Top Fuji act, Pasuma, has remained for decades one of Naija’s brightest music exports. His stage presences, unique style of Fuji music with a blend of hip-hop, have greatly endeared him to millions of fans within and outside the country. He is a multiple award winning artiste whose music career has clearly stood the test of time. And one of the people who have helped him achieve this feat is his irrepressible manager, Ididowo, whose reputation in the industry is fast assuming legendary status. Mathew Adeboye a.k.a. Ididowo, has been Pasuma’s manager for about 20 years but has been in the business for more than 30 years. He had an exclusive interview with City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL and SOLA BAMIDELE at the recent 22 years anniversary celebration of City People magazine held at the Balmoral Event Centre where he spoke so glowingly about his star artiste, Pasuma, who also happens to be his cousin (his mum and Pauma’s mum are sisters from same parents). Enjoy excerpts from the interview.
Let’s go back to when you started with Pasuma in 2001, what level would you say he was then? How popular was he in the industry?
He was already popular, but he hadn’t quite been able to spread himself across the country and even beyond like he has done now. I remember that back then, when he went to Mecca and returned, I was still spraying him money. Then, I was already getting close to him, giving him advice whenever he requested such from me. It was in 2001 that I now told him that, my brother, I have come home fully.
What were the things you saw in Pasuma that gave you the confidence that if you leave Obesere and every other thing you were doing and join him, that you’ll have no regrets? What was it about his style of music and personality that gave you the assurance you were taking the right decision?
You see, any musician that does not always involve himself in a lot of things going on around him in the band, he has a lot of prospects ahead of him. For instance, if I pick up a N5million naira show, I may not tell him immediately, it could be just a few days to the date of the event that I would inform him that, Alhaji, I have picked up a certain job o and I charged them X amount. All he’ll ask me is where is the place? And I’ll tell him. Next he’ll ask is, have they paid? And I’ll tell him, yes, they have made some advance payments and it’s already in my account and he’ll say, okay, no wahala. He could now reach me a few days later that, egbon, let me have part of my money with you, I want to use you part of it. And I’ll make the money available. He could reach me again to say, my brother, from the money remaining with you, pay some money to the guy we got equipments from, pay some to the band boys and so on. He doesn’t get himself worked up over trivial issues at all. As I speak with you now, I have quite a lot of his money with me, but still, if I ask him for money, saying I have a few things I need to sort out, he won’t say take it out of my money with you, all he will ask is, how much do I need? And he’ll give it to me. And it’s not just me alone he does this for. So, the trust is there. He completely trusts those he works with and that is very important. And me, I also have a policy, if a musician is doing what I want, there’s no where I can’t spread positive information about him to. You know, they can’t go out to meet and interact with people, we are the ones that go out and talk about them.
How would you rate Pasuma back then among the top Fuji artistes making waves?
You see, back then, Shina Akanni was categorized amongst the top stars like Kwam 1 and others. I can say Abass and Pasuma are the ones that were almost on the same level. Although Abass Obesere started making waves a little before Paso, but there’s something about this music job that I know. Sometimes, when a musician is doing well, it might be the musician’s prayers that are being answered, or it could just be that it’s one of the boys who pack instruments for him whose prayers God is answering. If he has issues with that boy and the guy decides to leave, that might be the end of his success because the source of his answered prayers has left him. That’s why they need to be careful on the job. That is why Pasuma doesn’t fight anyone, instead, he will look for ways to settle with you or stylishly avoid you instead of fighting with you.
A lot of people say Pasuma is a very humble person, is this something he has been doing long before success came or he has had to learn to be humble after success came?
No, he’s been like that long, long before now. I remember that back then if I went to him for money, he never said no to me. And he never saw himself as a big superstar. Even till today, he still remains his humble self. He recognizes me always as a big brother and even behind my back he accords me my respect, unlike many musicians who would only respect you when you’re standing right in front of them. Once your back is turned, they take away the respect they give you. The truth of the matter is that many of them are not always comfortable letting people know they are actually younger in age to some of the people around them. But not Paso. And that is why I respect him so much. His humility is unmatchable. And that is the same respect he accords his band boys too. Let me tell you a secret, one of the keys to success for any musician is for you to be good to your boys because they would always be praying for you. They know you’re the source of their livelihood. Apart from his Range Rover, we both drive the same car. In fact, there are a couple of boys in that band who drive bigger cars than the ones we drive. Do you know that most of his band members live in their houses? Most of them are landlords. They all have their cars.
How would you compare the Fuji industry back then to what it is presently, is there any major difference?
Ah, there’s a big difference! A big one. In fact, I can say it was Pasuma and Obesere that transformed that industry and softened it up. Pasuma cannot be playing here and another musician comes where he’s playing o! They would think he had come to drop some charms or something. It’s ‘fine boy’ fuji that they’re doing now. These days you’ll find musicians eating in each other’s house, how was that possible then? Sakara or Fuji musicians then couldn’t relate freely with each other, nor could managers of any of the musicians because they would think you could harm them with charms. But soon, Abass and Paso became close, visiting each other at home. There was even a time that for several months, both of them were staying at a fan’s house. From his house, they would go do their separate shows and come back to that fan’s house in the night. That was when they all realized there was really no gain in them fighting and beefing each other.
From your experience, what are the qualities you think an aspiring artiste manager must have in order to excel in the industry?
Number one, he must be able to penetrate far and wide. For instance, Pasuma and the boys were at a show yesterday, but I couldn’t go with them. They were some other places I went to. The artiste will not be able to reach out to all his fans all the time, we are the ones who will do that on their behalf. I go to his fans, sit with them, discuss with them and let them know how much Paso cherishes their love and support. And that he prays for their success and wellbeing all the time. When these fans now meet Paso, they will tell him thank you o, that your manager told me a lot of nice things about you. Even the artist will be happy when he hears things like that and will always be looking for ways to help you make progress in life. As a manager, you have to always be on the lookout for ways to increase your artiste’s fan base. For instance, if KSA is playing in Ijebu tomorrow, I could tell Pasuma I want to go and I need like 100k, just so that I can go there and mingle with the big boys. From the money he’s given me, I will spray KSA and he would acknowledge my presence as Pasuma’s Manager. From there, two, three people could collect my contacts and I’ll tell then, don’t worry, when I return home I’ll call you and Paso will greet you. That way, I have added two or three more people to the fan base. There are a few others too apart from me who are also managing him and we work hand in hand together. There’s also Taiye Ibadan, Awoko, Afo, we are quite a formidable team.
Tell us, sir, what kind of person is Ididowo and how do you cope with female fans that surround you on the job?
Let us be frank with ourselves, there’s no man that doesn’t like women. Truth is, in our line of business, we need women. For instance, inside this hall right now, if the men realize that there are only a few women scattered within over a hundred men, one after the other, they will begin to disappear. In a party gathering, a man that had planned to spray the musician only 1k will end up spending 10k because he wants to impress the women present. As for me, I try to be very careful with women. I am married with kids. My wife lives abroad, I just came from visiting her and the kids only a few weeks ago. You can’t run away from women, we need them in the business. They are very useful to us. There are some jobs we do for women and the kind of men we meet and contacts we make from it is unbelievable, unlike what we get from playing for guys. So, we just cannot do without women in the business.