In an exclusive gist with Vibe.ng, Black Bassey talks about his life before and after Big Brother Naija, the transition from TV reality show to hosting red carpets and most importantly, his most recent journey in music.
Apparently, Black Bassey started music even before the Big Brother reality TV show and has a couple of singles out already. He most recently released a single titled “Sweet Lover” and encourages everyone to go get it. In his words, the song is about “how men love to love women and how much men miss women when they are not around”.
He also talked about acting, fitness and more…
- What was life like before Big Brother Naija?
Life before BBN was just about an average Black Bassey. An average boy who came from Calabar to Lagos in search for greener pasture. As a hustling boy, I would go for auditions, win some, lose some and for the ones I won, they were timely because I really needed the money at the time.
Then Big Brother came along and that had always been a dream for me. I started watching when Ofunneka represented Nigeria in Big Brother Africa and it is such a family brand for us, my mom would always sit in front of her TV watching the show. So, I always had interest and when I got the opportunity to audition, I picked it. It was a very bizarre audition for me but I’m grateful that I got picked and started from the bottom, now we are here.
- How did Big Brother Naija affect your life?
Big Brother Naija was the platform I was looking for and to be honest, I always tell people that even if I didn’t get to win the grand prize, we were all winners. Now I could have a shoot and there will be people willing to style me for free and there are people willing to pay me to wear their brands on my shoot but before now, I would have paid them to style me or even auditioned for them. So, it has afforded me the opportunity to get a wider audience, to meet amazing people and to equally become the best of myself, and that is the core essence of BBN: promoting originality and promoting excellence in human behaviour and works of life.
- Since you gained recognition, you’ve hosted a number of red carpets and most recently moderated the Freeme Digital SMW session, was that something you ever saw yourself doing?
To be honest, if I said no, I would be lying because I am a dreamer and people who are close to me know how much of a dreamer I am and that is my personal fuel. I have seen myself way beyond where I am right now, so even if I see myself on stage at the Grammys I won’t be surprised, or the Oscars. I have already seen myself beyond and this is not me giving myself a pep talk, it is knowing what I have and what God has put in me.
- How has the experience been for you? I’m sure you’ve learned a lot.
I have learnt a lot, I have met a lot of great and talented people from different works of life, coming together to create with me and it has been amazing, and I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. I will rather pray for growth, steady growth as it is.
- Nigerian youths are beginning to see Big Brother Naija as a way out, like easy fame. What do you think about that?
I don’t think it is particular to Nigerian youths. I think every youth in the world would jump at an opportunity to be famous, people want to be important. ASUU was on strike so that gave youths the time to come out. However, I don’t think it is wrong to be ambitious and finding Big Brother as a way out. It is amazing because that was what I was looking for also. I had so much talent and needed an opportunity to show it. So, it is what it is, you can’t take it away from people who are ambitious.
- How did you start music?
I started music way back, even before Big Brother. I dropped a single called “Me and You”, and I had no money to push it but I sent it to my family and friends who said “Bassey, we think you are very talented, we think you have the voice, we think if you have the platform you should pursue music” and that was before BBN, then I dropped another single titled “You fine”.
When big brother came, it was an opportunity for me to show the world what I had been rehearsing the entire while and these days I go back to those songs and I listen to them, and I’m like “this is really original”. For me, the joy of seeing people get emotional when they listen to my job is what I live for. I wouldn’t ever take that for granted because it is not easy to lead people’s emotion into an emotion you created. So, when people love my job, I really like it, that has been my musical journey and it is not going to stop by God’s grace.
- We think that the Big Brother Naija house is not a favourable environment for musicians or aspiring musicians, it seems to focus on just lifestyle and that’s what Nigerians are curious about, would you agree to that?
For the first time in this session, I agree with you. Big Brother Naija is a reality TV show and people are out to see what you look like, what you wear, who you are wearing, who you are dating, your swag, your fluency and what bad stuff you are up to but then, normal becomes real. When people are out to see what you wear every day, they forget the substance behind your personality and for people like me who are not always on social media, it is difficult.
If stuff doesn’t make sense to me, I don’t post, I am not one to casually post what I’m wearing, even though I always tend to look good. I always want people to see me beyond Big Brother because seeing what I wear or what I eat, or who I am dating won’t put money in my account. It is the work I do and that is why I went for Big Brother, to show what I do and quite honestly, the acceptance has been here and there.
People come into my DM like “Bassey we know you have a hot body, why don’t you show us abs all the time? Why don’t you show us who you are dating? Who is your girlfriend?” and I tell them that is my personal life, I show to you what I want you to see and what I really want you to see is my work and pay me for it. I understand it will take a lot of time to disabuse people’s mind from the Big Brother Naija fame and let people know what I do, what I am trained to do. It takes time, we’ll keep working towards it until no one sees me in the BBN light anymore but see me as Black Bassey the brand, like Ebuka and Uti who are now brands of their own.
However, I’d still advice aspiring or upcoming artistes to go for BBN because there is nothing like bad publicity and BBN for sure is one of those medium you need, except you’re a totally private person who does not have a career in front of the camera but as long as you have a career in front of the camera, you need BBN. Even if people see you in the light of BBN, you still have people seeing you and that is an audience to show your product or sell your market personally.
- Talk us through your musical journey?
My music journey is one I started consciously and a lot of people who know me, especially in the Big Brother House know I never do anything unconsciously and anything I do, I do extra because it’s a market out there that originality is hard to find and whatever I do, in my lyric, my delivery and even my style of music has to be original and that’s what happened with replay.
My journey in music has been amazing, I am my number one fan and there is nothing anyone can tell me about my music that isn’t what I already know. Before I drop a music, I always like to ascribe it to God because he is the number one creative, when he gives me a sound and I go into the studio to record that sound, I know the sound is going to move hearts, penetrate people’s souls and change a thing or two about them and that for me is the ultimate motivation.
Also, growing up, my late mom would literally clear out the living room for me and my friends to do our acapella rehearsals. I didn’t realize what she was doing then, so music for me started way back and when I asked myself, Bassey, who are you? What has your life been about? My life has always been about music. I have a piece of new music out called “Sweet Lover” and I invite everyone to listen to it, it is amazing, it shows how men love to love women.
- What’s your greatest challenge doing music as Black Bassey?
My biggest challenge is money. People keep seeing me as the Big Brother guy, so even when I meet people and want to show them my tunes for maybe collaborations, they shy away. They are like “all you Big Brother people I thought all you do is wear clothes and look fine. Money is my biggest change and because I am doing this solely, I am investing all I can into it and that is why I appreciate people who recognize my music.
- What would you say is your biggest achievement since Big Brother Naija?
My music is my biggest achievement, I am an actor too and that’s is also an achievement but my music is the biggest. I am very passionate about music and I give it my all because it continues, it stays on my mind every day and all day. I have been blessed to work with amazing producers and they have never said “oh Bassey bad job”, they always say “you need to print this job” and that is amazing.
- So, presenting, acting, modelling and music; how do you manage all?
Thank you very much for that question. I think it comes in as it comes in, and I have a management team that fix all that for me. One thing that is very fluid though is music, I can decide to record at a time and they would have to adjust every other thing to allow me record. Managing all these things haven’t been hard because these are things I love to do, I do them readily and effortlessly.
- Let’s talk fitness, are you a fitness trainer or just a gym lover?
At this level of my experience, I can train an entire stadium of people but I wouldn’t call myself a trainer because I only do that on call. For instance, I had a brand contact me sometime last year to train their staff, of course, I would train them but I wouldn’t call myself a fitness trainer. I would rather call myself a fitness enthusiast, people who know me know. It is all over my social media and I always encourage people to embrace the fit life. I use the hashtag #aslongasyoueatyouhavetobefit because your body works every day and you need to maintain it every day.
- What’s the plan for 2019?
Late last year, I got an inspiration to build. Early last year, the inspiration was to become. Like I said I do things consciously. My goal for 2018 was to become that is why you saw Black Bassey becoming, I did Repay, I acted more and I was more involved in my music. Now the inspiration in 2019 is to build, so across platforms, I’m going to be building, I’ll put out a body of work once I get a set listenership and I’ll be dropping an EP by God’s grace.
For fitness, I’ll be in the gym every day. Brands have been reaching out to me, they want me to wear their clothes, I can’t mention names now because that’s not closed but look forward to a lot of modelling gig and for my acting, Ajoche, is already airing and will be airing till the end of the year.