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I almost gave up on myself after music hiatus, says General Pype –

Ibrahim Majekodunmi better known as General Pype is not new to the Nigerian music landscape. From sharing the stage with the music heavyweights to doubting his abilities amid difficulties, the singer has seen it all.

The reggae and dancehall artiste took the music industry by storm in 2009 with a hit song titled ‘Champion’.

In this interview with TheCable Lifestyle, Pype reflects on his hiatus from music, low moments, return to the music industry, and forthcoming projects.

You were born Ibrahim Majekodunmi but many know you by your stage name, General Pype. How did you come about the name?

I didn’t come up with that name. My first manager back in the day just woke up one day and said we will call you Pype and I said I like that, that sounds yummy but somewhere in my mind, I’m like hope this guy is not saying this because of my habits. Then he said well, PYPE is an acronym for Prolific Youth Positive Entertainer, so I fell in love with it immediately and that’s how the name came about, then my friends added General to it. That’s the creation of the name Pype.

Let’s talk about your music career, at what stage did you start seeing yourself as a musician?

It might sound typical when people say I’ve always loved music but that’s true for me because all through my growing years in Obalende and Iwaya in Lagos state, it was always music. My big brothers will play different kinds of music but I loved King Sunny Ade (KSA) so much.

So, I will go out of my way to make sure I hear Sunny Ade, he had new music that year which was my favourite music in the whole wide world when I was growing up. At some point in life, I joined the classical group, it’s called Triumphant Coral Voices, it’s a choir, it’s not under any church, so it’s like a private choir where they invite us to perform at summits, millennium festival at Abuja in 1999 and the rest, I’d say is history.

Oftentimes, I’ve had different types of journeys into the music, and different genres but for me, music started in secondary school, and when I grew up in the early 2000s, and late 90s, I fell in love madly. It was later around 2005 that I knew I was going to do this for the rest of my life.

In 2009, you released ‘Champion’ which was one of the biggest hits at the time. But shortly after that, you took a break from music. Why the break and what projects did you embark upon?

Before I took that break, every time I run into any small change like that, like when I’m invited for a show, I go to the studio, make a new song, and shoot a video. Sometimes, that kind of move might not happen for a year or two but anytime the money comes, it’s sure that there’s only one thing I do with my money then. So it got to a point when I told myself if you don’t have money to do promotion for your music, just shut up so I didn’t have money to push it.

I’m not from a rich family, I’m a normal street boy, I just kept recording but I wasn’t putting them out because I was scared and I didn’t have money to push and if you don’t have the money, you have to keep telling people by mouth that you’ve released a new song.

At one point, I had to travel to America for a family emergency. When I got here, I decided to diversify, and learn one thing or two. I didn’t get a formal education in Nigeria so when l got here I went to school and started working. But then, I knew that music was the only thing I would do. So, a situation in life is the reason I’ve been quiet not like I ran out of music or I did terrible music that my fans hated me for.

In a nutshell, are you saying the break was to help you restrategise?

Well, you can say that. But it’s not like I went back to the drawing board, I never left the drawing board just that no one could see my writings.

Let’s talk about your experience in the United States, how has it been since you left Nigeria?

It (US) is a very lovely country, a lot of things work and a lot of things don’t work. There are lots of things that made Nigeria heaven on earth compared to America and there are some things that made America hell on earth compared to Nigeria. In Nigeria, a person cannot angrily look at me because of the colour of my skin and shoot me. In Nigeria, people judge you by character not the colour of your skin. We can be a little tribalistic but this does not translate to slavery or anything.

As a musician in America, any musician out here who is going to read this interview should know that wherever you are in life, where you stand, is where it is greenest, there is no greener grass anywhere in the world. As a matter of fact, the greener grass you may find in other parts of the world, you don’t know what it’s made of.

If you’re coming to America as a musician, ensure you have a record deal. But if you’re coming in like you’re tired of Nigeria, you’d be frustrated because there’s nothing waiting for you. Unless you have a deal with someone who asked you to come here. Generally, America has been very good for my education. I went to the University and did 9 to 5 for the first time in my life. Since my teenage years, I’ve always done music. America made me appreciate Nigeria more than I did before coming here.

You recently put out ‘Blessed and Ready.’ What other projects do you have in the pipeline?

Basically, all of those songs I’ve been recording all those years that I didn’t bring out, they’re there in the corner.

However, in January this year, I came to Nigeria to record new songs. I spent about 28 days and I was able to record 17 to 18 new songs. One of them is ‘Blessed and Ready’. After my return to America, I went to Miami and I started working with some big producers.  We’ve been doing some songs together and what should my fans expect, Pype that they’ve never heard before.

I will share with my fans the new projects coming out. I have a new song titled ‘Mine only‘. I have a whole lot of songs, collaborations, and singles before we give them the EP. The EP comes in a few months but we want to keep dropping singles to reconnect to my fans, all of those who’ve probably grown and are parents now. There are a whole lot of songs, different vibes, and different energy from Pype that you’ve never heard before.

Pype, it’s good to see you reconnect with your fans after your hiatus from music. Do you still believe you can take the industry by storm as you did with ‘Champion’? 

Before the whole recording session and everything I was quiet for a long time, I’m a human being too, and at some point, I had those doubts at some points, I was scared, I wasn’t sure if I could make a great comeback until I tried again. I put myself in the creative process, I started recording. I almost gave up on myself too, like the Americans say, the party is not over until the fat lady sings.

I doubted myself too but I had to remind myself where we’re coming from and who General Pype is. So, I believe that whatever I bring will resonate with the people that I’m putting it out there for, core General Pype fans and some new generations will come on board too. The ‘Blessed and Ready’ song, helped me finalise and buttressed that point because it is doing a greater number than all the songs that I’ve ever put out there. I will do my part, pray to God and let the world do the rest. I can’t predict human nature but I believe the songs will make an impact.

You mentioned that you once considered giving up. There are artistes who are also probably in that condition. Can you share your experience during those moments with us to inspire others out there?

I want to give thanks to God and all our ancestors because, in this music industry, depression is real. Some think depression is a white man thing but I don’t think you can be more wrong to think depression doesn’t happen to black people. If there’s any group of people that need help, therapy, and everything, it will be black people, particularly Nigerians.

Even the musicians have it worse because it is the only thing they believe in. In most cases, in Nigeria, some musicians don’t have a secondary school education and when their ‘market’ is slow, some of them get frustrated, I know of a friend who lost his mind and later died out of depression. He was just a very talented musician. He didn’t know what to do with his whole journey but one thing I’ve learnt to harness is friends, fans, and people out there who love you.

Sometimes we forget what we have and we go and focus on what we’re looking for. It is always good to be able to accept help when someone is trying to help. As musicians, or in any job you do, at some stages, it is hard to swallow the pride and start the journey over.

It took me a whole lot, of human beings, God, and prayers to get me back on this journey but there is nothing impossible before God and human beings, put in the effort, and pray. One thing I believe that helped me is don’t forget who you are.

Even if you’re not that person that you remember to be present, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re still the person you are. One old man told me that no matter how popular and big you get in life, people will give you rank with their mouth, they will elevate you but the day you f*ck up, they will remove the rank but don’t forget you’re still that human being.

You don’t even have an idea of where your whole story ends, God always has a different plan in mind. Whatever you are in life, know yourself, don’t give up, stand firm, and remember you’re a champion for life. No matter how old you are, there is still a story in that book for you.

You have worked with several big names in the industry. From the late Dagrin to Vector, Phyno, and Burna Boy among others. Seeing what these guys have done in the music industry in the last 10 years, how do you feel?

As a human being, sometimes you’d feel somehow, or even ask what am I doing with my life? That’s human nature in all of us. You can even call it jealousy but nothing great started happening to me in my journey until I started seeing their success as a blessing to all musicians in Africa.

Their success was like a test for me. I started celebrating every single one of them a couple of years ago, they became my source of inspiration, hope, and encouragement. I love all of them with my heart, they give me joy. My boys sometimes wake me with Afrobeat songs that they’re playing in the living room.

The new generation, plus my old friends and my new friends, I am proud of all of them, even Daddy Showkey, even though he’s not dropping any song, the fact that he’s active and has remained relevant is a motivation to me. The emergence of Burna Boy, Patoranking, and Stonebwoy of Ghana, all make me happy because they make me feel all of the work I put in back them really matters. I see some of me in them, I see some of my energy in their vibes, it makes me the happiest person on earth. Bless up to all of them Davido, Wizkid, Olamide, Ashake, Tekno, all of them. I know that nobody holds Pype down, nobody holds my lane, and nobody touches my style so I’m very confident.

What, in your opinion, should the Nigerian music industry do to become better than it is?

The Nigerian music industry, in all truthfulness, is blowing my mind now. When I was much younger, one of my frustrations with the industry, was that we didn’t have the means to measure the success of their job, someone could not check the margins, nobody knew how many numbers it did, and we didn’t have the chart to check, things like that are beginning to happen.

There’s a little bit of diversity in Nigeria now and variety before there was none, everyone had to sound the same way but in this generation, we have people like Johnny Drill, Adekunle Gold, Simi, and Niniola all of those people with their different sounds, it’s all I’ve prayed for.

I’d prayed that Nigerian musicians will be recognized by Grammy and BET and they won’t be giving us awards at the corner all of those are happening and I’m loving it. There is room for improvement. I love the fact that our music is 98% of what you hear when you’re in Nigeria right now. Nigeria’s music industry, you can call it an industry now. In those days, it was a music scene where people just come to do what they feel like.

The only thing that is left is for the Western World to start paying our artistes the same amount they pay the artistes in America, say the streaming of music here is not the same amount of money you get for streaming in Africa. In America they give you a certain percentage, in Africa, they give you a lower. I can’t wait till we start getting out dues but in all truthfulness, it can only get better, Nigerian Music Industry is fire, we are like setting trends, I can’t wait till we have a structure like South Africans, but I’m happy that everything is coming together.

We have big companies coming to Africa mainly because of our boys, it gives me joy. I’m just like the happiest guy in the world when I see things like that.

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