To say that ID Cabasa is a gifted beat-maker would be belabouring the obvious. The lanky singer, producer, and choir master definitely knows his onions when it comes to making people dance. With production credits for hits such as ‘Gongo Aso’ ‘Street Credibility’ and ‘Photocopy’ under his belt, he has proved himself time and time again.
Coupled with this was the bitter love triangle row between Cabasa’s golden boy, 9ice, his estranged wife, Toni Payne and Ruggedman. However, Cabasa says it was all rumours instigated by some members of the press. According to him, ‘I can’t point to one thing as the cause of our quarrel because there wasn’t any. It was just some members of the press that were cooking up stories and ascribing statements to both of us.He sits atop Coded Tunes Entertainment, the clique which has been the springboard for some of the most talented acts. Artistes such as 9ice, Lord of Ajasa, Reminisce, Olamide cut their teeth under his tutelage, but their ship sailed in troubled waters when it was alleged that Cabasa had fallen out with 9ice. In fact, the rift was said to be so bitter that the once close friends no longer see eye to eye.
And at times, we may want to react and say, did you really say this? Yes, there was actually a point that there was no communication between us, and that’s because he had to do his own thing.’ But some people are wondering why the reconciliation is coming at this time; is it because 9ice has just gotten a juicy political appointment? ID Cabasa would have none of that.
He retorted, ‘I think that’s a bit insulting because when we started, he had nothing. For your information though, I’m the PA to the SA’ (Chuckles).’ The beat-maker however snaps back to a more serious mood and says, ‘The truth is that it has nothing to do with politics. He told me when he was about to venture into politics.
To be sincere, though I’m not the oldest in the Coded Tunes clique, they all respect me and my decision. 9ice rarely makes a major decision without telling me. And I don’t think there has ever been a time I’ll tell him not to do it. If I should leave him to himself, there are lots of stuff that he’ll want to do out of his anger or emotions, and I’ll advise him not to do, and he always listens to me. That’s the same thing with Reminisce, Jahbless, and the rest of the guys. I can tell you that 9ice did not offend me and I did not hurt him.’
At this point, Cabasa seems to have grown weary of addressing the issues or controversies surrounding Coded Tunes, but the matter of Ruggedman is still untreated so we prodded him further. Like a man boxed to a corner and knowing he has no choice but to answer, he says, ‘Let me go a bit into my history with Ruggedman.
We grew up on the same street, and we went to the same university though I was some years ahead of him. I was even the one that produced his first album. He has always been a friend of the house though he was never signed to Coded Tunes.’ Not satisfied with his explanation, we sought to know what exactly happened between 9ice and Ruggedman, and Cabasa responded coyly, ‘There was no beef between them. But the question will be properly answered at the Coded Tunes reunion concert. However, there are some wounds that I don’t think should be re-opened.’
How about all the songs released by both parties which many believe were thinly veiled attacks at each other? Cabasa also had a ready response, ‘When it comes to songs, some of them are wrongly interpreted by fans. I can remember that while recording the song, ‘Anytime’ with 9ice, he wept like a baby. Behind all our songs, there are stories. Just like the song, ‘Once Beaten, Twice Shy,’ it was wrongly interpreted and it was so sad. Toni Payne cooked rice for us that day, so how could the song be referring to her?
It was so shocking that people misconstrued that song to be an attack against her and Ruggedman. I can authoritatively tell you that the whole of that episode was a lie.’ So what’s the relationship between 9ice and Coded Tunes Entertainment now? ‘9ice is not signed to Coded Tunes at the moment, but I don’t think he ever left the family.
Yes, we had our differences, and that’s normal because even the tongue and teeth in the same mouth fight. But there was never a time we stopped communicating. As we speak, I’m actually working on 9ice’s album.’ But why can’t he just sign 9ice to the label, we wanted to know. Cabasa chuckled and replied with a wry smile, ‘Let me ask you a question: as a football player, can you sign a club?’
He continued, ‘The truth is that, at a point, most of our guys had to go out and do their own thing, which is a good thing.’ Like a father satisfied with the progress of his children, Cabasa added, ‘If there’s anything I’m so proud of, it is the fact that all the guys I have worked with are doing well, from 9ice to Olamide, Lord of Ajasa, Durella, Jahbless, Reminisce. 9ice has his own record label, same thing with Olamide.
You can’t tell any of their stories without mentioning Coded Tunes. If we had kept it just within ourselves, I’m sure we wouldn’t have an Alapomeji Records, YBNL or Oti Poju Records, and Coded Tunes is the great-grandfather of all these labels.’ Away from that now, it seems Cabasa prefers working with indigenous artistes, is that true? He answered, ‘Well, let me just make it clear that you cannot swim better than a fish. Can I sell the American language to the American people? No.
I’ll definitely struggle to do that. If you look at most of the artistes that have evolved from Nigeria and who have made it abroad; people like Femi Kuti, Asa among others, you will notice that they’re not selling anything foreign. Our language is our own, and that is what we can do best. Why is Jay Z sending someone down to Nigeria to scout for talents?
Why are we trying to shy away from what people need, and trying to be what we’re not. An alligator in Nigeria will not become a lizard in America.I can tell you that in this hip-hop era, we were the first to start promoting indigenous artistes with Lord of Ajasa.’ On the management of Coded Tunes, Cabasa used to be in charge as the Managing Director, but with someone else, Iben occupying that office now, what’s his new role?
He cleared the air saying, ‘I’m the Creative Director and my job is to take care of the music aspect of the business which is my strength, what I’m really good at, while Iben handles the day-to-day running of Coded Tunes. People who know me are aware that I’m not the kind of person who likes coming out always to see people and stuff like that; I prefer to work behind the scenes to do music.’
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