Vanessa Obioha has narrated her encounter with the Nigerian entertainment superstar, Sound Sultan. The maverick music star, introspective and futuristic in style, sound and sentiments marked his 18th anniversary in the music industry with a musical, ‘The Jungle Story’
He had barely sat at the table when a young man approached him. He shook hands with Sound Sultan and began chatting with him as if he was an acquaintance. Next, he brought out his phone and drew closer to Sultan for a selfie. Then he paused, took one look at Sultan’s face and decided it would be better the artiste remove his sunshades and fez cap.
“Baba abeg comot your glasses so that dem go know say na you,” he pleaded with the artiste who showed no sign of irritation. It was important that he got a selfie with the ‘real’ Sound Sultan in case his colleagues at work doubt him.
After the photo-op, he asked with uncertainty: “Baba I go like get your number make I just holler you. You go fit give me?”
Could that be Sound Sultan’s ‘real number’ he gave to the young man who identified himself as Uche?
“Yes, it’s my other line. I have had it for 16 years.”
Wasn’t he bothered that he would be swarmed with phone calls?
“I’m used to it. It’s normal. I get such (calls) every day. It’s really no pressure because if I don’t want that, I wouldn’t be on TV.
“There was one time when we were little that my father took us to the Trade Fair show. We were going from one stand to the other. Then, I saw Soni Irabor. I just left my father and started walking after Irabor, just looking at him. I was ‘jazzed’. Meanwhile, my parents were looking for me. Until I heard my name being announced through the public address system that I start running back to them.
“My family was like what is wrong with me. I told them that I just saw Soni Irabor. That impression of my reaction to Soni Irabor made it easier for me to understand my fans,” he recalls.
It took Sultan a while to focus on the interview. His phones were ringing constantly. His musical show, ‘Jungle Story’, to mark his 18 years in the entertainment industry just ended few days ago and he is yet to recover from the physical stress of it all. He also had to catch up with 2Baba’s rehearsal for the Buckwyld n Breathless show where he also performed.
Between answering phone calls and replying to text and WhatsApp messages, he managed to field questions.
To fully understand Sultan’s staying power in the industry is to critically examine the different layers that embody his persona. Born Olanrewaju Fasasi, Sultan’s first music love was rap. But today, he has metamorphosed into a singer-songwriter. His style of music is not boxed into any genre. He came into the spotlight in 2000 when he released the hit single, Jagbanjantis. The song was a satirical look on topical issues in the country which was then embracing democracy.
The music industry too was churning out new hip hop stars like the Plantashun Boiz, Remedies and a host of others. With his big brother Baba Dee paving way for him in the industry, Sultan soon had the klieg lights on him. Jagbanjantis also fetched him a recording deal with Kennis Music where he produced four albums. He would later leave the record label and team up with his brother to form the Naija Ninjas, what he described as a sort of empire.
So far, he has produced about seven albums in his nearly two decades spanning career. He is also a comedian and actor. He recently co-produced a Nollywood flick ‘Head Gone’ alongside his brother which is enjoying great views on the online streaming platform Netflix.
With all these glowing titles, Sultan appears to be caught in the middle. His name is not always flashed on major news headlines, or has he moved to Lekki axis which is somehow the hub of A-list celebrities. He still lives in Festac where he and the likes of 2Baba found their true calling.
The perception in the public is that he is yet to get the desired appreciation. But the artiste thinks differently.
“I think I have. I don’t judge by how high. I judge by how long. If I’m able to celebrate 18 years on stage, there are people who have received loud ovation but are no more around. The best things are when things grow organically on people. It is the best. I am very satisfied with where I found myself and most importantly, everybody has their own part to play when it comes to purpose or the industry.
“My purpose is to be like fine wine. For me, people will always look at me and tell me what they think, but they are all wrong. Most people are wrong about me. Those that are close to me know what I am capable of. Over the years people have been able to use my nature to pick one or two things from me. They pick the ones they can easily understand. They pick that and they run with it and I am fine with that,” he explains.
Sultan often likes to see himself as an inexhaustible well that will not take glory from the source of water.
“It is always God,” he enthuses. “Some people will say this person is always talking about you. Those are the people that know me deep down. They know the level of creativity is not something I can brag about because I don’t even know where it’s from. That is why you see me talk or do less to appear flamboyant because there is a bigger purpose I feel like I owe to the person giving it to me. I have to be me and also be strategic in the way I celebrate myself. I’m not the type to blow my trumpet. I think there is no class in that.”
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