Korede Bello, the boyishly handsome, guitar-wielding singer and songwriterannounced his arrival on the Nigerian music scene in 2014 with two songs- Cold Outside and African Princess.
The “Godwin” crooner began to command attention after his infamous “Korede Bello wink” in the music video for Dorobucci, a chart-topping song by Mavin Record artistes. After a slew of hits and endorsements, the 21-year-old musician released his anticipated 11-track debut album, Belloved on Sunday. The album, which surprisingly has no features, boasts impressive production credits from Don Jazzy, Baby Fresh Cobhams Asuquo and Altims. In this exclusive chat with PREMIUM TIMES, the soft-spoken artiste speaks about his music career and album
PT: What is the idea behind your album title?
Korede: The title of my album, Belloved, is coined from my name, Bello, and the scripture; “…this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased…” The album spans spans seven years. Also, the track, Favourite Song, that I recorded with Cobhams was written 10 years ago and it took so long to be recorded because I had to be sure about who would produce it.
PT: That is such a long time. Weren’t you under pressure to release an album?
Korede: No, I don’t think it’s a long time because I have been blessed with so much even without dropping an album. For instance, you will be surprised to know that most of my shows are up north and I have gotten used to it. The southerners are more particular about the hit songs, but in other climes they are more particular about everything-the total package.
PT: ..and you also wroteFavourite Song for eight years?
Korede: It had to do with the right timing. Songs are like spirits and if you put them out prematurely it might not work out. And it doesn’t mean that it is not a good song or wont achieve commercial success. Favourite Song is a very dear to my heart and that is why for many years I had to spice it up. Some years ago, I hit Cobhams up and decided to work on it. This doesn’t mean I can’t work on the spot after all I wrote Godwin in two days. The amount of time you spend on a song doesn’t really determine the success of a song.
PT: Which of your songs surpassed your expectations?
Korede: I was aware of the potential of the track, Do Me Like That, but my immediate environment didn’t see it becoming a hit. With regards toGodwin, I knew that it would become a hit. I also knew that Romantic was a sweet song but I didn’t think it would appeal to guys. But, I was wrong. I got the inspiration and the melody for Do Me Like That while we were travelling to Dubai for Tiwa’s wedding. I recorded the melody in my phone and I developed the song during the flight. I forgot all about it when we arrived Dubai. While going through the voice notes on my phone two years later, I found it, called my producer, Altims at 3a.m. and we both recorded the song.
PT: Not many are aware that you are currently a student at Nigerian Institute of Journalism?
Korede: I am currently in my final year at the NIJ. I was supposed to be writing my project but I have been busy writing my musical project as it were. I am in the business of mass communicating my ideas to the world through social media. I try to apply all that I am taught in journalism school in my music and in engagement with my fans.
PT: Do you hope to fall back on journalism when music no longer pays?
Korede: I will always be involved in music even if I don’t put out any song. I intend to own some media platforms in future but I will always be in the music sphere except God says otherwise. I am a student of journalism but am slave to music. I nursed a dream to become a radio presenter in the past but music is my passion for now.
I plan to star in some Nollywood films as I have been presented some scripts, which I am presently considering. But I have just dropped my debut album and I want people to see me as musician enough before I veer into movies.
PT: How do you juggle your studies and your music career?
Korede: It has not been easy but I’m grateful to God for giving me the passion for music and education. It has sort of kept me on my toes.
PT: You were a budding artiste and now a super star even as a student of NIJ. Are you treated specially in school?
Korede: I am grateful that I am still in NIJ if I were in a University of Lagos undergraduate it would have been harder to manage fame because of the frenzy. NIJ allows me be myself, everyone knew me as a wannabe musician who became a star. My lecturers have been really supportive of my career. I am not a stubborn student so they don’t have any issues and they help me maintain my sanity.
PT: African Butterfly and Romantic Song are two very romantic tunes in your album. Did you write it with any lady in mind?
Korede: I consider myself a Mr. Romantic so I don’t write the songs with any lady in mind. I simply pictured myself performing it to a bevy of beauties while writing the song. Favourite Song was however dedicated to someone special whose identity I can’t reveal. I am currently very single but ready to mingle when I find the right person.
PT: What are some of the challenges you currently grapple with?
Korede: Alternative genre artistes find it hard to achieve commercial success or have a huge following like pop artistes. The pop market is saturated and everyone currently sound alike and it is such a huge challenge. We really need to develop the fan culture here in Nigeria such that fans can actually support their favourite artiste’s career by purchasing his or her works.
PT: Why did Don jazzy produce four tracks in your album?
Korede: It wasn’t pre- planned and the tracks were included in the album by chance. Don Jazzy believes in giving other producers an opportunity to shine or produce songs because he believes he wont always be available to produce songs.
We have both recorded over 50 songs together and the four that made the album weren’t planned.
PT: In what ways have your sound evolved through the years?
Korede: My style has grown so much and changed over the years. You can also tell from my album that there has been some level of growth and evolution in my style and voice. My voice sounded very tiny when I joined Mavin and I recall that I was mistaken for a girl when I sang African Princess and my verse in Dorobucci.
PT: How long do you hope to do music for?
Korede: True artistes never really retire. Music is not like a 9-5 job however a time will come when I will cease to be commercially relevant. I will always be involved in music in decades to come and remain in people’s faces because my brand is multifaceted. I can do so many things aside from my music.
PT: Which artiste are you dying to work with?
Korede: I’m dying to work with the popular English singer-songwriter, Ed Sheeran because he is a talented storyteller.
PT: You achieved fame at a very young age. Is handling it any easy?
Korede: Fame is a very dangerous and intoxicating drug. No one tells you about the side effects of fame when you are getting into it. It is equally a powerful and poisonous drug if you are not careful with it. I am thankful to have people around me who help me to stay sane. Fame can also signify that an artiste’s career is about to end. The moment a budding artiste finally becomes famous, the countdown to his “end” begins. Mind you all, he was a musician all along with no pressure whatsoever. But, the moment you became famous, you have to keep up with the yearnings and expectation of your fans, impress, sacrifice and begin to bother about longevity.
PT: So, does fame scare you?
Korede: Yes, I am afraid of fame. I said a prayer before I started music, which is that God shouldn’t let me lose sight of my purpose. When an artiste has a clear-cut purpose, he won’t will lose sight of it even when he is yet to achieve anything substantial.