Iyanya has been in the news a lot recently partly for allegedly fleecing producer of Nigeria’s foremost comedy show, Nite of a Thousand Laughs, Opa Williams, a matter Iyanya had since come out to explain. He has also been in the news for an on-off relationship with Ghanaian actress Yvonne Nelson who sources say Iyanya is trying to get back with after their November break-up, a relationship Iyanya hardly talks about.
After breaking into the music scene in 2008 through Project Fame, Iyanya’s hardwork paid off in 2012 when his December 2011 single, Kukere became a hit. He never rested on his oars, and has gone further to make more music. What drives him is an unbridled desire for success, according to the meaning of his name – Iyanya means Desire.
Speaking to Showtime, Iyanya said he started music with the name Desire, but the name changed when he got to Project Fame 4 where it was rejected. He gave a Nigerian name they demanded for, and today we have Iyanya. Desire was synonymous to the R&B Iyanya sang through project Fame, but with the new came the need for a new genre of music. More so, Iyanya tried sticking to the R&B he started with but after years without success, he realised it doesn’t sell on the street, and Kukere changed the game.
“Desire was just an R&B guy with a great voice who took time to write music and talk about his feelings but just a few people appreciate Desire. Desire never made so much money. Desire always begged for shows, hustles for everything but Iyanya is global. Iyanya is accepted by all,” Iyanya said.
And this according to Iyanya is a side of him we don’t know:
“People don’t know that I’m very slow to anger. I look like a pompous guy right? People don’t know that I play a lot and I don’t pretend. But I can’t just see a stranger and run to him. You have to come to me first because you can’t judge a book by its cover.
“Why don’t they come to me first to say hi and see if I won’t respond? But people don’t know that, they just say I’m a snob. For example, some people may just come into this room and stare at me for like an hour without saying a word. Most times I’m the one that even says “hello, I see you are looking at me” and some of them would exclaim at the fact that I was the first to say ‘hi’ to them.”
He added: “But that’s the way Nigerian fans are. They aren’t like those you meet abroad who would flock around you
But they are some who when they come to you, they come with swag and say “hey, how are you”, just because they want you to feel like nothing. I’m a human being too. I have my pride too. So if you want to talk to me, you talk with respect. Treat me the way you want me to treat you and I’ll treat you with respect too.”
Iyanya started from Calabar but always knew he was too hot for Calabar to contain. As a humble son of the soil, he remained there years after he started music. Iyanya became sure he made the right decision by leaving Calabar after he performed his ‘now airwaves-ruling’ Kukere when the song was just released in December 2011 at the Calabar Carnival, and his own people didn’t applaud him like they did other performers. He was too big a talent to handle for them. Kukere got back to the music capital of Nigeria and became a hit.
The 26-year-old artiste said it was hard settling in Lagos when he moved from Calabar four years ago.
“Lagos isn’t an easy place for up-comers, especially for people like you who don’t know anyone here and just came in to hustle.
“People thought that I became a big boy after Project Fame- it’s a lie. Project fame actually started my hustle. It made me realize I have to work hard because when I left the Academy, it wasn’t with the like of T.Y, Mix. It was me and my mentors and people I’d always respected. So I had to work hard…and see how long it took me to get here. Project Fame was 2008, this is 2013.
The guy who had always loved and sang R&B never believed Kukere was going to become this big.
“I didn’t know Kukere would be this big, because it was the first song that began my transition. After R & B was the first pop. So you see, after Kukere, I moved to Your Waist then, to Flavour.”
In fact, Kukere was done in 3 months, and Iyanya says that was because he didn’t believe in it.
“I didn’t believe in it. My manager had to trick me that we had a show where they wanted to pay us N500,000. So when I got there, he told me to complete Kukere before we go for the show. After I completed the song, he told me there was no show. I was pissed.”
Thanks to some DJs who believed in Iyanya, and also some radio presenters, they are the ones Iyanya said made it happen. But it didn’t all just pan out great. Iyanya had to make sacrifices. He had to sell his car to shoot the Iyanya video, one of the many sacrifices he;s had to make for music.
Today, fame has paid him as Iyanya says, “I have three cars now within a space of one year.”
Iyanya yet again ‘denied’ Yvonne Nelson. Through all of the news about their breakup, followed by a relationship with Tonto Dike, Iyanya never said any of it was true, he never denied either.
Asked if he ever dated Yvonne Nelson, Iyanya smiled and said, “Yvonne is a darling. She’s a sweet person as well as Tonto. They are my buddies.”
And on tweets obviously referring to Iyanya, the Kukere crooner asked, “Did you see the tweet addressed to me? That’s the only way to prove she was talking about me.”
Iyanya says he doesn’t have a girlfriend “because I don’t have time. Women like attention and they don’t like men without money. I’m young and this is the time I have to build tomorrow. I’ve tried few relationships but realized that my job comes in between us. So once I’m not there to attend to her, she can get aggressive and I’m a creative person- I don’t need aggression so that I can focus. I respect every lady that feels something for me but my job comes first.”