promote some artistes.
WM: How would you rate the entertainment industry in the North?
Isma’il: The entertainment industry in the north is indeed doing very well. Many of us had to travel up to the north to get recognised first before coming back here to continue. The good thing to note here is that artistes in the north are always ready to assist. I don’t believe that, if one wants to make it in the entertainment industry he or she has to come to Lagos. This just an illusionary belief because when I started in Lagos I had to go back to Kano to get recognised before coming back to Lagos to continue with my pursuit. Though, it lacks sponsors, the entertainment industry in the north is really doing well and I believe it will surely get to where it is supposed to be in the nearest future.
WM: Do you have any regret being in the entertainment industry?
Isma’il: No, I don’t. The entertainment industry has been very rewarding to me and to a lot of others. Be it as it may, the industry has been a major employment provider in the country and it is apparent that it takes off the street, a lot of youths, giving them a means of livelihood.
WM: What’s one of your most memorable moments as a musician?
Isma’il: The most memorable moment in my life was when I performed before President Muhammadu Buhari in Lagos. This is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. It was indeed a thing of pride to me to have the opportunity of performing when there are many artistes whom I believe have an edge over me. But I was opportune to be among those who performed before Mr. President.
WM: What is your advice for Nigerian youths?
Isma’il: Youths should learn to be tolerant and avoid drugs. They shouldn’t be in a hurry. Life is a gradual process and if you wait, your time will surely come. They should also strive to work hard and shouldn’t expect things to come so easy to them. I believe hard work has a way of paying back handsomely.