is a hard working music mogul that can do it all, he writes, produces,
the works!, This talented former lead singer of the group "Trybesmen"
talks about new album, his career, his move to ATL, and life without the
trybesmen. Enjoy this in depth exclusive interview and dont forget to
pick up his new album "Long Time Coming"
NE: For those who do not know, who is
LD: Eldee is Lanre Dabiri, an architect, not a musician as most people
assume..lol. I grew up around a lot of musical influences and have been
interested in being part of the arts from when I was very young. I spent
most of my childhood in Kaduna (northern Nigeria) where it all started
for me as a music producer and recording artist. I spend a lot of time
by myself, I love my solitude. I'm a team-oriented person with very big
dreams. Music on a professional level started from me after I had moved
to Lagos to go to the university there. Studying architecture, my goal
in life is to leave a mark in history with whatever I touch. I started
the group "Trybesmen" in 1998 with two of my rapper friends,
KB and Freestyle and churned out hits between 1999 through 2001. Trybesmen
became a household name in 1999 with the 2 monster hits, "shake bodi"
and "trybal marks". As a member of Trybesmen, I was the "front
man" so to speak. I led in many ways. I did most of the coordination
and the production. Moving on ahead with my passion for music, I crossed
over to the United States in 2002 and have since released my first solo
LP titled "Long time coming". Over the years, I have made a
lot of contacts and have had the opportunity to perform alongside a whole
bunch of International acts. As a pioneer member of the African hiphop
movement, I have been exposed to and had the opportunity to mingle with
a lot of international acts. I'm currently signed to a partnership recording
deal with Storm Records/Sony Music Africa/BMG. My first international
release is due out summer of 2005.
NE: What have you been up to lately?
LD: Like everyone that's new in a system, I'm still trying to ground
myself properly. I've got a day job as a project coordinator in a web
development company and I'm doing pretty well here. Ive made some power
moves and I'm trying to settle down and start a family sometime in the
near future too,..and yes,..I am VERY single and looking!...lol
When Im at home in the evenings, I make music. I spend a lot of hours
on the computer and I guess that's why some people think I'm a little
NE: You currently reside in ATL, are you loving it?
LD: I love it out here. It's been a pleasant change from the wild wild
wild streets of Lagos, trust me. I miss Lagos a lot though. I know it
sounds crazy but the rush you get in lagos, on the streets at night,..the
"anything can happen" factor is just not here in Atlanta and
I kinda miss that. I'm currently in the process of closing a deal on a
house here so I guess I'm gonna be here for a minute.
NE: How has the transition from Nigeria to America
LD: Pretty drastic. totally different in every way. It takes a little
bit of re-adjustment to fit in. The timeline scheduling of most people
here was kinda new to me,..I had to lose the "anything goes"
factor too to fit in,..lol. Your first wonder is how people can be so
organized at everything.
NE: Do you feel like being in America has affected
your popularity in Nigeria?
..y'know,..I believe it has. I hadn't really put out much of music
for about a year before I left except LD: for the song with Dare Alade
and the "campus queen soundtrack" so I believe my popularity
has dropped relatively. I know it's temporary though because I have a
new CD now that is probably the most anticipated release in Nigeria at
the moment so I have no fear that I would be forgotten. For the newer
kids,..they probably don't know much of Trybesmen but with artists that
are signed to my record label like Sasha, 2shots, etc, I'm sure people
are still feeling my heat in Nigeria.
NE: How do you keep up with the Nigerian music
LD: All the music artists and media people are personal friends so
I have a lot of material sent to me and I stay in touch with most people
anyway so I'm never lost. I get all the new stuff, even get to review
some before they drop so I guess I can say I'm in touch with the Naija
NE: Tell us about your new album, what has the response been like?
LD: I don't want to say I expected people would like the CD but the
response so far has been maaaaaaaaad!! There's been little or no creativity
on the scene in general and I know people want to hear something different.
I've performed at huge shows here in the states and the response has been
somewhat overwhelming. I have radio airplay on WRFG89.3 fm, 95.5 the beat
and a few of the prominent stations. The promotion of the CD has not really
kicked off yet but so far, the fact that even people who don't understand
pidgin English and all the local naija dialects I throw into my stuff
can appreciate it shows that this is just the beginning and sky's no limit
NE: What tracks would you say are your favorite?
LD: "I go yarn", for its content which comes straight from
the depths of my heartfelt pity for our people and their suffering.
a song for mama, something I've never actually
done considering I owe my career as a music artist to my mom believing
in me when it all seemed impossible.
where I break the silence on the trybesmen
something I feel really sad about, considering the fact that
I found out a little too late that it was more of "my" personal
dream than all 3 of us.
NE: Where certain tracks on the album inspired by
LD: Most of my stuff comes from me really, I try not to have other
artists influence my sound. This is the reason I try to stay away from
trying to make the beats too Americanized
if you know what I mean.
I see this as a big movement that will soon have to be reckoned with by
the rest of the world. The more original we retain it,..the more unique
we will be as Nigerian hip-hop artists. I know I have a little bit of
influences here and there on the beats but that may be for commercial
reasons. Maybe a little Dr Dre here and there,..some neptunes..y'know,..that
sound people wanna hear but I always make sure I do it my own way,..almost
NE: Who writes your music for you?
LD: I write all my music. Do all the production and even recorded and
engineered this entire CD by myself. Its what I love the most about making
my own stuff.
NE: Your song, African Chiquito, who is the young
lady that sang it with you?
LD: Her name is Hana Lobamijoko and she's based in New Jersey. She
flew in to record a single with me and I threw her in there cos she's
naija and she could add the touch that I needed on the hook.
NE: Is she a part of your trybe label?
LD: No she's not but she's got serious talent,..yall should look out
for her first single "direction" which I produced by the way.
NE: Is your album more popular in Naija or elsewhere?
LD: This new one hasn't really hit naija yet but I know it'll top the
charts when it does. There's not much going on in the local Nigerian music
scene right now so I'm ready to re-occupy my throne as the king of naija
hiphop. Since I got signed to the international deal with Storm/Sony/BMG,
Ive seen things more on an international level and this is probably the
last CD that will be absolutely naija..in a sense. Not to say that I will
lose what makes me eLDee but my content may reflect more of my international
NE: Since your album launch in Atl what has the
American response been like?
LD: Like I said before,..maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!!!! the sales have been
NE: Let talk about your love life, are you seeing any at the moment?
LD: I'm single
NE: If not are you single by choice?
LD: Not by choice,..im too busy now to even look around but I know
she's out there somewhere.
NE: What was it like working with the trybesmen?
LD: Trybesmen was the beginning of things for me and I know I would
kill to have us do another CD but I guess Freestyle has his own agenda.
My fingers remain crossed.
NE: How have the other members of Trybesmen been
dealing with your absence?
LD: Well,..I guess KB probably misses the fact that we cant make music
anymore but I'm not sure of Freestyle's thoughts. I have been in touch
with them but nobody's saying anything at the moment.
NE: Do you plan on reuniting with them and if so
LD: We had differences,..I believe we handled those pretty well while
we were together but like I said, it became apparent that Freestyle wanted
to go solo, our last year together was very bad even while we toured the
U.K in 2002 because he ran a chain of controversial events that just made
it impossible to continue to function as a unit.
NE: What plans to your have for the future?
LD: Like Wyclef said to Lauryn and Praz
whenever yall are ready,..Im
a phone call away.
NE: What words of wisdom would you like to share
with your fans?
LD: ..nothing good comes easy.