Nigerian music artiste, Osayamwen Donald popularly known as Djinee is best known for his 2004 monster hit, ‘Ego’.
Although he released other songs like ‘I No Dey Shame’ and also featured in a couple of songs by Chocolate City, none of these singles could match the success of his hit song, Ego.
He was involved in a ghastly car accident on August 27, 2018, in Lekki, Lagos, and described his survival as a miracle
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, he speaks about his career, the accident among other issues.
PREMIUM TIMES: How did you come about your hit song ‘Ego’?
Djinee: At the time, I made ‘Ego,’ big shout out to Cobhams by the way, he produced the song, I think I was just about to leave the University or I had left, I can’t remember now. But I know that I had written the song, I just wanted to write a song that showed my songwriting abilities and a song that will really show off my voice also. I know they were a lot of songs by that time that was really up-tempo songs but I knew that the song I’m about to pull out, though I wasn’t sure whether it would be a hit, I was sure if you listen to it you will feel something and that was how I came out with the song ‘Ego’. I really want to make a song that was deep, and that talked about love and not blaming anybody for the loss of love and that’s how I came about the song ‘Ego’ and till today, I haven’t regretted writing the song.
PT: At the time you went off the radar, what did you do to stay afloat?
Djinee: When you say went off the radar, it’s funny because I don’t think I ever went out of the radar. As an artiste, you have periods when you release music and periods when you make music so you never really go out of the radar. After I made ‘Over-killing’ in 2010/2011, I released singles and of course the success of ‘Over-killing’ meant that any other song I release would have the same publicity, but of course, I didn’t give it the same publicity because the support I got when releasing ‘Over-killing’, I didn’t get on those singles. Between 2011 and 2013, I released two singles then I released another one in 2013, so I have never really gone off the radar per se.
Of course, in 2013 I travelled, I had a couple of gigs outside the country and then. Also, I had to really find myself as a musician because at the point the music I released after ‘Over-killing’, as a musician, I don’t think I was in my element. So I felt I was losing my way as an artiste and it happens to every creative.
You always check yourself, you always want to make sure that you are sticking to your reason for being an artiste, so we always check ourselves. You always evaluate yourself which is what I did in 2013, after ‘On Me’ the song I did featuring Munachi Abii, former MBGN Queen. She is a fantastic rapper, we did a song together and after then, I needed to check myself and it took me about two to three years. The next single was in 2016, I released ‘Shout out to my lover’. In 2017, I released ‘Find you’. In 2018, the accident happened and that kept me out. I would say 2018/2019 was the time I was really off the radar because I was healing from my wounds. And in December of 2019, I released my latest single, ‘Stay’.
So sometimes, you will need to really follow me, follow my catalogue of works to understand and check the timeline to know that one hasn’t really been away. Of course, my songs haven’t had the same level of reception and that’s because the promotion has been different but I think I’ve found myself as an artist, I’m growing as an artist. Basically, I’ve just been doing my music and that’s the major thing I’ve been doing. And of course, on the side, I still do my TV shoot, Ads and all that. I do those behind the scene. I’m just a happy musician just making music.
PT: Even though you have started making your comeback moves, do you feel you have a lot of catching up to do?
Djinee: I don’t know what comeback moves are and I don’t know what catching up is. I haven’t lost my audience, I still have my audience. Of course, it’s like money, you always want more. My spot is still there and this is me just being honest, I don’t want to be pressured to thinking I have a lot of catching up to do. I don’t want to jump the gun. I don’t want to pull the cart before the horse. So, basically, I don’t think there is any catching up to do. There are no comeback moves, I’m making music.
Right now Corona has levelled everybody out, we are all trying to find a way to stay afloat. So to be honest, there is no catching up to do. I respect all my colleagues. I don’t think I’m anyway behind. We are different artistes, we make different kinds of music, we play to a different audience and that’s how I want to see my career.
PT: After your accident, you were still very much active on social media, giving regular updates of your recovery. Where did you find the strength to do those things?
Djinee: For me, the accident was a life-changing experience for me. It reinforced a lot of beliefs that I’ve had before, it changed some that were not positive for me. So if I was tweeting about it and talking about it, it was me throwing a lot of positivity into an otherwise negative situation.
The accident was worse than what I even pulled out. A lot of doctors today, when they hear about me especially my internal injuries, are surprised that I’m still standing which is why my answers to a lot of questions you asked earlier are kind of positive because I don’t see negativity. When you say come back, catching up, that’s all a negative vibe. I’m positive and I have a positive outlook. The worst thing that happened to me, happened in 2018. The worst thing that happened to me in my life happened in 2018, there is nothing else that can come close.
So there is no negativity anywhere and that’s why I was tweeting because, before then, maybe I would have felt that ‘Am I doing enough’? No, once you have life, you have everything. I mean when you’re in the grave, there is no catching up, there is no boss, and there is no I’m richer than you. So if I was feeling I’m bigger than one artist tomorrow, 2018 leveled me out. So I just decided, I wasn’t going to lie down, just feeling sorry for myself, no.
PT: What thoughts ran through your mind at the time?
Djinee: I wasn’t sure whether I was going to make it out alive, so I was like let me just be positive even if this is the last positivity I can throw to the world, and then through that experience, I was able to. There were some people that were in similar positions that sent me DM and that’s why I said do not be deceived by Social Media. There was a girl that sent me a message, on her page, she is flexing but this girl is in the hospital bed like me and she told me that the picture she saw that I pulled out gave her hope that if the whole Djinee can do this, so why am I feeling sad and feeling like a failure?
It’s not your fault you’re bedridden. she was in my position too so I tell you, I’m very positive about a lot of things, and that reflected in the news and information I was putting out during my accident and recovery.
PT: You released a single, ‘Stay’ last year, the first after your recovery. What does the song mean to you?
Djinee: ‘Stay’ is a typical Djinee song. It’s just saying I will love you for your flaws and mistakes. It’s the unconditional nature of love which is what I believe love should be. You don’t love people for reasons. You don’t love people because of certain things, because nothing in life is guaranteed. I was recording ‘Stay’ the day I had the accident. I just recorded a verse and a chorus when I had the accident at midnight. I was on crutches when I went to finish the song. It even reinforced my belief that I can be the Djinee people see today, complimenting oh you’re good looking, you’re very fit, and you have a very good body structure. I was the opposite of that during my accident so if somebody was in love with me because of those looks, I was the direct opposite and wasn’t sure when I would get back on my feet again.
So when people talk about love, I laugh because a lot of people talk about love from a place of convenience. It must be convenient to love somebody and that’s not love just say you’re in business and that’s what influenced the song ‘Stay’. And it’s what influenced my other songs.
PT: A lot of people think you probably stopped singing because of your accident but you were still active online after the accident. Why did you relent on releasing songs after ‘Stay’?
Djinee: I released ‘Stay’ around December and we all know Corona has been happening. And if you check my career, I don’t release songs every month or every two months. I’m not a pop artist so my song takes a little longer to make and I fashion my release based on my situation or based on where I am at in my career. I’m not at that place where I need to be releasing songs every month or two months, maybe every four months, yes. I can do that but not every month.
I’m not going to be pushed into releasing a song every month. Every four months maybe. Because I need to take time for the song to grow on people and for people to love the song. Some people are just getting to know about ‘Stay’ now so I’m not going to leave ‘Stay’ and then move somewhere else. And of course, releasing a song, I didn’t think I would stay this long waiting to release a song but the whole Corona thing just put a halt. A lot of people’s lives were stopped midway but I’m hoping that in another month, I will release a single.
PT: Do you find that you do better at stage performance than recording in a studio?
Djinee: For me, I don’t think it’s a case of better. I think I do well on both fronts between stage and recording. Maybe the question should be what’s really enjoyable? For me, I really love stage performance because I can connect to the audience first and feel the audience vibe. So I think it’s what’s more enjoyable. I really love stage performance and that’s why I perform live. I don’t mind, I don’t do what people call chop mouth. I have a band and I love to play with my band, it’s live, it’s organic.
PT: What do you have in store for your fans this year?
Djinee: I’m hoping that I release like two more singles before an album this year. I don’t know if an album will be possible this year. If you had asked me sometimes last year, I would have said an album will be possible this year but with a lot of delays and everything, I’m not sure. But I’m hoping that by November, just before December, I can release an album and a single at least by August. If you don’t get an album, it’s most likely you get an EP.
PT: Will you be collaborating with any top artistes on your new project?
Djinee: Definitely, I have some artistes in mind but I will keep that to my chest because it’s based on confirmation. If you want to mention an artiste now and we don’t get to do it because of one reason or the other and you don’t get to hear it, then you hold me by my word. I have some artistes I’ve spoken to. For us, it’s just the vibe, time, space, and everything but definitely, collaborations are top on my mind.
PT: Back to your accident, did you feel abandoned at the time? Were your colleagues in the entertainment industry supportive or you think they can do better in that regard?
Djinee: As I said, nothing in my accident felt negative, apart from the pains and life threats and uncertainty. When I say nothing was negative, questions like was I abandoned? I never felt that way. In fact, people tried to reach me, and the doctors, because of the nature and the severity of my injuries, refused people meeting me.
I had a bruised lung that’s one of the injuries I had and with the bruised lung, you can’t be laughing, you can’t be too active because you need your lungs and breathing was a problem and all. I didn’t have time to think about being abandoned or not abandoned. I knew the world was moving ahead, I don’t expect anybody to stop their life because I had an accident, and I’m just one person among over 7 billion people.
People are going to move on whether I survive or whether I die. I didn’t feel abandoned. People tried to reach out and I got a lot of messages when I could finally really talk to people. I never felt abandoned in any way. People have their lives to live so I don’t expect people to be up in my business like that. I’m not wired like that to expect sympathy and thank God, I was able to take care of myself financially. I didn’t need anything from anybody so I’m grateful for that.
God was able to take care of my business which is why again, I really hope that Nigeria can be better than it is because not everybody can be like Djinee who can take care of his health bills. It wasn’t cheap. I know I’m digressing but I really hope Nigeria could get better because people die because of the amount that I spent on my hospital bills.
PT: You are one of the good looking musicians out there. How far with marriage?
Djinee: Marriage, I can tell you that marriage will happen but I’m not under any pressure to toe that line. I don’t know about being a good looking musician, I don’t see myself that way. I’m just a musician that’s just a happy go lucky guy. Marriage is something that I just think society tries to force on you, to pressure you for other people’s happiness. You find your own happiness. I’m good. I’m good.
PT: Apart from you, 2face and Sound Sultan, it’s just a few other artistes in your time that are still relevant. How does that make you feel?
Djinee: When people talk about relevance, how do I feel relevant? Relevance is relative. There are some people that will look at an artiste like Saheed Osupa and say he is not relevant. To me, it’s because you are not a Fuji person, because they don’t love Fuji music, Fuji lovers would find him relevant. When you say I’m relevant and some others are not, I don’t believe so. I believe everybody is relevant to their audience. People have their audience and I’ve never really believed in comparison. I believe that everybody has their market, everybody has the people that love them. As long as you have ten people who love you, you’re relevant to ten people. You don’t need to be relevant to the world, you’re good for the people you’re good for. That’s why I say I don’t think myself better than anybody, I’m just happy to be doing music. I’m happy that after this year, I still have people who look out for me, who want to hear me sing. That’s very key for me.
What’s happening in other people’s camp? I don’t want to think about it. I will toe the line of someone like Mayweather. I really don’t want to know who is relevant, I don’t think I’m more relevant than anybody else, everybody has their fans that love their music.
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