Gabriel Amanyi, the Nigerian singer, who is popularly known as Terry G, has opened up about his life.
In this interview, the singer, tells BLESSING ENENAITE about his music career, controversies, current projects and other issues
In your heyday, you were known as the ‘king of the streets’. However, your fans have not heard any hit song from you for some time. Why is that so?
I am still the king of the streets, even if I have not released any content in a while. It is deliberate. I had a court case which was going on underground. I could not release any content because of that. I had to use that time to focus on my family and business. I had the urge to release songs but I could not because of the contract I had. Presently, I am working on releasing more content.
What was the court issue about?
Please, I will rather not talk about it.
You seem to have a restless spirit and you are always energetic. Is it because of the kind of songs you make?
As an instrumentalist, particularly a drummer, I am strong and always active. I attended different churches as an instrumentalist which made me to have different ideas about music. I can act as a Mountain of Fire Church member or even a Celestial Church member. I play different musical instruments.
Aside from your persona as a singer, what side of you exists that your fans are not aware of?
Terry G, the artiste is the crazy one that many people know about. It is not everyone that knows Gabriel, the real me. I am actually shy though some people may not believe that. When I go outside, I react based on what people think about my brand.
You were recently compared to controversial artiste, Portable. How did that make you feel?
It is a good thing. I love Portable so much. Despite the fact that I did the ‘crazy genre’ of music, it does not mean that somebody else cannot be inspired and still unique. He is quite unique. There is nothing he has that can be compared to mine, musically and intellectually. I feel nobody should shut him out. He cannot be stopped.
If he stops talking, what else will happen? That is his style. It (controversies) did not just start from me. It started with different guys that represented the streets, and it will still continue. It is normal.
Do you have any plans of collaborating with Portable?
Yes. He has been to my house twice. But, we could not record our song that day because he had to be at a show in Akure, Ondo State. I am interested in working with anybody that represents the streets. I am a producer and singer.
What influences your kind of songs?
My environment inspires the kind of songs I do. There was a time I was in a particular environment that did not suit my kind of music. In that area, one is not expected to make noise. However, my kind of songs have a noisy attitude. So, that killed my spirit for a while. That was when I realised that one’s environment influences the kind of songs one makes.
You once said that controversies did not allow you to enjoy fame. Do you think people had a wrong perception about your personality outside music?
Some people never knew me. They only knew the kind of artiste I became. Myt hit song, Free Madness, was actually a mistake. I was actually testing the microphone, but the song was released, and it went viral. Before I knew it, people wanted me to start doing that type of music. I did not plan to do the ‘crazy’ kind of music. It was divine.
What is the most controversial thing you have heard about yourself that is not true?
I love controversies but I don’t plan them. Controversy is one of the most interesting parts of showbiz. If music does not last, it is the news that will keep one active.
You once said your parents were not comfortable with your dreadlocks. Did they later accept it?
The acceptance is not yet 100 per cent. The question is, ‘Do I have a choice’? I had to let my mum know that a man can have earrings, and not be a bad person. People have different beliefs. Back then, before I went home, I had to wear a cap to cover the dreadlocks. I always hid my hair inside the cap then but I am now mature.
You have often mentioned that you regret your ‘wild’ controversies. What do you intend to do differently to right your past wrongs?
I am doing it already. I no longer get into trouble. My behaviour and the way I approach things have changed. Most of the controversies I was involved in were not deliberate. They were some of the things that came with fame. I was more talked about then. My controversies got more attention than my music. It was my fans that pushed me (in that direction), and that is how they are pushing the new guy now. No matter how my fans hail me, I don’t allow it get to me anymore. It does not get into my head like before.
You once had an issue with DJ Jimmy Jatt because of the way you treated one of his workers. DJs allegedly decided not to work with you again. How was the matter resolved?
It was actually settled the next day because I went to DJ Jimmy Jatt’s house. It’s just bad news always goes farther than good news. I actually apologised then.
The DJ in question did some things that I felt were not professional. If I had left that place in shame, it would not have gone well, considering what people know Terry G for. It would not have been good for my image.
It (my not leaving the stage when necessary) was a mistake but he (the DJ) should not have done what he did (playing another song which meant I should leave the stage). Telling me to ‘take it outside’ was an insult to me. That was what caused the issue between me and the DJ.
Some entertainers think that they need controversies to become popular. Considering your experience, what is your advice to such people?
I believe there are good and bad controversies. The fact is that one needs guts to sell one’s content. One needs promotion, which could also involve controversies. However, they should think of how it will affect them positively or negatively.
There was a time one of my colleagues faked his own death. Some people do such things to gain attention.
If you had the opportunity, what aspect of your life would you change?
I don’t have anything to change in my life. It was just a misinterpretation then. People were not exposed to some kinds of international music. I liked Lil Wayne and he was my mentor then. People did not understand me and I was criticised for one reason or the other. However, I don’t have anything to regret.
Some artistes have said they battled depression when they stopped having hit songs. What is your experience in this regard?
I am a producer and I am always busy, so it is hard for me to be bored. Also, I usually have people around me. On Sundays, we could play football. I have never been depressed. I wake up every morning, knowing I have to achieve something. Over time, people (close to me) have understood the way I plan my life. I am always happy.
You recently started a talk show tagged, ‘True or False’. What do you hope to achieve with it?
We are just starting but I am sure it will go a long way. The talk show involves asking questions and interacting with my colleagues. We will soon get to the part where our guests will show off their houses. We will also focus on asking personal and odd questions that their fans will be willing to hear.
How did it feel being famous at a time and not being in demand again after a while?
I always knew I was going to be famous but I did not know to which degree. As an instrumentalist, I was popular in different churches. When I was working for Faze, I knew some stars then. However, popularity has levels. People like Wizkid have taken it to another level.
What are the lessons that fame has taught you?
Fame has taught me to be humble. When one is famous and bossy, God will bring that person down. The respect I get now is based on the fact that I show love to people. When one is at the top, that person needs to mingle and have more friends, especially among the up-and-coming ones. But, that is so difficult for some stars to do.
What are the things you know now that you wished you knew when you were much younger?
I was ripped off by some music platforms. I was a gospel singer before I deviated to hip hop music. I had no clue back about the business side of music. Back then, songs were transferred through infrared, not via the Internet like we have now. I have been ripped off and the reason I am putting all these platforms together is because I want to get my royalties. This is showbiz and not a free service.
Why did you decide to move from gospel to secular music?
I met Faze through Sola Animashaun, a photographer who is the younger brother of Ayo Animashaun, the Chief Executive Officer of Smooth Productions. Faze was having an audition for a back-up singer and I went with Sola to meet him. I asked Faze if he could listen to my songs. The songs I gave him were neither secular nor gospel. It was an agape kind of love song. But, Faze liked the song. And, that was how I became his back-up singer.
In recent times, the industry has produced new acts that are doing well globally. Do you sometimes wish you reigned in this period?
I don’t wish so because everyone has their time. I am grateful to God that I am alive to see people ‘copy’ my style. There is time for everything. My wish is for my son to be better than me. Why should I wish to be in this era? I don’t wish to be in anybody else’s shoes.
What is your message to the new crop of artistes making waves in the industry?
It is important for them to know that nothing lasts forever. Of course, one can maintain one’s stardom and learn from experiences. I wish most of them can learn from the experience many of us (older artistes) made. I will advise that they should invest properly. Don’t invest in businesses you don’t know about. I want to hear my colleagues having music schools. They can employ professional teachers in such schools. There are many other things they can do to keep themselves going.
When you had your child some years ago, it seemed like you were ready to settle down. Did you eventually marry the mother of your child?
I am settled already. I don’t want to talk more about it.
What are your most memorable moments as a singer?
They include my first concert in London, England, which was very amazing. When I see the likes of Wizkid, Davido performing abroad, I am reminded of my first foreign concert. It is a good memory.
Who is your favourite singer at the moment?
I have never thought about it because I listen to all of them. I like the new guys, especially Ruger. I also like Fireboy; he is talented.
What keeps you going?
When I want to relax, I watch movies.
How do you like to dress?
I am very colourful and I like to dress like a teenager. However, I dress based on the occasion I am attending.