Many Nigerians online heard about Eric Obuh (a.k.a Vocal Slender)’s rise to prominence after the BBC’s Welcome to Lagos Documentary that aired last April. His hit single, Owo Yapa became an inspirational anthem soon after for many Nigerians and has since garnered about 86,000 plus views on You Tube.
But what has Vocal Slender been up to since the BBC documentary aired last year? CP-Africa’s Nmachi Jidenma catches up with Vocal Slender where they discuss a wide range of issues ranging from how the documentary affected his life to what the Nigerian government can do to provide more opportunities for the masses. Enjoy the interview!
Nmachi Jidenma: Thanks for joining us at CP-Africa Slender. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Vocal Slender: I am Eric Obuh a.k.a Vocal Slender,born into the family of five children;two girls and three boys.
Nmachi: How did Nigerians respond to your album, Send them Come? How many CDs were you able to sell both online and offline?
Vocal Slender: Actually I have not released an album yet, apart from the few who know me as a musician before the documentary and those who watched the B.B.C documentary. As per CD sales, I dont know the number that has been sold, but any number they told me is what I will collect.
Nmachi: How has the BBC documentary affected your life for the better?
Vocal Slender: It is wonderful… it has really affected my life positively,it brought me into limelight, but the money is not coming yet.
Nmachi: I listened to this interview you had with the Nigerian Village Square where you mentioned that you didn’t know many people were going to see the video. I was shocked. Please share that with our audience? How did they find you and how did you feel when you found out that Nigerians were going to see the video?
Vocal Slender: It was one fateful Tuesday, I was in the dump,there was no work so I was busy rehearsing my songs,when some white guys walked up to me and said they like my song,that they like to film me working. At first I refused because I didnt want people to know that I work in the dump, and I didnt know that Nigerians will see the video, but the truth is, it is only few Nigerians that watched the video, either through pirated copies or on the internet.
Nmachi: What of the ladies? How have they been responding to your success?
Vocal Slender: The ladies are my biggest fans in Nigeria,London and abroad.
Nmachi: So I really resonated with your story because it was very inspiring and showed the resilience of the human spirit; especially the idea of being ready when opportunity comes. However, Wole Soyinka said this about the BBC program: “There was this colonialist idea of the noble savage which motivated the programme. It was patronising and condescending. It surprised me because it came from the BBC which is supposed to have some sort of reputation. It was not worthy of the BBC.” What are your thoughts on this? Do you think the show was condescending or do you think it showed how hardworking and inspiring Nigerians are?
Vocal Slender: I will refer my answer to the book of Mathew Chapter11 verse 7 to 9. We have millions of journalists and press men and writers in Nigeria who all they only see in the dumps are scavengers and hoodlums, but when the B.B.C crew came, they saw talented and gifted young men in all works of life who display the attitude of a resilience spirit of life and who believe in no rest until success is achieved. For me, I have nothing to say about that but will let God and humanity be the judge. But always remember the golden rule,show some love.The BBC documentary is not condescending but it displayed how hardworking Nigerians are.
Nmachi: We heard about the Indigo2 show at the Coko music Festival with Basket mouth and co last year. How did it go?
Vocal Slender: I couldn’t make it to the show; the reason being that my visa came a day after the show.
Nmachi: How many shows have you done so far outside the country since the BBC show?
Vocal Slender: I have done three big shows outside the country…one of them is the O2 arena in London,and more awaiting me.
Nmachi: How is your music doing in Nigeria? Are the DJs supporting you? Are you making money from shows, CD sales e.t.c.?
Vocal Slender: My music is about to heat the hook in Nigeria, the DJs are very supportive ,not that really big but I hope it will come.
Nmachi: What next for Slender?
Vocal Slender: As I have said before, I have not release an album yet ,but to release my album all the songs on air on the internet ,radio station are songs I did long time.
Nmachi: At CP-Africa we are very interested in conversations about making Nigeria and making other countries in Africa a better place. Now when I personally saw some of the places that the BBC featured, I felt so bad. We know our country is rich and it is very, very unfortunate that more is not being done to equip people with proper jobs, to construct better roads and just to overall provide better infrastructure in a financial capital such as Lagos. So right now, Slender I would really appreciate your thoughts on how you think the Nigerian government is performing. Are they looking out for the masses? For the people in Makoko, Ojota and some of the places featured in the documentary. How can they do better?
Vocal Slender: My thought is that we are all human and you must expect the unexpected…Maybe they are looking for the interest of the masses I don’t know, but if you place them on the scale of truth you will know they are not there for the masses. I pray that God directs them.
Leadership is all about rendering service not sitting on the throne to be served.I grew up from the ghetto part part of Nigeria; Lagos, Ajegunle to be precise. I know what the people want now, first is electricity, good roads, repairing the old refineries and building new ones and I will go back to our long forgotten agricultural sector to create job opportunities. I will make room for our those in the sciences to get involved in scientific research and I will make Nigerians believe in themselves again.
Nmachi: How can Nigerians support your music?
Vocal Slender: By supporting me spiritually and financially by giving me moral support and by patronizing me and promoting my story and my song. Thanks for your love, l love you all.
Nmachi: Thanks Slender. We wish you all the best in 2011! To our readers, support Vocal Slender. Check out some of his songs on iTunes! ———> http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/vocal-slender/id362320852
Watch the official video for Slender’s hit single, Owo Yapa!