In an exclusive interview with Jaguda.com, budding Nigerian singer/rapper, Bella Alubo revealed substantial reasons why she exited her erstwhile record label, Tinny Entertainment, alongside Ycee and Dapo Tuburna.
While the label’s former PR, Azeez Olalekan, shared his own version of why the artistes exited the imprint, Bella, in this recent interview gave her personal experience in the hands of the label’s CEO, Small TINNY (Mr Timilehin Arokodare).
Read excerpts below:
JAGUDA: What were the obligations you had to the label & vice versa?
BELLA: Contents of most contracts aren’t meant to be discussed. All I can say is the contract was never the problem.
JAGUDA: At what moment did you decide you were going to leave Tinny Entertainment?
BELLA: After I realised I was never going to be happy there and I was being strung along with promises such as getting accommodation renewed which never happened, had to squat with a friend. and after he outrightly said he was going to frustrate my career with his 1st move being not shooting Tropicana Fruit Juice. there was no point staying to be someone emotional abuse victim.
JAGUDA: About claims that you were under pressure to ‘sleep your way to the top’, how were you handle that? Do you think that hindered your growth in the early stages of your contract or at any other stage in your career?
BELLA: I wasn’t under pressure to do that. he’s someone who likes to constantly remind you of the things he has done, so he’d just always tell me I should be grateful to him that I don’t have to sleep with men to survive like women in the industry, and he’d proceed to name women while saying all sorts of nonsense really.
JAGUDA: Azeez blamed the exit of all the label’s artistes on Small TINNY’s (Mr Timilehin Arokodare) management style, adding that he (small TINNY), was a “ruthless boss with high demand for excellence and little or no regard for his staff.” Do you agree?
BELLA: Of course he was. No one who has worked with him ever has good things to say. Several times he’d hire people, not pay them for months, then fire them for apparently not impressing him. Also not paying producers, even the gateman. He expects everyone to do his bidding while being grateful to him when they aren’t being compensated in any way. He’ll always have high expectations of my style when he never invested in my wardrobe, all while communicating to me in the meanest way possible.
JAGUDA: In January 2018, during Ycee’s concert in the U.K, Azeez claimed you guys had issues with the CEO which made him abandon you guys with no means of survival. What were these issues?
BELLA: The first (1st) time I verbally challenged him was in London. After that he cut off communication and I had to find my way to the airport. He never provided funds during the trip for accommodation, feeding or anything. His lawyers told my lawyers it wasn’t my concert so I should be grateful I was taken along.
JAGUDA: Was Ycee an influence in deciding to leave?
BELLA: Of course. I had just made an EP with Ycee and he was someone I cared about. I didn’t like the way he was constantly disrespected because if the biggest artiste was treated like that at his peak stage after being signed so long, one could only imagine what was in store for me.
JAGUDA: What was your personal experience with the label? We got little hints, but do you care to share more of what happened?
Everyone in the label apart from the CEO was constantly doing their very best to make it work. Everyone probably saw more of a vision in the label than the CEO himself who mostly just cared about his ego & being some sort of dictator. the idea of the label really would have worked out and we could have been something great if he wasn’t who he was. he used to talk to each artiste behind the others trying to convince you that he was ready to focus on you & ignore everyone else for one reason or the other… Just unnecessary manipulation like that. And ignoring whoever annoyed him in any way. it wasn’t professional at all, it’s like he wanted us to constantly try to be on his good side instead of focusing on our careers which we were signed to. he also would try to isolate you from your manager or friends & get close to your family. Any way to manipulate you really. I’m quite psychologically self-aware so I was on the lookout even though there’s only so long you can be in a mentally toxic environment without it affecting you.
JAGUDA: Do you fear any potential legal problems with the label in the future?
BELLA: They should fear.
JAGUDA: Are you independent now? And what are your current arrangements with Mr Eazi’s emPawa?
BELLA: I’m independent. Eazi is someone who really believes in empowering people & wants to see more people be successful, (and) independent.EmPawa currently distributes all of my music
JAGUDA: What are your next moves?
BELLA: I have an EP coming out early October that features some of your faves! I’m also resuming my 2nd semester in GCU London where I’m studying MSc International Management and Business Development.
JAGUDA: A lot of upcoming artistes are eager to get signed. What would be your advice and the red flags they should identify?
Honestly, you’ll have to grow anyways so might as well do it on your terms. I’ll say look for licensing deals or promo deals or whatever, record deals are phasing out unless they’re like really huge international ones.. But then again, whatever works for you, you can grow, however.