Music

Meet K-Solo: The Man Who Gave Us Timaya

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Phew!

I watched Loose Talk Podcast’s episode 87 to its blithering end. At three hours and eight minutes, this is a long spool of time but, trust me, it was worth it. The trio of Osagie Alonge, Ayomide Tayo and Steven Dede (shout out to them!) had a rare guest in the house, Solomon Oyeniyi.

The name Solomon Oyeniyi may draw blanks from the uninitiated, but those familiar with the recent history of Nigerian music would know his sobriquet, K-Solo. Coming to limelight as head honcho at Igberaga Records, he holds production credits and creative direction for some of the big household names in the music scene today. From the mid-2000s till date, he has been producing Nigerian popular music and amongst his credited works are Timaya’s first two albums (True Story and Gift and Grace), Klever Jay’s first two albums (The Beginning and Forward Ever) and the late Kefee’s crossover gospel song, Kokoroko. Although K-Solo sees himself as ‘a failed artist’, he also has four LP albums under his belt.

Done in the customary style of the Loose Talk podcast, the approach of the conversation was loose. Expectedly, K-Solo had his own agenda. Notwithstanding, this agenda doesn’t take away from his genius. His works speaks for him. He curated that contemporary South South sound popular with Timaya, Duncan Mighty and Mr 2Kay. That signature groovy bassline, thumping percussion and sparse lyrical accompaniment is his creation.

Born into a middle-class family of a ‘banker’ father and army officer mother, K-Solo’s prodigious music talent was noticed early in primary school where he played the piano accompaniment to the hymns from the popular hymn book, Songs of Praise. His career took him through the choir at Celestial Church where he learnt the rudiments of his ‘groove’ and he continued pursuing music against his father’s wishes.

He landed at Playground Entertainment where he became Paul Play Dairo’s sound engineer and acolyte. He claims his early productions include Paul Play’s Angel of my Life and Forever (Songs from Hitsville album) as well as Sunny Nneji’s classic album Oruka. He is however not credited for these works alongside a monumental work: the sparsely polyphonic signature song of Indomie, Nigeria’s best-loved noodles!

At this point, even the interlocutors were aghast and astounded—as will be a discerning listener. If K-Solo had concluded his career at this point in a sane country where people get credits for their works, he had already done enough. His career progressed beyond this. At the cusp of Timaya’s s breakthrough, he set up his own music studio after leaving Paul Play and produced Timaya’s first album, True Story.

K-Solo’s story is that of naiveté co-existing with genius. He has sour stories about his collaborative endeavours with artists because his interaction was based only on trust, not a contractual agreement. Ergo his high attrition rate. He has fallen out with collaborators like Timaya and Klever Jay because he was cheated out of a gentlemanly understanding. While this is one side of the story, it rings with some sincerity if not truth.

The back role producers have been relegated to is one that deserves consideration. Producers are the equipment behind the songs, the craft behind the voice over, they are the originators who stay outside the recording booth to direct the product. Their work continues after the vocals have been done. But even as unsung heroes, they do not retain their creative hold of their productions.

Listening to K-Solo discuss his experiences and views affords all music lovers some insight into the difficulties producers undergo. If performing artistes are not doubling back to screw you over, your producer colleagues are trying to poach your artistes away from you. In all of these, there are those producers who stick to trends, lobby and court pop stars to use their materials. Even worse, the producers have found it difficult to form an association for their own welfare.

One can sense from K-Solo’s predisposition that he is pained and even if he acknowledges that creative decline might be on the prowl, he is also quick to advise his younger peers to learn from his own misdeeds.  The podcast meanders like life. Using speech, which is a meandering method of communication. Unlike writing, the talk is loose and unorganised. Perhaps if this conversation was better curated, one will not need to spend a whopping three hours plus listening to K-Solo’s lamentation.

That said, it is soothingly nostalgia to be taken through the creative forays of Solomon Oyeniyi. This man single-handedly delivered Timaya and Klever Jay to us.

Music Critic. Dancer. Poet

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