The class clown
Falz has been interested in entertainment since his high school days. It was never just music or just acting, he always found a way to combine his talents in a comedic fashion. He explains being a part of a group called “Schoolboys”, they would make music and perform to groups of friends at Olashore secondary school in Osun State.
He explains, “We were gaining quite some ground in school. We had a few groupies…there was a time we used to steal jokes from Night Of A Thousand Laughs. We used to watch it at home and come to school to crack people up. It was the way we cracked the joke that made it funny.”
He began to develop his entertainment personas, which he later combined into the brand we all know as, Falz the Bahd Guy.
The alter ego
The artist talks about his persona being an influence of the people he encountered or that he found funny while he was growing up. He says, “Initially it started off as just making fun of people and it was just something that stuck and I found that I had developed a complete alter ego.”
Falz’s music stands out due to his comedic trademark broken English infused into music. According to Falz, “I don’t want to make a song just because, I try to preach and teach with my music. I think it’s about making music with substance…Most of the time I already have an idea and then I hear the beat. I then try to put the concept on the beat; if it flows then I can work with it. Sometimes, it is the other way around when the beat sounds so nice and I have to work with it.”
While we are more familiar with Falz the musician, he is also widely recognised as Segun from Funke Akindele’s series, Jenifa’s Diaries. When he is acting, he steps out of Falz the artist into his alter ego whom he calls “Brother Taju”. Similarly to Falz, Brother Taju is a calm, funny, witty character, who also speaks in a broken English language, which is unique to his personality.
He explains the third component of his original personality, Folarin who he describes as “the well-spoken, eloquent, barrister.” When we strip down his characters to bare essentials, we get Folarin Falana, the barrister and son of famous lawyers.
Who is Folarin Falana?
The man behind it all is Folarin Falana. Far from a bad guy but a shy intelligent lawyer who claims to be totally single! While we once heard rumours about Falz getting up close and personal with singer Simi after the release of his EP, Chemistry, the rumours have since died off.
Although he talks about having a lot of things he needs to achieve in order to be ready for a relationship, he says that his perfect girl “has less to do with the looks and more to do with the personality. So intellectually sound, really smart, very ambitious with a great sense of humour and just really caring.”
Folarin’s interest in law started from a young age, as both his parents are activist lawyers. His father is Femi Falana, who ran for governorship of Ekiti State in 2001. He emphasises being “influenced” rather than ”forced” to join the family profession. He says, “I think growing up, in school friends would be calling me lawyer already, they knew that my dad and my mum were lawyers, so that I think it directed me towards that path.”
After studying at Reading University and completing the Nigerian Bar, he practised law for two years and expresses absolute respect for the course. He explains, “I think law is very challenging, it develops your analytical mind and that is something that really helps me in my day to day life.”
The lawyer expands on his personal objections to the system when he says, “I think judges need to be more firm and strict when they know people are abusing the court process. We also have corruption of judges as well.”
Besides his strong opinions on the Nigerian legal system, the artist has been vocal about other issues he finds pressing. In an interview he conducted with Hip TV, Falz talks about artists who use their music to glorify fraud due to influence it might have on younger generations. He also expands on Nigerians being treated poorly in foreign countries with a personal encounter he experienced in Kenya. According to the artist, he went on holiday with a group of friends and they were detained because of their Nigerian passports. The officials stated their reason being “-all Nigerians come here for is cyber crime.”
Dealing with the fame
2016 was a year of bliss for Falz. He won several awards for his music, hosted the Headies Awards Ceremony, he put himself in the international limelight after he won Best International Act at the BET awards. He explains, “I think 2016 was definitely one of my most remarkable years. The BET award was a category that required people to vote for me and a lot of people really voted for me. Seeing that I had that kind of support and people behind me was the most exciting thing about that.”
Contrary to popular belief, being an entertainer is a tasking job, gaining recognition is even harder and staying on top in the saturated industry puts immense pressure on artists. Falz explains, it is tough to get recognised because the music industry is very saturated… There is new music coming out every single day, so you have to try and catch up, you have to be on a very similar pace if not you’ll get left behind. So for someone new coming up, you have to really be special.”
The artist also describes the pressure of being constantly in the spotlight. When asked how he handles the craziness of the fame, he says, “it gets very hectic and stressful, sometimes you just want to be by yourself and have a quiet day but it’s not possible. You might run into fans and you’re not having a good day, but they need to take pictures and they need to hear you talk.”
Through it all, the artist describes being passionate about his work. “If you are passionate about something or if you enjoy doing something you won’t get tired of it.”
Creative Direction: Beatrice Porbeni
Photographer: Niyi Okeowo
Styling: John Angel