INTERVIEW: There’s no hit song without money – Bella Shmurda

March 4, 2020

Bella Shmurda – Photo by Ayodele Efunla

He may not be so popular now, but when you hear Bella Shmurda, one of the most trending songs online and across airwaves, ‘Vision 2020’ will come to your mind.

The fast-rising Lagos born musician whose real name is Akinbiyi Abiola Ahmed was well received by music lovers after he released a remix to ‘Vision 2020’ which features Olamide.

No doubt Bella or Fine Boi Bella is creating a niche for himself and becoming a force to reckon with in the overcrowded industry with his style of music he calls “the Conscious Sound”.

The final year History student of the Lagos State University (LASU) in this interview with PM News Entertainment talks about the success of his latest project, High Tension EP, his collaborations with Olamide, and Davido among other issues.

You dropped your first project, High Tension EP on 27th of January. How is the feedback so far?

To me, I think the EP is a success, just on AudioMack I have more than 5million downloads and it is just a month. There are other platforms, I can’t see the statistics but I can see that of AudioMack.

For the EP, I just try to bring each of my vibes together and put something together for my people. This is 2020 and in anything I do, I am going to get it.

Bella Shmurda – Photo by Ayodele Efunla

What is the inspiration behind your popular song, Vision 2020?

Well, the inspiration behind the song is majorly the pain, the pain that people feel, the pain I feel as well, the stress and everything, bringing together the school, the promises we are to get and the problems we are currently facing even with the promises. I am just bringing all that together as a motivation. And 2020 is not just 2020, to me, I have set a certain goal for myself and I have to make it.

So, have you met some of these targets you set?

In terms of music, I think I am getting the attention and that’s part of the goal. Everybody is smiling, my family is proud and even with the little, I know I am getting there.

When you hear Bella, the next thing that will come to your mind is that popular jam Vision 2020. You must have been working on your music career for a while, kindly tell us about that.

About my musical background, I just know I can sing. It is not that type of story that I started from church or something. I started recording in 2013. I have been pushing since then and when I know this music is going to pay off was when my mum started liking my songs. There was a time that she doesn’t even want to hear that I’m singing but now she is vibing to my songs, and she is even singing along. So when mummy is happy, I know success will come.

You linked up with Olamide Baddo for Vision 2020 remix, how was that moment for you as an upcoming artiste?

Yes, he heard the original version of Vision 2020, and he called me up for a remix. I was not expecting the call though. I was at home and I just received a call from Ojo Sneh, PA to Baddo, he was like, ‘can you come over tomorrow?’ I was like wow, I was very happy and I started calling everyone moti blow, moti blow (laugh), thanks to God. I went to Baddo’s place the following day. Shout out to Baddo, he paid ID Cabasa for the production because I lost the data of the original song, so we could not use that beat. So we have to make a new beat. Shout out to Baddo, and he supported me all through, and we are still family.

Has music been what you wanted to do?

The moment I knew I can sing, I did not waste time, I started going to the studio, gingering myself and I did my first record and since then, I think I am getting that support from everywhere.

So, if you were not doing music, what will you do?

I am a history student, so I will probably be a diplomat. I am still in school. 400 level at Lagos State University. I am in my last year, so I won’t be dropping out of school.

Let’s take a look at your journey from 2013 till this moment, you must have faced some challenges, kindly talk about those challenges.

My mum was the first challenge (laugh). But majorly in music, you found out that even with the talent you have to use the money to push your songs because the industry is very wide now. It is very big and you need money to penetrate, even with bad songs, if the money is good it will go far. So, I will say the challenge for me is finance. Another one is the paparazzi thing; you fake it till you make it.

What you are saying is that even if you have a good song, if the finance is not there, the song won’t get to anywhere?

Exactly, it is like 10 out of 100 if the money is not there, in the music business of these days, I don’t know about the old days. To play your songs on the radio, it is money, media influencers and stuff like that. You have to pay Tunde Ednut to post the song. So it is just finance.

Earlier, you talked about AudioMack downloads and all that, are you making money from music?

Sure, I also make money from shows. Not that big but at least, the family is happy, my mum is happy, I am getting stuffs for myself.

Bella Shmurda – Photo by Ayodele Efunla

Are you under any record label?

Yes, I have a management pushing me. I got signed like a year and two months ago. So before then, I have been doing everything myself and the challenge is the financial aspect. Sometimes, there are some places you have to be even if it is not convenient, you have to be there. It is just timing, life is timing majorly, you have to hit to make it.

Was there a time you wanted to give up on music?

Yeah, you know the music thing itself, at some point, the business gets depressing, you know when you are not getting that attention you are expecting and you are putting in a lot of works, it gets depressing to some point you will want to quit but thanks to God I am surviving.

How would you describe your sound?

I call my sound the conscious sound, trying to awaken people.

In this overcrowded industry, you have to be unique to be recognised, what makes stand out?

I tried to put myself in the music, you know, using my personal experience to speak because there is no new word out there, the thing wey you won sing, person don sing am before, it is just for you put yourself in that shoe and that’s where I think I am unique because I put my own life story in it. And I think my voice is nice (laugh).

What is your relationship with other artistes of your generation, the likes of Mohbad, Zinoleesky, Lyta, and others?

It is a family thing you know, there is no rivalry like in the past. You want to get bigger, you support, that’s how we grow, we support each other. We do things together.

Do you charge each other for shows, like if Mohbad is having a concert and call you?

That’s where support comes in, I don’t know about others but if someone like that calls me for a show, I can’t ask him for money, I will need him too, it might even be bigger but definitely I will need him. Do you get? What goes around comes around.

So, in the music business, you also support. You can get shows from outside but for fellow artistes, no. If I am not available, I will tell him. I am not available, that’s just it.

In your own estimation to promote a song, how much do you think artiste should budget?

It depends on the artiste’s pocket. Your money will determine the level of promotion. So, the money you pay will determine how many times they will play your song on TV or radio. That’s why if there is no money at all, you can’t show at all.

The media are there to make profit because that’s their business, they are there to make gain too.

In the real world, they’re supposed to be paying you for playing your songs.

This is Lagos, Nigeria, it is different here, we are not in Europe. Let me say, we will get there but that’s just the foundation here.

Bella Shmurda – Photo by Ayodele Efunla

Definitely, I can say I want my song to be number one on the chart?

That’s why I said, it depends on your pocket, the way you want it, they have it, if you can pay.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I think I see a better Bella in the next five years.

You have done collaborations with some of our A list artistes, talking about Olamide Baddo, Runtown. Which other big artistes are you looking forward to work with?

I have done a collaboration with Davido already, a remix of my single, Only You, but it is not out yet. I don’t really want to mention names but I just want to roll with better people, so I can get better. I want to work with any artiste doing well.

Have you reached out to any big artiste, and they turned you down?

No, I have not experienced that, I get calls from big artistes and I thank God for that.

As an artiste using his sound to awaken people, what is the message you have the Nigerian government?

Okay, before I go to the government, I will say this to the people, they should endure, we are developing and something good takes time, with time will get there. And to the government, they should keep working, that’s all I have to say.

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