IMP – IMPERIAL MEISTER PRINCE/PRINCESS – is one of the highest forms of eulogy/recognition conveyed by Meister Republic.
It is borne out of sheer respect, appreciation and admiration for the person (their personality and craft) headlining at the time.
#IMP is designed for a select category of young men and women who are distinctively good-looking and are actively contributing to the development of their immediate community either through their handiwork or other worthwhile endeavour. In short, #IMP seeks to honour youths with beauty & brains.
Checkout out our #IMP for March;
The Nigerian music industry has come a long way. The world has watched the industry transform particularly with regards to the internet. The social media generation has enabled the growth of online streaming with platforms such as iTunes, SoundCloud, entertainment blogs and web-magazines globally.
It wasn’t exactly a walk in the park tracking down this multi-talented man, despite having a very tight schedule and currently planning his forthcoming – YES YOU CAN AFRICA lecture. His humility spoke volumes when he finally gave us an appointment to engage him in this interactive chat.
Agboola Babatunmise Oluwatomisin – Ibadan’s Priest of Praise, a multiple award-winning gospel artiste and songwriter as well as convener, YES YOU CAN AFRICA. The singer’s journey to stardom was unplanned, having been singing professionally for over 8 years now having bagged several awards to his credit within this period. He won Best Gospel Artiste 2015 at the esteemed SCREAMS AWARDS and has multiple nominations – Best Gospel Single, Best Gospel Act and Best Contemporary Single 2017 – RUBY AWARDS to mention a few.
Babatunmise had a very successful 2016, highest point of all owing to the official launch of his long-awaited “Ogo Ola” album on the 30th of October, 2016.
“YES YOU CAN AFRICA, an initiative geared towards helping young people get rid of fear. You know a whole lot people are blessed with a number of gifts and talents but the fear of “where do I start from?’, ‘who’ll help me?’ often holds them back.”
“So, this platform is driving towards bringing a couple of creatives who are pretty successful in their chosen fields, to share their testimonies/stories in order to help young ones jump start their career or at least take a first step towards realizing their dreams.” He explains summarily.
Explaining his middle name with a swanky laugh – Oluwatomisin, saying “my God reach me sote I no need any other thing”
While Babatunmise will kill for a hot dish of Beans and ‘dodo’ (fried ripe plantain), and a hot afternoon’s roasted plantain popularly known as ‘boli’ in this part of the world – Nigeria. The big bros will be plus one (guess how old) on the 27th of this month
The Real Deal
The cnmeister editorial team found him highly engaging and jovial, which suggests a sound upbringing. On his background, Babatunmise explains, “Amazingly, I’ve been in Ibadan all my life, through education and every level. I had my primary school education here in the city of Ibadan, Divine Nursery and Primary School, which really helped nurture most of the things I do presently. Matter of fact, I didn’t learn music anywhere.
So like the popular movie character ‘Evan Taylor’ from August Rush, music came to you yeah?
“Plain and simple, Yes. The things I learnt way back when I was younger are still the tools I use now. I haven’t any sort of professional course or anything of the kind.”
“I later attended Ibadan grammar school for my secondary school education. Now I’m also a victim of the primitive mindset that if you don’t do sciences, you’re not intelligent. To prove people wrong, I crossed to Oladipo Alayande School of Science (OASOS) to show I’m intelligent, a move I regret till date” he says with a rueful laugh.
“Long story short, I found myself in Leadcity University studying English, he giggles. I was there till my 2nd year then I crossed over to National Open University (NOUN) because I needed more time to pursue my career, basically.
CnMeister: The Babatunmise brand is an industry success story. How has the journey been so far?
First and foremost, no one tells a true success story without highlighting the days of struggle and challenges, so I like to see these as part of my story, I don’t dwell on it much but it is part of the journey.
Now, a lot of people don’t know this – I actually started out as a dancer, I even had a dance group, we called ourselves “Willing Vessels”.
“Down the road I discovered there was no fulfillment in dance for me because I was always missing steps”, he explains with a shameless laugh.
Then, I later joined a drama group for a while, found no fulfillment in that either, tough luck yeah? Eventually, God called me.
“How?”, We query.
I had a dream that I’d never had before in my entire life. Like you’d imagine I didn’t understand the dream so I went to meet my spiritual Father – Rev. Tope Popoola of the then Heritage Assembly now The Business Church located at Adeoyo, Ring Road, Ibadan.
He explained the dream to me, “God wants you to do music and glorify His name through it, summarily” and prayed with me.
“I will never forget that man”, Babatunmise declares emphatically
“I’ll forever be grateful to him. You know there are a whole lot of people you share your dreams with and they just mess you up, but not him. He even gave me his church space to use, that was where we started the early concerts and the rest is history.”
Since then I’ve been convening concerts every last Sunday of the month in his church tagged – “Atmosphere of Worship with Babatunmise”. At some point, the hall couldn’t contain the crowd the concert began to pull so with his blessings we moved. We’ve had to move about 3 to 4 times ever since because the crowd grows larger each passing edition. So you see, I see progress, increase and the word of God really manifesting in my life. Proverbs 22:29 (Paraphrased). It was during some of these concerts I met Yinka Ayefele and other men that I would never have been able to walk up to Scripture says “Seeth thou a man diligent in his work? he shall stand before kings…”
CnMeister: Has everything gone as expected?
“Man proposes, God disposes”, he confesses. Too many times I made my own plans, sometimes short-term, say in 6 months’ time this and this will be, but God will either have it sooner or in some cases later and at times, at my time (the right time), meaning my needs are inclined with His will.
So I’d say, with God on my side things have been going pretty smooth. Though sometimes I’ve been down but there is this scripture in the bible that says “…when my heart is weary, lead me to the rock that is higher than I” Psalms 61:2 (Paraphrased). Hence, whenever I’m weary, I just go down on my knees and tap from my source and then there’s this lifting in my spirit.
CnMeister: The ‘Ogo Ola’ album has been making waves so far. What inspired it?
He lights up with excitement, “Okay!”
You should note that I didn’t get to drop/release an album until after 8 years of doing music, not because there were no songs, No! but because I was waiting for the right time – God’s time. Of course I don’t wanna release an album that just I and my family will listen to, he giggles.
The album was recorded in a space of 3 months, it was to be titled – the “Yes” album, because I have a song with Monique titled “Yes”, the song was received very well and so we decided we’d name the album after it.
However, I wanted to release one more single before dropping the album that was when we decided to record Ogo Ola, we called Kenny K’ore to jump on it and then it was like we never did “Yes”.
Ogo Ola disseminated like wild fire throughout the country and even far away Europe and America.
And to the glory of God, I have a mentor I love and admire a lot – Mike Abdul, he walked into the studio that day, heard the song and said to me – “Tunmise, this is the title of your album”. Even though we had already started trending the “Yes Album”, I was moved to obey and I’m forever glad I did.
“People always ask, how did you receive ‘Ogo Ola’?”
It’d be amazing to put on record that Ogo Ola came in the studio. Myself, Adam of Spaghetti Records, Tyanx produced it. At the time it was just the chorus we had and then K’ore came and put life into it. We bless God.
The album contains all self-composed songs, there is no public domain in any way, and I did that on purpose. Of course, Mike Abdul wrote me a song, Tyanx, Adam too, however, you’d agree that “hard work is good but team work is better”, my mentor will always say.
About 5 of us worked on the album – Monique, T-yanx, Wale Sax, Adam, Mike Abdul and myself.
CnMeister: You’re such a passionate artistic enthusiast, what inspires you?
The fear of being broke”, the whole room bursts into vivacious laughter.
I think I’d pass for a songwriter, he asserts. Each time I’ve ever written any song, it was either borne out of a personal experience or stories people tell me about their life struggle, and each time I tell such people, “if you hear another man’s story omo your own dey learn.”
Above all, you can’t take away the God factor, everything happening around us and then words from my mentor.
CnMeister: Any woman in your life?
“Yee!” He exclaims. The only woman in my life is my Mom.
CnMeister: With your level of success, How come you’re still single?
Well, its not just time yet. I think my career is ‘bae’ for now. The bible says “…time and chance happeneth to them all” Ecclesiastes 9:11 (Paraphrased) Amen!
So, I’m really just trying to take my time. Getting married isn’t something one needs to pray and fast about, if its ministry, you need to pray and fast, so this is me prioritizing. Not that I don’t have emotions o, I have, but pour all that emotion into business and result will come out sharp sharp.
CnMeister: There’s a lot of competition in the gospel music industry today as we know it. Who do you see as your competition?
The only competition I have is that boy called Babatunmise, He is my competition and he gives me too much wahala. Sometimes, I’ll look in the mirror and be like “you this guy, iffa catch you ehnn”.
You see I just want to be better than I was yesterday. To think that I’m a multi-talented guy, you know I anchor events professionally, I sing professionally and all of that, it means I’ve to be on my toes, working hard on a steady. Sometimes, I finish a concert at night and I’ve to anchor an event in the morning and my voice is already gone, I still have to keep it real.
So that’s what it is, I am my competition.
CnMeister: You’re an independent successful artiste and it sounds like you’re also passionate about advancing the gospel of the kingdom of God as well as empowering well-meaning youths in music. Perhaps you plan to float a record label or foundation soon?
I’m an affiliate of Spaghetti Records. Fine, you called me ‘Independent and successful, hallelujah!’, but I always work on trying to be better. As for a label, I don’t think I want to float any label anytime so. However, I so desire to find a young person who is passionate about doing music and then use all my resources and influence to assist that lucky individual. Because if you go out there, you’d see a whole lot of talented individuals but they’re lacking that platform to showcase.
I’m going to do a talent hunt soon and the winner will enjoy free studio sessions, collaboration with top gospel acts, will accompany me to all my events and some more good stuff. I’ve not given it a name yet but the plan is already underway and in progress. There’s a team in place, a few great minds like myself are putting heads together to see what we can come up with pretty soon. Strictly gospel.
I want someone to fly on my wings too, ‘cos I’ve ridden on other people’s wings.
CnMeister: What has really kept you going?
Hmmn… there was a particular year I seriously wanted to quit music… in fact I had quit already because in this town that year, a whole lot of people were saying to me – “guy before you fit blow for this time, you gats go meet one bros, no be jazz o, but on some godfather level, if you no go see am you go just dey struggle dey go o”.
“I come dey tell dem say, how na? nah hin be God? You know, as devil come dey do him mata na, dah year I con brooooke”, he giggles. As in I could not afford 100 naira recharge card, he recalls.
Honestly, I think it was God testing me. I was so broke to the point that something just said to me – “maybe you should go and meet this bros”. I battled back and forth with this in my heart.
Finally, I concluded I will go and meet him because I want my life to be better too, that day it was already late so I decided I’ll make it first thing the following morning.
Morning came and as I was planning to step out, it just struck me – “have you prayed?” Mehn, at that point it was as if I didn’t know how to do anything. Have you gotten to that point? Where it just seems like you can’t do anything, even your own parents will be like – “you’re just a fool”. My brother, I was at that point.
At that instant, I locked my door, went on my knees and prayed, I’ve never prayed like that ever in my life before, ever! I didn’t need any pastor to give me prayer point, I knew in my inner man, what exactly it was that was wrong with me. I told God, I can’t bow before You and go and bow again before man now.
That day, it was so real to me that we have a living God, I mean I’ve heard I’ve been reading scriptures and all that but on that fateful day, it was so real to me, I had my own encounter.
Long story short, after the prayers that morning, about 30 minutes later, I received a call from an uncle I haven’t heard from for over 6 years. He said, “Tunmise, what is wrong with you?” At first I was reluctant to open up to him, but after he narrated the circumstances around him which led him to call, I burst into tears, literally. He then requested for my account details, asked me to meet him in Lagos. When I got to his house, he narrated his own story to me, o boy, my suffer dey learn, I just humble.
He encouraged me, then shockingly, he asked – “what is your most pressing need at the moment”?
I told him and that was how God sent me an helper. That is scripture being fulfilled – “…a very present help in time of need” Psalm 46:1 (Paraphrased)
I was so psyched that I could pray on my own and God answered me without the help of any man. It was so real. Since that day, I’d say to myself –
“the days that break you are the days that make you”
Getting back to Ibadan, I was unstoppable. My God get swag o.
CnMeister: Many artistes believe Ibadan to be dull, dry and unable to give their sound the required boost to lime light, hence, the majority troop to Lagos to fuel their fire. Has this thought ever crossed your mind?
Yes, it has crossed my mind to move. But I’ve realized that if you cannot conquer your locality how will you conquer the world? If you can’t conquer your local area first, you wan come go Lagos, dem dey sleep for the Lagos?
You see I’d rather be a king in my community, than go be a slave somewhere else. They gave me the name “Ibadan Priest of Praise”. When I go to perform outside, anywhere and everywhere, they invite me up stage and they’re like – “welcome, Ibadan’s Priest of Praise”, common, that gives me joy, at least I’m coming from somewhere, I’ve roots, I didn’t just spring up out of the blues.
Moving to Lagos might pay some artistes yeah, but omo, conquer your locality first. My mentor go talk say – “Tunmise no bother disturb yourself join dem go Lagos o, Lagos is crowded, blow from outside.”
I’m in Ibadan here and people from Lagos call me for their events, we in Ibadan also invite people from Lagos.
“E good make you first dey somewhere, make your ground hold, dey go find you.”
Matter of fact, the bible calls us “the light of the world” NOT the light of Ibadan. So anywhere you dey, dem go find you come.
I know some gospel artistes, who’ve left Ibadan for Lagos, I don’t envy them. And then one should ask God, seek His face. I believe every gospel artiste should have that meek voice they hear, to some it could be through dreams, but no matter how, you should be able to recognize the voice of God saying – “okay guy wait or guy move”.
Some people think going to Lagos is their way, but there is a way that seems pleasurable to a man, but the end thereof is destruction. (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25)
“Na this same Ibadan I dey wey God dey bless me.”
CnMeister: Amongst your colleagues in the industry, who do you admire the most?
*Pauses briefly* For me, I do not only admire this person I respect the grace of God upon his life, no other person but Mike Abdul. He’s not a colleague, he’s a boss, a friend. He calls me friend and that’s just amazing. He’s my mentor and obviously an epitome of grace.
Years back I recall saying to myself how one day I will feature many top gospel artistes and all, but all that is history today. I’ve featured the likes of Mike Abdul, Kenny K’ore, Monique, Adam and I’m still looking forward to more. I think I want to have Nathaniel Bassey on one of my songs.
Featuring these great guys, having my songs play on satellite TV, that’s a lot to be thankful for.
I’ve several awards to my credit and to the glory of God I’ve lost count already. Then there’s my series of concerts.
Ogo Ola’s nomination for best gospel single even outside Ibadan. Ogo Ola was #1 on Naija FM’s Top 10 countdown for about a month.
The greatest of all achievements though, is the day, that moment I surrendered my life to Christ. Yeah, ‘cos without that, all of these other things won’t have happened. All these can be traced back to the fact that I said ‘Yes’ to Jesus.
That brings me to this, whatever it is that you desire as a young person, whoever is reading this right now, whatever it is that you want or pray for, career wise, financially, whatever it is, trust me, you can get it in Jesus.
CnMeister: Have you ever thought of switching from gospel to circular music or fusing both?
Many people have asked me this actually. Thing is, I’m a carrier of the presence of God.
Even when you look at people who switched from gospel to circular and switch back to gospel, you go like – okay, what were you guys looking for..? You understand. See, if its fame, the bible says – “if I be lifted up, I’ll draw all men unto me” (John 12:32) He quotes boastfully (Paraphrased)
So what I’m I looking for, let me continue to lift Him up. It’s as simple as that. Whatever it is that they’re looking for, I will get freely, even more.
CnMeister: Any projects in the works your fans should look out for?
Yeah! Ogo Ola video, we’re shooting the video soon. Y’all should watch out for that on this site.
“Like I said earlier about YES YOU CAN, It’s an initiative geared primarily towards helping young folks get rid of fear. Because I’ve check round, nothing wey dem dey teach for school wey we dey use for real world o, nothing, nothing.. dem just dey deceive us, dem no dey test our intelligence or creativity na our remembrance, our memory capacity nah hin dem dey test. Everything for here na la cram, la pour”, he says with a rueful laugh.
It’s annoying, and it’s the same old thing back to back and over again, so that’s basically what YES YOU CAN is about. That, then my talent hunt like I said.
CnMeister: How do you help upcoming artistes’ nurture or realize their dreams like you have?
Over the years, whenever such people walk up to me to ask questions and things like that, I as much as possible, try to make myself available first, in order to attend to them.
I remember when I started out too, not that I’m there yet, but when I was way younger than I am now, I recall trying to put a call across to a particular top gospel artiste and he wouldn’t pick my calls. That alone could have probably discouraged me. I learnt from that, I don’t wanna be that guy, I want to be different. I make myself available, I answer my calls myself and I tell them things my mentor has told me over the years. I try to be very real.
Sometimes, some people want you to lie to them, to tell them, do this, do this and you’ll make it gbam! You know, I just try to be real and tell it like it is. I answer their questions and in some other ways too, either financially or some need link-ups for air-play, etc.
CnMeister: Besides music, what else are you into?
Ok now! “I’m a cooperate professional compere. I anchor events professionally.” He reveals enthusiastically. From social, to cooperate functions, receptions and what have you, he continues.
In his final remarks, Babatunmise says, to anyone reading this, I want you to believe in yourself. Do not listen to the ‘nay sayers’. Whatsoever your mind can conceive and believe, trust me it can achieve. I’m a living testimony to that fact. Do not give up, never give up, pray consistently and watch things turn around for your good. YES YOU CAN.
More photos below;
Download ‘Ogo Ola’ below;
Editor’s Remark: Apparently, without an iota of doubt in my heart, Babatunmise is here to stay and he’s gonna be at the very top of his game for a very long time.. We wish him the very best and Happy Birthday in advance.
Catch him on Instagram @iambabatunmise
Creative Director: Chuks Amahia
Editor: Joy Olusola
Stylists: Habana Bespoke & Olad
Photography: YORMAGES; Tweaking: Zeem Designs & T.A.A