Music Premiere: Tholu Rolands – Love Downtown (Download Links Available)
I grew up in our Lagos home with some paternal uncles who lived with us, they were hip hop heads who listened to the likes of Tupac Amaru Shakur, Coolio and WuTang clan. I watched them rap and nod their head to crunk beats, automatically, I followed suit without knowing. I remember making my first debut as a rapper at age 9, it was a children concert. I still have vivid memories of the church I grew up in and remember every bit of that Sunday afternoon, from my lines to the cleric who clanged the church bell in a manner that said “Evil”!.
At that age, I didn’t know what it meant to be embarrassed but I knew I was unhappy. The cleric and some elders called me a thug. Come to think of it was a gospel song, they had words like “Moses”, “supernatural” and “anointing” in them, still I was condemned.
It took extra strength aftermath to rap in public, but the jinx was broken when I got into secondary school at age 10, whenever classes were over or there was a break therein, we would hit on our tables and sing. I was the rapper girl and everyone saluted.
For the fear of what had happened at church in the past year, I did music only at school. Yet I was a child with very high IQ. Sailing through college, I found myself in boarding house at age 12, then, music became a normal thing to do, it became a really good thing to engage in, it was a norm and everyone adored it, I formed a group in 2000 named “Angelic Voices”, it flourished, we went for inter school singing competitions, alas! Everyone went separate ways after graduation.
At the end of 2002, I got into the university, the very year I finished from college. The environment, the new system of education and the culture shock took a toll on me and my music. In my third year on the 23rd day of June 2006, I did my first studio job titled Gidigbam featuring Mira, the rave of the moment at that time in Enugu state. I didn’t stop there, putting together a 16 track gospel album, ambitious yet alone, hardly any encouragement coming from family or close friends. They saw me as a better person than as a musician. It was a hard time for me. The album never got out of the studio. It saddened my entirety.
Working with a radio station whilst being a student urged me to do more, then came graduation, then came the service year, all effort to put out another album was futile. From lack of finance to naughty “taking advantage of me” producers and so forth. In the summer of 2009, I released a single titled ‘Lollipop”, a video was shot for it, at this time, I had drifted from gospel raps to secular raps. With just few air plays on radios and tv coupled with frustrating family, the attempt to break into the music industry failed again.
I proceeded to earn a Masters degree in Geographic Information Systems from the prestigious University of Lagos, Nigeria. It was during the course of the programme as I took a stroll one fine evening, I noticed a talking drum left outside to dry. I was amazed, in deep awe, it was my first time ever laying eyes on the local instrument. The love of music that burned in me drew me to it, I touched it. In a week I had started learning the art of the talking drum.
It spoke to me every night, I found myself learning my culture more and addressing the world via moral and earth songs. The talking drum formed a tomboy into a woman, it made me see myself and the world from a different focal point. All this happened between 2010 and 2012, I took another bold step, I did my first song with the talking drum played live on it on the 22nd December 2011 titled Eledu’a (God).
The likes of Lagbaja, Asa, Angelique Kidjo and India Arie excites and inspires me to a point unfathomable, therefore when I wrote the love song titled “Love DownTown”, I imagined the reknowned Lagbaja asking Asa out on love date. A song with a drama in it is what would have explained the affair and then, the birth of Love DownTown featuring Fizzi who happened to be the producer, great guy with good concept.
I have a band called “The Tholu Rolands Music Band”, we rehearse, we laugh, we fight, we grow together, we are the definition of a family, the ride has been a roller coaster ever since…