Dubbed Nigeria’s John Legend, Praise Ugbede Adejo mononymously known as Praiz, came to prominence on the wings of reality show, ‘Project Fame’. Ever since, he has proven to be a vocal force to be reckoned with. The Kogi-born singer has so far released three albums within a span of seven years; all were met with moderate commercial successes.
In a recent chat with the ‘Rich and Famous’ singer, he highlights the concept behind his new EP (Extended Play), reacts to his ordeal with the members of the armed forces and his plans to use music as an agent of change. Also in this piece, he reveals intents for marriage and expands on the concept of live music in Nigeria.
You’ve been in the music game since 2008, how do you feel the musical landscape has changed so far?
I’ve been in the music industry actually way before 2008 but I’m grateful to God that I got my major breakthrough in the industry in 2008, and if I look back, definitely the music scene has changed, it has evolved. We have new cards that have come into the game and are doing great things. One thing for sure is that I’m actually really happy that I am part of the industry; I mean the Nigerian music industry is the major in Africa, it’s like the number 1, our sound is global and we have people who are trying to get that sound, understand the groove, the melody. It’s really exciting.
On the creative aspect of things; critical aspect of things, how do you think it has evolved?
It’s evolved because we appreciate different genres of music right now. We have the likes of Johnny Drille, who also was part of the Project Fame, we have new cards like Nonso Amadi and there are lots of people out there who are doing great. Years ago, I don’t think that our sound, if they were ready for that sound, but right now everybody is receiving and vibing to that new sound. So, music in Nigeria has really changed and people today appreciate the different genres of music asides the normal pop-culture.
You are a wonderful R&B singer, are we expecting any drastic shift from that style of making music?
I’ve dropped a couple of singles that aren’t R&B songs, even my debut album was a double album: one album was R&B and the other album was Afro pop, basically. I have a song with Wizkid, which was not R&B, I have a song with Awilo, that also is not an R&B song, I have a song with Patoranking which is not R&B, so I just do music for the love of music; I do music for the feeling it gives me, but I do not deny the fact that Praiz is R&B, I will forever be R&B, I love R&B. If I’m sleeping and you wake me up to sing one song, the first song I will sing will be an R&B song. The song that actually changed my career and my life was an R&B song, ‘Rich and Famous’. People who know me know that Praiz is R&B but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to satisfy all my fans, I don’t just do music for myself and a lot of people need to understand that.
Are you working on a new project?
I actually have a project, an R&B EP (Extended Play); a five-tracker called ‘2 Minutes’. One of the tracks is called ‘2 Minutes’ and lasts for two minutes. Initially, I wanted to do all the tracks two minutes but on a second thought, I felt it would actually cut people short when they are enjoying the music. Trust me, it’s an amazing project, I’m proud of the project and basically, the fans will listen and they will speak for themselves.
Does your band have a name?
No, it doesn’t. The thing with me is: I don’t force things. Not that I don’t know what could be done or how it should be done, but if I don’t have the right name that I connect with, I rather not just call my band a name that I don’t connect with. When I get the right name, I will.
Late last year, you had an altercation with members of the armed forces, what’s your reaction on that?
I try not to talk about it; I just want it to die. You know something? It’s crazy, it’s our day-to-day struggles, it happens every day and for me I’m just fortunate I could just get out of it, for some other people… There are lots of people who don’t have the means even if they are right; they might just end up in a cell. It was a very unhappy moment for me because people who know me well know I don’t like scandals; I don’t want to be in the news for anything bad. For me, it was really disappointing that someone would want to make it different. It’s a situation that happens everyday in our country, it’s a two-way thing: the economy, people are suffering. On a second thought, how much are those people paid? You basically go to work angry, it’s just two-ways. It’s bygone but I’m not ashamed to talk about it because bad things need to change; bad things need to stop.
Music is fast changing the world, it is saying things people normally wouldn’t and we are accustomed with this through the kind of music Fela Kuti put out…
Fela is a legend. He’s not just a legend because of his music; he also spoke out, he was bold.
Has this incident inspired you to work on a song?
I actually have a record, I just don’t want to put it out yet, I just want things to chill because I’m very strategic with my projects, I don’t want to put that out now because it will distract my project (2 Minutes) at hand but still, I will put it out in the right time. There is a time coming -before 2019 – I will definitely speak out. We have to use our music, our influence to pass that message across, whether they like it or not, soon they (politicians) will approach us for endorsements – we won’t be deceived anymore.
N40 million to your account, would you endorse anyone?
The truth is, last year I wasn’t with anybody, not that I wasn’t approached but I won’t sell my vote for what I don’t believe, I’d rather just miss the money. Deep down, I know it will be painful; good money is good money and it will do a lot in my life but I can’t. When it comes to politics I am quite conservative, but I know what I believe in and if I don’t believe in stuffs, I won’t put my mouth, my hands, my money, or anything there. I follow my heart.
Vocally, you are quite a ‘force’, do you take vocal lessons or you just go ahead and sing?
I still do my voice training; I still do my vocal warm-ups. Yes, the voice is there, it’s like football, even if you know how to play you need to train, if not you will lose it, you’ll become rusty. I still do my vocal warm-up and training and I love to sing, I’m a noisemaker, I sing for no reason.
Dripping with all this ‘fine boy’ finesse, what’s good?
I’m looking this way because of 100% Live Concert. It’s going to be amazing on set, trying to shoot the cover for posters, albums and what not.
Either you didn’t understand the question or perhaps you are avoiding the question, let me rephrase, so what’s good, who’s in the picture with you?
(Laughs hysterically) I’m good, oh my God! I know; that’s why I’ve been dodging. Well, to be honest, there is no one at the moment, for real. It’s what it is. When the time is right, it will happen when it will happen.