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G-Fresh & Al-Ameen Arewa’s famous hip-hop duo

Weekend Magazine: How long have you been into music?

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Abubakar Ibrahim: We’ve been in music for as long as I can remember. We had our first album ‘Forget your enemies’ some years ago, and currently have another album, ‘No pain no gain’ which is doing well in the market. So far, I can say we have come a long successful way and we won’t relent, although, it isn’t easy making it in an already saturated sector.

WM: It is true that you hawk your CDs yourself?

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Al-Ameen Ibrahim: Yes, it is. We do that on the streets of Kano, Kaduna and many other places because if we don’t, who will do it for us? We are determined to make our work relevant. Therefore we have to struggle to push our work to the public. We have sold more than 30,000 copies on the streets, something we started doing three years back. Initially, we couldn’t sell up to 15, 000 pieces. Now, I am still doing my own thing – walking around still looking for more opportunities, looking for record deals to sign us. From the response we have been getting, it is obvious that we have good music as well as the quality to compete in the music industry.

WM: Tell us about your Lagos experience?

Abubakar: On behalf of our group, I went to Lagos State and spent about five months – going to different streets and places like Apapa, Lekki, Shoprite and many other places in Lagos trying to sell my CDs and securing a possible record deal.

One of the challenges I faced in Lagos was that I met MI Abaga in Chocolate City and he was willing to help me for a session but one guy named Teddy who is a producer in Chocolate City refused to record me for unknown reasons.

The truth is that Nigeria today is very big in the world of entertainment and everything is centred in Lagos because many African countries and even some British artistes come down to Lagos to spend time. 

I am from Kano State. It is clear that our own standard of music in Kano is not on the same page with that of Lagos. 

WM: Would you still go back to Lagos?

Abubakar: Yes, I think I still need to go back to Lagos and talk to MI so that he would know that the record session didn’t work.

WM: How would you rate the Nigerian entertainment industry?

Abubakar: R‘n’B is growing very fast but there were times when nobody believed that something this good could come out of Kano State. 

WM: What do you think ought to be done to lift the industry in Kano?

Al-Ameen: We need to organize shows or activities that have to do with promoting the entertainment industry around events. For instance, when Kano Pillars are going to play a big match. However, I think the best bet is to move down to Lagos because it is all about investment.

WM: Is the title ‘No pains, no gain’ based on your personal experience? 

Abubakar: Yes, it is all about our life experiences. What we have passed through, what we experienced on the streets.

I once met a big producer who produced for Flavour and Wizkid. His name is Mastercraft. I met his manager and the guy told me to pay seven hundred thousand naira for a studio session to do a collabo with Mastercraft. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford that amount. I know that if I have one song with a producer like Mastercraft, all my pain would be gone, but it wasn’t meant to be. 

WM: Is the fate you suffered connected to background bias because you are from the north?

Abubakar: The truth is that if you don’t have support from where you come from, everywhere you go they would look at you with some kind of contempt. Assuming I were from Port-Harcourt, I can organize a show in Port-Harcourt where more than 1,000 people would attend and from there a lot of people would say “yes, he is good.” But here in Kano, we don’t really have that privilege. It is as plain as this. We have to make a name in Lagos because if you don’t establish your fame in Lagos, it is as if you are not an African artiste at all.

WM: Would you give up if your attempt failed again?

Abubakar: Despite all the challenges, I don’t have to give up because this is what I believe I can do. I can’t change it now because of the challenges here and there. I got addicted to music since I was seven-years-old. Now I am approaching 30 and still practicing music. So you see, it has been a long way and I don’t have to give up because I believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

 

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