Holy Man is lively and he is working his way to the top. He picks up a bottle of wine from the side pocket of his Honda and his face brightens, he takes a quick look at my direction and says “Jesus Christ’s first miracle is turning water into wine.” He downs some of the liquid and with a seeming satisfaction he keeps the bottle out of sight as he focuses on the steering wheel.
Avis Bar and VIP Lounge draws my attention as we cruise round Yakubu Gowon way. “We can sit down and talk at Avis” I say. “No, I want a quiet place where no one will interrupt us” he replies, as he negotiates a bend and heads towards Tudun Wada Ring Road. “No record label can tempt me now, I’m comfortable. In the past I struggled to make it in the game, it was rough. Today, I’m a contractor with a construction firm, that’s what finances me. Did you notice the happy home T shirt...? I’m looking at a clothing line and very soon Holy Man production office will be ready.”
We drive into Up Town Garden which houses a bar and a mechanic workshop; it is indeed a low profile joint. Holy Man takes his time to assess the assorted drinks on display before picking up a bottle of Red Cape for a thousand naira. The bar attendant saunters behind us with two glass cups, we settle at a vantage corner where most activities around the bar could be viewed by us.
Holy Man admires the label on the bottle of wine, “South Africans are good, they make this.” Another refill of my glass and Red Cape’s got everything on me. Holy Man takes a sip and relaxes while waiting for my first question.
I used to be a voodoo man during my stint as a magician, I was attracted to magic. But the road has a miserable end. All my friends were going down. And what’s the benefit of gaining the whole world and losing your soul? I wanted out. I found the Bible and I got rid of all my magic books. So the name had to be gotten rid of.
The devil spirit is impatient, greedy and disobedient, just name it. So, with a new life, I went for the opposite, I learned to be patient, I was hopeful. And you know also, the opposite of voodoo man is Holy Man. And I have read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. And I even have an audio Bible to keep me constantly refreshed.
Holy Man Production
A lawyer advised me that with the word production, you could go into a lot of other businesses. So I run a record label; Morel the artist with Oxygen video on MTV Base was signed to my label at a time Adu Deme was too but an idea occurred to me as I invested in these guys I wanted their songs to carry my signature tune but they didn’t like it, so they left. Before now, I was more laid back like Suge Knights but when these guys left, I had to step into the music booth myself and you know I’ve been doing music back in the days. A lot of people were surprised but I’m doing my thing.
Happy Home Video
I had tried to employ the directorial skill of Clarence Peters but the money it will cost me would be about 1.2 million naira so I called on Bobby Hai who was asking for about eight hundred thousand. So, I sat down and inquired how much would the needed equipments cost me. So I went all out for them. I bought my camera and my editing suit plus my software online. I taught myself how to use the camera, I took different shots and I started getting better. Sometimes I would take a break and study the musical videos on MTV Base. I looked at their camera angles and I tried to do the same thing.
Holy Man who has won me over with his doggedness tackles my next question over the complex nature of a professional editing system to a beginner. With a funny smile on his face he replies “I am a theatre arts graduate, if I could study to make my papers for my degree, I could do the same thing with the editing tutorials, I got them, I studied them and boom! I started editing and I am using pro tools now, it’s a world class standard for professional editing.
I directed my Happy Home video and I thank God, it is well received. I always apply my theatre knowledge in my productions; the rich architectural design was what made me settle for the location I used in Happy Home video and it generated arguments; some said I shot my video in SA, some said it was shot in Abuja. But to be honest, I did my thing in J.Town and I used my car in the video, it’s all part of realism. If you study 2pac’s videos when he was alive, he kept everything real, the way you would see his appearance in his videos would be the same way he would go out in real life. So I do the same.
Holy Man is been sought after today for musical videos and he says his charges are not much. “I only make sure I take care of my lighting and camera crew. If you know Image, these ladies that look alike, I make video for them. I also shot a video for Pizzo”.
Holy Man says he is ready to go into film making too. “The script is ready, people only know the Holy Man the rapper and video director but they don’t know I act and I might have to work with some of the big names in the movie industry, because I reached out to my J.Town people but they put money first. If you want me to pay you like the big Nollywood actors, why won’t I go for the well-known Nollywood actors then?
I was taught by professors in the University of Abuja, Ojo Bakare and Dandaura, they give lectures, all from their heads and when they ask you question and you beat around the bush, they get really frank with you and let you know they learnt the same topics as students thirty years ago and they haven’t forgotten. So with that type of mentality I got greens. And there is this saying I pick up from a book, “the first step to faith is that you don’t have to see the staircase, just take the first step.”
Silver Spoon Misconception
Those who think Holy Man is making videos, driving a plush car and making money because of his influential parents, need to see things for what they really are; what Robert Greene calls intense realism. Terry Gang (Holy Man) grew up from a polygamy home. In Africa, rivalry is usually a bane of polygamy. Terry’s case wasn’t different. His well to do dad passed on in the early 2000 but his mum whom he appreciates in one of his songs burnt the mid night oil to bag a master’s degree in the university, an effort that paid off as she was called upon to serve as a commissioner in Plateau State. Holy Man says his mum supported his quest for entertainment but after that he left home and he never looked back as he continues to break boundaries as a business man and an artiste.
The copies of Daily Trust and The Nation newspapers with arresting headlines on the killings in most parts of the North are neatly folded by Terry Gang for a later digest. He says, “The Devil is full of deceit, remember in the garden, he came close to Eve...today he uses religion.’’
Holy Man, an avid Michael Jackson fan realizes he isn’t much of a singer, “I really love Michael Jackson but I realize I can’t sing like him. But when I heard Snoop dogg and the sound of Dr Dre I was drawn and I knew I could deliver through rap music. And the me against the world lyrics of Tupac made me want to know what made him so special, so I learnt 2pac attended the school of performing arts”.
These discoveries made Terry Gang who had been caught up in the fast lane consider a new career path; he got admission in the University of Abuja to study theatre arts just like his mentor Mr Shakur did in Baltimore. He also took a step further as he picked interest in the books the late rapper read. The writings of Sun Tzu in The Art of War and The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli were eagerly digested by Gang.
As Holy Man makes music today the need to create party friendly tracks is important in his quest to connect with majority of Nigerians who are dance oriented. So when you see him on your TV or you access him online, the image and the rhythm have a philosophy.
The rush for Lagos is on; every Nigerian artiste wants to make it to Lagos by every means necessary but Holy Man sees things differently, he uses the crude oil as a metaphor in illustrating a point when he says, “Anywhere crude oil is found it becomes a centre of attraction, Multinationals will embrace the area. If Dr Dre and 50 Cent could be known and listened to in J. Town, It is possible that Holy Man will one day be noticed by millions of Nigerian people while making his music and other artistic endeavours anywhere in the country.’’