Isiaq Abdulwaheed Atanda Omotayo, who lectures Political Science at University of Ilorin, could be described as the first academician to sing hip-hop music in Nigeria.
Fondly called ‘The Theorist’ by his students, Omotayo stumbled on hip hop in the course of his research into the genre. He shares his story in this exclusive chat with TS Weekend, Enjoy it.
Can you tell us about your background?
My name is Isiaq Abdulwaheed Atanda Omotayo also known as ‘The Theorist’. My students gave me the nickname. They call me ‘The Theorist’ because we propound theories in class. I had my primary education in Oyo State. I attended IEDPU Secondary School, Ilorin. I went to University of Ilorin where I had had my first and second degrees. Right now, I have my doctorate degree in view at the same University of Ilorin.
Currently, I lecture in the department of political science at University of Ilorin. I have been an inventor. I am one of the people who paddled the bicycle of educational VCDs in Nigeria. I am equally one of the directors of A-level Educational Consult in Kwara State, Al-Hikmah University precisely, and I have had the opportunity to work with many institutions.
As an academic, why did you decide to go into music and why hip hop?
I love to engage in impossibilities. I love reading so, when you read you will come across different ideas. Actually, what brought about the issue of hip-hop music was as a result of the research I conducted on hip-hop and fuji artistes. I discovered a huge gap in the genres. Also, I discovered that there has not been a lecturer who doubles as a hip-hop artiste, not only in Nigeria but also Africa.
I discovered that there is always theory in practice and practice in theory. So, I felt that if I did a research into the particular gap, it would be better to engage the gap practically. This informed the idea of hip-hop music in the first instance. I discovered that there is a gap in the literature of the people who go into music without education, and they don’t care about it. Of course, they don’t really care and I don’t think they would because I have seen people who didn’t go to school but made it in music.
But that is a camp, and this is a camp too, that you can be educated, be a career person and still be a good musician. This is another signal to the public that being a musician does not mean you cannot go to school, and that going to school does not mean you cannot exhibit your talent. You can actually have both.
Did you inherit singing talent from your parents?
No, my parents don’t even know how to sing. I grew up as, more or less, a ghetto person. I am talking about the Saw Mill area of Ilorin. Of course, while growing up, we used to have singing competitions from one junction to the other in which I participated. And what seemed to be a memorable thing in my history was that I used to wake people up during Ramadan fast. I think the idea actually generated from there.
Okay, why hip-hop and not fuji music?
Personally, I don’t dislike any genre of music. It is a thing of interest. I love the hip-hop genre of music, but another thing is that, while I was researching, I discovered that fuji artistes are always at the receiving end. I don’t know why. People hardly delve into that genre of music and become successful. Incidentally, the fuji musicians have good lyrics, but perhaps because of the way the genre of music sprouted or the lyrics are constructed, I discovered that these people (fuji artistes) have issues. For instance, if thousands of endorsements are to be distributed today, you will hardly find a fuji musician there. Of course, Pasuma got one but it’s because he tried to diversify. Others are still struggling to get there.
Another thing is that while hip-hop is working with the trend of modernism, fuji still aligns with traditionalism. Therefore, being an academic, people like me have to do what is convenient. I can only sing when it’s convenient for me. When I am tired I will rest, so I am doing it as a form of extra-curriculum activity. I chose hip-hop because I can easily pass my message across to the people and get it right. If I have a concert, I will go and come back in a day; which is another service to the community. As far as the school rule is concerned, we are entitled to extra-curriculum and community services. In fact, that could be another way of sending a very good message to the youth. I think it is going to be an encouragement to all of them.
As a budding hip-hop artiste, what is your unique selling point (USP)?
If you remove education from anything, there will be an issue. The way some of these artistes manage their home fronts is because education is lacking. I am not saying they are not educated but the education might not have been properly applied. What will make the difference is that I am representing a crafted and initiated brand, which means that it is another school of thought, a philosophy, which others will follow in terms of the choice of lyrics. I am not saying I will not collaborate with other musicians, but the language of the lyrics and import of the message must be very clear.
For instance, we have a particular track called ‘Ologo’ and when you look at the word and the message therein, you’ll discover that virtually everybody will like to listen to it. We are concerned about the message and direction of our song. Even, if it’s going to be love song, it’s got to have the message. Whether we like it or not, it is a philosophy that cannot be faulted by anybody, that music is one of the fundamental means of passing messages across. You can either create peace or revolution through music.
What’s the title of your forthcoming album?
For now, we want to unveil ourselves as the first university lecturer/hip-hop artiste in Nigeria, and Africa at large. We have searched through literatures and discovered it to be so. I am the first person to be in that category. I have about 17 tracks in the album including the title track, ‘Ologo’, ‘I Need You’, ‘Searching For Love’; and ‘I Go Through Hell’, which reflects the story of my life. Another track is about University of Ilorin and then one about Nigeria. The one for my country is very good. We have another one called ‘We Are The Baddest’.
Will this music take over your academic work?
Let me say this, what actually brought about music is my ability to go into different researches into supposed impossibilities. Therefore, I cannot leave academics come what may. But we need to understand one thing; in academics we have the right to sabbatical and leave of absence, fellowship and the rest of it. The problem of the academics is that we so much dwell on theories; I think it is about time that we show action.
Many professors of Performing Arts at Unilorin are making millions of naira through their performances. If I make it big today, I can be a very good source of pride to my own university, state and also to my country because music is intercontinental. Through this, I’ll be able to empower people through employment generation.
Has there been any form of assistance from Unilorin?
The truth is that I have not had any formal contact with the school authorities, except for my associate professor and many other lecturers who had seen me while performing on stage. I believe if you want to do something that will be successful; it will have to come from you. So, Unilorin should be proud that I am making the name of the institution to go viral. I can’t hide myself. I still belong to the University of Ilorin. The university has been excelling in so many other fields. This is another one. It’s applause for them.
culled from http://sunnewsonline.com/im-first-university-lecturer-to-sing-hip-hop-isaq-omotayo