Interview

My Experience With Olu Maintain, Eedris Abdulkareem, Others – Puffy Tee

Puffy TeeTemidayo Babatope Joseph was behind the production of Olu Maintain’s Yahooze, but the song ended the once blossoming romance between two friends. Popularly known as Puffy Tee, he made his debut as a singer on Valentine’s Day. He tells ORUKPE NELSON why he decided to be a singer and sundry issues.

It’s been a while since you produced a hit song like Yahooze; when should we expect another?

There is no way you will have a child as old as the first born. First born will always be your first and any other child comes after the first. Others could grow taller, finer and have more money than the first child, but they can never be as old as the first.

I also produced Lorile by X-project; Pamugoro by 9ice; Away by VIP from Ghana; I matter by 9ice ft Timaya; Koleyewon by Eedris ft Rugged Man, My way by 9ice ft VIP; Halleluyah by Olu Maintain; Who am I by Jim Iyke ft 2face; Let me love u by side 1 and a host of others. I am presently working with JJC, Rasqie, 9ice, Ara, etc. So, we should leave Yahooze and focus on others, but it was my major breakthrough.

What inspired the song?

The beat was inspired by Olu-Maintain’s ring tune then, which was a Jamaican song. The song was a product of everyone who was around in the studio at that time, but majorly from a guy called Eddy Kim. Olu was a very smart and good singer. It was quite an experience and he had a way of inspiring people. We did many songs even before Yahooze, but we parted ways after it.

Did you know Yahooze will be a hit?

None of us saw that coming. The song even forced itself out. Whenever I do a job in the studio I would copy it into a CD and take it home to listen. My kid brother, a DJ, took the CD from the house and it circulated. I just realized I could not find it again and I thought I misplaced it. So, I was with Olu Maintain a particular day and someone was talking about a song he heard on a radio station in Ibadan. Another person called Olu and asked if he had dropped a new song. We were all confused.

From Ibadan, the song moved to Ogun State and later Kwara State. It then came to Lagos and that was it. There was no promotion or a deliberate effort to promote the song and there was no internet at that time too.

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You used to produce Eedris Abdulkareem too; what happened?

I wasn’t the producer of Nigeria Jaga Jaga, though people felt I did. The song was produced by Chris Okoro, but I worked on the album along with Foster Zeno. I did almost all the songs on that album. I also did Letter to Mr. President’s album and his third album. We all have ways of doing things. Sometimes you feel you’ve been together for too long and needed a change. We had our differences and we moved on. Though we still talk once in a while, it is not the way it used to be anymore.

But why is it a common trend for artistes to leave producers that apparently did a lot for them?

Twenty friends cannot be friends for twenty years. What we should all know is that whatever has a beginning has an end and anything that has a manufacturing date has an expiry date too. So, your expiry date with your partner might be short. That is life and you have no need to take it personal. If you are meant to do just one song with someone you cannot do more than that. And sometimes too, things like that happen for a reason.

It happens for you to see how serious people take you or how they love or appreciate your work. We all have issues.

That is why I don’t like to get too close with people in the industry because when you do they used that against you. In music, there are no permanent friends or enemies. The only permanent thing is interest because everyone wants to be successful.

What is your sincere opinion about the industry?

To do music is now expensive because you need to pay some money when you visit radio and television stations and Alaba market too. We also have many talents now because there is no grip on the industry and it is now all-comers’ affairs. In some places in the world you just don’t come out as an artiste; somebody has to introduce you to the industry. My landlord could come tomorrow to my studio and make a song provided he has the money for production.

This is the reason we have loads of songs that have no content. We have few songs that can make people to mend their ways, learn to love, etc.

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You recently dropped a single; why the sudden change to become a singer after several years?

The first time I thought of releasing a song was in Ghana in 2013. An artiste said something terrible to me and I told myself that I could sing more than him.

He heard it later and I apologised that he didn’t know me so well. I have like 48 songs with me now and I do basically high life. I dropped my first song on the Valentine Day – Your Lover. I did it together with Ara, an excellent singer. She knows her talking drum too much and I really enjoyed working with her, from beginning to the end.

The reason I delayed doing my own songs was because of the unease surrounding the life of a musician. It could be taxing to run around for shows, interviews, etc. Ara was actually instrumental in the making of my first song and people should expect more to come. Ara wanted people to know what I can do.

What are your regrets?

I should have reached an agreement with Olu. If it were today, I would have made a lot of money from the Yahooze song because I know better. But despite the whole thing that happened, if I was just a bit patient with Olu, I would have still benefited from Yahooze. I didn’t benefit from the song than the fact that I produced a mega hit. I used to move away from things quickly if I noticed any strange thing and I did that with Olu. If I had a second chance I would have been calmer with him, but I left too early.

How lucrative is music for you?

It has been the only thing that is keeping me. I don’t do any other thing and it would get more lucrative because I am now a singer. I believe singing brings more money because people don’t really appreciate producers in this country. The young ones do, though. When a young artiste sees a producer who is good he or she does things to make him happy. But generally, producers are not well celebrated and people often forget that we make things happen.

If the foundation is not strong you cannot do anything well. So, when a producer makes your first and second song and you become famous, why can’t you stick to him? If you desire to work with other producers, why can’t you inform your producer?

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It even favours you because it will make that producer to charge you less. Your producer will also be happy to see that you respect him and things will go well.

You mean you have no other source of income?

I have plans to venture into many things, but I do just music for now. I plan to open a lounge centre, manufacture noodles and venture into events planning. I could as well own a record label, but you have to get somewhere first before you can pull others up.

How did you acquire music production skills?

My dad was an organist and I started playing piano when I was nine years old. You should expect me to be a genius by now. Professionally, my production started since 1997, but I didn’t have a hit song (Yahooze) till 2006.

How was your upbringing?

I am a local boy and I learned things I know today on the street. I only did primary and secondary education, though I later studied courses in music production in Ghana and London. When I tell people I didn’t go to the university they don’t believe me. I just have a way of assimilating things fast. When you know you don’t have some opportunities in life or didn’t do certain things you have to open your eyes and brain to pickup things anywhere you can because you will need it. I am the first of four kids. My dad is dead now, while my mum is still around.

What makes your production different?

I think it is just God and I believe in Him and my ability. I do music the way it comes. When I am working with you I work with what you sing; I don’t set out to do a particular genre of music. If it turns out to be reggae we make reggae and if it turns out to be highlife we would do it. I have been around for over two decades, so I know a lot about music