The resurrection of Skiibii Mayana
After Skiibii was literally pronounced dead in 2015, many swore the stunt(?), would staunt his career. Four years later, Skiibii has beaten the odds and defeated his skeptics and won over his critics. In this exclusive, he tells us about how he bounced back. Call this his life after death.
As it is, that’s probably everything related to Skiibii. He likes surprising people with great things. As I would later discover, he also has a nose for proving people wrong. Well, I am testament to that.
Born Abbey Elias, he grew in Surulere, Lagos, and attended Victoria Childen's Schooland Government College, Eric Moore, Lagos.
Dressed in a multicolored sweater, a head warmer and a pair of supremely attractive brown boots, he landed in Pulse with a small entourage.
The grey times of Skiibii
To understand the apathy that Skiibii received pre-'Sensima', you would have to go to the third quarter of 2015 when he supposedly passed away.
When news of Skiibii’s death filtered online it was first met with an outpouring of grief from stars such as Tekno and Wizkid. Even M.I posted a teary caption on Instagram.
Then... Skiibii was undead. Grief turned into vitriol (bitter criticism). He became the butt of jokes and a swift verdict was passed on his career, four words the average Nigerian act dreads- "he will never blow."
Skiibii was banished to Nigerian pop purgatory. “I am a human being now, sometimes, yeah I feel bad. But like my mother used to say, I have a thick skin… That’s what I do," he admits about the grey times.
With label troubles with the E-Money-led 5 Star Music that led to his departure, Skiibii looked like he was destined to be a footnote in Nigerian pop music.
Call it stubborness or determination, Skiibii refused to accept defeat. Post-resurrection he released three singles 'Ah Skiibii', 'London', and 'Gara'. Even his harshest critics admitted these songs were open but the gates of paradise were still shut to him.
Three years after the lowest point in his career, Skiibii dropped 'Sensima' featuring Reekado Banks. Open Heavens. Redemption.
After then, Skiibii released three buzz-worthy singles in ‘Ah Skiibii,’ and his self-acclaimed favourite songs, ‘London’ and ‘Gara.’ When asked why he liked those songs, Skiibii says it’s because the topics of the songs were personal to him and relatable.
Skiibi, the brown skin boy
Brown represents healing and stability, two places where Skiibii is right now. After three hit singles in a row, the University of Ado-Ekiti alum who has his own record label, More Grace Music is a hot boy.
‘Onaema’ and ‘Daz How Star Do,’ featuring Falz, DJ Neptune and Teni, followed the smash hit 'Sensima.' The cumulative effects of these songs have made Skiibii a star.
Singing James Brown’s ‘I Feel Good,’ Skiibii says, “Glory be God, bro.” Something changed and he puts it at, “You see this sound that I’m doing - asides ‘Daz How Star Do,’ it’s always been in me, but I never explored it. But you see ‘Sensima,’ ‘Omaema’ and ‘Gara,’ those are my kind of sounds that I love to do.
“But when I was on 5 Star Music, those sounds were too cool… You see, My (former) record label (5 Star), they loved me, they wanted the best for me, but people can't understand you like you understand yourself. They felt like I could do other sounds and explore and make people groove to me.
“So (I would say) the only thing that changed is that I focused on my sounds and I am dropping them (the songs). I am also not leaving too much time between the songs like I used to. I am also in charge of everything now, shooting my videos and doing anything I like. Gbedu is plenty. That’s the only thing I changed - I focused on the sound.”
On his songs, ‘Gara’ and ‘London,’ he interceded for himself and it seems all doors are now opening. But he says he always knew it was going to happen.
“I always believed o, I swear. I have a tattoo that reads, ‘Winners, don’t quit.’ I have another that reads, ‘Skiibii, the definition of a true star.’ I have had both tattoos for a long time - even before I joined Five Star Music,” He says.
As a Muslim - a truant one that only gets faithful during Ramadan - he held on to his faith. Through that journey, he learned a lesson, “We should be careful about the things we say in the music. Watch your tongue.”
Well, the positivity paid off. ‘Sensima’ was the hit. Skiibii tells Pulse that he shot the video for ‘Sensima’ with his rent. His rent was going to expire the month after he shot the video.
“In three months, ‘Sensima’ made more than N15 million. Omo, ‘Sensima’ was fast,” Skiibii says. It paid off for him. Now, he lives in his own house.
The rise of the yellow son
Now, Skiibii has fans sending him money on his birthday, but before then, there was a journey.
After ‘Sensima’ and ‘Omaema,’ ‘Daz How Star Do’ which is arguably Skiibii’s biggest single till date dropped. Though Skiibii had been rocking the tag for a while, it only truly impacted Nigerian pop culture after the song dropped.
Speaking on how he got the slang, Skiibii says, “One day, I was with Mystro outside my house and I was eating outside. So he said, ‘You nor know say you be star? You just dey chop anyhow’ So I replied, ‘Daz how star do.’ Mystro said ‘How do star do?’ I said, ‘Like I do.’ He started laughing.
“So the next day, I think my boxer shorts were torn. We then repeated the same rhetorics. So I started using it… Timaya even endorsed it. I realized people loved it, so I decided to put it into a song and make it a jam.”
On the moment he decided to turn it into a song, he says, “There was a day that I went for a show and I was backstage at Eko Hotel with DJ Neptune. Whenever anybody saw me, they were all like, ‘Daz How Star Do.’ Neptune then said we should turn it into a song. Jaysynths Beatz (the producer) also called me with the same idea.
“I was perplexed at people’s acceptance of the slang, so I went to Jaysynths' studio. As he was making the beat, Jaysynths asked me what I craved and I told him to go Hip-Hop - something like Timbaland’s sound. So, he started the beat. It (the song) was a freestyle… (he sings the song’s chorus), like a vibe, I wasn’t even thinking that deep. Even the verse was playful (raps his verse).
“After Neptune and I talked about who was suited to the song, Nep said, ‘Falz na another playful person. I remember that after I made the song, I was travelling the next day with Teni. So, I played her ‘Daz How Star Do’ and she was excited. Instantly, she said, ‘I want to be on that song, I go call you, Skiibii.’
"Teni is a free and happy person. When we got back to Lagos, she told me that she was back. So, I told her that Jaysynths, who also produced her hit, ‘Case’ produced the demo. Before I knew anything she had gone to meet Jaysynths and they had voiced. She (Teni) then sent me the voice… She then (jokingly) asked, ‘You dey feel am? If you no feel am, I fit delete am o.’
“I told her not to because she started with rap (Skiibii raps Teni’s verse)… Initially, Falz said he was preparing for; I think his show or tour or something. He said he was quite busy, but we’d get it (his verse) the following week. But as he heard the song, he sent me his verse that night and told me he liked the song.
“We were meant to drop the song before ‘Omaema,’ but the Video Director said he lost the Falz's part. So, I had to pay again for the studio, the location, models, camera, light and everything. I called Falz again, I paid the stylist and everything. Falz still came back with love and we shot the video.
“But it was already too late and I had posted that I would drop a song on Friday. When it was Friday, I dropped, ‘Omaema,’ ran to shoot the video in South Africa, came back and dropped the video… I changed the plan because I wanted to drop ‘Daz How Star Do’ with a video.”
Skiibii and Falz
After the ‘death situation,’ Skiibii became the butt of endless jokes on social media, even Falz jumped on it. While he collaborated with Falz on ‘Daz How Star Do,’ the Nigerian rapper actually seemed to talk about Skiibii on his 2016 single, ‘Soft Work.’ Falz rapped, “If you fake your own death, you fit still nor blow.”
On the issue, Skiibii says, “I don’t listen to those things, I’m not distracted, I’m always focused. Na music e (Falz) dey make and he’s a nice guy. E nor even mean am, Baba just dey find rhymes and it rhymed. I sing the song in the club because all those things don’t define me and I know the truth…
“That’s why God favoured me, that’s what I believe. I have a good heart and I’m very sure of what really happened. I know I didn’t fake my death, so the story isn’t mine. After that song, I saw Falz at the shrine. When we met, he felt somehow, but I shook him well and hugged him. That’s how it is.
“Since then, whenever I see Falz, I’m always cool with Falz… He saw that I didn’t put a premium on the history, so that made him like me more. We just moved on without apologies. Everybody forgot it, it has passed. But look at us today, we’re making hits together. I don’t fight with people, I don’t have problems with anybody. When I was leaving my (former) record deal (5 Star), I didn’t fight…”
Skiibii and Olamide
When Skiibii was struggling, rap legend, Olamide always stood by him. At one point, Olamide even declared that Skiibii was a star and that people should believe in him. The rapper also featured on ‘Ah Skiibii.'
“We always talk about it. Sometimes I send him messages like, ‘Badoo, God bless you. Thank you so much’ and he would reply that, ‘I’m just so happy now. Skiibii, I told you now, you were a star.’ Even when I used to have problems, I would talk to Baddo and he’d tell me not to fight and also tell me what to do.
“He (Olamide) used to tell me that why he liked me was because I had sense… Badoo is a very nice person and I just want to say thank you for believing in me. God bless you, forward ever. We move.”
More Grace Music
After he moved on from the E-Money and KCee-owned Five Star Music whom he says he left on good terms, he founded his record label, More Grace Music. With Five Star Music, he says it’s all love. He is grateful to the E-Money and Kcee whom he says met him one day in Surulere and took him in.
For now, he is the only act signed to his label, but only intends to sign acts that he likes to the label. “I want to sign someone I will treat like my brother. I will go all out for the person, push him to the limit and I won’t be jealous.”
His reason is simple, he has seen excessive label-artist madness in Nigeria and he wants none of it.
Publishing, free music, and lyrics
But on publishing, Skiibii would love to leave it to the publishing companies and he has no qualms with free music. He would rather let people who want to pay for music do so and let blogs do their bit.
On lyrics, all that matters do Skiibii is that, “Are they (the listeners) dancing? If I give you lyrics and you’re not dancing, what’s the point? I have songs with lyrics o, but you can’t compare the numbers with dance songs.”
Exclusive: New music and EP
Skiibii is a famed ally of American singer, Chris Brown, but he claims the song with the singer will drop if they can get clusters out of the way.
On new music, Skiibii says he has a lot of songs, and he could till drop two more before the year runs out and promises to give his fans an EP. However, he refuses to give Pulse a title.
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