2nd May, 2014
Talented Afro-pop singer, Modupe Ola, better known as Mo’Cheedah, has been off the music scene for about two years. While away, different rumours swirled around the sudden break by the youngest MTV Africa Music Award winner. In April, Mo’Cheedah snaked back into the music chart with the release of a new mild tempo single, Destinambari. FUNSHO AROGUNDADE met the pretty singer recently and she explains why she was away and her plans to recapture her space in the music industry
You were away for more than two years. Why do you think this is the right time to come back?
Firstly, music should be a natural thing. You can’t force music to come or create it. It has to come naturally. While I was away, I have been recording. Months after months, I was recording. I was just doing what I want with no caution. Listening to my recording, making corrections, re-recording it and just loving the production and its output. After I have had satisfaction of what I have in my repertoire, I felt time is ripe.
The preparation for the singles took a while. I thought this is the right time because I have built enough confidence in myself and completed the work I wanted to do and focused on myself.
There was a report that your decision to lie low was as a result of some emotional issue.
It wasn’t as a result of any emotional issues. It was just as a result of having a hectic work schedule for so many years. I have done so much at a very young age. I have achieved much and accomplished so much that I needed that well deserved break. At a time, I just felt like taking my time and have fun because at the end of the day if you are just running through life and don’t take your time to just stop and refresh, then you are not living.
So what engaged you during the hiatus?
I was in school (University of Lagos) to finish my degree course. Now that I am a graduate, I am back.
Are you sure you can fill the gap created by that break?
First thing first, there is space for everybody. You can never run out of space. I am not threatened or desire to have another person’s success.
As a young artiste, I work so hard and have achieved things that most people in the industry dream of achieving. I have won a lot of awards. I am the youngest person in Africa that has won MTV Africa Music Award, MAMA, and Channel O award at age 18. That has never happened before. I have won FAB and Dynamix Awards. I have done a lot and I am proud of those accomplishments. So I am happy for everybody. I am happy with what they are doing but you cannot work with someone else’s time. Everyone has their time and purpose in life. Mine is totally different from theirs.
Having accomplished that feat at such early stage of your career, what is it now for you to prove?
I am making world class music. I am back to make a legacy for myself. I am back to etch my name on the minds of music lovers. I want to record music that people will sing 50, 100 years from now. I want to make timeless music. I want to make music that would travel beyond the shores of Africa. I want to make music that would influence different races and tribes. Now I am in it for the art sake, for the love of it and to make that difference. I am in it to share my God giving talent with the world because at the end of the day we are made differently. There is nobody like me in the world. I am different. My style is different. My strength, drive, sound of my voice, the way I write, the way I perform, nobody else does that because that was why I was created and that’s it. My purpose now is to create long lasting music years after I might have gone. That is my purpose now, not just to create that ‘short term music’ or ‘in the moment’ kind of music.
Is Destinambari, your new single, one of such songs?
Music is supposed to be easy. It supposed to come easily from your soul and heart. Destinambari just came and landed, and we started putting the rhythm and sound together, and it was so easy. It was so raw and so fluent. The song came from the soul. I picked Destinambari from those new songs that I have recorded because I wanted something that people can easily remember. I wanted something striking and picked Destinambori because of what it signifies. It means number 10, and number 10 is like perfection. It is complete and I wanted it to have that diversity as well. I wanted Indian people to share it, I wanted people that watch Bollywood movies all over the world to also be able to relate with the song.
Tell us more about the production of the song.
The song features Phyno who rapped in his Igbo language. It was produced by Cobhams Asuquo, one of the best producers in the world. I believe anyone who wants to make great and endless music should meet Cobhams. When you want to make a master piece, Cobhams is the person to go to. When I decided to come back to the music industry, I decided to work with Cobhams because I wanted a different sound. I wanted to make beautiful music. That also applies to my decision to feature Phyno. I love his (Phyno) diversity. You may not understand what he is saying if you are not Igbo, but you will still manage to put it together. In Destinambari, I sang predominantly in Yoruba and also wanted the song to have a different kind of sound and Phyno was it.
What is the message you are passing out in the song?
Destinambari is a love song. It is a love song telling your loved ones that you will do anything for him. It is about telling your loved ones that you would give all of yourself to him. In most of my songs, I research and always like to use Yoruba folklore. In Destinambari, I have a hook: Aya mi o ja Lati bi ibeji, Epo nbe; Ewa nbe o. I want the older generation to look into it, I want the younger generation to remember what the older generation had experienced in their time. With Epo nbe for me in that song, it just meant that I am ready. I am a woman, a real woman, who is ready to give my loved one twins. For me, it is just saying I am old enough, wise enough and love you enough..
Are you really singing that for someone?
Definitely. Music comes from inspiration and inspiration can come from anywhere like your relationship between your family members or your relationships with your friends. So, definitely as an artist when you write, something influences you. Something you have experienced influences you; something you feel influences you because that is the best way to say it in the most truthful way.
But how soon are we going to congratulate you on the twins?
I don’t know but I pray that God gives me twins. I like twins, they are beautiful. They are blessing from God. When I eventually get married, I will have children and hopefully twins will be added.
How true is it that you are now engaged?
I am not engaged. I don’t know the news you have heard but I am not engaged. Whenever I get engaged, you will know but right know, I am not engaged. It is all about music right now.
What is the state of your relationship with other female singers ruling the airwaves now?
Fantastic. I am good with everybody. I am a great fan of Tiwa Savage. I love her music. I have her album. Like I said before, there is space for everybody. She is doing her thing and I am doing my thing. The female singers are working so hard. They are fierce. It has not be really easy for female artist in Africa or in any part of the world. So right now, female artist are becoming bold. We are talking about the likes of Seyi Shay, Eva Alordiah, Yemi Alade among others. They are break walls and taking risk. They are taking chances and not scared. They are working very hard and I am extremely proud of what they have achieved individually.