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“The Main Focus of my Project is Nigerian Women, they’re Gems”- Ninety in Conversation with RADR

Coming off strongly from R&B and Hip-Hop influences, Ninety’s first experiment with AfroPop was a success. On Rare Gem, his Debut into the Nigerian Music scene, Alubo Tuonims, also known as, Ninety sings about the Nigerian Woman. 

Two years in the making and Influenced heavily by his personal experiences, each song on Rare Gems highlights specific character traits from the women he grew up observing and loving. 

“The main focus of the project is Nigerian women, and to me Nigerian women are gems. The songs were specifically inspired by seven different experiences I have had with women since moving to Lagos. Each woman was so unique, and what really struck me about each encounter is that each of them had such distinct qualities that I had never experienced with other women I had previously met. They were each so unique and rare in their own right, so “Rare Gem” just came to mind immediately. “

This project taught NInety a lot about himself, his music, and his creative process. He wants his listeners to get an insight into who he is and his experiences and he hopes they can see themselves in all that. 

How did you choose the stage name ‘Ninety’? 

I was born in the nineties. Originally It was Ninety6, but I took out the “6” after Mike Ugwu, the CEO of Freeme Music and the rest of my guys started calling me just Ninety. I also didn’t want it confused with 69 if you get my meaning. 

Of course! When did you know that you wanted to go into music?

I knew from the first day I stepped into the studio at 14. It was instant for me, I just had a feeling that this was where I was supposed to be. I haven’t looked back since, even though I went on to study something totally different in university, music has still always been the end goal for me.

What/Who are your major influences for your music?

Definitely my dad. He gave me so much to listen to when I was younger by just playing stuff around the house and also as a choir director. I learned so much by watching him enjoy and perform music, he inspired me to really take a deeper dive into my musical side.

You have Identified yourself as an Afro-Fusion artiste. What does this genre entail?

To me, Afro-fusion is music that maintains a solid afro rhythm as a base but infuses other genres into it. So you still have the hypnotic quality of the drums, the melodies, the rhythms, and the typical call and response, but you can introduce other elements from R&B, Soul, and even Country music.

That’s Interesting. Why did you decide to make the move from PH to Lagos?

The entertainment hub is bigger in Lagos. I think it’s a natural move for any artist in Nigeria. 

Yeah, it would seem so. How did you choose the title “Rare Gem”

The main focus of the project is Nigerian women, and to me Nigerian women are gems. The songs were specifically inspired by seven different experiences I have had with women since moving to Lagos. Each woman was so unique, and what really struck me about each encounter is that each of them had such distinct qualities that I had never experienced with other women I had previously met. They were each so unique and rare in their own right, so “Rare Gem” just came to mind immediately. I started developing the writing of the songs from those experiences. 

Every song on Rare Gem seemed inspired by a personal experience. Is this correct?

Yes, very personal, first-hand experience (laughs).

I’m sure you have stories for days. It’s been a few months since the album was released. What has been the reception to Rare Gem?

Honestly, it has been great. I knew it was a solid piece of work, but as an artist, there is always this uncertainty when introducing a project into the world…especially with something like this because it is so personal. The feedback has been so refreshing and seeing and hearing people enjoy the songs makes the whole process so fulfilling.

How long did this project take to create?

The songs were created within a 2-year period. So from 2020 to 2022.

The musical arrangement for “Diamonds” is superb. What vision did you have for the song and how were you able to achieve that?

I wanted to make a song that would make others believe in love, believe in finding that special someone, and spending the rest of their lives together. I tried to go for anything that would speak to the soul, so having the choir was an obvious choice. I’m really happy it resonates with a lot of people.

What’s your favorite track on the EP?

Skip to my Lou. I can’t explain it, that song just has a special place in my musical heart. I always choose that song, whenever I want to play a song randomly, or for someone.

I feel like the arrangement and the melody represent some type of nostalgia that is near and dear to me. 

What song was the most difficult to write on the EP?

Buttercup. I got the beat and then for three months, I couldn’t come up with a melody I liked. Every day I would wake up with nothing, so it was actually the longest I have ever spent making a song. 

On “Wants and Needs,” we get a reference to the church song “Bend low”. How much of your upbringing translates into your songs?

A lot. I grew up in a very Christian home and I go to the Anglican Church. If you know anything about the Anglican Church, you know we sing a lot. “Bend Low ” was such a popular song, and still is today, so it’s quite nostalgic for me. I was very excited to put my own spin on it and make it into something people can relate to. Obviously, my version is much more suggestive and hopefully, it doesn’t send me to hell. Anyway, miracle nor dey tire Jesus.

Haha! What are your expectations for the album, for yourself, and for the listeners?

My expectation for Rare Gem is to set my listeners and myself up nicely for what is to come. This project taught me a lot about myself, my music, and my creative process…just so much. And I want people to know there is much more to come. Since it is my first project I want listeners to enjoy it and resonate with what they hear. 

I want them to get to know who I am and what I’ve experienced, and hopefully, they can see themselves in all that as well.

Author avatar
Rose Komolafe