Wale Thompson was born on September 23, 1966, in Ijebu Igbo, South Western Nigeria to a Christian Family. His father is a renowned musician in the 1960s in Western Nigeria, going by the name of the great Popular Jingo Agbolade.
He had his elementary and secondary education at Abusi Edumare Academy, Ogun State, Nigeria. Being the first son of the family, Wale took great interest in his father’s trade at the age of 14 and started playing the guitar in his father’s band.
After his secondary education, he decided to play music professionally, based on all the experience he had gathered in his father’s band, although his father had wanted him to become a lawyer.
With a dint of hard work, he joined the band of the K.K. Kolade as a guitarist and also played for other notable musicians like Micho Ade, Dele, Ojo, and the great David Sound Millionaires Band.
The talented musician is the exponent of Juju hip hop, an idiom that emphasizes a fair mix of Juju and elements of Afro hip hop music.
Recently, the Guitar master revealed to GBOLAHAN ADETAYO and DANIJI EMMANUEL of CITY PEOPLE how relocating abroad nearly ruined his musical career in Nigeria, his journey into the music industry, among other interesting stories you can’t afford to miss. Excerpts:
What is new about Wale Thompson?
I recently released a single entitled: “Chop My Life”. It is currently gaining airplay on major local television stations and is trending on social media. I want to promote it before I finally release the full album. Other tracks on the album are ready, but the promotion is what I am currently facing so that when I finally release it, people won’t say they didn’t hear about it.
What is “Chop My Life” all about?
It is all about catching fun after working from Monday to Friday, you need to ease the stress, cool off your nerves by the weekend. It is like reminding people of my hit single, called Lalale Friday.
While you were still on the label of Kennis Music, you were more of a Juju music act, why are you Now going fully into Hip Hop?
Well, point of correction, the Lalale Friday track was Juju Hip Hop, not strictly Hip Hop if you listen to the lyrics, and that doesn’t change my status as a Juju Artiste.
When I realized that there was confusion about Lalale Friday, I decided to do another song, which I called Old School. I wore a wig and played guitar for people to know that I am a versatile musician.
Secondly, I have always been telling people that I am the bridge between the old and the new generation in the music industry. So, playing hip hop is to carry the new generation along. I don’t just want to be a musician, who will not carry the young people along.
Between Juju and Hip Hop, which one do you prefer?
To be honest, I prefer both because both have been bringing in money, and anything I lay my hands on that is giving me money is my favorite. I love the two sides of music.
How do you balance the two in terms of performance and composing the songs?
I have got the talent that nobody can take away from me. So, if you invite me to come and perform hip hop at your party, I won’t hesitate, and if you want the Juju, I will come with my band and we do our stuff. I see no difficulty in that.
At some point in your career, you went off the radar, what happened?
I’ve been answering this question always. From the year 2000 to 2001 before I had an accident, I was playing virtually every day, shows were coming in and when the accident occurred, I was forced to go abroad to treat myself. Some people died in the accident and that definitely denied me access to promoting the album I had as at then, it was entitled “My Logo”.
I spent about 6 months treating myself and before I returned, the system had changed. Generally, I will say the more you make noise about yourself as a musician, the more people hear about you, not only Wale Thompson. That doesn’t mean you don’t sing again or your songs are bad.
Before, I was on the stable of Kennis Music, but I now have my Label, and with God and the media, we are able to survive. After the accident, I took my band along with me and we were performing from one country to another. From Germany to UK and others. And because we had so many shows over there, I stayed back.
Between your career in Nigeria and abroad, which one is better?
They are both okay because I made money abroad and also in Nigeria and I think that is the essence of working. I give God the glory. It has always been my prayer that I want to be known all over the world. I want my music to be everywhere, not just to be stagnant in one country.
Wale Thompson is aging, what now informs your new look?
Well, this is not because I sing hip hop, I have always been dressing this way, if you check my first album, you will see the way I dressed with my “Bling bling” on my neck, I am not just dressing like this now, this is my identity. I know if I dress like this, it categorizes me among the younger generation, so I have to still represent.
How old are you now in the music industry?
I can’t really say because I started playing guitar at the age of 14 and now you can guess my age. So, that tells you how long I have spent in the industry. I have been leading a band before I formed mine. It is called Uncle KK Kolade’s band in Ibadan, Oyo State. Altogether, I have spent more than 30 years in music.
Many didn’t know that your father was a musician; can you shed more light on that?
As a child, I loved music much and I love to be anywhere they were playing music. Sometimes in the church or when my dad was rehearsing with his band members, I would hang around to see they were doing their thing.
As a child, I would gather my friends to play drums using paint buckets and all that. When God wanted to show his miracle, my dad called me and handed over a Guitar to me to be playing. I was shocked and I was so happy. Away from the fact that my dad was a musician, even my mum’s dad was also a musician.
So, it runs in the blood. The day he gave me the guitar, he taught me something and I did it immediately. He was so surprised and that was how he called one of his guitarists to be training me, and after some time, I started following him to shows to perform.
o God be the Glory, apart from my dad, I have played for so many bands such as Micho Ade, Captain Jide Ojo, Great David of Juju Star Millionaires, the Late Handsome Wale Abiodun, Lade Ade Olushayo, and many more.
What was your mum’s reaction after you got the Guitar from your dad?
She didn’t object to it because she respected my dad much, whatever he said was the final, so she was very supportive.
Should we say because your dad was a musician was the reason you found the journey so easy?
Well, that might be part of it, but when you don’t have talent, you can’t do anything. There are many musicians whose children don’t have the talent, some would even get the necessary support from their parents but still, they would fail. My going into music was a call from God, but my dad’s influence hastened things.
INTERVIEW: City People