Password is a hard worker. He is not, and has never been the kind to stay idle. This trait is fuelled by a burning desire to learn something new, acquire a new skill, try a new sound or reinvent himself and has brought him this far in Nigeria’s music industry.
How far? As far as writing arguably one of Afrobeats giant, Davido’s biggest songs of all time — ‘Gobe’. Born Patrick Mattias in Southern Nigeria, Password is a record producer, singer and songwriter. It all began for him during teenage when he learnt to use Fruity Loops and wrote choruses for a rap band.
“I used to have a hip hop group in 2002 back then on the block, just rapping. I was the only singer in the group. You know, they’d rap and I would hook the song up. Over and over, I kept at it and some years later, I was able to link up with someone like Cobhams to mentor me and that was it. I just kept improving myself.”
In March, Password released his first album project titled “The Call”. When I asked him about it, he said it has everything to do with an instruction from God. This only shows how deliberate Password has been with his art since his debut into the industry in 2009. ‘Amaghimo’, his biggest song so far released in 2018 still gets heads nodding and legs eventually dancing to God’s goodness every time it’s played. And Password believes this success is possible because he only makes music based on instructions.
“It’s just to get the nod from the Father. Just that nod from the Father that’s like, ‘well done’. I mean, that’s it. Even right now on earth, it’s that approval that you get from the Father just knowing that He is pleased with everything that you do. That sense of knowing that indeed you’re His son.”
[We talk about Afrobeats, his career and faith. This piece has been edited for length and clarity.]
It’s been a while since you put out a project before this one. What was happening behind the scene?
I’m pretty much always in the music and entertainment industry. God has blessed me with so many skills. As a singer, as a producer, as a songwriter. If I’m not singing, I’m still working as a writer or producer. In fact, I’m a very busy person; almost always busy. However, most importantly, I’m always enjoying my journey with the Father.You’ve been in this industry for a very long time, as a producer and songwriter and artist. How would you rate the growth of Afrobeats over the years? It’s been rapid. It feels like yesterday when Don Jazzy, Mo’Hits and the likes of them came with this whole movement. Then, while having social events, only foreign songs would be on play. But the story is different now. The growth has been rapid and I believe something that also contributes to this growth is how deliberate these guys are. They probably just decided that we need to have a compendium of African songs, such that if a person decided to play music for an entire day, there would be enough African songs to be aired. Different artists and producers are hopping on the wagon and the genre is really growing. Even such that the international scene is interested in making collaborations with us. It’s beautiful to experience.
You have been in this game for quite a while so you speak with so much confidence about these things. How did all of this begin for you? Tell me about your music journey.
It began very early in my life after secondary school. I’ve always had a flair for music. Music back then was a way for me to get away from all the unpleasantness around me. Back in secondary school, I belonged to a group of singers and rappers that would vibe during break periods. We all started out doing church music. It’s the same story for so many artists. Big shout out to the church for helping us activate our innate abilities. And it’s so beautiful to see that people like Kanyé — even at this very point of his career — are going back to employing sounds from the church. Even Justin Bieber. It is evergreen.
So, how about songwriting? How did songwriting begin?
I have always loved poetry. Poetry was a part of me back then and I used to listen to country music back then as well. Those guys are amazing songwriters. If you listen to country music, you will know what I am saying. I guess all of that just formed the background for me.
Tell me about “The Call”. What inspired this album?
“The Call” is a response to an instruction — a very definite instruction given to me by the Holy Spirit. The important thing to me is to have a relationship with the Father and that’s the life we have been called to live. About three years ago, I had a dream and in it, someone played an urban beat. I heard it and was like, ‘this is a hit’ and the next moment, I was just seeing the Father talking to me the way He likes to talk to me. He confirmed that the beat was actually a hit. Then He said I needed to do more songs like that for Him. Paraphrasing, ‘use more songs like this to bring more youths into the throne room. Walk with me these four years and I’m going to give you a big hit.’ This is me almost four years later. I was just enjoying my fellowship with the Father. That was more important. I was not under any form of pressure. But then I was documenting my experiences in writing and then, in songs. I was documenting my experiences with the Father.
Which of the tracks off it is your favourite?
Ha! That’s a difficult one to answer. All the songs are unique because they’re different experiences. You know, it captures my different experiences with the Father per particular time. There’s this one with Testimony Jaga though. It’s titled “Never Enough” and I like that one because every time I hear it, heh! Party don start!
How did you choose the people to make collabos with? Were they also based on instruction?
Not necessarily. I guess they were chosen by the kind of sound I was experimenting with at that point in time. I didn’t necessarily choose the artists based on the numbers or all of those commercial criteria that people consider before featuring an artist. It was more about the sound and how I was led by the Spirit.
You have songwriting credit from Davido’s “Gobe” and I also know you have recording credit for so many artists — 9ice, Jesse Jags — so many of them. Have you ever been at a point of conflict having to do faith-based music and having to thrive in a secular industry? And how did you manage it if you did?
Till now, it’s happening. I don’t think it would ever stop because the thing is, I still interact with those guys. First off, when people say gospel music industry and secular music industry, for me sometimes, it’s hard to really have these sorts of conversations because I just see the industry as one big industry. But then, they are different genres. But we’ve seen that secular, mainstream category like it belongs to the devil. That’s a different conversation for another day. But, I think this sort of understanding helps me and then with my identity deeply rooted in Christ, and His Word firmly established in my heart, I understand my calling and where I’m sent to be. I’ve been sent to the marketplace. I’ve been sent to represent Christ. I’ve been sent to be salt. I’ve been sent to be light in the place where people do business — where people interact. This helps me put things into perspective.
And how would everything make sense to you at the end? What would make you feel fulfilled?
Approval from God. Every step of the way. Just that approving nod and I’m fine.
Stream “The Call” here: