So a story was told about a bamboo tree whose planter planted alongside a herb on the same day. It didn’t take long for this herb to blossom and began its speedy ascent to the skies, leaving the bamboo to the mercy of the farmer’s continuous worry and ceaseless watering. Moons later, this bamboo sprouted and in a short blink, outgrew the herb and was able to withstand the attendant storms that came with the seasons while the herb bowed to pressure. The immediate lesson is that good things often take time to grow, and from the bamboo’s ability to withstand storms, it must have been busy solidifying its roots in the ground, making sure that by the time it was ready to embrace sunlight; no natural force was going to pull it down.
The above story shares thematic resemblance to the advent of the man we all refer today as Larry Gaaga. Born Larry Ndianefo from Southeast Nigeria, Larry Gaaga has been an old name in the Nigerian music industry, dating as far back 2011 when he officially started his career in the entertainment sector as the label manager of YSG Records, managing acts like Vector in the process. It was during this period of being underground that Gaaga set in motion, the fast wheel of fame that is rolling to greater heights every new day. He shares some moments with our correspondent in this warm and revealing interview.
“My name is Larry Gaaga, songwriter, recording artist, music producer and record label executive of Gaaga Muzik. I am currently signed to Universal Music Group and have been active in the industry from 2011 till present,” he revealed.
When asked about how he feels becoming famous after being underground in the industry for many years. He responds with a grin, recalling that he had been there for a long time, only that he was only known amongst entertainers. He agrees that prior to 2017 when he released Gaaga Shuffle with 2Baba, not many people knew what he looked like, however, and he noted that whatever fame he is getting now are crucibles of the cultivation he has been making since then.
On how his first tune was made, he said “I was just vibing to this Dapiano beat when 2face came over to my place and jumped on it, relying heavily on my famous dance style he chooses to call Gaaga Shuffle and within few minutes, that massive hit was made.” He reports that that particular effort sparked off courage in him and the need to bank on that established presence led to songs like “Wonderful” with Wande Coal and Sarkodie, “Doe” with Davido, “Baba Nla Nonsense” with Burna Boy, D’banj and 2baba, “Low” with Wizkid, “Tene” with Flavour amongst many other records.
For many Nigerians who do not understand how music works, Larry Gaaga to them is that popular musician who claims ownership of a song but never gets to sing in it, to this end, the mildly boisterous artist remarks that:
“it sounds funny when I hear that, and I do hear it a lot, but you see, you can’t be a fan of DJ Khaled, Calvin Harris, Major Lazer, DJ Snake and so many other people who are doing the same thing and you want to single out Gaaga for criticism. DJ Jimmy Jatt was preeminent in popularizing this movement by the way, so I am not doing anything new. The difference is that I don’t talk much, yet I can lay claim to the ownership of most of the songs, as I have written them, or co-written them, produced or co-produced them. So the songs are mine and I am no less an artist whether I sing or not.”
When asked about what pushed him to sing in “Iworiwo” with 2Baba, he revealed that he had just finished seeing Kemi Adetiba’s Wedding Party and was home in his studio when the song was birthed;
“when 2Baba came and heard it, he encouraged me to leave it there and added his verse. Mr Eazi heard it as well and thought it was cool, so I left it there. And watch out, this 2020, you’re going to be hearing a lot of songs that I did alone all through. I hope that would calm the nerves of the worriers.” He said.
He talks about his fame, the endorsements and other gains that many regard as “quick and surprising”. He rightly observes that his collaboration with Wizkid on “Low” further projected him to International eyes, which helped in earning him the Universal Music deal. He also commented on his songs like “Tene” with Flavour being used as a soundtrack for the Living in Bondage sequel by Ramsey Noah, noting that these victories are rewards for the hard work that he made a lifestyle over the years.
On his relationship with 2Baba, Larry Gaaga affirms that the legend was instrumental in his success and that they have been friends for years and even beyond the walls of the music industry:
“2Baba is my idol, my role model; he opened the door for me and has been instrumental in my career today. I owe him a lot. We have been friends for many years now and I had the privilege of being the bestman at his wedding and later when I had my own wedding, he was among my Groomsmen. I am really blessed knowing that man.” He mentioned.
Larry Gaaga commented on his white beards which a lot of fans mistake for old age; he reveals that it is a phenomenon in his family’s gene as his father has same, as well as all his male siblings. He debunked speculations that he sprayed anything on it, while also laughing to the view in some quarters that he is a very old man.