When Afro-beat musician, Rotimi Martins, popularly known as Alariwo of Africa, posted on his Instagram page that the pioneer of Yoruba rap music, Lord of Ajasa (real name is Olusegun Osaniyi), was seriously ill and urgently in need of funds for a Peptic Ulcer surgery, many movie fans, who knew about Ajasa’s contributions to the growth of Afro-hip hop music and Yoruba rap in Nigeria, were alarmed.
Alariwo’s timely post did not only achieve its intended objective, which was to drum up quick financial support for Ajasa; but it also ensured that the ailing artiste survived the critical stage of the illness.
Ajasa is back home now. He was discharged from the hospital last Tuesday. At the moment, he is getting better and awaiting another surgery to remove some stones in his gall bladder.
The rapper, in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Thursday, said his doctor had placed him under observation, preparatory to the surgery. “I would have had the surgery done, but the doctor said we should delay it to enable me rest for a while. I have lost weight and I need to regain my strength,” he said.
Ajasa was excited that some of his friends and colleagues had donated funds for his treatment. “I am very happy that they did this for me. In fact, I am still shocked at their quick response to my condition. I pray that God will remember them in their time of need,” he said.
He also complained bitterly that some successful artistes he had helped to achieve stardom abandoned him in his hour of need.
Refusing to mention the names of the artistes, he said, “I am surprised that they changed their attitudes toward me. I don’t want to mention names now. They know themselves. Some of them are well known to members of the public. Although I have done a lot for these people, when I needed help from them, they were nowhere to be found. Some of them even avoided contact with me. I am very disappointed in them. All I can say is that in this music business, some people are ingrates.”
The rapper waved aside the insinuation that he had shunned the entertainment scene these past years and withdrawn into his shell. “That is not true. I did not withdraw into my shell. I have been busy working on a new album and attending shows. Before I fell ill, I was spending a lot of time in the studio working. I have a new album in progress. I was planning to shoot the video when this illness came.”
Recounting his journey into music, Ajasa said that he had always been passionate about music and when he was growing up, he knew that he would become a musician. He said, “Eventually I went into music out of sheer passion, not love of money. Many of the artistes I knew at that time didn’t care much about getting rich. Wealth wasn’t the motivating factor for us, unlike today’s artiste’s who go into music because they want to get rich.”
Ajasa, who claimed that he was deeply inspired by the music of King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey and Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, did not sound too happy about the quality of contemporary rap in Nigeria.
“The rap music that we are listening to today, especially in Nigeria, is quite different from what we had in the past. It is no longer as exciting as it used to be,” he said.
Blaming the decline in the quality of rap on the get-rich-quick attitude of the present generation of Nigerian rappers, he added, “In the past, rap artistes virtually struggled to survive. The first time I was paid N10, 000 to perform in a show, I was very excited and happy. I think it was sometime around 2000 or 2001. At that time, N10,000 was a lot of money for somebody who was used to struggling through thick and thin to earn a living. There was no record label in those days. We were doing it on our own. Nobody believed that music would ever be a money spinner.”