Veteran Reggae Artist; Songwriter and Producer, Orits Wiliki is a self acclaimed Koleman revolutionaire. He stormed the industry in the mid-80s with his album “Tribulation” and has gone on and on churning out amazing reggae sound tracks, using his unique style of playing the talking drum with his songs. In this interview with our correspondent, FRANCIS OGBONNA, he shares about his life; family; career and the Nigerian music industry. Excerpts…
Can you please tell us a little more about yourself?
My name is Orits Wiliki Writer, Author, Composer, Arranger, Music & TV Producer, Performing Artist and TV Contents Provider.
You were on sabbatical for a while, if true, how long did it last? Why did you go on a break? What were you doing during this period of break?
Don’t think that is absolutely correct. I have been doing some other stuffs like building the industry for the better through serious campaign for the need to respect our intellectual property and production of my TV programs “Dubwiseouta and Reggae Maladies.
What are you doing right now?
Presently I am working on my 3 decades on stage celebrations coming up by the 2nd quarter of the year and also the release of my new Album “Pupa Orits Reloaded”.
Can you please compare between doing music then and now?
Well doing Music way back comes with the absolute seriousness and Professionalism. Structures were in place, Recording Companies of International repute were on ground, Artist Repertoire Managers were everywhere discovering new Acts so the industry was cool but now all that is History. We followed up with pockets of Recording Labels but you know Recording Business is big Business so we couldn’t sustain the industry because the Labels couldn’t spend the big money like the Recording Companies. So pirate saw a heaven ground and took over so it was easier to make a star unlike now. Now what you see today are singular efforts of the Artist and perhaps the Sponsors or Managers and most of all the Corporate Companies through Endorsement and the likes.
It looks like Reggae is no longer in trend, is reggae becoming extinct? If so, what is responsible for this? Does intending reggae artiste have a chance against the Hip-Hop and R&B artistes of today? What are you doing to revive this genre of music back to its place of prominence?
Far from it. Reggae today has even evolved with time so Reggae is bigger now than it use to be. It moved from Ska to Root Rock or Traditional Reggae and from there to Lovers Rock and to Ragga, and fro Ragga to Dancehall from Dance Hall now to Hip pop so Reggae is still what you hear all over the place. You may not be hearing much of the Traditional Reggae on our Airwaves but that couldn’t mean it has gone extinct. Like I said Reggae is Hip pop and Hip pop is Reggae the different between the two is the Culture and attitude. There is no basis for comparison between Reggae and R&B these genres of music have existed side by side over the years in other words the sky is big enough for all to fly. A lot is going on right now I don’t know if you are following the trend. Most of your Artistes you listen to now are Reggae influenced youths who are expressing themselves through Hip pop name them from 2face to Face to Iyanya to TY Salvage to Omawumi to PSquare to Ice Prince to Timaya l can go on and on. What am l doing to bringing Reggae back? Nothing because Reggae didn’t go anywhere it only evolves in style and pattern So reggae is your heartbeat when it stops you dead.
Most established Nigerian artiste don’t seem to have a programme for building younger artistes (protégées), why is it so? Do you have any artistes you have mentored or are mentoring at the moment?
That Existed only in the Generation before us. I personally have been instrumental to the success story of lots of the Artist you hear today l don’t have to really mention names and the trend is continuing ask Banky W with WizKids and MI with Ice prince to mention but a few.
About your family, is your wife into music, maybe at management level? Does any of your kids do music?
My family is cool that is the reason I live the reason l work. I am one of the lucky guys who is lucky to be married to his sister, that is my mother-s last born. She is my best friend and a partner. Yes she sings and she acts so she has a couple of movies to her credit too.
What is happening to Musical Copy Society of Nigeria (MCSN) since after NCC approved only COSON?
That use to be but all that has changed with the directive of The National Assembly to NCC to register MCSN forthwith following investigation into our petition to them. We found everything wrong with the monopoly NCC tried to force on us even the registration of COSON we found out was marred with irregularities and fraud. That report, and the recommendation was made public on the 18th of December last year. So we are waiting and watching the NCC to comply.
What is happening to PMAN, they seem to have gone under the radar? How effective is their supervisory role, especially now that the music industry has become an all-comers affair?
PMAN derailed long time ago and lost its bearing for many years now. There are still some of us who are genuinely working underground to ensuring that PMAN get its acts together again and take its rightfully place in the industry. A lot is going on at the moment so with time l hope.
Except for a few artistes that seem to have stood the test of time, why does it seem like for most Nigerian artistes their reigns are short-lived?
That is only natural. When the Artist is his or her natural self l call it in the beginning he is faced with less distraction because he is not yet a Star, he is himself but when he become a star that’s a new ball game altogether . It is easier to become a star whether by accident or by hardworking but the biggest challenge is in sustaining it.
What was growing up like?
I grew up a rude Bouy so if not for Jah and my Father l would have ended up a Gangster l probably be dead by now.
Do you have any regrets doing music? If not music, what would Pupa have been doing?
No regrets at all! Music for me is a calling. If I were not a Musician I would have been an Actor in fact I started from the TV and that is my first love and I am gradually returning in style.
How many albums do you have in a whole?
I have to my credit 9 Albums with 107 songs and the tenth Album is ready with 13 songs.
What do we expect from Pupa Orits ext?
Watch out for my next Album and make sure you write your reviews when it comes out.
What would Pupa want to be remembered for?
A man who fought for a better industry and respect for Musicians.
What is your advice for upcoming reggae artistes?
Don’t jump into it if you don’t have the calling. Many are called but chosen are few. It is not a bed of Roses, Hard work, Patience and above all put Jah first to lead the way. Stay off Hard Drugs. Well to my fans watch out for my new tune The Album is called Pupa Orits Reloaded you will found out the older the wine the sweeter it a come. One love still.