Musa Akilah is one of the finest Nigerian rappers; known with the stage name – Morell. His presence has been felt in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria entertainment industry. In this interview, the Anti-Social hit single crooner talks about his life and music.
Daily trust: Can you tell us a little of your biography?
Morell: My real name is Musa Akilah, but I am popularly known in the entertainment circle as Morell. I am a rapper and songwriter; I have always told people that I am from Borno State even though I was born in Bauchi State; Borno is my state of origin.
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My father was a police officer and as such we have been to virtually all parts of the country. I attended Police Secondary School in Minna and later University of Maiduguri where I had my first degree in creative art.
I am from a family of seven and as I have mentioned earlier, my father was a policeman and that had accorded me the opportunity to be a full Nigerian who virtually has been everywhere. I lost my dad and two of my sisters some years ago.
DT: How did you venture into music?
Morell: I was inspired by my older brother when he used to play music on the radio and then tried to write the lyrics and that got me really interested in doing the same. To make it more appealing, our family is such a family that almost everybody played songs of artistes like Fela and Michael Jackson among other musician icons.
I gradually began mimicking and dancing like Michael Jackson. I can vividly remember that I was a good dancer while in Police Secondary School and I staged a performance during our school’s social night. That was my first performance before an outside audience.
From there I got inspired to start writing my own rap songs and gradually moved to learn how to sing. I was so serious with it that I was able to make my presence announced in the entertainment industry.
DT: Is it true that all artistes have to be in Lagos if they want to make it in the industry?
Morell: Of course there is this assumption in the entertainment industry in Nigeria, but I don’t believe in that theory as an artiste. Artistes can make it wherever they are and Lagos is a bigger market, so obviously there is a need for one to explore it and promote one’s music to a larger audience.
Fortunately, we have reached a stage where one does not have to worry about things like that anymore because everything has been moved to the internet as everything is now online and that doesn’t require you to be in a particular place to be heard and appreciated. You can do your music in some parts of Nigeria and it can be played and appreciated somewhere in America.
DT: What is your notion on Northern artistes?
Morell: I believe the North has so many talented artistes but unfortunately, the talent had not been celebrated in the North until recently when few of us started what is known today as Urban Northern music and we are getting people to like it. Interestingly, Africans no longer listen to American music; they are prepared to listen to African music all over the world.
Morell: To me, it is a gradual thing; it is growing and it has adopted the change that goes with our time. However, I believe music ought to have been celebrated more than the way it is currently being celebrated in the Northern part of Nigeria.
DT:You came with a new touch to music. Can you tell us more on your kind of music?
Morell: As I always say, I am a proper Nigerian who has been to many parts of the country and that has been what I have been reflecting in my music. I strongly believe in fresh sounds with new innovations. To me, music is more about combining different music genres to make what I call Morell kind of music. If I can speak Hausa, English, Pidgin and other Nigerian languages, it will be of great interest if I can sing in all the languages.
As a singer, I sometimes use words or phrases that I personally formulate and it usually goes down well with my fans; for instance my song ‘Nges’, it was just a word I formulated.
DT: Among your songs, which one would you say had shot you to limelight?
Morell: Hmm! You see there is always a fan’s favourite and singer’s fovourite but every song’s a singer’s favourite. However, I can say that the song that got people’s attention on me, I think, was ‘Ganga da Garaya’. It is so hard to explain which song got you to stardom but either way my fans have the final say on that. I have songs like Haba, Enghausa, Aure, The one, code among many others
DT: What is your memorable moment as an artiste?
Morell: Most memorable moment would be when I was still in the university and I got a call from a good friend of mine, Abu Marwa, informing me that he would introduce me to someone, and when he told me the name of that person, it was like ‘Oh my God, could this be true?’ My friend introduced me to Naeto C and fortunately, I ended up featuring in Naeto C’s album.
Honestly, that moment would forever be memorable to me because I was just trying to find my feet in the industry and I suddenly got a golden opportunity that changed my life as an artiste.
DT: Is Morell married or into any serious relationship?
Morell: Morell is yet to be married and everyone has his or her time. We are praying to be connected to the right person because my prayer is to have a right marriage not just a beautiful wedding.
I am that kind of a person who wants to have his kids and raise those kids the right way. Hopefully very soon, you will get the invitation.
DT: How would you want to be remembered?
Morell: I want to be remembered as someone who preaches love and peace through his music as a respecter of humanity and if I ever live, let the music speak for me.
DT: What would you be doing assuming you were not into music?
Morell: I think I would be into stock business which is something I have been learning lately. I might also be into acting because that is what I have studied in the university and I think I have been applying some of the techniques in my music videos.
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