THE MAKING OF A BILLIONAIRE – TENI MAKANAKI
A steady but, well-deserved wave of recent successes, have firmly established Dr. Dolor Entertainment ace recording artist, Teniola Apata Entertainer at the current top tier level of Nigerian entertainment, with a sweeping buildup from recent years peaking at the last quarter of 2019 with the release of her debut EP, “Billionaire”, of which the title track has gone on to become a seminal late summer hit in the country.
Of the highest highlight, though, is her four-plaque most win of the night swoop at the 2019 Headies Awards, tied only with very recently Grammy-nominated fellow Nigerian recording artist, Burna Boy. She walked away, head held high, with plaques in the “Best Recording Of The Year“, “Best Pop Single“, “Best Vocal Performance” and the “Viewers Choice” categories, all before the release of the “Billionaire” EP.
Familiar minds with the entertainment terrain in Nigeria would realize how big of a deal this is, and it would certainly be right to assert that she has earned her stripes within the industry if her creatively wide-ranged music, fan-favorite comedic social media presence, and overall consistency are taken into candid consideration. We recently caught up with Teni and got a bit of valuable time carved out of her saturated schedule to have a conversation about the recent shifts in her life among other things.
First off Teni, a huge congratulations on your multiple wins at the Headies this year, and also especially on your latest body of work, “Billionaire”. It’s surely been a dream experience. Coming off as one of the night’s top winners, how different does this new milestone makes you feel as an artist and public figure?
The important thing about awards for me is the fact that the fans recognize and appreciate your work. I just enjoy making music and for people to love what I do is just amazing.
Per the “Billionaire” EP, we’re a bit curious, apart from the natural artistic norm of the need to build status and satisfy fans, is there a different special inspiration behind this new body of work?
The idea for Billionaire is just songs about working hard enough to live the life you have always dreamed of.
Probably one of the most active ingredients of what you’ve created so far, musically, is the bold fusion of folk influences as evident in “Uyo Meyo” and more recently, on a track like “Nowo”. This provides quite a wide range in your creative reach. Now, would you say folks at Dr. Dolor Entertainment believed in this formula from the onset, or if they did not, how were you able to convince them to hand you so much creative liberty such as is unavailable to other artists in there label homes?
The record label has always understood the direction and objective I have for my career. Thankfully they have always been on board and it’s working out fine for everyone in the end. As an artist, I want to make evergreen music that would last forever.
A majority will assert that your comic presence on social media continues to play a significant role in your growth and relevance as an artist. Considering your current status and the well-deserved expansion to your horizon, do you feel any kind of pressure in delivering as both an occasional comic act and a music artist?
One thing you have to understand is I am not a comedian. I am just living my life and being me. It’s great that people find it amusing and inspiring because the important lesson I want people to take away from me is “just be you.” I post what I want and when I want. Also you have to understand I just look at life from a ‘I cannot come kill myself’ perspective. Just do you for you and not for any other person.
Talking about pressure, there surely must be some when you have an older sibling as big as Niniola. How does Niniola factor in your come up as an artiste, and now that you are both successful acts in the same industry, how do you cope with the predictable fan comparisons of you both?
We are sisters. Nothing stronger than the bond called family. Blood is way thicker than water and nothing can break us. We being in the industry together is even great because our father will be proud of both of us for upholding the Apata family name and not putting it to shame.
You’ve made a huge reputation as an unapologetic person and a free bird since making mainstream impact a few years back. And undoubtedly, you’ve had your fair share of ups and downs on your way here. Focusing on down moments, what would you say is your support system both mentally and creatively?
My family especially my Mum. She is my pillar, my rock and my shoulder to cry on. She’s my everything. She advises me and I carefully take heed to it. Also my manager, my record label and my entire team are always working all round the clock to be there for me.
Your Instagram antics are hilarious and enjoyable at best. Recently, there was your gymnastic-gone-wrong clip and also one where you were seen dancing to your latest hit joint “Billionaire” in a New York traffic jam. Did you ever get in any trouble making some of these skits, or off of any of those comedic commentaries you regale us with on social media?
We’ll tell you something. A lot of your fans that are our readers would like to know a decent bit of your private life. Most common question is if you’re single or dating at the moment. Can you bless everyone with an update on this?
My private life is Private and confidential
We’re sure you realize a lot of yet unknown dreamers and artists are inspired by your character and your resultant rise to fame and Billionaire-esque fame, especially members of the female population. What would be the top most secrets you’d like to share with these teeming populations?
They should be fearless and dream. They should never allow anyone make them conform to standards set by the society. Be yourself and don’t let anyone shut you down.
We love you Teni, and we never want to see you stop doing what you do, how you do it. “Billionaire” is the vibe of the moment. This might be a bit too early to ask but are there plans for a full-length Teni Entertainer LP in the works? And is there a time tag attached to its availability?
Next year is definitely the time. Expect everything even the unexpected.