Nasiru Lawal, the popular Nigerian social media comedian and artiste, who is best known as Nasboi, speaks to OGHENOVO EGODO-MICHAEL about his career and other issues.
What was the highlight of 2023 for you?
The highlight of 2023 for me is having a hit song (Umbrella) towards the end of the year.
When did you start your music career?
The first time I recorded a song in the studio was sometime in 2006. But, I officially got signed to Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde’s label in 2014. That was when my music took a serious turn.
However, I am currently signed to Eminent Transglobal Sounds Record Limited.
Have you stopped comedy for music?
I have not stopped comedy. I intend to create a balance, though I know I might not move at the same pace as before, but I will surely do both.
If you had to choose between music and comedy, which would you abandon?
I would choose music, because it is my first love. Comedy came later. Though I have always been quite funny, it was actually hunger and depression that made me start comedy.
Funnily enough, I am a very shy person.
How were you able to manage/overcome your shyness, because entertainment usually requires one to perform for a crowd of people?
I am still very shy, but I have been able to handle it, because I am growing at every point. I don’t have a choice, as I have to perform in front of many people.
Why did you feature Wande Coal on your song, ‘Umbrella’?
First, Oluwatobi Ojosipe, aka Wande Coal, is an artiste I love. When I started singing in 2006, Wande Coal, Innocent Idibia, aka 2baba; and Oladapo Oyebanjo, aka D’banj, were some of the musicians I loved and looked up to. When I made this particular song, I left a space for a featured verse, and the only person that came to my mind was Wande Coal. I was not really expecting to get him, but I tried, and God eventually did it for me.
How did the process of the collaboration happen?
When I finished recording the song, I left an empty verse, hoping to find someone to feature. Subsequently, I went to a gig where I was backstage with Wande Coal, and I went to say ‘hi’ to him. He then told me how much he loves me, and I was struck that the person I love so much and want to feature feels that way about me.
However, I did not show too much excitement, and I was strategic about it. I got his friend’s number and a few weeks later, I called him and told him I would love to see him. I did not tell him the reason behind the meeting, because as a comedian, when one tells people that one sings, they take it as a joke. So, we had a meeting, and I took him to the car and played my songs for him. He was amazed. I then told him I would love to feature Wande Coal on a song. He asked me to give him some songs that he felt Wande Coal would like. Out of all of them, he said he felt Wande Coal would like ‘Umbrella’ more. He said I should give him some time and I stayed hopeful. After some days, I got a call from Wande Coal saying, “This boy so you sabi (can) sing like this’?
So, when he returned to Nigeria, he called me and he had already recorded his part. When we met, I was star-struck, happy and amazed.
Did you write the song during the rainy season?
I have no idea whether it was rainy or sunny when I wrote the song, but I knew the only title that could fit it was ‘Umbrella’. I did not go through any creative thought process to choose that particular title.
From the lyrics of your songs, you seem to be a lover boy. Is that so?
Yes, I am a lover boy.
Are you single or in a relationship?
That’s my business, and I will not tell you.
Which other artistes will you like to work with?
Right now, I would love to work with Divine Ikubor, aka Rema; and David Adeleke, aka Davido.
What can you tell us about your creative process?
For music, I prioritise melodies. I love melodies, because I am a very emotional person. I could just hear a sound and begin to hum it. Once I have a melody that is soothing to the ears, the next step is trying to write in the lyrics that I have. I also like to write my own songs. I have recorded over 500 songs. I had released some online, but at some point, I took them down.
What qualities do you believe are essential for success in the entertainment industry?
Consistency is a top quality, but it is not all about being consistent. Talent is also key. One also has to stand out. People need to invest in being unique, because people don’t want what they have seen before.
What have been some of your best collaborations so far?
I have had amazing collaborations with many brands. On the part of comedy, I appreciate my colleagues, such as Nosa Afolabi, aka Lasisi Elenu; Adebowale Adedayo, aka Mr Macaroni; Chukwuebuka Amuzie, aka Brainjotter; and Emmanuel Ejekwu, aka Mr Funny. Collaboration is something that has helped me.
However, I would say my favourite project is my current one with Wande Coal, though I still have some projects I am working on that would surprise everyone when they come out. For one of the projects, I featured a fellow lover boy.
Do you see yourself still branching into other areas of the entertainment industry?
I am also an actor and I have acted in two movies that are on Netflix— ‘Passport’ and ‘Lockdown’. I have some others with Nkem Owoh, aka Osuofia, as well, and they will be released next year.
Beyond the obvious, what roles has social media played in your career?
Social media has helped my career in several ways. I am sure many people would not have known me if not for social media. Going online to showcase myself is easy. All I just need to do is act and make money online. It is now easy to make money online, as long as one has the talent. Social media helped to kick-start my career in directing, acting and promoting my content without disturbing everyone. Forget about the negativity it (social media) brings, one can easily learn a lot and make money from it.
What message would you like to pass to fans through your kind of music?
I am big on love, so I am trying to let this generation that does not believe in love to know that it actually exists. I am also a motivational person, even though I might not come across as one.
I want to use my music to motivate people. I also try to use my skits to inspire people and raise their spirits, because life is very beautiful, even though it has its lows.
What is your take on the current state of the entertainment industry?
The entertainment is now grown/mature. Musically, we are doing well. Nollywood is also amazing, and I know that with time, we will grow some more, but we are doing fantastically well at the moment.
Afrobeats music is the new trend worldwide, and I cannot wait to see what the next few years hold.
Do you interact with veterans in your industry, or do you keep strictly to your peers?
I don’t restrict myself to only my age grade. In fact, I love veterans a lot, because they inspired me. I learnt how to be funny by watching the likes of John Okafor, aka Mr Ibu; Charles Inojie, and Frank Odega. I learnt some gestures from them, so I will always respect them. I am also friends with some of them
Aside from music, do you have any other kind of business?
I am not into business, as I am not a fan of it. It has always been about entertainment for me.
How do you battle creative blocks?
When I started, I did not know how to handle creative blocks, and often feared that my talent had ended. But now, I understand it better, so whenever I am having a creative block, I just play around. Sometimes, I go to the beach with my friends, and have fun, and before you know it, I already have a joke. Before, whenever I had a creative block, I would be depressed and sleep all day, but I handle it well now.
Since when have you had this hairstyle and why did you choose this look?
I am a hairy person, and this is the third time I have cut my hair in two years, and it still grew back so fast. Anyway, I feel like I should have something that makes me stand out as an entertainer, and that is why I chose this style. It is about uniqueness and having a brand.
How would you describe your style?
My style is easygoing. I might come off as a rough guy, but I am decent.
Are you introverted or extroverted?
I am introvertedly extroverted, if there is anything like that.
How did you celebrate Christmas?
I just visited people and had fun. I had not rested for some time. It had been from one show to the other, so I tried to get some rest. I went to some of friends’ houses to eat rice and chicken.
How do you unwind?
I call a few friends, stay at home to chat, watch football matches, play table tennis and go to the beach.
What kind of childhood did you have?
My childhood was amazing. Though my dad is from Osun State and my mum is from Delta State, I grew up in Port Harcourt (Rivers State) and I was an ajebo (rich kid). I was locked indoors a lot. I did not know how to ride a bicycle or how to swim. I did not even watch cartoons on Christmas Day.
However when I was 16 years old, my mother opened a well equipped studio for me.
Tell us about your educational background.
I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom State. For my secondary school education, I attended Eastern Comprehensive High School and Ogba Comprehensive High School; both in Omoku, Rivers State.
If you were not an entertainer, what career would you have chosen?
If I was not a musician, I probably would have been a photographer.
Source: The PUNCH