Nigerian born Canadian, Akins Busari, wields his music like a sword, slicing into the hopelessness of gun violence and other issues that are on his heart. It is due to the timely nature of his song, “True Stories,” in light of several youth shooting deaths in Toronto over the past few months, that his video was selected to be featured. The album is set to release next year. But in the mean time, Busari already has a vibrant Youtube and Myspace presence where many of his songs can be heard.
It is inspiring to hear how someone who was transplanted in this country without any friends or family, has not only persevered with his musical dreams, but also sought to contribute to Canadian society. It is a reminder that music often has a greater purpose than just to entertain. Here is our interview with Akins Busari.
1. Your song “True Stories” comes at a time when there have been several shootings in Toronto. Was there a specific incident that inspired this song? Not really a specific incident but several cases of gun violence in the GTA. I remember watching CP24 on the 26th of December 2006 and they reported a shooting at Jane and Finch, and couple of days after that, I read in the papers about another shooting on the 29th of December, so I started singing ‘True Stories’ just from the sympathy I felt for the victims and their families. On Saturday 30th of December 2006 I went to a recording studio in Toronto to record the song and as I was recording, Locust came by the studio and he heard the song, he fell in-love with the song and asked me if he could add a rap to it, to give it a different flavor, I agreed and the song ‘True Stories ft Locust’ was recorded, mixed and mastered that same day.
2. What is the message of the song? And how did you come up with the lyrics? The lyrics are all free style stuff meaning no writing was involved at all. I wanted to get the message out from my heart and feelings so I did not write anything on paper; Locust did not write his lyrics on paper as well, he did free style rap on the song minutes after hearing my vocal recording. We recorded the song from the heart. As for the message, I will say we (me and Locust) hit the nail on the head by stating the major consequences of killing others and to encourage people (mostly youths) to avoid violence because you reap what you sow.
3. How have people responded to the message behind the song thus far? So far the response is very positive. I get e-mails from youths in Canada and around the world about the song and from my discussions with youths and adults alike I have received positive feedback even positive feedbacks from some youths who have themselves been involved in violent acts. In 2007, I organized a show downtown Toronto where we (me, Locust and my team) gave out t-shirts with END VIOLENCE on them; to spread the message and I also performed the song with Locust on that day as well and we gave all the youths that attended a free copy of the song on c.d. Also, the song is free for downloads on my website www.akinmusic.com and over 200 people have downloaded the song so far. I know there is still so much I can do to reach out to people and I am willing to do whatever it takes to help reduce violence in the GTA and elsewhere.
As you know, I released the music video online not to long ago, the video is on the peel regional police initiative website (Connect2End Violence) for more info visit www.connect2endviolence.ca and I am now trying to get the music video on commercial stations like Much Music and even on the news so more people can watch the videos and hopefully get the message in the song. Last year (2009), I also performed the song (True Stories) at the Mayor’s youth anti-violence concert in Brampton and the response was great as well but I am hoping for the best in the near future.
4. How old were you when you came to Canada from Nigeria? What elements of your music are inspired from your Nigerian roots and which parts have evolved from your time in Canada? I was 18 years old when I came to Canada with some few coins in my pocket (lol). I had no family or friends here so I had to pray and ask God for direction. It was when I got to the Toronto airport that I realized I am no where close to home, all along I was excited and never thought of the impact of leaving everything behind at 18.
The good thing for me is that, most Canadians are very generous and good so that really helped me. As for inspiration, everything inspires me. I can write songs about life, kids, women, war, violence e.t.c but I have a principle that I go by no matter what I choose to write about and where I find myself and that is to only write songs that will uplift and inspire people. Also, being a dual citizen and living in Nigeria and then Canada (a Nigerian and Canadian) has for sure added to my life and my music. I believe our environment help shape us as individuals, which is called ‘Tabula Rasa’ by Aristotle. Canada for sure has contributed to the way I write my lyrics and my style of music. The people around me and everything I go through contribute to that as well.
5. How often do you write songs? And how often do you record? I write new songs everyday (laughs…), its air to my lungs. Everything I go through in life is a song, everything I experience gives me fresh inspiration and as for going to a professional studio, I do that whenever I have free time but I have a small recording studio at home so whenever I get inspired or get a new melody I record it and work on it when I’m free or I record on my portable recorder when I’m on the road to keep the fire burning. Music is spiritual, you have to record when you get a good melody, and chances are you will not remember or get them again so it important to always record your ideas or melody.
6. What is the message you hope to convey through the album “True Stories”? The title of the album says it all. The album will have songs about my personal life, real life events and different stories that will uplift people, inspire them and also tell young ones that they to can make it to.
7. What are your plans to spread your message and your music? My plans are to keep working hard, to developing my skills, to write better songs and more songs and to network with other musicians and meet other professionals in the music industry. Also, to use every avenue for marketing opportunities available to me like the internet, radio and commercial television. Ultimately, my plan is to represent Canada in a good way, to show the Canadian core values though my songs, values like helping the needy and weak, encouraging people and using my music as a tool to uplift people.
8. Your songs are bold in their declaration of faith. Do you think this will affect the distribution and marketability of your album? Not at all, music is a universal language and people from all over the world can relate to any song. There is always a market for every type of music on earth so I am not worried about that at all but I sing other songs as well not just about my religious beliefs. I sing about love, relationships, world issues, and my personal experiences. As for marketing and distribution, I know I will get a good company that is passionate about the same things I am passionate about and a company that wants to help make the world a better place by promoting real artist and positive music. There are lots of songs on the radio and TV today that speaks about the same things, I have nothing against them but there should be room for other music as well so people can decide what they want and who they want to spend their money on. Instead of promoting just the songs that have ‘shoot’ and ‘kill’ in them, we should promote songs that speak about other positive things as well. We can’t keep eating the same food over and over again, at least I know I need something fresh and that is what I bring to the table.
9. Where do you hope to be one year from now? To be on tour worldwide, to connect and meet my fans, to finally get commercial exposure, to work with other musicians, to help the poor/needy here in Canada and go on missionary trips across the world and so on. Just to give back to Canada and the world for everything. To organise more concerts on anti-violence, make them bigger and better. Ultimately, to be a better person and a positive role model to the younger ones.