Unarguably, Buchi is one of Nigeria’s top gospel musicians. If there was an official rating of the nation’s music ministers, it’s certain that he won’t just be on the list, but among the top five.
But not many of Buchi’s fans know that he’s also into writing. He’s an author with a book, Cease Fire, already to his credit. The book has sold tens of thousands of copies. Another of his book is expected to hit the shelves sometime within the year.
When our correspondent caught up with him, he discloses that he’s also waxing stronger musically, so much so that his latest album, Red Gold Green, was released towards the end of 2017.
Buchi, however, says his latest album took its title from its lead track because “people always ask me, as a gospel singer whose genre is reggae, about the red, gold and green colours, which are the colours of reggae. So, I did a song, Red Gold Green, to explain what they mean to me.”
For Buchi, change is the only constant thing in life, and the music industry is not immune to it, especially in this age of digital technology.
Writing may be hard, depending on circumstances. Sometimes if you don’t flow, you are not in the mood to write. When that happens to me, I just drop it; I don’t force it. And it’s time consuming, it requires your total presence of mind. It’s not something you do and do many other things at the same time
The effect of such a pertinent change on the industry is in the area of distribution and promotion. When Buchi started his music career, distribution was all about physical sale of cassette tapes and then Compact Discs (CDs). And even before then, there used to be phonograph records.
Now, in addition to cassettes (which have almost faded out) and CDs, the current trend is digital distribution, whereby, instead of buying CDs to play in CD players, people just download music directly into their devices.
As everything in life has two sides, digital distribution also has its advantages and disadvantages.
Asked if he’s positively or negatively affected by digital distribution, Buchi answers, “There are no negatives with me. Red Gold Green was released both physically and digitally and it’s doing fine in both media. The advantages of digital distribution are numerous, I must say. It makes your music available worldwide, so easily. With it, you don’t need a shop to stack your CDs for sale. Rather, your shop is in your laptop or your phone and your market is the whole world.”
But how is Red Gold Green faring digitally, in online airplay known as streaming and sales, he says, “On the first day of release, it garnered 37,000 downloads and streams combined. Most of its sales have come from the UK. Also Australia, US, Africa.”
He describes the album, which was symbolically released on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 2017 as having 11 new songs.
Reggae singers are basically conscious musicians, who usually sing about strife, poverty, inequality, racism and other social problems; Nigeria is saddled with so many of such problems. So, does Red Gold Green feature a song about such problems? “No, but in the album before it I have a song, Cease Fire, which talks about Nigeria’s problems. And it’s so sad that Nigerian musicians are not singing about the ills in our society. Listening to Nigerian music, you would think that all we do is drink and party as we have no problems.”
If he’s truly concerned about Nigeria, why did he not join fellow musicians under the aegis of movements like Charly Boy’s Our Mumu Don Do group, which successfully protested against President Muhammadu Buhari’s long absence from the country last year? “I don’t have to march on the streets to register my displeasure. I don’t have to do that. And by the way, I don’t have anything against people who do so,” Buchi says.
Asked if he agreed with a school of thought which believes that the current crop of Nigerian musicians lacked talent, Buchi simply says, “I disagree with that totally. In every generation, there are a crop of talented people; so talent is not the problem.
“The music industry has an abundance of everything. If you’re looking for fame in it, you’ll get it. If you’re looking for money, you’ll get it. So, for an upcoming artiste, it all depends on what he’s looking for.”
Does he spend millions of Naira on promoting his songs? The gospel musician’s answer to this is quite diplomatic. “There’s a budget for every song, and God provides it,” he says.
Talking about his literary talent, Buchi argues that the notion that the reading culture is dying in Nigeria is not affecting him as an author, as his book, Cease Fire, has sold tens of thousands of copies.
But does he find writing easier? He says, “Writing may be hard, depending on circumstances. Sometimes if you don’t flow, you are not in the mood to write. When that happens to me, I just drop it; I don’t force it. And it’s time consuming, it requires your total presence of mind. It’s not something you do and do many other things at the same time. Maybe for some that is possible. So, I think it varies from person to person.”