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Ike Onyema: More Beneath The Surface

By Chisom Njoku
19 July 2022   |   10:37 am
One must admit that the fame and attention from reality television can be overwhelming to those unprepared for it but some people are born with the star quality that allows them to manage it so well and even build a thriving career off of it even when they didn’t see it in the cards for…

One must admit that the fame and attention from reality television can be overwhelming to those unprepared for it but some people are born with the star quality that allows them to manage it so well and even build a thriving career off of it even when they didn’t see it in the cards for themselves.

Ike Onyema, a businessman, entertainer, and entrepreneur who gained notoriety as a contestant on Africa’s biggest reality show Big Brother Naija is gearing up for the next phase of his life as he turns 30.

He sits down with Guardian Life to discuss misconceptions he would like to correct, lessons learned on the journey so far, and plans for the future.

Describe Ike Onyema to us in three words

A lot of people don’t know the real me, they only know me as an entertainer and reality star. I would describe myself as loyal, hardworking, and blessed. I’ve always been a loyal guy, loyal to my family, my cause, and my people, I’ve always been hardworking and I put my mind to my goals and work hard to achieve them and I’m blessed as in lucky because God always finds a way to connect me to what I need when I need it.

What was your childhood like & what was your career ambition at that time?

I had a very interesting childhood, I was born in Houston, Texas in the United States and I had typical Nigerian parents, very supportive but very strict, they always pushed me towards academics even when I wanted to play basketball.
Funny enough, I was always good in school and when I graduated, I wanted to be an engineer but I eventually graduated with a math degree instead of engineering because it turned out I was much better at mathematics.At what point in your life did you truly know what direction you wanted your life to follow?

One thing I’ve realized about life is that you have to be ready for change because nothing is perfect and situations are ever-changing. When I was younger I thought I would be a full-time businessman [sales, rentals, import & export, Airbnb], I never thought that I would be popular, it was never part of the plan so I have to readjust and do my best to take charge of the situation I’m in right now.
Outside of the reality show persona that people have been accustomed to, what other sides of you do you feel people are yet to discover?
I think that people really got certain views of me from the reality shows I had been on. They had characterized me as a reality star or bad guy or lover boy. they never really got to see the real Ike, because of my appearance they tried to put me in a box.
I would love for more people to see the other sides of me, my intelligent funny side and my soft caring side as well as my creative side through my music and comedy.

How long have you been making music?

I’ve been in the space for a long time by association because I’m friends with a lot of successful artistes but as I said, I never planned for any of it so I would just be there supporting the artiste but when I moved to Nigeria and everything changed, I started making music in 2020 thanks to my friend DammyKrane who wanted me to make some contributions to his song and after that I knew I had something.

What inspires your sound?
My sound is inspired by a lot of things I’ve been through and all the people I’ve met. I might’ve been born in America but I’m Nigerian by blood and I’ve also lived in South Africa for some time and I really love the culture. I feel like these three things came together [American trap music, Nigerian Afrobeat, and South African house music]
Walk us through your creative process
The process for me to create is usually very tedious, it takes a lot for me to create so I have to actually take my time.
When I have a raw idea, I look it over with my team and we talk about how to properly communicate the idea to the fans and then we collaborate and make it happen.
I usually chew on an idea for quite some time before acting on it so I’m sure it’s well thought out when it’s done.

Are you working on anything right now?

I’ve been working on new music for a while now.
Last year I just had two releases [Monica and Foreign], both songs were great but I want to step it up.
I’ll be dropping an EP titled “Forgive Me” on my birthday and it’s gonna be major, it’ll be very short [just four songs] but it’s powerful.
People can expect that South African house vibe and I really dove into the Lagos nightlife and it helped me to realize that my music would go further if it was South African dance music.

Who would you love to make music with? (Globally & nationally)

In Nigeria right now, definitely Olamide, the whole DMW [love what they’re doing] Peruzzi especially and Portable.
If we’re speaking internationally, Lil Nas X, Beyoncé, Jay Z, people from my city [Houston] like Meg thee Stallion. But right now I just want to stay in my lane and focus on building myself.
You’re about to turn a year older, if you could give your teenage self some advice, what would that be?
I would definitely tell myself to plan more and try to manage my time better and not just take things for granted and live in the moment.
I would also tell myself to trust the process and put my faith in God and try not to worry about making fast money.

Are you an independent artiste or do you have a label backing you?
Right now I’m independent but I’m in talks with labels including some international ones in the U.S.
If you could change anything about the Nigerian music and entertainment industry, what would it be?
Honestly so many things but I would say at the top of that list would be the fact that people are used to the bare minimum, especially creatives. A lot of creatives here in Nigeria aren’t paid enough or at all and they’ve been conditioned to be comfortable with what they’re being offered. I honestly just wished the industry valued creatives more.

What would you like listeners to feel when they listen to your new project?

I would definitely want them to feel a lot of things but I especially want them to recognize the talent that’s there and I want them to feel me and connect with me. I’d like for them to feel the way I was feeling when I was going through some of the experiences I’m talking about in the music.

What can fans expect from Ike in the near future?

I’m definitely working on more music, this drop is the first for the year but there’s definitely more on the way.
They can expect more content, videos and visuals and even more comedy but obviously the main focus is still the business so I’ll be making moves in that regard too.

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