Tunde and Wunmi Obe are one of the most loved and celebrated couples in the Nigerian Entertainment Industry. From the 1990s till now, this power couple have continued to wax stronger as they keep dishing out hit songs while still serving highly coveted couple goals. T.W.O as they are fondly called, shared with Happenings Magazine Assistant Editor, Eniola Awokoya, their motivation and staying power in the industry and their plans to celebrate 20 years of Love in 2018, in this Exclusive interview. Enjoy.
T.W.O has been a very consistent force to reckon with in the entertainment industry over the years. What has been your sustaining power?
Well, I think that is because we are not part of the glamour side of show business. There is a show and a business part of entertainment and we were trained to concentrate on the business part but the show and glamour part is what is being highlighted now in the industry in recent times.
We still think that the most efficient criteria to keep you grounded is the music. There are a lot of rich and well dressed people out there but what you bring to the table to set you apart is your music. So anytime we want to have an album, we put in a lot of work , we don’t take it for granted, we take our time, we don’t rush, we can take a whole year to record an album. We keep doing it till we get it right.
The first thing is that you shouldn’t take your fans for granted. We don’t say because its Tunde and Wunmi Obe and once people hear our songs they will just love it no, it doesn’t work that way. We understand that people have a choice and these days there are many artistes fighting for peoples attention so an artiste who wants to stay grounded cannot afford to come up with a wishy-washy album. So, we really take our time to record our songs so that’s one of the secrets.
In addition, we also place importance on the quality of our music videos, we don’t compromise but go for the best hands to give us the perfect visual representations of the message in our music. So we don’t compromise the quality of our songs and our videos.
Also very key is the promotion of our music. No matter how good your music is, without promotion it wouldn’t go far, we understand that and that is why we ensure that we give our works adequate publicity so that it can get to our teeming fans no matter their location.
How would you react to the issue that came up recently about the proposed ban of foreign production of music videos by the federal government.
The minister of information and communication Mr. Lai Mohammed has denied the statement claiming that he was misunderstood, so I will not belabour the point. However, I think what he didn’t realize as at the time of making that statement, is that music is not something you can cocoon or put in a box.
A lot of the major artistes are shooting their videos outside their countries and earning foreign exchange from it. What the government is supposed to concentrate on, is the creation of an enabling and attractive environment good enough for her citizens to shoot their videos and to also attract foreign artistes, as that would be the real foreign exchange earner.
American rapper Jay Z did a Fela song but he couldn’t do a video for it because he couldn’t come to Nigeria to shoot the video for the fear of robbery and kidnapping. The security situation in the country discouraged him from bringing foreign exchange here and those are areas begging for government’s attention. We have so much culture, beauty and uniqueness in this country that is big enough to be attractive to foreigners.
(cuts in) the argument in favour of the government’s suggestion is that, since most of the artistes sing basically about shaking bombom, naked girls and love, there are definitely scenes in Nigeria where these videos can be shot and if a particular set is required, there are people trained in set designing that can create such perculiar ambience. That way, money that would have been taken outside Nigeria would remain here and wealth would be created among the people and also reduce teeming unemployment. Have you considered that point of view?
Let us be honest with ourselves, the average Nigerian audience is not interested in seeing Atilogu dancers or cultural what nots in music videos because they see such everyday. They would rather see the beaches of Miami, Las Vegas and other choice locations in advanced countries and that is why entertainers are cashing in on that.
Even me, I now wear leather jackets in music videos simply because I am trying to appeal to the taste of all my fan base. Therefore, entertainers have to follow the trend in what appeals to the taste of their audience.
It is also important to note that there are many Nigerians in diaspora and you cannot fully tell the Nigerian story without talking about such people but I think that point of view is also valid but you cannot use the word ban for something that is so creative and the basics should be addressed first.
What is the motivation behind your latest effort, the TWO PLUS album?
The motivation is simply to connect with our fans, music lovers, grow our fan base and ultimately make money.
As much as one will say that the plan is to make music and make people happy but the bottom line is that it’s a business, a job and you expect to make revenue, so that is the plan. Ultimately, we always ensure that what we put out there is of top notch quality because we do not take our fans for granted.
The song Green White Green is basically seeking to promote Nigeria’s unity. Do you think that song and those in that category have been able to achieve their purpose considering the agitation from various ethnic groups in the country currently?
I hope so, I seriously do. The only thing we didn’t want to do was sing the national anthem and you know that when people sing the national anthem very well it gives you goose bumps and makes you proud of being a Nigerian.
The idea behind that song is to promote the unity of Nigeria and encourage us to stay together with each other because truth is that Nigeria is very much respected among other African countries even for the sheer size of the country.
Check out the national team which is a conglomerate of all the tribes in the country, each time they are on the field, nobody cares about which part of Nigeria they come from but everybody wants to see a good result and that is the mentality that we should all have.
I don’t think it is to anybody’s advantage, if my eastern brothers have to take visa to come see me and vice versa because that is what is going to happen, if that plan should work.
But I don’t think that is the direction we should look into but rather how we can make things work out for each other. I stated in the song that there is actually no bad tribe but what we have are bad people and bad doesn’t have a tribe.
T.W.O will be celebrating twenty years wedding anniversary by next year, what should your fans expect from you?
Its gonna be a lot actually. First its gonna be fifty years for Tunde Obe, thirty years of friendship with Wunmi Obe and twenty years of marriage. What we plan to do is bring out the greatest hit album which will be a compilation of peoples favourites songs that we have done over the last twenty years.
When that is done, we can now start a proper album for the year. That album will be a documentary of our work, do a vox pop to get peoples opinion of which of our songs they love the most over the years.
It’s gonna be about twelve of fifteen songs that people can say are our greatest hits and will be used as an official documentary of our work.
We will also include bonus tracks that nobody has heard before and hopefully would keep people dancing in 2018.