As i write, I’ll like to pretend that it’s not cliché to start by saying that men that came before me have laid the foundation for an overall success, stating emphatically that life is best lived “one-step-at-a-time”. But to be quite frank and real, it hasn’t been as easy as the creation of a flawless comic plot. I have had to sleep hungry by financial compulsions; work beyond the hours; and enjoy being disappointed by people. But most importantly, I’ve come to know where poverty, pain, and negligence live and have decided that -we just can’t be NEIGHBORS!!! lLOL!)
So here’s the trailer. 2004 professionally, was my first studio outing at “Quest Media” it felt like I was lifted from the suburban areas into NEW YORK. I just wanted to experience it all at once. Here I met a guy named “Blast”. I walked into this studio as a rapper, spitting what to me, were “sick-lines” with so much confidence. I was looking to make just *one* major hit that would probably feature some of the already prominent rappers like Mode9 and a few others. But BLAST looked at me and without mincing words he said “I don’t think you can Rap”. It’s an awesome thing that we can laugh about it now, because then………..”It really wasn’t about his humor”
One random evening at the same studio, I was singing without being too loud or too discreet. Anyway, Blast must have heard me somehow. He walked in with this huge smile on his face as he wriggled his index finger in my face. He was like “Morell, This is it! This is Music!!”
At that moment, I realized that someone was seeing me, in a way even I couldn’t see.
Blast and I recorded a couple more songs where I had to sing and he seemed to be very interested and almost more enthusiastic than i was. Mid-point, his uncle heard some of the songs we had recorded, liked it! and even instructed that on no occasion should I pay for studio sessions. This was the beginning of faith in my self and confidence in my music. (Obviously OLUWA was involved!!)
Then again came Blast with a speech that invaded the room about a man called AKON. According to him there was a recurrent similarity in our style of music and all he wanted of me was to listen to him and when I did, I allowed his music mentor me without making me lose what made me “MORELL”… Then I started doing hooks and all those rappers that I was itching to work with started looking for me. (At this point, I had learnt that when a Man finds himself, it becomes easier for others to see him)
In 2006, RuggedMan was invited to my school for a college performance, I had several opportunities that same day of introducing myself to him but for some reasons I wanted to let things happen and not assist fate. 2007 came and he was invited to an album launch in abuja, RuggedMan must have liked what he heard when he took with him the album that I was featured in and that was it. Weeks passed…. then came word that RuggedMan was looking for me. Apparently, he was. He wanted to work with me. (I couldn’t believe it. Occasionally, I would pinch myself for a consciousness check ; but it was real) I was going to be featured on Ruggedmans album!! Mr Seth produced the song “MOVE SOMETHING” with (RuggedMan Introducing Morell) -this was surreal and amazing to me!!
DOWNLOAD Move Something
RuggedMan gave “MORELL” a voice. He pushed me from my level of contentment with what I had achieved and made me see that “ANYTHING” was possible. I was for a while the topic and yardstick of youthful stardom, nearly everyone wanted to be around me and hear how I moved from just being “that” boy in college to the person who had done a song with the high and mighty RuggedMan. I was still in school so Ruggedman’s proposal to sign me was an incredible offer but at that time, there wasn’t that conviction to completely leave school for music. It didn’t just seem right.
After a while, I released another song (STOLEN) just for people in school to have on their phones and just circulate to others locally using their bluetooth and infrared. The idea was just to create an institutional presence and buzz so that the name Morell would stay with them. Then I came to Lagos, primarily for my internship and because RuggedMan insisted that I would come with him to the HipHop World awards. I was staying somewhere in ikeja with Ejiro who was my manager at the time and it was exactly an hour to the commencement of the show and yet no word or ticket from RuggedMan.
We ended our discussion about something relatively stupid and delved into something a little more than abrupt. We found ourselves arguing about “Naeto C and Jeremiah Gyang” who was more prominent. My side of the argument held that both were equally good. But the at the time, Naeto C had shot a video for his song which gave him an edge over Jeremiah whose music was known but there wasn’t a face or personality tied around his music. It wasn’t more than 25mins later I received a call from “Ashton Kutcher” because it definitely wasn’t Naeto C calling! Whoever was pulling this fast one on me, must have been watching me the whole time. Either way, I picked up and he asked where are you? I told him, then he said he was going to be in Lagos in an hour and that he wanted me to meet him up. Truthfully, I was not convinced that it was Naeto C but when I went to the place he’d asked me to come to, right before me was Naeto C standing and then my speech failed me-I literally went dumb!
The Mystery behind this entire episode was that Naeto had been to Quest media to see a family friend who I had worked with in Abuja, Naeto loved my work and said he wanted to meet with me.
He took me to Don Jazzy’s place so that he could hear what I had. Like a Hustler that I was, I had my CD in my back pocket and brought it out on Don Jazzy’s demand. You know how you never know what Jazzy’s next move is because his facial expression is always like “Cool story bro” (Lmaoo!) the general outlook of things were looking up except for my guy Wande who was at a corner frowning his face…. (Buahhahahahahhahahaha!) jokes.
Just walking down with Naeto, Ikechukwu was incredible. I was busy praying one paparazzi would just get a close-up shot of this moment. Like that was enough for me. I was ready to go home and just lay on my bed reliving these moments atleast for a month. Naeto C who did me a favor, still paid me for doing me a favor. He took me in as a brother and what he ate, I ate. When he looked at my mismatched outfits, he let me in on a few good clothes for a change and let me choose a footwear from his collection. Very typical of Naeto C (Free Spirited and benevolent).
It wasn’t long after I had returned to school, Naeto called me and said “Morell, I need you to jump on a song…. Just get your ass down to Abuja” and that was how I met another amazing producer TYMix we recorded “Bamilo” and I said all the prayers I could for the song to make the album. And it did. Once again, OLUWA was involved…. (lol)
I started traveling to different states with Naeto and he never ceased to support me with words that improved me and encouraged me to do more than I was. Naeto kept saying Obi Asika liked my voice and he indicated his interest in signing me up. The day came for me to present what I had to Obi Asika. Sincerely, it was my primary concern to impress them, but at the same time I wanted to be myself and do my thing. What did I have? A song titled “Aboki”.
My short while in Lagos revealed a different side of the Northern sect. that I wanted to address. A lot of people didn’t understand the concept behind calling a typical Hausa man an “Aboki” they probably saw it as a degrading tag for Northerners who were illiterates and uncultured. So I wanted to reinstate the true meaning of the word “Aboki” which means -”Friend”.
Without a recorded sound, I already did an album art for the song “Aboki” all dressed like the Hausa man. Already the concept was a draft in progress. When I sang the “Aboki” song to Obi Asika and the crew, they simply Loved it!
Priorities had already been set and Naeto was out in Dublin for his masters. I kept asking him when will I get signed and at a point, I felt I was pushing too hard and then I started writing serious music. From that moment, I felt obligated to start my own stuff. Then I started scouting for a producer who could give me a sound that would perfectly complement the concept of the “Aboki” song. I met with Dr Frabz and what he gave me was good, except that it sounded like MAKOSSA and that wasn’t what I wanted. I also met a couple of other producers and it was either too Hip or too off for “Aboki”. Then I met Jessejagz well, well, well, we also scrapped that one. (Buahhahahahahhahahaha) ma niggah
Then I met Mystro he understood my music, and what angle I was coming from and for the love of originality…..we made free music. Mystro produced Aboki and mr seth prod oxygen which was mixed and mastered by Gospel. As a confirmation of good music I expected some sort of Internet buzz around these two songs so I sent out links to notjustok and they did nothing about my music. I understood.
Gospel asked if I had heard Donaeo’s “Party Hard” and felt we should do a cover for it, it was going to much more refined sound and it got mad love and good buzz. At this point, I felt fulfilled. With all that was happening I felt the need to be in Lagos and just be around people who were more or less like family to me so I decided to move to Lagos in 2010. Well, it didn’t exactly go as planned because I thought I had M.I, JesseJagz and others but it was a bit disappointing. But I managed to learn the art of “selective-dependence” which is all about being independent and also selectively dependent on those who are willing to make your problems theirs without counting the cost. Because truthfully, music has never been a one man army.
DOWNLOAD Party Hard [Remix]
Months passed and then I went back to Abuja to do some more work, then again BLAST introduced me to the CEO of BENTO recordz, he listened to me patiently, listened to my songs critically and he was genuinely interested in me and in what plans I had for the music industry on a long term basis. And without pen and paper he signed me. This was unusual! Nothing I had seen of or heard about in my entire life, I felt indebted to him and the only way I was going to make him happy was to put in more work and just be different from the “Usual”.
We got into a more detailed discussion where I told him that I wanted to do another “Oxygen” I felt the original oxygen was too emotional because I had emptied more emotions than necessary into it. (The song would rather make you feel more depressed than you were before it was played)
Besides, it was simply just too emotional to be a single. He saw reasons with me and we got to work. The new “Oxygen” was recorded with TYMIX.
DOWNLOAD Oxygen [Original]
At this point, my adrenaline screamed “do more and be better at everything”. So I flew back to record “Forgive Them” with Gospel. “Oxygen and Forgive them” were my first two singles under this new record label (BENTO RECORDS)
DOWNLOAD Oxygen [Recent]
DOWNLOAD Forgive Them
Subsequently, i did remix of “Forgive Them” where I featured amazing artistes like Vector, Godwon and Ice Prince. They all had songs that were major sounds dominating the period. Godwon was all out with- Too much money, Vector-kilode, That was also Ice Prince’s Oleku era. We shot a video for forgive them remix, but it was scrapped. The Record label must have felt i was problematic, but the CEO understood that I wanted perfection and to be comfortable with the type of image I came off as.
DOWNLOAD Forgive Them [Remix]
While that was going on, I did couple of songs with up and coming artists. Then one Saturday, Ice called me to be on the song for his album the song was titled “That Nigga” and it was produced by Jessejagz. The image i had was that this song “That Nigga” was going to be a problem, a big hit! Some factors ripped us of the privilege. First the content was explicit so, it couldn’t go far… And then, it was Track 14 on the album
DOWNLOAD That Nigga
2012 was a more promising year, with better resolutions and good speed. Shortly after the year had begun, We travelled to South Africa in February, to shoot another video for “Oxygen”. The Video was directed by Mark hofmyr who is famous for picture-perfect works in Nigeria like “Ba ni ki di – Dare Art Alade” and a lot of other extremely creative videos in Africa and beyond. And when the video was out, I was getting calls; text messages. I would walk into a mall with people staring at me and some, bold enough to come up to tell me they recognized me from the “Oxygen” video and other fancy compliments from top artistes too… The feedback was great and amazing! This was one song that brought me back, after it felt like it had died in 2011
I decided to just take a break and have fun. So i dropped my own fun version of Oliver twist remix with Gospel on the beat. I just basically did that because as always, Jazzy has never ceased to wow people with amazing beats so i said to myself, why not mess around with this song which has become the newest epidermic? And i did and it was so much fun!! people kept saying “he killed it”
DOWNLOAD Oliver Trips [Oliver Twist Remix]
With the turn out of things and the upsurge of success, it was an encouraging factor to do more, and drop more songs. So during a meeting with the CEO of Bento Records we agreed to test-run three songs that we taught were just “ok” compared to several others you would call “INCREDIBLE”
So we dropped
> kosi pressure
> Fire burner
The comments on music blogs are ways for artists to evaluate your music progress and to know people’s perspective on it. The comments i got were shocking!!!! The most interesting comment was one from “notjustok” it said…….. (What if I told you that Morell had no Wackness in his DNA, would you believe? Well, the guy has dropped a number of singles in the past which were very impressive. Yesterday, he officially released 3 singles and each track has a totally different sound from the other, but he delivers each tune as you want to hear them; the ideal way. You should definitely sit down and listen to each track, they all evoke different sets of emotions and are very enjoyable to the ear.I believe that as time goes on and with a good machine/label to push him, Morell can easily become a household name in the Naija music scene. The boy is super talented.)
My journey so far, has been from one level of satisfying success to an extended measure of defined success because daily I remind myself to challenge my music, and be better at it. On a lighter note, Kosi pressure has become a household name for no wahala…
I know, I know, I’m modestly blowing my trumpet!, (LOL) Also, On Blackberry countdown, it came to up to number 2 and as an artiste you know how good it feels to know that people love what you’re doing and are enjoying it. The feeling was majorly soothing. Under BENTO Records again, we shot Kosi Pressure video with Patrick ellis… (watch this space for it)
The journey hasn’t been easy, but since we learn from other peoples experiences, since we become more sensitive to building memories that will not only inspire us, but also others who will step into even bigger shoes than ours then I’m even more grateful to share these experiences with you. This is just me saying that what you have seen is only a fragment of what I’m willing to give, it’s me being thankful to people who looked at me when I had nothing and gave me these memories that have become unending stories of success. To bloggers who went out of their way to find something good to say, words are not generous enough to define how grateful I am.
To people who took out time to broadcast the links to my songs or download it or even talk about it, you are the reason why Morell’s music is here to stay. There are lots and lots of things and changes that would happen from this moment onwards and I am happy that somehow each and everyone of you were significant in marking my experiences so far.
The journey actually just started and I have no agenda, no intentions of fitting into whatever standards that there are. I’m all about doing “ME” and for those who regard originality, the concept of “ME” should be enough.