Shepherd Godsbaby Osifeko is a radio personality, a musician and farmer who began his journey into music in the year 2000 as a composer.
The musician with stage name, Soul Magi, in this interview with DAYO EMMANUEL, talks about his brand of music, Alternative Afro Fusion, brewed from Afrobeat.
Being sonscious of his environment inspired his latest track titled “EMI LOKAN”. Excerpts:
What inspired your new song?
I saw an opportunity to inject the trending wave of Emilokan with something more personal and positive. I wanted people to use the slang Emilokan in a more conscious way than just the regular stuff.
My aim is to say, gbogbo wa lokan, meaning it’s our turn altogether. But we must each recognize which turn we’re aiming at. For me it’s limelight in my music career.
When did you start out into music, what informs your brand of music and what genre is it?
I started out in 2000 as a lyricist writing songs for my cousin named Westo Viber. Later we became a music band in 2001/2002 and that was when I started rapping to the songs he composes. By 2004 I was moving to the city, so I kind of became a studio rat which really helped me find my singing voice and style.
The secret was somewhere in my local dialect (smiles) but it worked and thanks to Akon because I realized that my roots hold my power by observing Akon’s singing style. Fast forward to 2005 I wrote my first song which was quite wack (laughs) but then I wrote another one titled “Landlord” and that was it. The singing magi was born!
Since then it’s been from one improvement to another with many factors influencing my style of music. I listened to Fela Anikulapo Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Bob Marley, Chief Ebenezer Obey, and danced Michael Jackson, followed R. Kelly and the entire hip-hop artists from Nas to JayZ and Tupac etc. Then I studied 2face and the Plantashun Boiz and learned from them too.
Eventually I found other legendary artists like Dido, Asa and Beautiful Nubia who then gave me hope I didn’t need to always do commercial music. Along the line, I gained some level of insight into the spiritual side of life so I switched into being a conscious musician.
Now it’s hard to place myself under a genre as I have Afrobeat songs, Raggae songs, rap songs, RnB songs and other genres but I have something close when I say my style of music is Alternative Afro Fusion. So that it. My style of music is Alternative Afro Fusion. But lyrically speaking, I do conscious music.
To a layman, can you explain your Alternative Afro Fusion and Conscious Music?
Alternative Afro Fusion is something I created as an African rooted musician. It’s a blend of many music genres with a consistently African rhythm to it. You can say it’s what happens when you’ve been drinking lots of music genres and then you belch (laughs). Everyone can hear their favorite brew in the songs but it’s the same African rhythm all through. So Alternative Afro Fusion is Pop, Raggae, Blues, RnB, Hip-hop, Country, Funk, Folk Music, Fuji and Rock all adapted to African rhythm.
An alternative musician is one whose music style does not strictly conform to the popular or mainstream styles. Now we all know that Fela is Afrobeat and Bob Marley is Raggae music. They were masters of their craft but in our generation, we tend to follow the music inspiration wherever it takes us, rather than try to make sure every song is in the same genre. So my music doesn’t fit the genre box but it has a consistently African rhythm to it with a blend of many other styles, that’s why it’s a fusion. Yeah.
Conscious music is music that’s written with the understanding of who we are. We can’t just sing anything that comes to mind. We’re responsible to what we sing or write so we must sing responsibly, knowing our music has the magical ability to change people and cause a revolution in how they behave. Being conscious of that makes my music conscious.
You used to work as a presenter in a government radio station, you are also into agriculture after relocating to the country side. Do these give you inspiration and why did you relocate?
Yes. I was a full-time broadcaster back then but it was music activism that actually led me to join the radio. So when I left, the music took back it’s crown as my branded logo indicates.
I do agriculture for three major reasons: it’s one of the best way to actually connect with the planet at a very basic level because you’re feeding and replenishing the planet. That’s what farming really is about. To farm something is to multiply or increase it, such as animal farming increases the number of animals through reproduction.
Second reason is that farming is perhaps the most ageless business that can’t go out of vogue as long as people are eating. I think that’s my business sense saying, this agro industry is key, don’t let it go Soul Magi.
The third and most cogent reason for me is that when I’m doing agriculture and my fellow musicians see it, they might be interested too. I want to be a point of inspiration to our younger generation that farming is the way that never expires. That’s why I’m partnering with investors already. As my music grows bigger, I’m partnering with more people. Not necessarily billionaires but the average Nigerian Youths. Farming is a lifestyle movement for youngsters in my generation and I’m hoping to champion that cause.
I simply moved closer to the farmlands. But to be more specific, I moved because my spiritual guide asked me to go and help the locals build at the community and grassroot levels. I’m really with the local people and being among them makes that smooth for us all. Otherwise I’d be an alien trying to civilize a people who’s culture I do not know.
Lastly, can you simply introduce yourself and explain what you stand for?
Thanks for asking. My legal name is Shepherd Godsbaby Ọ̀ṣífẹ̀kọ́ while Soul Magi is my artistic brand.
At the core of my existence is the understanding that all life is a precious gift and that the least we can do is care for life. I’m all about caregiving not only on a human to human level but on a life to life level. Meaning, I care how we treat animals, plants, the oceans and other life forms.
Musically, Soul Magi stands for music and magic because there’s something hypnotic about music that most people seem to ignore. In my opinion, when the music hits you and you’re dancing, that’s the music moving you. In other words, you’re not dancing but the music is dancing in you. That’s like saying music is possessive and it is. So being conscious of that, my music aims is to enlighten, entrain and entertain the world.
The Triple E of Soul Magi
Whats the meaning of soul magi?
The Greek word for soul is psuche which is the root word for psyche as in psychology. The root word for Magi is Ma which means Mother and Mage which means Image or to dive deeper, Magic. Soul Magi is a name that puts me in a lineage of magis like the biblical three magis, any magi is a wise king. Soul Magi means so much more but I guess my music would reveal the unspeakable depths of it. In one word, Soul Magi means Alchemist.