Illustration by Ayo Arogunmati
Mr. Ayuba, if you think back over your journey, what do you remember with fondness and what do you regret?
I am actually happy that I introduced a great style of Fuji to Nigeria and Africa, I am happy that the younger generations can get inspirations from my classics or even do remixes of my past songs. It is a good thing to still appeal to every generation of people in the world. I don’t have any regrets as I take everything as a lesson, I do not beat myself over something I missed nor force myself to do something I’d rather not do.
At a young age, you became a professional musician, how certain were you that you would succeed?
What I know is nobody can predict tomorrow. I never knew what would become of me, but I knew I loved music so much I could care less if it made me rich. I enjoy creating and music is what I practically live off and I thank God I am a successful product of the phenomenon.
You gained prominence in the early 90’s, how would you define your impact on Fuji music?
My style of music has made me understand that I indeed stand out. I took the tempo of my style of music to another level and it led to many people loving my style. Before the other tribes in Nigeria began to enjoy Fuji, I brought a sound they could dance joyfully to while also understanding the genre.
I started by introducing 50% of English into 100% of Fuji, which originally was majorly Yoruba language. I provided a good balance of English and Yoruba. It became widely accepted that I was the first ever Fuji musician to perform at a University in Nigeria. It was an unbelievable atmosphere – you should have seen the way the students danced to my songs. These students could easily enjoy my music style as it matched their young and high-spirited personas. I was awarded the ‘Artist Of The Year’ award by the President (Babangida) in the year 1993 because of the impact I made on the genre.
Your voice is very distinct; did you try any other genre of music over your career?
Not at all, I stayed in Fuji although I have done collaborations with artists of other music genre like; RnB, Reggae and Pop.
Why is a live band still an important part of your set?
I am an original artist and I believe in creating and producing divine beats that are made by humans and not machines. It is actually how I’ve been trained and I would not depart from it. Every musician needs his own band so that you’re always in sync with your style and originality. Fuji musicians cannot do without their band.
Technology has changed the way music is consumed and distributed, how has that affected the popularity of Fuji music?
Yes, it has changed a lot of things and the way Fuji music is seen has also been affected but we are always working on keeping up to the latest technology. Right now, we are producing tracks in shorter length instead of having the sub-tracks in one single track extending to 20 mins or more per song. Now, each track is about three to five minutes, which makes it easier to digitize for different streaming platforms and exploit many possibilities concerning Fuji music.
You continue to make music, how have you been able to keep up with what people want to hear?
At the moment, I live in Nigeria and I study the way things are around me and also what goes on in the world. This is how I get different inspirations to write my songs and move with the latest trends.
What quote most resonates with you?
"We did not bring anything to this world so we are leaving this world with nothing" - this quote has helped me relax very well in this life and not put myself through difficult or uncomfortable situation just to achieve material things, I am very well and happy with my life.