Clearly one of the major players in the Nigerian music terrain over the last 13 years, Terry G, apart from the band of Ajegunle-bred musicians, is among those those who popularized street music. The man, born Gabriel Amanyi, spoke to Adedayo Odulaja on a range of issues including his staying power, brand and more.
How would you describe 2018 as a year?
Well, we have been progressing, I thank God. We have been travelling, business is moving, I just got some more buses for my pure water factory. I have been doing my stuff, I have been going for shows.
How did you convince your parents to make a switch from gospel to the secular music?
Convincing my parents was quite difficult for me, I think. I had to run away from the house. Even till date this dreadlocks is still a threat, it is one of the things they never wanted. My mother was a bit supportive but still they both never wanted me to do it. I am the first child and all they wanted me to do was to portray the way of the Lord which I am doing right now. At the end of the day, we are all servants of God and we are being sent to different areas but we don’t know what tomorrow holds.
I don’t know how I found myself doing this even if I had ministered in churches. I was just looking for a way, it was then I met Faze through Shola Animashaun and it was through my church. I ministered before Daddy G.O Adeboye and he laid his hands on me and said I was going to preach to multitudes. People were falling under my anointing, I used to have power before but it disappeared and it is something that we can get back, it is about the connection. When I was still ministering in the church that was when I started deviating. There was a particular time I smoked cigarettes and I got to mingle with bad friends but people still fell under the anointing when I sang then. I am a blessed child. But immediately, I felt sad because I knew what was going to happen to me if I didn’t connect back.
Why have you not tried doing gospel music?
I think anything that happens to me is God’s plan.
What was the reason behind disbanding your House of Ginger band?
It was not working for me. I probably was not in the right stage to set up a band. I was so much in love with the talents and I didn’t put structure and business in place. In a nutshell, it was not coordinated.
What were the things you lost disbanding your band?
Absolutely nothing. I didn’t lose anything as I was young then.
You have had cause to change your name in the past, how many times did that happen?
I have changed my name more than four times now, different people call me different names like Akpako master, Free Me, Spiritual Madman, Corporate Madman, Ginger D Ginger, Swagger D Swagger, Intellectual, Who be that before I changed to Terry Gzus and right now Terry Genius.
What is the Terry Genius all about?
I think Terry Genius will be my last change of name, the Terry Gzus had been creating a controversy over time but people still don’t understand despite the fact that I try to make them understand. Even though it is spelt as Gzuz, as opposed to Gzus, people still don’t understand because they sound the same. But I try to make them understand that even the name Jesus had been there before Jesus Christ was born but they still didn’t get it maybe because of the Christianity background.
But the change of name regarding that did not occur due to a religious treat?
No, people still call me Terry Gzus. Even when some of them chat with me and they type Jesus, I often correct them that it is Gzus. I have not been tackled on that but I just want to niche that positive vibe.
Since releasing hit tracks like “Free Madness,” “Aye Logan” and the likes, you have not been the Terry G we used to know. What is the reason?
At the end of the day I have seen that I can live a social life and also live my personal life. There is nobody in the industry that is perfect but how do you project it?
I think that was my fault, so now I have been able to balance social life and personal life but I am not perfect. I am still intellectual, spiritual it is just that I am now more responsible, I know what duties are, I know what public service is, I know what to do when I am out there. Those are the stuff I had no clue about because of the neighbourhood I grew up in. I had no guide.
What is your opinion on the raging debate that many music acts nowadays are all about beats and not much in terms of content?
“Free Madness” wouldn’t have been so fresh till date if it doesn’t have content. Of course that is what will make the song last long in the minds of people, not the beat.
What do you think about the new school artistes that are believed to be glorifying internet fraud?
It is what is trending and I cannot judge anybody.
Your son is six years old; are you not planning on having another child anytime soon?
True but regarding having another child, that will happen when I am ready.
Has your mum not bothered you about having another child as most mothers are known to do?
My mother does not bother me about that. My mother is very cool, she is nice to everyone. But right now I just want to invest in my son. He is in Chelsea Academy and he is still going to school. So I need to focus on him for now.
People think there is not much to Terry G Water after it took of then. What is the current state of the business?
No, maybe because it has not gotten to their area yet but if they go online they will see people posting pictures of Terry G Pure Water.
Do you have plans to marry your baby mama anytime soon?
She is not worried about that, at the end of the day, I don’t have a clue of what marriage is for now and we are still both young. We have been through the struggle for years together and she handles most of my businesses. And I think we are not in the stage for that now, when the time comes we will do that.
Do you believe in marriage as an institution?
Of course I do. Marriage is all about trust, me and a man can marry or a man and a woman and it is not until you hold a ceremony really. I am married to the mother of my son already even though we are not married.
You said you and a man can marry. Is that to say you support homosexuals?
No, God forbid. I meant that marriage is an agreement between two people.
How is your baby mama coping from the pressure from her parents?
No, she is the one in charge. She is the only child of her parents.
With the many women around you and the fact that you have not committed to anything, doesn’t she feel threatened?
No, because she knows the kind of person I am. She knows Gabriel, she does not know Terry G. She criticises me a lot. She is so classy.
Is she the subject or did she influence your new song, “Chimo Chimo”?
No, it is a song I had to sit down and think about before writing. You know the industry is a game, we play it but before you play, you have to check out the players. But I am not in a competition. I make sure that whatever I put out is not in anybody’s league. “Chimo” is a rap song; it is a positive vibe so at the end of the day if you are competing with me you have got to follow me. The song didn’t really change my style. It is like a swap, it is good. You can’t keep eating rice, you will get tired of it. I want to win more fans and when we are talking of winning more fans, we are talking of adding values. I want to add value. By God’s grace let additional values come to our lives.
What does Chimo mean, by the way?
Chimo means God.
Why have you not signed anybody to your Terry G Productions?
I just like to help talents, I give you my blessings I don’t need to tie you down. Even the House of Ginger, I didn’t sign anybody despite everything I did.
You said you will do gospel music, when should we look forward to your gospel album?
I will do gospel singles. Even in most of my secular songs, I still praise God indirectly but nevertheless I will still have gospel singles. Talking about gospel album it will be a dream come through for me.
Do you think you have done well with the couple of singles you dropped this year?
Yes of course, all my songs are good sounds although I didn’t drop them back-to-back.
How do you feel with some people saying Olamide emulated you in his latest single, ‘Poverty Die’?
I feel so great, I feel so excited. Even before Olamide did that song when I hear people use my slangs and copy my style I feel so great because I am not dead.
Don’t you think having a collaboration with WizKid could bring you back to limelight?
I have it already. I have featured Wizkid, he has also featured me. I believe so much in my craft. I am so patient. I took a while to do some other things, so now I should take my time before pushing collaborations which I have already perfected. I have a song with Flavour, Phyno, I have with Ice Prince. I have them all.
If you have all such body of works, don’t you think it is time to push out an album?
I don’t think so.
People have not been seeing your Ferrari which you acquired sometime back. What happened to the car?
Lagos frustrated me, our roads are bad, so I had to tow the car to Abuja. Now it is in my small house in Abuja.
You had an issue with your landlord back then, what is your relationship with the man now?
I have even forgotten about the landlord.
How would you describe your last concert?
It was an amazing experience. It was an explicit experience of the game I told you about. It was a lifetime experience that I appreciate God for having. I achieved and gained a lot from it, the immense support they showed to me is what has given me the drive. The industry is tight now, it’s not what it used to be. I can’t see 2face now and still sit on the chair. But that is not how it is right now, muc has changed.
Since hitting limelight, how committed have you been to your baby mama?
Yes, I am a responsible man. Despite the ex-girlfriends I have had before I finally met her. Nobody can hold me to ransom.
How have you been able to create the trust to the extent of making your baby mama a business partner?
Well, I am so lucky. My partner has helped me generate funds in different ways. It’s not about having the money; it’s about the good mind and the way you think. She is tested and trusted.
Have you ever thought of cutting your dreads?
Change is constant, I must probably be richer than Dangote before I cut my hair. Because it is my signature.
What do you think needs to be done in the industry to aid its growth further?
Yes, we are growing. The fact that we are not serious about life is the problem. We need to know that life is not all about now, it is the future that matters. That is why 2face is still number one. Artistes should plan their tomorrow with the last strength.
Did you regret having issues with DJs?
I really regretted it. It made a big impact, I showed people that I was a human being, I was not just what they thought I was. I could make mistakes and still apologise. This is one of the part that the fans don’t see, they only see the ego and the pride. I have been able to share most of my life experiences with some of my fans which made them love me till now.
What made you apologise?
I made an apology video with my garment, kneeling down and apologising to all DJs, which I posted on YouTube. I went to the DJs association.
Why did you delete your pictures from Instagram?
I have the leadership attitude, it has been in me from childhood. I have always been trained to take charge. I control situations. It has always been a part of me, I just need to explore more of it. The more I grow the more I see.
Do you think of relocating abroad in the near future?
No, I am very comfortable in my country. You have freedom to do whatever you want to do. You have freedom to be a star even if you are not a star. But abroad you can’t even express yourself with the weather.
Why haven’t you done a foreign collaboration?
I just want to pull out my new content before pushing collaborations. But expect the unexpected. I have too many directions.
How come you still look up to artistes like 2face and D’banj despite your dominance in the industry?
I only look up to God. I don’t look up to man, I can only admire their works. I admire 2face. 2face is content, music and inspiration. If you want to listen to good music listen, to 2face. If you want to be entertained, listen to D banj, and Don Jazzy is a refined producer.
What do you admire about yourself?
The uniqueness and the guts because there is no glory without guts.
Do you regret leaving your hood?