18-year-old singer, Olawepo Benjamin Opeyemi popularly known as Ben 7 tells Saturday Beats about his career and how he got eight distinctions in his West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination.
How did music start for you?
Music is just a blessing to me; it is an innate ability which I do effortlessly. When you have a talent, you just express it and it becomes something you do naturally over time. I have a talent for music and I also love it and that’s why I decide to make it a career because it’s my natural talent. I sing effortlessly and if I don’t sing in a day, I doubt if I would be okay; I won’t be myself at all. It started for me from church when I was about 13 years old. My dad was the pastor of the church while my mum is an evangelist.
How did your parents react to the fact that you are singing secular music instead of gospel songs?
They were both skeptical initially but after several failed attempts to convince me to do strictly gospel, they eventually allowed me to follow my passion. I believe they let me be when they realised that music is my passion and I really want to do secular music. My parents didn’t want to limit me.
Why did you opt for secular music?
I’ve actually done a gospel album; it is an 8-track album. But I decided to sing secular songs because I want the world to know who Ben 7 is. I want them to feel the real me and see how versatile I am. I don’t like limiting myself, I like to be dynamic with my talent.
How do you plan to do secular music without using vulgar lyrics knowing that your parents are evangelists?
I’m just trying to express my talent. That’s all. I believe that if you are not stealing, doing drugs and committing any crimes as a youth, expressing your talents should be encouraged as long as it’s legal. The secular music I’m doing is legal, so I have no regrets doing it. It’s a talent God has given me and I must express it. To be honest with you, there is no way you are going to sing secular music without using vulgar and profane words. Even if you listen to my songs, there are already traces of such things there but my parents know how well they’ve brought me up and if I sing about women, sex and what have you, it’s strictly business. If I was a doctor, I’ll still mention stuffs like that, does that mean I am doing something bad? So my parents support me and when they hear me sing about those stuffs, they just have to dance to it.
But why must secular artistes use vulgar words in their songs?
We don’t mention those things without any reason; secular artistes sing mostly about boy-girl relationship and life in general. However, the aim is to entertain and ladies are our main audience. The ladies listen to music more, so there is nothing we can do about that. As I said, we don’t sing about those things for no reasons. It’s the reality. For instance, my song “Leave Am Like That” was inspired by what I saw recently when my manager and I visited a shopping mall. Two guys were arguing over the girl one of them was dating and criticising her physical features. Then the guy who was dating the girl just told his friend, ‘I don’t care what you think about my girl, just leave am like that.’ That was how the idea struck. It’s just a story of a guy who will defend his girlfriend irrespective of the flaws the other person thinks she has. So it’s about reality. So how will I sing such a song without mentioning the physical features especially when it comes to the area of comparison in the song? Although I don’t sing about bum bum, boobs, sex, parties and money alone, the topic of my songs are eclectic. My church background help me to infuse some inspirational themes in my music.
When you look at the track records of artistes like Davido, Wizkid and Young 6ix who started almost at your age, are you not scared if you will be given much room to thrive in the industry?
I’m in a class of my own. I only see Wizkid and Davido as my brothers. I respect the fact that I can use them as an example of young people doing what I’m also doing, but I’m not here to copy anybody. Music is not about competition, but more about your own uniqueness. I can’t deceive myself, what I give is what I’ll get. If what I give to people is better than what Wizkid and Davido give, I’ll definitely outshine them.
What sets you apart from any other up and coming artiste?
What stands me out is my personality. I don’t copy anyone. My talent is inbuilt. Some people say I’m boastful but I’m not. It’s just confidence because I know I’m different from other artistes. I’m in my world and my talent is innate like I said earlier.
So what are you working on now?
I’m working on my hit song right now. Before I got signed on to Jebon Records, I promised my fans that if I had a good backing, I’d release seven hits before my album drops. So I’m working on those hits now.
Are you in school currently?
I’m planning to get into the university soon. I completed my O’level education not long ago. So right now, I’m just trying to juggle music with education.
Are you not going to abandon education by the time you come out with seven hit tracks and you become a superstar?
There is no way music can hinder my education. Everyone knows that the other side of me is that I am highly active in my academic life. A lot of people were surprised when I scored eight distinctions in the last WASSCE exams despite the fact that I was always in the studio recording songs. So I know what I’m doing. I bless God for my parents who always watch my back and make sure I don’t derail.
Also, many of your mates start impregnating girls once they become superstars, how do you want to avoid the temptation of girls?
Like I said earlier, I’m from a Christian background and my parents are always watching me. The upbringing you have will determine how responsible and disciplined you are with females. I’m not going to fall into such temptations with God on my side. My aim is just to entertain, that’s all.
Tell us about your record label.
Jebon Records is a new label founded by Mr. Umebulue Johnpaul Ebuka as its CEO/Managing Director. The principle of Jebon Records is in grooming and encouraging young talents and I believe that’s why I was signed on as its first artiste and that was the happiest day of my life.