From July 9th-19th, I traveled to Nigeria for the first time as an adult. While in Nigeria, I hopped a plane from Lagos to Abuja for a two-day “look-see”. I had a chance meeting up with a few Creatives , and all sorts of exchanges ensued. Meet Dare “Gru” Omisore, singer, songwriter and producer among many other things. He had a great deal to say about the mainstream music scene and his place in it, so I gave him five questions. Check out his answers below.
Risikat Okedeyi: How did you get started in the music business?
Dare “Gru” Omisore: I started rapping in a hip hop group called Nuff Noyz in Lagos, Nigeria in 1998/99. I have always been in love with sounds and beautiful melody, so at some point I gravitated towards production. I learned a few things from friends, other producers and such. Started out with a cat named Fruity Loops. It got a tad more serious when I went to the UK and got into Point Blank Music College in Hackney. When I dropped out and set up my own little studio in my front room that was the beginning of Bruva Music.
RO: How would describe your sound? How does it fit within the Nigerian music scene?
DGO: I’d describe my sound as ‘The Gospel of Neo Soul’. By Gospel I am referring to the truth in my music, and not from the religious affiliation. Basically, a mix of Neo soul and everything else I find interesting: dub-step, Afrobeat, house, rock, and classical to name a few. Does my music fit in with the Nigerian scene? As of now, not yet. The majority of Nigerians find my music boring or just about okay because it is not the generic dance-driven amalgamation of every other type of club music in existence.
RO: From a music perspective, do you think there is a Nigerian aesthetic? If not, why?
DGO: Tough question. There is and there isn’t. Nigerian music has evolved almost supernaturally overnight! There isn’t an aesthetic in the sense that there are hardly any original ideas flying around when it comes to lyrics and sounds. I mean most of the music out now tends to end in moans, grunts and exclamations. Everyone does what everyone else is into hoping that they’ll blow up because it seemed to work for the other guy and it’s what the market wants. We also borrow from every other culture that seems to be musically relevant at the moment, hence the Azonto craze. On the other hand, there is an aesthetic because we have perfected the art of borrowing and created a unique perspective that has taken Africa by storm. A very select few of our musical elite have carved out a niche by refining their lyrics and beats to international standards while keeping that awesome Nigerian edge that just makes music so exciting, even when you think it’s crap music.
RO: What inspires you? How is that reflected in your music?
DGO: Emotions inspire me. Sounds inspire me. An awesome guitar riff will drive me nuts. I listen to loads of Neo soul: Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott, Tracy Barthe, Eric Roberson, it all influences me and shows up in my writing. I write how I feel and what I’ve experienced. All of my songs are about stuff that has actually happened to me.
RO: Where do you see yourself in the next three years?
DGO: Based on the current plan in motion, in three years Bruva Music will be on the map globally and I will be doing joints with India Arie and Musiq Soulchild. Amen to that!
Check out Dare’s music: