His songs; “Skibo,” “Oluchi” and “Knockout” are getting massive airplay and topping music charts right now. He even featured on Tonto Dikeh’s latest release titled “Sheba.” “One in a Million” crooner, Joshua “Solidstar” Iniyezo is one extraordinary ghetto Superstar amongst his peers.
Born and raced in – once Nigerian rave-of-the-moment music hub – Ajegunle, he started off performing in street shows and festivals till he was discovered by Achievas music boss, Ossy Achievas in one of the shows.
Two weeks after being signed to the label, Solidstar featured the legendary 2Face Idibia on his hit single “One in a Million” that shot him to the fore of the industry. He said he will forever be grateful to the legend who did not hesitate to jump on the track of an unknown ghetto boy and even followed him down to Osun State for the video shoot.
Solidstar followed the single up with “Confuse” which became another instant hit and dropped the “One in a Million” album to complement the buzz he already created for himself. He has the CEO of his label to thank for his unique style of music because according to him, it was Ossy that tutored him and changed the style with which he made music prior to their meeting.
Solidstar hails from the Isoko minority ethnic group in Delta State. He lived with his grandmother because his parents separated when he was still very young. He attended Goriola Primary and Oshodi Secondary School, Tolu Complex, Olodi Apapa for both his primary and secondary school education but could not further his education due to funds – all of which turned around as fortune for him when he decided to focus on his musical talent.
He has performed at several shows and has been nominated for several awards including NMVA 2010 (Nigeria Music Video Awards), SSMA (South South Music Awards), and also won the 2011 GNA (Global News Awards) as the Most Promising Act of the year.
In this chat with Alex Amos, Entertainment and Features Editor at OnoBello.com, Solidstar reveals what makes him solid, his optimism about the distribution network of Nigerian music and also, his take on Super Eagles exit from the Confederation Cup in Brazil.
OB: So can you tell us about yourself, your background, education, family and where you hail from?
SS: I’m from Delta state, Isoko tribe. I was born into a family of four, I’m the last child. I was born and brought up in Ajegunle, grew up with my grand mum because my parents separated when we were very little. Grandma is late now, so sad that she's not here to enjoy the fruit of her Labour but I’m sure she's proud of me where ever she is now. Dad was a military man, he's late too, did my secondary school education in Tolu Complex, Oshodi Secondary School but couldn't further because of funds, so I had to follow my first love which is music.
OB: Since when have you been making music before your breakout into the industry?
SS: I started music officially in 2008, I was doing the Ajegunle style of music, I recorded like 2 songs that I was performing at carnivals and street shows because it was the only way I could promote myself then, and I met Ossy Achievas, the guy that signed me from one of the street shows.
OB: When did you realise this talent you have can become a source of livelihood?
SS: When the likes of my mentor 2Face, Daddy Showkey and others started making huge money from it (Laughs).
OB: We’re sorry about your father and grandmother, but what was their reaction, your mum too, when you told them you want to pursue this career?
SS: They had no say because to them, it’s your life and whatever you chose to do as long as you love it and you are making money from it, it's no problem.
OB: Why the stage name “Solidstar”?
SS: My grand mum was calling me that, so I adopted it when I finally chose to follow the path of music.
OB: “One in a Million” was your ticket into the industry but can you remember the very first song you recorded as an artiste?
SS: (Laughs), yeah I can. The song has no title and it was so wack compared to what you are getting from me now… I would sing the song but I’m wondering how you will put it into writing (laughs).
OB: How did that feel, you know, recording your first song? Has it strengthened what you have become today?
SS: It motivated me, in the ghetto, I stood out because of my voice, I knew with more practice and a good tutor, I will become better and that is what I am now.
OB: Who were the main influences that helped kickstart your journey into music?
SS: I had always been in love with 2Face Idibia’s music; I also listen to Kelvin Little, R.Kelly, P-Square and Akon.
OB: As an upcoming artiste back then, working with 2Face must have felt like a dream come true, can you tell us about the experience?
SS: I was so happy because it happened like 2 weeks after I got signed. It increased the love I have for 2Face because I admired the humility. He accepted to record with a very poor unknown ghetto kid, even the ghetto superstars then couldn't get 2Face on their song. I can't explain how happy I was; he even travelled with us to Osun State for the video shoot.
OB: There was a particular track on your first album titled “Confused.” That song stood out, was it from a personal experience?
SS: Yeah, it happened to a friend of mine so I wrote the song with his story.
OB: You mentioned earlier that you met Ossy Achievas at a street show; can you tell us more about that?
SS: I was performing at a street show and he came there scouting for talent. I got lucky that he liked my performance so he invited me over to his place. He had me record different songs but he didn't really like my style, he was just fascinated with my voice, so he tutored me and changed my style to what I do now.
OB: You have a range of hit tracks out there presently, like “Omotena,” “Skibo” (which is another very massive song), “Oluchi,” “Knockout,” the collaboration with Tonto Dikeh – “Sheba,” etc, when should we be expecting another album?
SS: I’m dropping my next album soon, like you mentioned, I already have enough songs to go for it. There is no date yet but it will come with an album concert and tour. It's going to be massive!
OB: Talking about album, you were the first to package an enhanced audio CD album, should we be expecting the same on your next?
SS: My record label will decide that, but really, I don't think it's necessary. Nigerians now buy digital music through iTunes and spinlet, with platforms like that, we now make money from our music, imagine making over 5million naira from online sales only from one single in less than 3months, the music is paying now, and Alaba is helping too, piracy has reduced.
OB: So we can say Alaba does not have the monopoly of the market any longer, what is your take on album pricing at N150 per 1 in Nigeria?
SS: Hiking the price will mean not wanting everyone to be able to afford your music. It’s due to the country’s economy. I think it's okay for now.
OB: Your songs have a lot of reggae influences, what informs this?
SS: I grew up listening to reggae music because it was once the biggest type of music in Nigeria back then. And I love the melody of reggae because it is a universal tune.
OB: Does your reggae influence have anything to do with the reason you wear dreadlocks?
SS: No, I just love dreadlocks, I was born with it, they cut it off when I was little so I had to to go back to it now that am old enough to make decisions
OB: Which artiste will you like to feature from the international arena if you had the chance?
SS: A lot! Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Chris Brown, Neyo, Meek Mill and Kelly Rowland… anyone from this list.
OB: You are a very stylish person, can you define your fashion style?
SS: No, not really but I never follow trends. I’m always simple and I wear what I’m comfortable with.
OB: What do you do when you are not working?
SS: Ah! I play Fifa13, I love video games. I also hang out with friends sometimes, play football and visit family.
OB: Give us a rundown of your day starting from when you get up from your bed
SS: (Laughs) I wake up, do a 100-press-up, brush, make noise, shout and disturb the neighborhood (laughs), try to produce a beat and that will take like 3hours, eat, and go back to work until sleep calls.
OB: What do you think the super Eagles did wrong that caused their exit from the Confederation Cup in Brazil?
SS: The boys tried oh… I won't judge them!
OB: Do you have a girlfriend?
SS: Many! (Laughs).
OB: What are your immediate future plan, any project, upcoming shows, endorsement etc?
SS: I’ve got quite a lot coming up – Grace and Glory album concert & tour; the rest will be communicated to you once it's concrete. Thank you!
Follow @Solidstarisoko on Twitter.