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I was always surprised to see Nigerian celebs posting photos of their new Jeep or Toyota on Instagram. Sure they’re good cars but hardly up to the celebrity status, you would think they’d be showing off BMW’s and Benzes. That was the first clue that Naija’s entertainment industry while growing tremendously is no quick ticket to riches.

In an interview with Nigerian Tribune yesterday, Banky W reacted to the Forbes/Channel O list of the Top 10 Most Bankable African artists 2013. He was ranked No. 10. Banky says the Nigerian entertainment industry is more fame than money. When asked how he felt about the list, Banky replied:

“I don’t believe very much in such things. Let’s be honest, the real wealthy people are the businessmen like Dangote and the politicians (some of whom got there by looting Nigeria). They’re the ones with real money. This entertainment business is too much hype. It is more fame than fortune. So I’m not thrilled by it and I don’t think any of us should buy into it too much. I’d rather be wealthy and quiet than famous and broke.”

Read the full interview with Nigeria Tribune below:

What have you been up to recently?
I’ve been working hard, pretty much. On the music side, I’ve been working on collaborations with different artistes.I’ve recently completed really good songs for Black Magic, Sarkodie, MoCheddah, Lynxxx, Ketchup, Victoria Kimani and Vector. Internally (within EME), I’m contributing to Wizkid’s album, as well as projects for Skales, ShayDee and Niyola. Outside of all this, I’ve been giving speeches at various events, as well as working on a couple of potentially great movie projects.

How did the musical journey begin?
It really started when I was a kid. I sang everywhere. From Church, to school and neighbourhood street parties and in many groups. Professionally, it started in 2002/2003 while I was in the University. That’s when I actually recorded for the first time and set up the EME record label independently and started putting music out.

Having lots of hit songs, which song would you say brought you to limelight?
Most people think it all started with the release of ‘Ebute Meta’ (Umbrella Remix) but actually, it began with a song called “My Regret” that came out while I was in the United States of America. That is the song that brought me attention from people all over the world; I won the John Lennon songwriting award in R&B for that song.

What was the inspiration behind it?
Like the majority of my successful songs, the inspiration was drawn from a woman I was intimate with at the time, and the ups and downs of our relationship.

What were your greatest musical influences growing up?
R&B, Hip hop, and African Music. Jay-Z, R Kelly, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Fela and everyone in between.

What would you have been if not an artiste?
I studied engineering in University so I could have stuck with that. Or I would have been an Artist (drawing, painting etc), or a lawyer, or teacher.

Is Banky in a relationship?
Not at the moment.

Tell us something no one knows about you.
I’m not sure how many people know this, but I shave my head and shape my beard myself. I’m my own barber. I’ve been doing it for years. It started when I was in University and didn’t have a lot of money, I learnt to maintain it myself so I didn’t need to spend money on it every week. And now I’m good at it so I’m my own barber. I will probably open a barbershop at some point.

What differentiate you from other artist?
I’d like to think it’s the totality of what I bring to the table, creatively and musically. There are better vocalists than me, for sure. But I not only sing.. I write, I rap, I produce, I entertain… I’m a motivational speaker and philanthropist, I act and I direct. It’d be hard to line up a lot of people who are able to do everything that I do… but of course, we give God the glory and the fans the thanks for letting me be myself.

Coming up at the 10th position of the Forbes rating, how did you feel?
I don’t believe very much in such things. Let’s be honest, the real wealthy people are the businessmen like Dangote and the politicians (some of whomgot there by looting Nigeria). They’re the ones with real money. This entertainment business is too much hype. It is more fame than fortune. So I’m not thrilled to it and I don’t think any of us should buy into it too much. I’d rather be wealthy and quiet than famous and broke.

As the CEO of EME, what challenges are you facing?
My official title is Chairman and Creative Director of EME. And I guess I’m facing the same challenges most label executives face… in that, you have a limited set of resources and a lot of people to look after. So you do the best you can to try and help each Artist achieve his/her dreams under your care.

What is your normal day like?
I try to pray but I definitely need to do a better job at that. At least three or four times a week, I try to put in work-out sessions with my personal trainer. After that it’s a mix of things; meetings, press obligations, social outings and performances or appearances that I’m booked to make.

Banky seems to be humble, what is the secret?
The truth is, the same people who love you and hail you today might be the ones crucifying you tomorrow, so you owe it to yourself to keep a level head. Don’t get too excited by the success, and don’t get too depressed by the failures. I just try to do the best job I can, and I remember my parents and how they raised me, and I surround myself with people that keep me in check (my manager, partners, etc). Some people make the deadly mistake of surrounding themselves with “Yes Men” the minute they become successful and the danger in that is there’s no balance. If everyone around you agrees with everything you do or say, and says you’re the best all the time, you’re taking a risk. Even the President of the USA, the most powerful man on earth, has a system of checks-and-balances in place, with congress and the Judiciary having the power to check him if his actions are too far out of line… how much more us?

How did you manage having a scandal free reputation?
I’d say probably the same reasons I stated above, plus, I carry myself the way I want people to see me and treat me. I’m no saint; trust me, not at all. But I am careful about how much I leave out there because people will use any and everything possible against you to bring you down.

How do you relax?
I try to sneak into the movie theatres occasionally, I hang out with friends and family, I read novels, and I love to travel and just go to places where less people know me so I can walk around and chill.

How do you feel when you are harassed by a fan?
There are times when it can be a lot to handle (like when you’re on a date, or with your parents, etc) but the truth is, it’s better that people want to harass you, or take pictures, or whatever. It’s worse if, as an artiste, you show up and no one notices or cares to disturb you at all. So it shows that you’re doing something right if people want to disturb you; so I definitely appreciate it, and I always try to make sure I honour every request by fans to take pictures or anything of that sort.

What is your take when people speak bad about you and Wizkid?
Jesus Christ was perfect, and people still spoke bad about him to the point that they killed him. How much less you, or me or Wiz? People will always want to say all kinds of things… and these days, people love bad news. And if you don’t give them the bad news, they start to create false bad news just because it’s more interesting. But there isn’t much you can do about it. You just try to be the best person you can be, and keep it moving.

You like hats a lot, why?
I have stopped wearing them a lot because people make too much of a big deal about it; my last CD cover, I went without it, and I do that a lot more these days. However, I really do like hats, and I think they add to my styling and make me stand out from the crowd.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
That is classified information. If I tell you I would have to kill you. (General laughter)

Any album in the making?
I’m actually working on a project now that will show my versatile side… people might not even believe it’s me when they first hear it. I will be doing more rap and more commercial sounding music… the purpose is just to show people that while I love to do R&B, they should never put me in a box and expect me to only do that. I’m versatile and I have a lot I want to show and prove. Stay tuned. I’m really excited about it. In the mean time we’re still pushing singles and videos from the R&BW album though.

What is the gadget you can’t do without?
My Samsung Galaxy S4 phone.

What is the most expensive thing in your wardrobe?
I’m honestly not sure. I don’t put too much value on material things like clothes and accessories.

Tell us your educational background
I went to Corona Primary School, Ikoyi; then Home Science Association Secondary School ,Alakuko, however I did my JSS2 year in Adrao in VI. I did 1 year in Colonie Central High School in Albany New York, and I got a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy New York.

Last word.
To the fans, thank you so much and God bless you all real good.




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