interviewBy Ayo Onikoyi
Folarin Falana isn't a name that will cause a great fuss but when you link that name to the legal luminary, Femi Falana, it begins to ring bell and the picture that comes to your mind is that of 'Learned Gentlemen' but Folarin isn't anything like his father even though he read law too.
He is a singer and an entertainer. His stage name is Falz, The Bad Guy and he isn't running anyone amok in the courtroom, his terrain is the entertainment stage where he sings to thrill people. Hear his story. Excerpts:
Please Introduce yourself
My name is Folarin Falana but I am popularly known as Falz or Falz 'The Bad Guy'. I am a musician, and an entertainer
I went to St. Leo's Catholic Primary School, Ikeja, after that I went to Olashore International School, in Osun State after which I went to study in the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. Then I came back and went to the Nigerian Law School, Abuja where I qualified as a Barrister.
What is a Barrister doing, singing?
A lot of people have asked me that and my reply is that when you are very passionate about something you must follow your heart. Music is my passion, that is why I am in music.
Given your father's reputation, one would have expected you to follow in his footsteps. Why tread another path?
Initially, that was my intention. Looking at his life and how much he has achieved and the kind of name he has made for himself, I sincerely wanted to follow in his footsteps. I admired his monumental achievements,and his lifestyle. In fact that was why I went to study Law; to follow in his footsteps but along the line I just developed the love for music and music stole my heart and I decided to follow my heart.
Have you had any spat with your father over this your decision of dumping law for music?
That was what everybody thought but I never had a strained moment over my decision with my father. Though when he got to know, he found it a bit strange, because none in my family has musical background but then it never developed into what I would call a strained moment. Later on he and my mum started to accept it and even go as far as encouraging me.
Looking at the competitive Nigerian music scene, what new thing are you bringing to the table to sell yourself?
I believe what you have to do in a scene such as this is to be unique. And I think my music is very unique. The infusion of comic lyrics, which people can easily relate with, with a lot of old school jam and the contemporary hip-hop is what makes my brand of music very unique. It is very different from what any other artiste out there does.
So, what would you call your own genre of music now?
I have given it my own name. I call it 'what's up music. It is a mix of hip-hop with old school sound and funny lyrics.
What have you really done to date?
Precisely in 2009 I released a mixtape, it was titled 'Shakara'. It was actually the compilation of some songs I have been doing before. I released it online and made it available to people for free download. The reason for that was just to get my music to the people, to know me.
Later on I released some singles. There was 'Cool Party', then 'What's up Guy' and most recently I released my most successful single to date, it is called 'High Class'. And most current among them, released just late last year is 'Currency'.
At what time in your life did you realise you were going to chart a different course from your dad?
The passion for music started building when I was in the secondary school. Though the passion was there, I never thought it was something I was going to give serious attention until towards the end of my University days. By then the music I was making appeared to be on a different level, assuming something of professional status. Then I realised I could make it a profession.
Should we look forward to anything special from you any time soon?
Definitely. My debut album is about wrapped up now. It will be released officially next month. The album is going to showcase a lot about my style as an artiste. There is going to be a lot of versatility shown and people can appreciate different sides of me as an artiste and an entertainer. Also there are variously artistes who collaborated with me to make various blends of music people can enjoy. The album is done, only the engineering works going on now to finish it.
Are there others in the music industry you want to emulate?
There is nobody in the music industry I can say I look up to or I want to be like. But there are few that are doing well for themselves. I admire their work and like listening to them. Among such is Tuface Idibia. I like Wizkid, he is a talented musician. Olamide is doing well for himself too and a few others.
What do you say to the notion that there is too much of beats and sound with less meaningful lyrics in music being made nowadays?
That is very correct. These days many artistes just focus on the sound with little attention to lyrics because the basic idea is just to get people to dance. The music industry is all about dance music but personally, I focus more on the lyrics. When you listen to my music you will understand there is so much of lyrical message with danceable beats. I actually address some issues in the songs without being boring and yet still danceable. I hold lyrics to be very important.
Is it true that as a musician you must indulge in some substance used to derive inspiration for songs or at least get a bit wild ?
Many people when they think of musicians think of substance use and stuff to get inspiration but it doesn't have to be that way. It is not always that way. I, personally don't indulge in any substance use for inspiration. I get my inspiration from life; things and people around me. I pick on issues that can make great topics and I blend them into danceable, meaningful music.
Being wild also comes with handling the ladies; how are you with the ladies?
Well, I am okay with the ladies (laughs). When they know you are a musician the female fans will always come around but you must know how to handle them right because they are very important, they are the ones that even convey our music to the male fans.
Why the name 'Falz, the Bad Guy?
First, Falz is a nickname my friends gave me way back in school. It is just a short form of my last name 'Falana'.
For the Bad Guy, it is not Bad Guy,it is BAHDguy, which is an acronym for 'Its Brilliant And Highly Distinct Guy (BAHDguy). The BAHDguy stands for something positive.