Ghetto Soldier, Daddy Showkey (real name John Asiemo), may not be as popular today as he used to be in the 1990s, but his loyalty to the folks in Ajegunle – where his journey to stardom actually started – has never been in doubt.
Over the years, Showkey proved himself a worthy ambassador of that part of Lagos by using his music to draw the attention to its potentials and the condition of the residents.
Unfortunately, A.J City, as it is popularly called, no longer boasts the kind of talented artistes it once produced, such as Cashman Davies, African China, Baba Fryo, Daddy Fresh, Mad Melon and Mountain Black, except the rave of the moment, Oristefemi.
Daddy Showkey blames the dearth of talents on the absence of a structure to ensure that future stars are nurtured in the area.
He says, “Sometimes the focus changes, but I don’t know why. However, Ajegunle still has some talented young people that are yet to be discovered. It depends on the person on top and if he or she wants to associate with the grassroots.
“When I made my first album, I exposed Ajegunle to the rest of the world. I wasn’t living in Ajegunle at the time, but it lived inside me. I made other people to understand that Ajegunle was not just home to some of Nigeria’s most talented musicians, but there were also doctors, generals and professors who were born and brought up there. So, it may either be that the person on top at the moment does not want to identify with the neighborhood..”
In 2007, Daddy Showkey’s music career suffered a setback, following an accident that adversely affected his spine. The incident forced the fun-loving singer to quit the music scene for awhile.
When asked if he considers himself rich, he replies, “I am not a proud person and I don’t like to show off. You can take a man outside the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the man. People who spread rumours don’t know me. They say I have cut off ties from Ajegunle. But they are dead wrong.”
Just as he was planning a huge come-back, he was forced to quit the scene for the second time after he narrowly escaped the assassin’s bullet two times in 2011. In one of the attacks, the suspected killers stormed his former residence in Ojodu and killed one of his close associates who was visiting at the time.
Because he has not been on the scene for a long time, many would think he may be broke. When our correspondent sought to know the state of his finances, however, he said he was still comfortable.
Showkey said, “I am not a proud person. I don’t blow my trumpet. Come and visit me in my house, then you can ask that question again.”
He also made a brief public appearance during the 2012 anti-fuel subsidy removal protests in Lagos. In all, he was away for nearly a decade. The singer may have put those sad episodes behind him, but the lessons learnt resonate as far as he is concerned.
Sharing some of them with our correspondent, he says, “I won’t lie to you. When I had my car accident and was away for three years, I never received a call from fellow musicians. That is why I am on my own till date. If I was caught with drugs it would have been all over the news, but I had a car accident that affected my spine. My friends are my guys in Agejunle because they always tell me the truth. The only musician I can call my friend among my contemporaries and whose house I visit at any time is Pasuma. The others are my juniors, not my friends.
“When the late Kefee got buried, I was disappointed that Nigerian entertainers did not show up at her burial. She is not just a gospel artiste but also an entertainer. Irrespective of the genre, music is music. Also I did not see the presence of entertainers at her burial ceremony. The truth is that musicians have no friends. A friend is someone who will be with me in good and bad times. I think friendship should not be based on popularity. Some of these young boys think they are too popular, but they don’t have friends.
The singer, who has worn dreadlocks as his distinct hairstyle for over 22 years, also shares his thoughts on the some touchy issues.
“Some people service their car every month, but they never bother to check their health status. I think it is a very big deal to always go for medical examinations and very important, too. I don’t go to the hospital myself, but I invite doctors to my house then invite my friends to check themselves. I do this all the time,” he said.