Singer, Ayoleyi Hanniel Solomon, aka Reekado Banks, in an interview with Punch, opened up on his career and relationship with his Mavin Records colleagues
When was the first time you knew you wanted to do music?
There wasn’t a particular day that I decided to do music; it was more like a period. Music was a way for me to get away from boredom. I wrote my Senior School Certificate Examination in 2008, and three months after that, I wrote another exam. As the youngest of my parent’s six children, I was usually the only one at home and the only way I escaped boredom was through writing. I used to write poems, rap lyrics, among other things. Subsequently, I graduated to singing.
What was the reaction of your parents to your music career?
Amazingly, my parents supported me. As the last child, they already had experience in dealing with the career choices of their children. I think I was lucky enough to do what I wanted. As a matter of fact, my father even paid for my first studio session.
What memorable experiences can you recall of your childhood?
I really cannot recall anything that was amazing except my 10th birthday party. I grew up in the Ejigbo area of Lagos but at a point, we had to move when my dad, who is a pastor, was transferred to another part of Lagos.
Does your church background have any impact on your music?
Yes, it does. I grew up listening to church music, so that also prepared me in a way.
What advice did your dad give you when you were going fully into music?
He told me not to leave Jesus.
Have you been able to keep to his advice?
Yes, I have no choice other than to do that. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. I have a good relationship with Jesus.
Were you recording songs before you joined Mavin Records?
Yes. I recorded my first song in 2009 and I had been going to the studio constantly before I got signed to Mavin Records.
How exactly did you meet Don Jazzy?
Sometime in May 2013, Don Jazzy posted on Twitter that up-and-coming artistes should send in their demo CDs. My manager, who is actually my elder brother, was the one who saw the tweet and he brought it to my notice. To cut the long story short, out of 5,000 entries that were sent in, I was the only one that was chosen.
What was your first thought when you were signed by Don Jazzy?
I usually have delayed reaction, so I was quite blank initially. Later, I realised that I was the same Reekado Banks that people were talking about.
How would you describe your experience at Mavin?
Mavin is a family and I’m really happy to be a part of it. I have learnt a lot during my stay here. I have learnt that humility and hard work are important. Don Jazzy has been recording hits for about 15 years, so there are a lot of things to learn from him. And with that kind of person around me, I’m really motivated to keep working hard.
Your debut album, Spotlight, did quite well, how would you assess the response of fans to it?
Firstly, I’m grateful to God that it was the highest selling album on the street in 2016. That was a big one for me because the album was released around September yet it was arguably the most successful album of that year. There were many hit songs on the album that other albums didn’t have. It had hit songs like Problem, Ladies and Gentlemen, Standard, Dangote, Oluwa Ni, among others that topped the charts.
What inspired the song, Dangote?
It was just about having a commercial song with the theme of wanting to be as wealthy as Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.
Apart from Nigeria, in which other African countries do you have lots of fans?
It is amazing. I’m usually surprised when I visit other African countries and I get warm reception. I recently went to Rwanda and I performed for the president of that country. I was amazed that the president knew my song. I’ve also been to Uganda, South Africa, Ghana, Cote D’ivoire, Benin Republic, and other African countries, and the reception is usually great.
It is believed that there is some sort of rivalry between you, Korede Bello and Di’ja; can you clear the air on that?
There is no form of rivalry among us and we see each other frequently; we only have healthy competition. Everybody is constantly trying to record the best song, and it’s not just between me, Korede and Di’ja. It is the same with the whole Mavin crew. Don Jazzy, Altims and Baby Fresh are always trying to produce the best beats. All the artistes also work hard to put out hit records. To a very large extent, that is even one of the things pushing the label.
Are you usually under pressure to put out hit songs?
Honestly, there is no pressure because I am not working with anybody’s time but mine. God has blessed me enough and making music comes easily to me. The pressure I am under is to restrain myself from releasing music as much as I want. I would have loved to release new songs often but I have to space them.
Which do you regard as your most memorable performance?
I’ve had a lot of amazing ones but my performance in Manchester, UK, in 2014 was quite memorable. I didn’t expect that much love. My performance in Rwanda in 2015 was also amazing, and so many of them that I cannot mention. There are lots of shows where I don’t even have to sing my songs because the audience does that for me.
What’s your most memorable experience with a fan?
I once performed at the end-of-year party of a company and after the show, I was required to get on the red carpet to take pictures with the CEO and other executives of the company. There was a particular girl who took pictures with me and she refused to let go. The security tried to take her away but she held on tightly to me, so I had to plead with them to allow her appear in all the pictures.
Do you feel the drama at the 2015 edition of Headies Awards downplayed your win in the Next Rated category?
The fact that I won the award and got a car was amazing, and the spotlight was on me. I am still able to put out hit songs, and now, people that were saying I didn’t deserve the awards are now saying the opposite. Many of my critics have turned to fans.
Have you ever thought of working with Lil Kesh?
I’ve never thought of working with Lil Kesh. But something like that may come up in the future.
Apart from music, what other interests do you have?
I have a lot of projects I’m working on. I’m currently building a secondary school, I’m working on my plantation and I have lots of lands. Those are the things I’m working on for 2017.
Why did you decide to build a school?
My mum, when she was a lot younger, ran a crèche. If she had the money, I’m sure she would have made it bigger than that. I consider building a school a money-spinning venture. There are many people out there that want to go to school and get education. So, it’s partly about helping people and partly about making money.
Is it true that you built a house for your mother?
Yes, I did.
Some people say that Mavin gets the bulk of the money you make through shows, endorsements etc, and that only a meager amount gets to you; is that true?
If Mavin is taking majority of the money, how come I was able to build my mum a house and I’m building a school? I also drive nice cars. It is business, and we knew what we were getting into by signing the contract with Mavin. If I wasn’t comfortable with it, I wouldn’t have signed it.
How do you unwind?
I drink and play video games. I’m a very homely person and I don’t like going out. If it’s not about business, I’m always in my house; mostly in my bedroom. I like to listen to music too.
What kind of girl catches your fancy?
I like a girl who is beautiful, inside and out. The outer beauty is usually the point of attraction. It isn’t until we get to talk that I know that the person has more to offer. I need to know that you can take jokes because I’m very sarcastic so I need somebody that can flow with that. She also has to be really supportive.