Peter Okoye: Raging, Raging Mr P
After decades of dominating Africa as part of P-Square, Peter Okoye's time as Mr P has had him proving his abilities to a hurt fan base.
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Peter Okoye’s people asked us to meet for drinks at the George, a grey, upscale hotel in the heart of Ikoyi, Lagos. The place, very serene and very elegantly representing sophistication in the city, is just the perfect spot for Peter, who has long been at the centre of the city’s flashiness. (How many times have we Lagosians driven past glowing billboards with his face sitting pretty on them?) Here he is—dressed in a blue tee, sweating from the humid afternoon—asking, “How far now?” Asking for water. And asking that we find a cooler space by the pool for our conversation. Now known as Mr P, Peter has recently been hard at work crafting his debut solo project, The Prodigal. It’s his first since 2016, when he pulled out of Psquare, the legendary pop group, after decades of cocreating with his twin.
But individualism has always been a part of Peter, who says he’s always possessed big ideas and has had to endure a lifetime of compromises while working as a team player at Psquare. More than two decades of group work has made him learn to channel some of those grand visions through a collective. A multi-instrumentalist, Peter can hold his own with a guitar, a piano, a production console, even a drum set. With his signature gift of dancing and body contortion, he’s gained an avid following from being a showman. An exhibitionist. Mr Hollywood, with Nigerian flavour.
Few people are dedicated to the craft like Peter. He’s a self-proclaimed perfectionist, pushing himself and his team for far more than conventionality. But you wouldn’t know. He’s generally considered the less talented twin in media conversations. The narrative in the news states that Peter’s creative contribution to Psquare is negligible. He hates that talk, and actively works to escape. There’s talent in his veins, and if spending two decades as one part of the best African pop group in history hasn’t earned him your respect, perhaps his solo achievements—including the artistry on The Prodigal—might inspire a change of heart. “I disappointed a lot of people on my album, I’m not going to lie. I disappointed critics,” he tells me, wiping sweat from his brow. “I see all of them on my YouTube page and they are saying, ‘Bro, I’m sorry o. I didn’t know,’ and I’m like, ‘It’s fine.’ That’s why I say they need to move on. The individuals you are talking about have moved on, what are you still doing?”
That’s why he’s mad when people doubt his raw musical ability. For many years Peter, who originally moved to Lagos from Jos with a diploma in music, operated as a part of a group, planning routines and sets for two people onstage. Striking out solo hasn’t changed anything about his craft. If anything, there’s a freedom to his madness now, he says. “The only good thing now is I’m in a position where I can tell you this is what the fans want, this is what I want the guys to do, this is what I want to do, without any obstruction. The only thing different before was probably if I was performing, there was somebody around me, but I still do the same thing. I still have my backup dancers, I still have my backup singers, I still have everything.”
For a debut album, The Prodigal came rather stacked with 16 tracks. Packed with a star-studded supporting cast (Tiwa Savage, Teni, Mohombi, Simi, Tamar Braxton and more), the LP extends Peter across multiple genres as he blends Afrobeats with classic R&B, dancehall and pop arrangements. To Peter, this album isn’t just music crafted for a good time and monetary opportunities. It’s so much more. It’s a confirmation of his elite craftsmanship. A middle finger to doubters. A salvo for detractors, and everyone who dare question his ability.
Peter is hurt. You could hear it in his speech. Between the lines of candour and eloquence, sits a pain that drives him. Having to prove himself at this stage of his career is absurd, but it's a challenge that he’s embraced, chasing every win like a man in rookie season. And technically he is. He made his bones as part of a collective. Isn’t solo life a second start? Shouldn’t he prove himself as an entity? A self-sufficient artistic unit.
When he speaks about his art, he often juxtaposes it against his ‘doubters,’ hoisting his achievements as high as a flaming trophy. How did this story of inadequacy come to be? Why did the public question his artistry? “It was orchestrated by some individuals,” Peter says. The afternoon heat was making its claim, and Peter’s blue tee had patches of sweat. Apart from a few comments registering his discomfort, he rarely broke speech. He continues: “First of all, I'm not sure about the last time you were online to hear the review of my album. They are already apologising. I have an album and I'm telling you, there's no album like that this year, I haven't seen, that is doing well. And every review and comment says, "Where did we get the notion or idea that he doesn't sing?" Like I said, it was orchestrated. And saying all those things were more like motivation. When I told people that I was about to release a 16-track never heard before, I bet you 85% of P-Square fans didn't know it was coming.”
These rumors aren’t limited to Peter’s professional life. For many years, Peter — who got married to his longtime lover, Lola Omotayo in 2013 — has endured media conjectures about his wife’s role in his decision to go solo. As P-Square went down to in-fighting within the group, Lola Omotayo, was ascribed partial responsibility. Peter’s exasperated by that news cycle. “Why would she want me to go solo?” He asks. “She didn't even know anything about us. She didn't even know who ran the whole stuff. So, if she knew, it would have been different. She didn't. She actually found out after the split. Let me tell you the truth. She's just an innocent person that somehow was the sacrifice. But at the end of the day, when I hear blood is thicker than water, like how they orchestrated it, I start asking myself, "My wife and kids, are they the water? Because I don't know what you people are saying." When you say somebody made me go solo, this person was there even before our manager. She was the one getting us gigs. Ask Basketmouth, Jimmy Jatt, they know. Without that woman, nobody would have known P-Square.”
We talk for hours about starting over. What it means to adapt your craft as a solo act. In many ways, it reminds him of the past, back to his early days as part of a dance group, Smooth Criminal. The difference now is how far he’s travelled. Where that part has led him, and how happy he is to have had the experience.
You're living a second life. You were a member of a group and now you are solo. What have you learned with the transition?
Well, music is like football, when you leave a club...I'll give an example. Ronaldo used to play for Manchester United. When he left Manchester and went to Real Madrid, what did he do? He went to continue football. Everybody wants to live an improved life, get to a certain point. That's football. But the music side is about you expressing yourself full-time. What I'd like you to know is you're going to find yourself in a position where whether you have a group of ten, a group of one, even if you are doing business with somebody, once you're doing it as a team, it's different from doing it alone. When you are doing it alone, you are now in charge of yourself. You take responsibility for any mistakes or you take the gratitude, if it happens.
What’s the difference now?
To me, I don't see any difference. It's the same thing that I do, right? From a group point of view, you learn. Even if you decide to go from solo to a group, you still learn. You have to bring your experience to it. Even if you are coming from solo and you go to a group, other people that join you will bring their own different experiences when coming. So, mine was more or less like me combining everything I do, most especially things that I wasn't able to do then. Now, I'm doing it. If I'm going for a concert, I set up my band myself. I have a team, I'm in charge. I don't have Mr. B or Mr. A telling me we have to do it this way or it has to be done this way. This time, I'm in charge of it. And if I'm used to performing in a group for an hour and thirty minutes, I now do two hours on stage. I have this mentality that I can even do more, because I know that I'm alone on my own. And I have to keep the crowd moving.
And new routines?
It has been me doing the same routine. I don't think there's any new routine. The only good thing now is I'm in a position where I can tell you this is what the fans want, this is what I want the guys to do, this is what I want to do, without any obstruction. Now, when you say doing a new routine, the only thing different before was probably if I was performing, there was somebody around me, but I still do the same thing. I still have my back-up dancers, I still have my back-up singers, I still have everything.
I can give you an example of an experience I had. I went for a concert, it was actually a big festival, to perform. I was backstage and I met a colleague of mine (he's not from Nigeria, though) and he said to me, "Wow. You still have the same thing. The only person missing is —," and I laughed. "How does this feel?" and I said, "You'll see." Believe me, after I came out on stage, the media said, "Woah. We didn't know you could actually do it this way." Because the other side, I couldn't do it but this one, I was able to. So, I see no difference. Like I said, I'm more than a musician. I'm more than even an entertainer, because for me, I'll tell you to just leave me on the stage. It's not just the dance, it's not just the singing, I'm a multi-instrumentalist. If you see my band today playing for me, have it at the back of your mind that I have collected that guitar from the guitarist and told him what to play, have it in mind that I've collected the piano/keyboard from the keyboardist and told him what to play, it's the same thing with the drummer and the bassist.
I’ve watched you perform since childhood. You were one of those who showed us what could be done.
I was one of those people that showed you guys something that you thought could never be done in Africa.
Yes. What could be.
I know what you are saying and I'll tell you the truth. It's something that I've always tried to do even till now, and I tell my management. I see some things that entertainers do here and I'll be like, "Are you trying to say we cannot do better?" I say that all the time. We're used to a system of "make we manage am.” I don't manage. And if you check even during the group period, all the awards that we performed at, like MTV and the rest of them, watch those performances. I created them because I wanted to give it a standard. It's the same thing I'm doing for myself. I don't limit myself. I've always had this thing at the back of my mind, "Listen. This can be done better." When they say our artistes are good, away from the song, I can go ahead and perform a song you haven't heard before but you'll enjoy the performance. That's my kind of person. So, I'm not the type that'd say, "Oh. I have a new song, I don't want to perform it now because people are not going to feel it." I just did my virtual concert. 16 tracks, nobody have heard it before, but I'm telling you, I killed it. People hadn't heard these songs before but people went 'Oh My God'. So, I'm not the type that'd say I must wait till the song is big, before I can put it out for people. So, I've always been that kind of person who'd never limit themselves. This stuff is doing well in the western world, and we try to do it here but people wave it off, even in our videos. For the fact that we do it well, they'll start doubting it was actually done by an African.
They'll even start questioning the originality.
Exactly, because they have never seen it before. I'm about to do something very soon, and people will be like, yeah, this guy has gone far, but that's the way it should be.
Why do you think the public were in doubt of your artistry or your musicality?
It was orchestrated by some individuals. First of all, I'm not sure about the last time you were online to hear the review of my album. They are already apologising. I have an album and I'm telling you, there's no album like that this year, I haven't seen, that is doing well. And every review and comment says, "Where did we get the notion or idea that he doesn't sing?" Like I said, it was orchestrated. And saying all those things was more like a motivation. When I told people that I was about to release a 16-track, it was never heard before. I bet you 85% of P-Square fans didn't know it was coming. So, I kept on postponing the album. They said, "Ha, he doesn't have anything."
I kept quiet, because I had a plan of doing a virtual concert and I knew that I was going to kill that for the virtual concert. Even at my virtual concert, do you know one thing I didn't do? The stuff they used to mock me about which was the dance, I didn't do that. I put it aside and told them to watch me perform, and they saw it. On stage, I play the guitar and perform, I play the piano and perform, I actually produce and perform. Now, it means somebody lied and that's the question people are now asking. I hear them say, "Oh, we want the group back." But if I hadn't gone solo, you people wouldn't have known. Who do you want back? Who do you want back? I wasn't given any credit in the group. I left and I'm getting the credit now, yet you want me to come back. Come back and do what? Mind you, I don't have haters. They are not haters, they are not beefers, they are not backbiters, they are just heart-broken P-Square fans.
That's why before I released this album, I said, "Remove sentiments. Remove emotions. Listen to my album, then come and tell me…" And I'm telling you, the reason I sold hundreds of thousands of tickets for my virtual concert was because I knew that once I said that I was going to release an album that people haven't heard before, guess what they'll do? The critics and other people would be the first people to come and buy the tickets to watch me and criticize me. Guess what they did? They ended up making me richer. Two, they got caught up because when they entered, it wasn't what they expected that they saw. Today, I go on the radio or online, I'm expecting one song that has a video to be topping the charts. I'm telling you now this particular song is topping the charts there, another different song is topping the charts here. The last time I felt like this was about 20 years ago, when P-Square dropped their first album. That was the kind of feeling I had.
What is this feeling?
Fulfillment. The feeling of "I did it.” If you check my last post on Instagram, everybody is asking how I did it. In fact, they are saying, "You have motivated me never to give up, blah blah blah." People are apologising. Like I said, it comes with this fulfillment. The narrative has shifted. I've changed the narrative. Because when they were calling me and up-and-coming artiste, saying that I don't know how to sing, for chrissakes, I have a certificate in music. I actually read music in school. If I tell you today that I play seven musical instruments, you wouldn't agree, including the violin and the clarinet.
Wow. That's genius level talent.
But people, all they just say is... So, I want to know, I don't want to name names, but it's like people like Darey, Waje, Banky who have these nice voices, they sing with a sort of purity, if you know what I mean. Because they don't have a hit out there doesn't mean they are not qualified to be called musicians. Will you open your mouth and tell me because Darey is not up there, Darey doesn't know how to sing? Even the title 'upcoming,’ people have abused it. So, what I call them now is future stars. So, I'd release 16 tracks. Track 1, footsteps and dancing. Track 2, same thing. Is that what you were expecting?
I disappointed a lot of people on my album, I'm not going to lie. I disappointed critics. Like I said, I see all of them on my YouTube page and they are saying, "Bro, I'm sorry o. I didn't know." And I'm like, "It's fine." That's why I say they need to move on. The individuals you are talking about have moved on, what are you still doing? Like I said, there's a fulfillment I have now. I don't want to know if the group had 500 million fans. See what I'm doing now and I have maybe one million, I'm content with that. I'm satisfied with that, because I'd rather be praised in my own individual effort than be discriminated against where I was actually adding value and they made me look as if I wasn't doing anything.
There's a posture you've always assumed ever since you made this decision to choose yourself. It feels like whenever I see you communicate across board, across social media, everywhere, you are like a man who just regained freedom.
100%. I don't hide it. That was supposed to be the title of my album, Freedom. I decided to rename it "Prodigal" to redefine it. Prodigal is someone who decided to be independent and become successful. When I mean "Freedom", no one was tying me down, don't get me wrong, but there's something we call "not being able to express yourself.”
So, you weren't silent, you were silenced?
Let me say it this way. Like I said, it's better for me to do what I'm doing now and be like, "Wow. I actually took this decision and I did it myself." I was telling her (Emem) something in the car today.
Yeah. I asked, "Have you noticed something?" She said, "What?" "Have you noticed that the narrative has changed?" She asked, "Is it based on the comments?" I said, "Leave comments. This is based on OAPs saying it on the radio." They said, "We never saw this coming. Where did we get the whole idea that…?" It's not me saying this anymore. I've stopped talking. All I can tell the heartbroken fans is to move on, but I'm not the one saying it anymore. The people on the radio are the ones saying it. Like I said, I can confidently tell you that I have seven songs that are topping charts. Some of them are in the Top 10. Four of the songs are there. The last time I felt this way was years back. So, talking about freedom which was supposed to be the title of my album, but if I say "freedom", it looks as if I was caged, I wasn't. But there was this thing of not allowing me to express myself, both physically, spiritually, and creatively. But now, my management says, "I never see any idea wey Peter bring wey never work."
And that winning streak, what does that say to you about your abilities?
I hear some people say, "Eh, but you can never be better than who you people were before." Okay. Okay. So, should I be who I was before to please you? I don't have to be. Now, when I talk about fulfillment, don't quote me wrong, it's not like I'm doing it to prove any point. It's just me wanting to move from Point A to Point B. I've always wanted us to do this, but it'll never fly. Now, I'm doing it, and I can tell you it comes with complete fulfillment. Both the fans, I have to give my fans a name, I call them "Team P". I gave them that name and they stuck with it. The fans that I have now, I won't even say they are actually die-hard, they are shoot to kill.
Yes. Now, the comments on my page are reducing because no one is arguing anymore. Before, if I post on Facebook, in like an hour, you see 5,000 - 6,000 comments. When you open it, you see someone has insulted me and they are insulting themselves. But now, you might see only 2,000, and I'm like, "Ha. Why did the comments decrease?" When you open it, nobody is attacking anybody. They have gone silent. The album shocked them. I'm not gonna lie to you. Was I surprised? Yes. Even for my last, I was surprised as well, because I was thinking I'm going to release an album that'll probably take a month or two before people get the whole idea of what the album is. I'm telling you, from the first night, in less than how many hours, we got over a million streams on AudioMack.
On Spotify, in less than 12 hours, you have over a hundred thousand streams?
Some of my songs that don't even have videos on YouTube, they gave over a hundred thousand streams. I've never gotten it before. In fact, people who have been reviewing the album online and on YouTube, I'm going to post them today. So many people are saying the same thing, "We never saw this coming." The last time they had an album like this was a long time ago. I'm not regular, I'm different. I don't do the same music everybody does. I want to be respected in my own corner. I don't want to do something where everybody says, "He sounds like…"
And again, another thing people don't know is I've released over eight to nine singles but none of them are on this album. Why is that? It's because I told my management something. The song that everybody is tripping for now, I Love You with Simi, Teni and Tamar Braxton, I did that song two and a half years ago when they came to the house. People saw the video. It went viral. We were playing guitars and whatever. I did that song since that time. Why didn't I release it two and a half years ago? I kept it. I played it by the poolside with my kids and people were asking me what song it was.
I kept these songs for an album. I kept on releasing things to find out what my sound was. I left the group. I won't leave the group and start sounding the same way. What's the point? I wanted to create my own sound. Now, I've found it. I just discovered my sound about two years ago. When I did, I said I wanted to do my album. It was when I did One More Night with Niniola. That song showed me that this is where people are looking. Even after that, I released two more songs away from that style, it didn't go up. So, I said, "Okay. I've gotten it."
Every song I kept for the album, I brought them out and started reworking them. As soon as I put them out, bro I'm not going to lie to you, I was expecting 50-50 critiques. My brother, it was between 95-5. And I'm telling you, if you think I'm blabbing, go check it out and you'll understand. I'm overwhelmed. If I show you the radio posts, I've been retweeting. I've retweeted at least a hundred posts from just radio stations. This is my page, these are the retweets. This is the billboard chart, I got in as number 8. This is from FMs. Max Radio, City FM, UNILAG, Cool FM, Rhythm FM, Soundcity. Bro, you need to understand. And I don't see all of them, these are the ones I could do. I do at least 50 to 100. Today made it a week since the album's release and this is happening. When did we start radio? Yesterday, we started with Beat. We haven't even sent the songs and radio stations are already playing them. That's why I said there's a fulfillment that comes with it.
So, I can say that you are happy?
I'm overwhelmed. If I'm happy, then I can be sad. Overwhelmed is the feeling. Like I said, it's the same way I used to feel before. We drove in just now and on the road, I was hearing my song. "Peter, you did well." I can't even express myself, but Emem will say, "Peter, this your excitement, relax." I said, "Emem, what do you mean?" In my own area, people pass and I hear the bass and I know that's my song. So, there's this joy that comes with it.
So, you named your album, Prodigal. You've really had to fight.
And I knew this day was going to come. Nobody saw it coming.
What kept you going even in the midst of everything?
I don't condemn people. I've seen artistes walk up to me and say, "My boss. Listen to this to my CD o. I never mix am finish. I still dey work on am, but the thing na jam." And I'm like, "Why are you condemning yourself before coming to me?" The only way I'll listen to you is when you say, "Bros, make I no lie, this CD sweet pass anybody wey dey reign, including you." What else would I do? I'll listen to it, of course. I don't condemn people. And I've always been this happy child. I love my own space. I don't joke with my family. These people were the ones who kept me moving, my wife and my kids. They are my No. 1 fans, if I may say so, and because of my kind of person, my face is always out there.
Yeah. You are very visual.
I hit 10k followers on Instagram everyday. Ten thousand. Sometimes, 8k, sometimes 9k, sometimes 11k a day. And I can tell you the people that are following me are organic and genuine fans who looked at this guy and said, "Listen. I've been motivated. I need to follow this guy. One thing I've discovered about him is that he'll sit down and make people happy, irrespective of whatever is going on. All he cares about is his own happiness and that of the people around him." So, that has kept me going stronger.
At what age would you say you became a very public star?
That was before P-Square sef. That was at age 14 - 15. I was the leader of a group called Smooth Criminals. There were eleven of us. As at my secondary school years, we used to go to universities to perform, we travelled to go perform. I remember one of the universities that we went to, the University of Abuja, and I ended up saying that was the university I wanted to go to. I was in my SS1 and I was already traveling to dance and to sing as well because my school had a music and drama group. I used to play keyboard at the same time. I still went to music school. So, I started getting that popularity in Jos. The person who started music in the family was me. Nobody else was doing music in my family. Even my elder brother, Jude, who has an album didn't mean I didn't go to music school. I have a certificate in music.
In Jos. If you check, Jos has a film school and music school. I don't know if they have a film school in Lagos, but it was only in Jos that a film school and music school were present. It was there I attended and I was there for six months. My first instrument, my first note.
What does hypervisibility do to a person?
I've seen people say, "I want to be like you when I grow up o." Can you handle what I have been through? You can't. You know the truth is, always have it at the back of your mind that you are good. Scandals, rumours, naysayers and all that are part of the industry. The moment you put at the back of your mind that these things are part of the industry, you will excel. Whether you like it or not, "Oh. This group is no longer together," that alone will continue keeping everybody talking about it. So, it comes with the business. And if I was in the western world, I would have channeled it to a money making venture, which I'm already doing. Yeah, I'm doing that. What I mean is in the western world, when a certain thing happens—. Look at the Kardashians.
See Harry and Meghan?
Look at Kim Kardashian. Look at how much she's worth. For her to post an Instagram ad costs 2 million dollars for just 24 hours. An extra 24 hours, you'll pay 500 thousand or a million dollars. Look at how they converted a sex tape to a multi-billion dollar business. Today, they own some percentage on E!, but they have set up their own network. People ask, why did they leave E!? No, they didn't leave E!, they still own some part of it. So, whether you like it or not, people will continue talking. So, in a way, I'll say move on, but they'll continue talking.
They'll say, "Oh, if you were still together, you'd have won Grammys." What happened to D'banj and 2Face? Are they still not doing music? What is wrong with people? Don't forget that this generation is different. The generation doing music now is different. They are the internet sensation. If we had that opportunity, streaming and all that, what are you telling me? Then, we'd release songs and you'd have to call a press conference, then you'd have to go to every radio station, even to the last radio station in Zamfara, you'd have to go there and drop your CD. So, it's different. Things have changed and it's something we should be proud of. My son is 12. In the next ten years, only God knows what will happen. Streaming no go dey, you go just dey like this, you go just dey see music video.
True. And then this hypervisibility, this celebrity status, how has that played out with you as a family man?
Everybody knows me. Peter Okoye doesn't joke with his family. I don't. I don't joke with my wife and kids. I'll protect them with my last drop of blood, and so, they became priority. Good thing as a solo act now is that I decide. "We have a booking." I say, "No. I've already promised the kids that I'm taking them to the beach. Sorry, cancel it." They are a priority. So, I've never seen myself being distracted with the music. So, it's not disturbing my time with them. They are my No. 1 fans. So, being a father or a parent and still doing showbiz is an amazing thing. You know, most people didn't believe my marriage would last, but the truth is people quarrel, people fight. It's normal. The question is, how do you protect your own? I see everytime, "These people, they won't last." Una never hear quarrel no mean say we no dey quarrel. So, being a father as a celebrity and having kids, because my kids now, if I take them somewhere, people would want to take pictures with them. What that does to me is put me in a position to say, "Peter, continue doing the right thing. The kids are watching."
The dominant narrative is that your family is directly connected to you going solo.
My family has nothing to do with it. Like I said, it was orchestrated. I'm sure if you put a mic on our lawyer, our far relatives have nothing to do with it. It was orchestrated.
Orchestrated by you?
It was orchestrated to make me look bad, and for me, I take them one at a time. At the end of the day, I have to protect my own. You have yours? Go deal with yours and I'll deal with mine. Why would my family want me to go solo? It's not my kids you are talking about, just my wife. So, why would she want me to go solo? She didn't even know anything about us. She didn't even know we ran the whole stuff. So, if she knew, it would have been different. She didn't. She actually found out after the split. Let me tell you the truth. She's just an innocent person that somehow was like the sacrifice, but at the end of the day, when I hear blood is thicker than water, like how they orchestrated it, I start asking myself, "My wife and kids, are they the water? Because I don't know what you people are saying." When you say somebody made me go solo, this person was there even before our manager. She was the one getting us gigs. Ask Basketmouth, Jimmy Jatt, they know. Without that woman, nobody would have known P-Square.
She did a lot of work.
She did, but people are not seeing it. In fact, I hear they call her a gold-digger (chuckles). Na me be the gold-digger here o. I am, because what did I have when I started? I've been with her for nearly sixteen to seventeen years now. What did I have then? Did I even have a bicycle? Come on now. Did we even have anything? We didn't. All those things, like I said, were orchestrated to make her and myself look bad, but it's fine. Shey we don move on?
You make moving on sound good. Especially when you move on with success, very productive success.
Very very. Today, I don't get distracted with being a group. I run five different businesses away from music, so there's no distraction. "Oh, we must do this, we must do this." If I don't have the time, I don't have the time.
How important is flipping music money into other businesses?
Very very important. In fact, let me be honest with you. Three years ago, I was with Puff Daddy, and he said something to me. "Listen. Those who make you can break you. The only time you are not going to be making a hit out there is only when they find out you are broke." When I left him in Dubai and came to Nigeria...
You had this conversation with him in Dubai?
Yeah. Even during P-Square, if you remember, they said P-Square was coming out with a cartoon called "The Alingos". It wasn't P-Square, it was me. During P-Square, I was doing a dance show called "Dance With Peter". If you Google it, they said, "Mr. P is building a beverage factory." I was building a beverage factory eight years ago. I had an issue with the land dispute and the factory was taken down. What does that tell you about me? I'm a business-minded person. I read Business Administration in school, and I have two diplomas. One is a diploma in Local Government Administration, the other one is a diploma in Psychology. Now, put all these things together. Listen to what Puff Daddy said, and it's true. Please do me a favour. The remaining artistes that are reigning, so many rappers in America reigning today, check Forbes' list's Top Musicians In The World, they are going to name these five. Puff Daddy, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Kanye West, Dr. Dre. When was the last time they released a song?
Kanye is even making a Christian album sef.
What does that tell you? There are many big artistes, they are no longer reigning musically, they are down, even financially too. That should never happen to anybody. I took a break from music for nearly a year and a half. Two years ago, I called them and said, "Listen. This music wey I dey do, e be like once I release this music, e be like say we dey compete...the only thing be say I wan step aside. When I step aside, there's no more competition." I was away. I remember Don Flex, my choreographer, was mad. I said no new music. Luckily enough, six months into it, the pandemic even helped me extend it better. I focused on my real estate business and my lottery business, and they started growing.
Because at the end of the day, you don't want to find yourself in a situation whereby you want to execute some kind of thing that I did during my virtual concert. My brother, we all know where we make money. Shows. Who has done shows in the past one year? Highest, you'll do one or two in-house gigs. Nobody is doing that. A lot of artistes don't have money now, I'm going to be honest with you. Let's just leave the lie. For someone like me, I look at them and go, "Hm-hm." I have to. I run a different business today, next month I'm starting on my sport betting, ZoomBet. I have a bidding site called Zip Awoof. I have my clothing line, and I'm about to seal a deal on Dance With Peter. Then, I have a reality TV show called "All The Okoyes.” I've been shooting it for the past four and a half years. I have my own production team.
Now, the person wey broke, na him dey suffer pass o. When you no get money, you no even fit. Did you know opening a company now is cheaper than releasing a single? To push the song, plug-ins, everything? You shoot a video, it costs six to seven million naira. Forget that I have a studio, fine. The plug-ins and the rest of it, you spend so much. Come on, be honest with me, where do you want to get that money? Even if you get the money, you'll think, "Ha, if I put that money for fixed deposits, e go dey survive me for now." You want put am for song, what if the song no blow? You are in trouble.
So, after thinking about that, I said No. Me too, I want to own a private jet, you think it's music that is going to give it to me? Music has created a platform for me. Now, I have a huge fanbase. My social media alone altogether amounts to 22 million. My Instagram is 10.8 million, Facebook that I opened two years ago is 5 to 6 million, Twitter is about 5 million, Snapchat and the rest of them. Bro, put them together. Make all of that work for you. And guess what? I do business that has to do with the game of numbers. That's how somebody tried to insult me during my show, the virtual concert. He said I was selling tickets cheap. "1,000 naira, na the level be that? Eko Hotels, we used to sell one million." 1,000 times 100,000. Do the maths. 100 million naira.
So, it's a game of numbers. And the game, being a solo act now gave me the mind to do other things without even thinking if we are supposed to do this or not. I'll tell Emem, "We have that business meeting, please. Tell the people to shift the show." I'm in charge. Freedom. So, like I said, it's like that abroad with every artiste. Everybody has their own side hustle. The pandemic has opened everybody's eyes. I pray it doesn't extend till next year because before you know, "Who get that salon?" "Na so and so celebrity get am o." "Who get that boutique?" It'll start happening. "Eyah. Music no dey pay again abi?" The same people who insult you will now come to your DM asking you for money. It's normal.
Thank you. And you've been very open.
I'm an open book. Everybody knows that.
So, at this stage, as someone who has 'been there, done that, still doing more', what's most important for you? I know you've mentioned family, you've mentioned freedom, you've mentioned the ability to express all you gifts to the world without any obstacles, but what do you think is most important to you at this stage?
For me, it's 100% fulfillment and satisfaction from what I came to this world to do.
Do you ever look back?
Nah.I don't look back. Have I done anything I've ever regretted? No. I hardly regret stuff. I take responsibility, so I don't regret it. I learn a lesson from it. So, I've never been the kind of person to say I regret something. I take responsibility, if I'm at fault or if I didn't get it right. I've never done anything like that. So, it's for me to fulfill my aim of coming to this world. I never thought I was going to be famous in my life and it happened. To God be the glory. And I'm still here and I don't think anything can stop that anymore. There's a whole lot of sources surrounding me and still putting me out there positively. That's what really matters. Sometimes, when somebody annoys me, I'll be like, "Why I go dey vex? The good things wey this person don do better pass the bad things." And again, seeing people happy. That's why I use my platform to make people happy. I give people money and all that. So, just seeing people happy puts me in a good mood. Sometimes, I drive by and I'll see these little kids begging on the road, I'll pretend as if I didn't see them, maybe because I don't have cash. When I look, I'll see my son or daughter's face, whichever one is present, and it hits me. The next I do is look for the nearest ATM and go back.
So, for me, I feel like maybe I didn't come to this life to enjoy alone. No matter how little, if you want to help, help. So, those things alone. And I'm not the kind of person to pray while shouting Jehovah God! No. The way I communicate with God is the simplest way. I just tell God, "God, I'm about to go and help these people. You know it's through this hustle. Bless me more, so I'll do more." So, it's communication with God. That's how I do it. I mustn't go to church everyday for you to know that I'm worshipping God. I'm the kind of person who wants to have that alliance with God based on "Let me do these things". You know it's a chain reaction. If anything happens to me, it'll affect these people. So, that's the way I have set up my life. Like I said, I'm the kind of person when I see my kids... I stopped buying some kinds of gifts for them, those things are worth hundreds of thousands of naira. So, what I do is every end of the month, I go to their closets and pack everything they are not using and say they should enter the car. We enter those roads where a lot of children stay and I ask my kids to start giving it to them.
You see them on my social media. Even before that, I started this. So, these are fulfilling things. I don't wake up from sleep because I'm panicking. I'm not hurting anybody. I just say, "God, it's your turn to look after me, because I look after a lot." I pay the school fees of kids I'm not even related to. I do a lot of stuff for people I have nothing to do with. Things like these, what it does is I believe when I do them, I can sleep well. During the pandemic, everybody saw it. I was literally giving out 100,000 naira everyday, and you'd be surprised, when I was doing that, close friends who didn't have anything would say, "Peter, even if na 20k, please send. We dey die here." And I'll never use that against them. They might be people who have hurt me before, but I say no problem.
This is truly an in-depth interview filled with golden truth of reality. Kudos to Joey Akan & Mr P.