When Burna Boy said, “Most of African music is about nothing,” many Nigerian musicians, who have spent decades perfecting their craft, felt some form of rage. Temidayo ‘Temmy D’ Afolabi, who had understudied Olamide for years while getting influenced by what Sound Sultan’s music stands for and imbibing the Fuji sound he heard across his street at a young age, was one of the budding artistes who believed he was in the 10% who brought the substance to African music.
“People need to understand that there is always substance in my music…There was once an argument that African music does not have substance, but African music with substance is here, and it’s Temmy D.”
Ten years into his career as a musician, he has redefined his sound and learnt the ropes, understudying music icons while trying to make music that outlives his person, which serves as a premise for his new single ‘Survival.’
“Years ago, I just wanted to make music, but now I’ve grown, and I know that I’m privileged to be able to write my name in the sound of time. I want to make music so that even when I am gone, you can go back to it, and you can pick something from it. Nobody is bigger than music,” he told Netng.
It all started at a mini flat in a suburb in Lagos State. Temmy D had lived the life of a typical child star. With Somolu, Bariga being his world stage, he found himself an unintentional mentor in Olamide as he witnessed how the rap star and YBNL record label boss moved from the satin-wearing corporate guy who made music with his group of friends in the Ladi Lak axis of Bariga, to becoming the world star who recently earned a Grammy-nomination with his signee Asake.
“I was in Primary School when Olamide and his friends were in secondary school. At that time, they had a group. They were the first people I saw record a song officially,” he said. Occasionally, he devised plans to escape the clutches of his Choirmaster, Uncle Mike, whom his mother put in charge of him to receive vocal training to watch young artistes make music.
He had all the support he needed to lead a successful career – his father was a top chef at Eko Hotel & Suites with access to some of Nigeria’s biggest celebrities in the early 2000s. He had his mother’s support, who at a very young age had been intentional about him becoming a vocal powerhouse, and he had the luxury of a roof over his head where he was unintentionally given front-row tickets to Fuji concerts happening right outside his windows every Sunday.
“Initially I did not like it. I thought it was noise, but all of a sudden, I could sing what they were singing like. I could follow the tempo. Then I got interested, and I started going there before they set up to see how they perform live.” This moment brought him closer to his dreams.
However, the once bright career with money to fund his dreams was acquitted as his dad’s business failed. The Jextoban going secondary school student, who had Nigerian actress Elma Mbadiwe as his backup singer for his first performance, soon got a taste of the streets as he was to attend CMS Grammar School, a missionary school 32 minutes away from his family house. “That was when I had the chance to be on the streets for like a year,” he said.
Although he has always known he will make music, he never knew how or why. He just followed his passions and the steps of his then-Idol Olamide, an artist who also influenced his decision to pick Tai Solarin as his choice of university.
“Immediately I saw on his(Olamide) profile that he had blown. I’m like this is great. It was really encouraging for me. I saw in his bio that he was at Tai Solarin University studying Mass Communication, that’s the reason why I applied to the university in JAMB and I got admission to the school to study Political Science.”
It was all the freedom he needed to officially perform on bigger stages, so he took it. During that time, Temmy disclosed he had already written about 100 songs, an incredible feat which led a close friend to connect him to someone working at Naija Ninja Records. For him, that moment sealed his fate with the record label as ‘Sound Sultan and Baba Dee were the first ever celebrities I met.”
His experiences led him to Naija Ninja Records, the record label he’s now signed to. Under his new management, he’s gearing to release a new project with the title track, ‘Survival’ being the first release off the album. Temmy D believes ‘Survival’ is the perfect song to introduce the world to his sound.
“If you listen to the song, it’s me talking about delay not being denial. This is my story. Believe me, as a teenager, I was a child star, and I thought the whole world would have known that I had this talent at 21 because of how I started the thing so fast, but I am grateful for my journey because every single thing that has happened to me is the reason why I am this man that I am today.”
For him, although he was excited about working with the Naija Ninja team, the label’s call gave him a sense of responsibility. It sounded like, “My son, my company, go there and make sure the company is functioning.”
“This is me trying to continue something big. It’s different if Sound Sultan is alive, but man has done a whole lot. I understand I have a big assignment. From that, I started reading and understanding more about the foundation. I want to take everything to the next level, to where the label belongs,” he told Netng.
From the young artiste who found inspiration in Olamide’s journey to an artiste who started learning the ropes on the music scene from Sound Sultan and Baba Dee, the rising star has come a long way, and he’s ready to give all it takes for the world to hear his sound.
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