After his three-year-old contract with Bang Music Entertainment ended, love-tinged music maker, T-Classic also known as Classical Boy was on the verge of giving up music. But he had one more thing to do- to drop a farewell song. He, therefore, called his manager Darasimi and told him about the plan. They worked on the song “I Want You” and released it. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a masterpiece which paved way for him. T-Classic was well received by music fans after he dropped ‘Fall In Love’ featuring DMW’s act, Mayorkun. Ever since, Ajayi Tolulope who was born and raised in Agege, Lagos, as the first of his parents’ five children, has seized every chance that came his way and is passionately using the platform given him by his current label, Mix Naija Entertainment to become the next superstar.
Ahead of the release of his debut project ‘Underrated EP’, the Ekiti-State born music sensation recently had a sit-down with P.M.News’ Entertainment team to talk about his rising profile, humble beginnings, challenges, fame, and his mission.
How has it been like from 2019 to 2020?
We worked throughout 2019. It was just work, projects back to back and my team and I have started working on something to make 2020 a very big year for me. From one good news to another, I don’t want to talk too much about it. I want something people will actually see and say wow, is this really T Classic, so trust me 2020 is going to be a bomb.
What project are you currently working on?
I just want to put out more music, more content, more visuals for my fans and probably a tour or a concert later, I am not sure yet. We are working towards that.
How about an album or EP?
About that EP, we are working on everything but I don’t want to disclose more about that but it is something that will blow your mind, trust me.
Tell us about your growing up and how you started music.
I was born and brought up in Lagos State, Agege to be precise, Iju Ishaga area. It was not music back then, it was dancing, I used to dance to Michael Jackson’s songs, doing the moonwalk and sometimes I would go to birthday parties, naming ceremony, even there was a time I went a burial ceremony (laugh) to dance. I just like that ginger and that urge for MJ.
My mum called me one day and said why not write a song and dance to it. So, I tried to compose some songs and it wasn’t a studio thing, when I wrote a song in my book, I would go to my mum and show her that this what I have written and in the night I would gather my family and sing to them. My dad is a disciplinarian and didn’t have time for what I was doing. So when I gathered them, my mum and my siblings, I would tell them I have a new song and I will like to sing it for you. That alone, I was satisfied, so it wasn’t about going to a studio to record. I was just singing it to my family.
I finished Nursery and Primary school at Legacy International School and I moved to Royal Camp Comprehensive High School, Agege, Lagos. Luckily for me, we used to have social activities every Friday in that school. So, every Friday was for party after closing hour which was around 1 pm. Even if you have not paid your school fee, you will enter school on Friday. So we have different segments like music, comedy, football. From there I started having interest in music and I found it easy. It was not stressful for me. Most of my guys joined the football team but when I played football, E go be like say I won die (laugh) or make I injure but when it comes to music, it was so easy. It is like merging two words together, and before you know it, it is a jam. So every Friday, I would go to school even when I was owing school fees and I was sent home, on Friday I would be in school.
It was after Secondary school that I got signed to a record label, Bang Music Entertainment, BME. My own story was different, I am not that type of artiste that you can call ‘studio rat’. I will say I didn’t suffer or struggle to pay producer, it is not about bragging but I have never paid a producer. Like I said, I was satisfied doing it till I got signed to the label.
After I got signed, I realised the industry is really crazy. We have to blow the brand, we have to do everything back to back. We have to go to the studio to record, mix and master the song. After that, you will promote the song. I was like, is this what you guys face? Omo this thing is stressful oo. It got to a point, we have to pay show promoters to perform at their shows, still, you will still not perform after payment. You have to pay Radio stations, influencers and all that. Money money money. Everything was just new to me.
I was with BME for like three years, dropped couple of songs and visuals, with everything, nobody knew T-Classic. And then, there was pressure, I saw artistes booming after putting money on their heads, so that one was on my head like this person is spending this kind of money on me and I never blow. I used to think about that a lot, like what am I going to do.
Then, I worked with Killertunes, he helped me brand myself, and from there my contract ended with BME. That was like three years, and after that I got signed to Mix Naija Entertainment which is my current label.
Before we talk about your current label, how did your parents react to your decision to take up music?
My Dad loves music, he was also a dancer when he was young. So he likes it but he just feels it is a waste of time, but my mum has been supportive from day one. Sometimes, if I wanted to go to shows and dad must not be aware, she would tell me to quickly go and would wait outside for me.
Another thing about my Dad was that he is the type that doesn’t want any of his children to go through any stress, so he sees music as stress. He doesn’t even allow my mum to work. He was providing everything she needed, till he lost his job. I will say, if my dad didn’t lose his job, I wouldn’t be here, you understand. I won’t say I’m happy he lost his job, but it was a plus for me (laugh) because he also saw it now that he doesn’t have a choice again. He was like since I can’t afford to send you to school, what do you want to do and stuffs like that.
It was really sad then, to the extent that we had to share meats in the pot and we slept in church for a long time, a white garment church, that was where I got that ‘seri maka buri’ slogan from. And those churches, whenever there is a prayer, you have to wake up and join them. Even something wey no concern you, when there is someone looking for husband, we will join them to pray, when pregnant women come, we will join them, people we dey look for wife, I am still young bro but we have to join them to pray and pray. I stayed in church for close to two years, sleeping on the floor, with mosquitoes and all that. I had a lot friends that were trying to lure me into doing some illegal stuffs like Yahoo Yahoo….
Were you tempted to do that?
I wasn’t tempted. That I was staying in the church doesn’t mean I suffered, it was just another experience, to mix with people, it was like free stuff for me. My dad won’t even allow me to sleep on the mat, you understand that kind of father. So from there he doesn’t have any chance again but to accept what I do, he just said anything you guys want to do, just make sure you do it right. So from there, I got signed like I said, to BME and now to Mix Naija Entertainment, my current label and we are here.
How did you meet BME that first signed you?
That was after secondary school because I didn’t even finish, I left in SS2 when I couldn’t pay school fees. My Dad used to pay a whole session in first time but we now became people they would regularly send home because of school fees. The insult and the disgrace were too much that even my classmates were laughing at me, they will even call me Friday boy because they know I would come on Friday to perform in school.
Bang Music Entertainment, the CEO was my classmate but we were not close. We would just see and say what’s up, until I had that problem. She was in America then, so I buzzed her on Facebook, like Yo, I am into music, I still have the chats on my Messenger that anytime I check, I just say wow. I told her I had composed like 16 tracks and she said when she came back, she would listen to them and from there she took me to the studio for the first time where I met Killertunes because she signed Killertunes too then.
Funny enough, the CEO of Mix Naija, Darasimi was my manager then. He’s my guy but his own love for me back then was different. So when the pressure was on me seeing other artistes blowing, and he’s always like, guy don’t worry. When I didn’t have money, he’s going to give me. He and Killertunes are like brothers to me. So from there, when my contract ended, I was like where will I go now, I was thinking of going back home and start doing barbing or tailoring business.
I forgot to tell you, my mum is a pastor and she’s always assuring me that don’t worry, someone will call you, this music is your way. So one day I just called Darasimi that I have one song that I want to drop and after the song, I am done with music. I wanted to use this song to tell my people bye-bye (laugh). So I sent the song to him and he was like, guy this one is mad jam, he asked me to come over and there was no capital but people are already noticing Killertunes in the industry. So Darasimi just called him and told him they have to help me. So Killertunes was just producing for me for free, while Dara would be the one to pay for the studio sessions. Sometimes we would spend like 3 days in the studio, which might cost like N300, 000, with his jama jama, he would pay.
He dropped the first video for me without signing me, second, third and fourth video. He was just doing it based on relationships. So after Isabella, he was like guy come let’s do a contract, make we take this thing to another level, make you no go japa mo mi lowo (laugh). So after he signed me, we dropped ‘Fall in Love’ featuring Mayorkun. As we dropped that, people started calling me to sign me, even big labels whose names I don’t want to mention. I can’t dump my guy, Mix Naija is part of me, it is not a label, it is a family.
During your experience with BME, was there a time you wanted to give up?
There was pressure, that was why I wanted to stop after the last song. My eyes see oo. There were some things that even happened in the label that I don’t want to talk about, you understand? I cried, like it was too much. It was that time Lil Kesh dropped Lyrically, other artistes too were dropping hits back to back. It was really sad. But it doesn’t in any way affect my style of music. I will give that to Killertunes when it comes to sounds because I used to sound like Wizkid then. So he helped me worked on my sound, like he would tell me to blow air into my voice.
Now, I hear people saying I’m sounding like Kizz Daniel and I’m like wow, I don’t even know Kizz Daniel when I started. That was 2013, I’m like I have been sounding like this for a long time and Killertunes tried to help me build this and modify it. It doesn’t get to me though, I’m just doing my things.
What are the things that have changed about you now?
Things that have changed, first of all, I couldn’t afford to buy things for myself back then, clothes, shoes, even food. There is one Mallam that used to make noodles for me and Killertunes back then, I stayed with Killertunes for like 3 years in the same room. We ate together, wore the same clothes, and sometimes, he would buy clothes for me including boxers. One thousand naira was a big money to me back then, but now I can buy food for many people now. I can afford to buy food, clothes, shoes, and jewelry. I may not be able to buy a car now but we are getting there.
Now, I pay my siblings’ school fees. I pay my parents salary every month. Things have really changed for me, to the extent that I can’t even do some things or go out alone, I have to ask my guys to do it for me. There was a time I was in a car with my friends, we went to get fuel, as I got down and put the keg down. Someone just said, T Classic, you sef dey buy fuel? (laugh) I’m like, I don’t understand this again but I thank God, I’m happy where I am.
That’s even where I am going, the fame is coming, so how are you handling it?
That one, I don’t feel too big. It still sharks me when I see people vibing to my music. Till now, I still feel like wow, that’s why my Instastory is always long every time because I re-post. All those things, I see them as support. There was a time my manager said you are too accommodating, try and let them know you are big but I don’t know how to do that. When I see somebody call my name, I’m always like, that guy actually knows my name, like he’s singing my songs. Even till now, when I get on stage, and people started singing my song, it always amazes me and I wish I just had big money I could spray them because I know how I started.
Like that your performance with Kizz Daniel…
Yeah, it was like I’m in another world when I see people singing and dancing to my song or a girl crying or maybe bouncer stopping fans from getting to me, I’m always like no, leave my people. Let them take pictures, it is not famzy, there is no famzy in my dictionary.
Something happened today actually. I went to a program, and they parked all celebrities in a room. Everyone was there, Ycee, Danny S, Falz and many others. So some guys came in, they were trying to take pictures and all that and one of the people handling the event just said, if you are not a celebrity here, go out and they stood up and left. I was just trying to put myself in their shoes and I’m like why would you say that to them, you could have just said if you are not our guest. You don’t know tomorrow because they can become celebrities tomorrow, even bigger than T Classic.
I have also experienced celebrities looking down on me. There was a time I went to the club where I was trying to take a picture with one celebrity and he poured me Hennessey and I’m bigger than that artiste now. So I have experienced it, we don’t know tomorrow.
How have you been coping with the attention you get from ladies?
Oh, Ladies! I could remember a time that I was in a club, and a lady who came with her boyfriend was all over me and was like she wants to follow me and all that and her boyfriend was just standing there looking at me so badly. The boyfriend was so pissed off but he couldn’t do anything because am T-Classic. But C’mon I try to keep it on a fan level, don’t be that type of guy who goes to show to pack ladies because these actions have great consequences. I have been warned by lots of celebrities. There was a time I have a conversation with 9ice and he was like guy use your head o. You will definitely be attracted but I have to focus, I can’t afford to get carried away even though they are tempting, I also have a lot of them bothering me.
You left school because you couldn’t afford it but now that you have enough, what’s the plan?
I was thinking about returning to school and my dad fully supported the decision but he was like T-Classic what happens if something negative happens during your academic pursuit, a carryover or something, it will be a widespread report before you know it. I wish I could get a lecturer who can teach me from home or something or maybe when am out of the country I can seize the opportunity to study.
What will be your course of study?
When I was a kid I had different ambitions, I wanted to be a pastor at first, from pastor to law. Truthfully am open to any course but maybe I will prefer Mass Communication.
How about Music?
Although I have music but yeah music, I need to know more about it.
Apart from music, what else do you find interesting to do?
I can’t do anything else I’m too ‘whack’ (laugh) without music, men I will be nothing. I think I like cooking but stress.
What aspect of your music are you aspiring to improve on?
Music is complex, you have to know many things, as a good musician you should know how to play at least an instrument. For me, I only know how to beat drums and that’s with my hand (laugh). I think I need to do many things to improve and am looking forward to it.
Who influenced you into music?
I like Micheal Jackson a lot, I listened to a lot of people while growing up because my dad loves music, I listened to musicians like Brenda Fasie, Anjelique Kidjo, Lucky Dube, Bob Marley, T-Pain, Ja rule, Chris Brown, and Justin Bieber.
I don’t have a mentor for now. Back then I used to look up to some people but it will be rude if I say I looked up to them and now I don’t look up to them anymore. I want to be bigger than anyone I looked up to. My vision is way bigger now.
With what Burna Boy has done, is Grammy also part of your dreams?
Sure. I respect Burna Boy a lot. If you look back like three years ago, he was nowhere, but now he’s everywhere doing well and bigger than many of our big artistes, booming. Every song is a hit back to back. That’s the kind of what I’m dreaming for too. I even want to be bigger than that.
The kind of content Nigerian fans want is different from the type that can go across the border. How can our artistes create content that will carry a good message?
Right now, the new era artistes are not playing. I, Joeboy, Fireboy, Rema and others are coming through. If you listen to our songs, the new era kids, it’s not just any songs, take your time to listen to them. Everybody has content. Recently, I saw a white lady on Youtube, talking about the song I just dropped, ‘Think About It’. It shows that our songs are getting across, even though they don’t understand some of the languages.
When is T-Classic going to collaborate with Joeboy?
Joeboy is my guy actually but right now everyone just wanna work on their self. If you ask him, he is going to say the same thing. Very soon collabo is going to come but no beef. Joeboy, Fireboy, Oxlade, Terri, and all others are good. Our own is different, no fake love, when you have a song that is not good, they will tell you, guy maybe you have to work on that chorus. So everybody is working together but we are not ready to feature ourselves. We want to drop more jams, nobody even wants to do feature anymore, everyone wants to stand on their own and drop jams like this is me.Definitely. I am going to feature but maybe a big artiste. I love to work with Davido, Burna Boy.
Let’s talk about relationship with DMW.
DMW is a family. Since I did ‘Fall In Love’ with Mayorkun, even the connect was from DMW’s President, Sir Banco who introduced me to Mayorkun and Mayorkun carried me to meet the whole family. When I got there, I became friends with everyone. When we meet in the club, they will be like Classic, come through and before you know it, we are family. And very soon, be expecting something from T-Classic and Davido.
What is your sound?
I call my own sound Afro-classic. And there is always a storyline in my songs. ‘Nobody Fine Pass You’ has a storyline, ‘Think About It’ has one too. So it is very easy to understand and if that thing is happening to you, you can put yourself in it and they also reflect in my visuals.
I also come up with concepts that are fiction. Like I was writing a song about my girlfriend that died, but nobody died, I just came up with the idea in my head but there is actually someone out there who has lost his girlfriend, definitely if he hears the song, you understand.
Do you have a girlfriend?
Not for now, I just want to push more before I start having a girlfriend because if I had a girlfriend, I wouldn’t want to hide her, I would want people to know.
What are the things that need to be adjusted in the music industry?
I will say one, the fake love is too much. They will say, that guy is very stupid, the same person will still call you to show and you will go. When you play a song for your fellow artistes, they know it is not good but they won’t tell you, they will be shouting, mad jam, drop it and when you drop it, no one will support you. When they see you, they know you oo but they will just be like who is he?
There was a time I went to a show, Tiwa Savage’s show, because when I am outside, the only people I associate with and talk to is the new era artistes like Joeboy, Fireboy and others, so I keep it low from all these big celebrities because I don’t want insult. So at the show, Dr. Sid was coming and he was like hey, T-Classic, you think sey I no know you, I was just like ah boss. So if you don’t greet me, I go just dey on my own lane but if you actually call me, the drama wey I go pull, you no go regret say you call me (laugh). You will think I’m cool, I am not cool oo, nah because you no call me oo. I told Dr. Sid the same thing. He was like, I know you. The same thing with 9ice.
Was there a time you dropped a song and one of these artistes call you to commend you?
The only people doing that to me now is DMW. When I drop songs, Mayorkun will call and be like, wow, that’s dope. When I dropped Nobody Fine Pass You, he even posted a video, vibing to the song. He has been supportive back to back, sometimes he checks up on me or tell me to come around to vibe together. We have another song together; it is coming soon.
Has music been profitable for you so far and where does your biggest money come from?
Yeah, we are getting money from shows and streams, we really get money from those streams.
How was your first time on stage?
Everyone was just looking at me. It was embarrassing, I was like, how far nah why are you people looking at me like this. But I have never experienced a situation where they will say boo, no. They do that to other artistes but my own was looking at me.
How do you handle negative comments?
I get a lot of negative comments, sometimes, I just look at the good ones and ignore those negative ones because anything they say is not getting to me, I just do my things.