Biola Azeez caught up with a peculiar Hip Hop rapper, Isiaq Abdulwaheed Atanda Omotayo also known as ‘The Theorist’ at the University of Ilorin and presents the excerpts of their interaction.
Let’s meet you…
My name is Isiaq Abdulwaheed Atanda Omotayo also known as ‘The Theorist’. The name was given to me by my students. They call me ‘Theorist’ based on the fact that we propound theories in class. I had my primary education in Oyo State, IEDPU secondary school in Ilorin for my secondary education in Ilorin and my first and second degrees at the University of Ilorin. I equally have my doctoral degree in view, all at the department of political science of UNILORIN.
Currently, I lecture in the department of political science at the same university. I have been an inventor. I am one of the people who paddled the bicycle of educational video CDs in Nigeria. I equally happen to be one of the directors of A-level educational consult in Kwara State; Al-Hikmah University precisely and I have had the opportunity to have worked with many institutions. I am the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lanko Theory Education Service Limited.
Why are you as an academic into hip-hop music?
Let me say that there are always thousands of ideas in reading. I love to engage into impossibilities. So when you read through literature you will come across different ideas. Actually, what brings about the issue of hip-hop music is as result of one of the researches I was actually conducting on Hip-hop and fuji artistes and from there I discovered a huge gap in the genres. Also, given the trend at the university of Ilorin, I discovered there has not been a lecturer who doubles as a hip-hop artiste and even in Africa.
So, I discovered that there is always theory in practice and practice in theory. I noticed that this was an area that is trending and that we are having issues with our youths in it. So, I felt that if I did a research that into the particular gap, it would be better to engage that gap practically. So, that informed the idea of hip-hop music in the first instance. So I, as a record breaker, in line with the Unilorin system, for the first time in history, discovered there is that gap in the literature of 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 whole 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 or from in any group?
No, my parents don’t even know how to sing at all; but I grew up as, more or less, a ghetto person. I am talking about 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.
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 the 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, these Fuji musicians have good lyrics but perhaps because of the way that genre of music sprouted or the lyrics are constructed, I discovered that these people have issues, for instance, in terms of endorsement. If thousand of endorsements are to be distributed today you will hardly find a fuji musician there. Of, Pasuma got one but because he tried to diversify. Others are still struggling to get there.
But, these Hip-hop artistes will go on stage, they have their demo already, stage set for them and within minutes, their work is done and they get their pay. The Fuji artistes that’ll sing from night till early morning, all they get is pittance. Another thing is that Hip-hop is working with the trend of modernism while Fuji is still in line with the traditionalism. Therefore, people like me, being an academic has to do what is convenient for me. 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 genre because I can easily pass my message across to the people and get it right. If I have 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 outside. 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 front 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 the 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. That brand is another school of thought that is going to be unique. For instance, we have a particular track that we call ‘Ologo’ and when you look at the word and the message therein. You 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 now. 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 literature and we discovered I will be the first person to be in that area. We will launch the album separately. I have about 17 tracks on ground; ‘Ologo’, ‘I need you’, ‘Searching for love’, ‘I go through hell’; which reflects story about my own life, another one about the University of Ilorin and one for Nigeria. The one for my country is very good. We have another called ‘We are the baddest’.
Will this music take over academic work or political appointment?
Let me say this, what actually brought about this is because of my ability to go into different researches into supposed impossibilities; therefore, I cannot leave the education line come what may. But we need to understand one thing in academics, we have right to sabbatical and leaves of absence, fellowship and the rest of that. So, we’ll learn for all these. The problem of the academics is that we dwell on theories, I think it is about time now that we show action.
Many of our professors of the performing arts at Unilorin are making millions of naira through their performances. If I make it big today, I can even be a very good source to my own university and state and to my own country; because music is intercontinental. Through this, I’ll be able to empower people through employment generation.
Has there been any form of assistance of the school?
The truth is that I have not had any formal contact with the school authorities, except for my associate professor and very 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. Good things hardly come from groups, it is from the individual. So, Unilorin should be celebrating 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 inventing in some many other fields. This is another one. It’s an applause for them.