Born in the city of Warri in Delta State on 18 December 1982, Ibukun Kevin Emuwawon, better known as IBK, is a producer, rapper, singer, songwriter, and vocal instructor. On the wings of his music production outfit MARTIANSHIP and teaming up with mix Engineer Olaitan Dada, he recently won the Don Jazzy #Enigma Beat Competition which took over the online community of young Nigerians across the globe, after garnering 38% (13,214 votes) out of the total of 34,410 votes cast. After three weeks of recording, screening and voting, IBK Spaceship Boi’s “Enigma- I Have a Dream” won the $2,000 top prize out of over 1,800 entries received for the contest. With the Spaceshipboi persona—a fictional superhero figure from another planet sent to earth with a message of change and hope to inspire this generation—he is gradually, but surely becoming a major influence in the Nigerian music industry. In this exclusive interview with BN Editorial Assistant, Gbenga Awomodu, he talks about music, growing up, how he ‘killed’ the Enigma Beat, and much more.
My name is Ibukun Kevin Emuwawon. I was born in Warri, Delta State. I spent the first 26 years of my life there, so I’m a Warri Boy, certified! I went to NNPC Primary School; then I attended Demonstration Secondary School, owned by the College of Education in Warri. There, I was schoolmates with Omawumi Megbele and Nneka Egbuna. I studied Computer Engineering at Covenant University and graduated in 2009. I was the assistant choir director for Covenant University choir. It was a great opportunity for me to develop myself as a musician, an artiste, and a producer. I’ve offered vocal lessons to several artists and I am very much associated with Cobhams Asuquo Music Productions.
What do you do at Cobhams Asuquo Music Production?
I was the director for the Music School there at CAMP. (Pause) I still work with some of the artistes under the label; I did a production for Bez in his album, Super Sun.
How was it like growing up and who were your major influences?
Growing up was fun. I’m the last child in a family of six. My brother is a great guy; I look up to him a lot. Anything he did, I did too. I would see him make toy cars with remote controls and I did that too. He was interested in rap, so, I had to be interested too. My sisters have been very instrumental in my journey too, with the older of the two being responsible for the singing part of me and the other setting me off on my quest to making hip gospel records. I have great parents, a mother that loves me and supports what I do and a father whose counsel I never take for granted. If there’s anything I learnt from my father, it is “never give up” on a literal tip. I’m not just saying it because it’s the right thing to say, it’s what I saw growing up. In things as simple as pushing a car to start, this man would make us push his car for an hour until it started… There was a time it happened, and he was like, “I told you. I told you; let’s just push this thing one more time.” I was always quick to go to a friend’s house to play video games. I was in a group called PrimeRose Entertainers back in secondary school. I remember a time Omawumi (one of Nigeria’s top female artist) told me she wanted to show me stuff she had been doing in the studio; we were still in secondary school. She took me to the place; I met the producer, heard the music, and I was like “Wow! This girl has started o…” The next thing I saw was her on West African Idols; I was so inspired *Waje’s voice* (laughs). I had great people around me, like Oscar Heman-Ackah and Aiwa Ohunyon, with whom I teamed up in a rap group called Fourth Dimension. We ministered and got people blessed in churches and schools like UNIPORT and UNIBEN. Oscar is now a great producer; he just produced Chidinma’s song, Jankoliko, which features Sound Sultan.
When did you officially decide to pursue music full-time?
It’s been music all along. I’d been writing music since I was 5; writing music for commercials, to myself, anyway (laughs). But then, when my brother decided to develop himself in web designing and he gave me all the books he read, I was like, “Okay, my root stops in music for you. I can’t follow you to this one.” So I just stayed in music, and he went on to become the best web designer in Nigeria. He won the award last year. His name is Gbenga Emuwawon; he is the CEO of Iceberg Infotainment. I joined Fourth Dimension just after secondary school in 1999/2000. That’s also when I started producing music. I was using our house as a studio. I had a computer in the house; I got software from a great friend of mine, and his name is Morris. I started recording with Cool Edit, then went on to Fruity Loops, which I used for quite a while until a friend of mine introduced me to Reason.
Did you have any formal training along the line?
Not within the four walls of an institution. I trained myself by getting materials on the internet plus most of the people that I needed in my life as regards my music just came with materials. I read stuff up; I studied. I try them, they work, and I teach people.
Do you play any other musical instruments?
I play, but not professionally. I know how to find my way round the piano, or the guitar, for what I want to do; getting the required chords to power my music.
From where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
Honestly, it’s from God’s Word, and from things I see around me; then I bring God’s perspective into the situation.
How did you hear about the Don Jazzy Enigma Beat Competition and decide to take part in it?
I saw it on Notjustok.com, but I kept scrolling to see other articles. I’m this kind of person who does not like getting involved in something everybody is involved in. I want something exclusive to me. Later, when I was going about spreading my new single (I HAVE A DREAM), I got to Eko FM and gave DJ Charlie-Shee my CD. He listened to my single and liked it. He asked if I knew about the Enigma Beat and if I could do something on it for him; like, rap and do a mention so he could use it on his show. Later in the week, at my friend and mix Engineer, Olaitan Dada’s studio, he and another friend, Omolara encouraged me to just do the rap. I decided to forget the old-fashioned me that wanted exclusive stuff. I thought, “You want to bless people, you want a large audience to hear what God has to say through you, so this is a great opportunity. Take this music, preach God’s word through it, be professional about it and put it out. You never know what might happen.” I set out with the intention to inspire people, make something that is not ordinary or mediocre. When we put it out, one PR person told his artiste to listen to my stuff that that’s what they were up against. I got many twitter messages from people telling me they were inspired and wanted to do their own. Some went back to the studio to remake theirs. I was fulfilled in my heart.
Continue reading the Interview here: Meet IBK: The ‘Dreamer’ who Conquered Don Jazzy’s #Enigma