Nigerian musician Timaya’s success story is well known to his fans and to those who have listened to his lyrics. It is a rags-to-riches story of a platinum-selling artist who used to sell plantain on the streets of Nigeria to earn a living.
His 2010 single Plantain Boy is communicative enough of how he isn’t ashamed to recount those hard times he went through to get to the top. Timaya’s style of music, which can at times get fittingly conscious just as it is also secular, makes it possible for him broadcast how far he’s travelled. It’s a style that appeals to a large audience, who are responsible for his continuous progression in mainstream Nigerian music.
In a journey that started years ago, Timaya rose from obscurity to take his place among the thousands of young singers trying to get their first breakthrough.
“After I left secondary, I went out to the streets to begin hustling again. I gained admission to study in Port Harcourt but left again to return to the streets,” he told Vanguard Newspaper.
“I left Port again to return to Lagos and joined Eedris Abdulkareem’s band as a back-up singer. I worked for him for about three years.”
After several mini competitions and auditions, one was to prove the ultimate launch pad, as it led to him recording his first major hit Dem Mama.
Dem Mama went continental as it got heavy rotation on urban radio across West Africa. For a young man, this was a dream come true. The song fed into the 1999 disturbances of Odi, a river community in the oil producing Niger Delta; Timaya treated the subject in a manner that made many people relive it all over again.
Soon, collaborations with other big acts brought him closer to proper conventional action. He has collaboed with several big names, including J Martins and P Square on the J Martins award winning Owey. He’s never dipped in form since then. Today, after five, studio albums and winning some of the most important awards at home and abroad, the Plantain Boy continues to soar.
Timaya looks like he’s going to be around for a long while to come. It tells in his delivery. Album after the other, he impresses, bringing out the genius in him.
His resolve to preach peace in his music has also made him a go-to-name for openings in initiatives that seek to tow that line. In 2011, the Interreligious International Federation made him Peace Ambassador for World Peace (IIFWP).
For his fans, he comes across as that musician who speaks to the heart and soul of the masses, which is why his fan base is even more solid now than when he started.
Last month Timaya worked alongside Trinidad & Tobago Soca star Machel Montano to remix his hit single Shake Ur Bum Bum.
You can listen to it here.