The good ol’ parable of the rejected stone becoming the chief cornerstone make for one good tale always.
The music voyage of Nigerian rapper and singer; Babalola Oriyomi bears great semblance to that ageless saying, even to the point of being set in stone as evidenced by his stage name; ConA’Stone (a stylized version of Cornerstone.)
His “Me Corner, Me Stone!” chant embodies his metamorphosis dogged Faith to travail and triumph.
ConA’Stone, who is the 16 Mountains Records‘ front-line act, cooks indigenous rap with the lyrical prowess and vigor of a southern preacher. The depth of his lines and the strength of his bars have made him earn much fan love over the years.
The code-mixing-code-switching emcee paints a fresco of his early struggles; overcoming mountains of criticism right from his sojourn in Jos all the way to Lagos in a faithful body of music work “Coming To Lagos”.
In this tete-a-tete with Rayo Kasali, ConA’Stone talks about the lows and highs and why his rejected stone has now become the Chief Cornerstone
How did music start for you?
For me, music started in University of Jos, at that particular time I was only focused on education, but was contemplating if I was going to do music or not, but back in 2008/2009 there was this social get together in school with the likes of Funny Bone and some other artistes, and I picked interest from there. In 2009 when there was a crisis in the university of Jos and my parents called me back home to the south west, from there I went back to my hometown, from there I came to Lagos. Eventually I dropped my first single in 2010 and everything started from there.
Where are you from?
I am a Yoruba guy, I am from Oyo state, the reason why I always talk about Jos is that the interest of music started from Jos, and I have a particular song that I did for Jos but there was no attraction from people, each time you hear me talking about Plateau Jos, that is the particular project I am trying to share.
Who are the artists you listened to while growing up?
My hometown was very far from the city, so the only songs that we listened to were Fuji – Pasuma, Haruna Ishola and the rest. Whenever I come to Lagos, I had an avenue of watching DSTV to see Tuface and the likes so I started to listen to different rappers; 2pac, MI, Olamide and I really picked interest in the way late Dagrin, Lord of Ajasa, Olamide does it in Yoruba.
When you speak your own dialect, you will express yourself more, these are the people I listened to that encouraged me that I can do it in my own mother tongue.
What does music mean to you?
Music means life to me.
At what point in your life did you decide to focus on music?
The first time I recorded a song in 2012 and someone gifted me money and a shoe, it showed that I could get something out of this and since then I have been determined to focus on music and block out distractions.
How did you come about the name ConA’stone?
I created the name in 2008/09; music has not come into the line then. It means the stone that the builder rejected will become the chief cornerstone. When I came back to Lagos there was a DJ who asked me what name I wanted to use as my stage name and after a lot of contemplation I chose ConA’stone.
How will you define your kind of music?
I will say Afro-rap. The reason why I chose to rap is because when singing you might not be able to completely express yourself, but in rap you can actually do.
Let’s talk about your album “Coming to Lagos”?
Coming to Lagos for me references the time I came to Lagos, how I didn’t find it easy, doing different jobs just to survive, some of my friends who we worked together with left Lagos because they didn’t find it easy and this is what brought about the name of the album “Coming To Lagos.”
What informed the choice of artists you worked with on your album?
I selected the artists featured on the album based on what they can deliver on the songs and who were available to work with me.
Which of the collaborations was your favorite?
My favorite collaboration from the album is ‘Imported Religion‘ because when you listen to it, especially if you understand Yoruba and the world, you will find that we have one God, there is only one sun, one moon, but there are different religions, Christianity and Islam for example. Where I come from, my hometown, there is a problem of discrimination; Christians don’t associate with the Muslims.
What are your thoughts about Afrobeats?
Afrobeats is a force to reckon with. Everything has changed, if we look at the difference from the last 5 years, a lot has changed Afrobeats is on a global stage now.
5 years from now, where do you see yourself?
It is the Lord’s doing, I want to be great and my prayer to God is that I should be great.
Interview: Rayo Kasali @therayokasali
Photography: Rayo Kasali @therayokasali
Camera: Ibrahim Olowolagba @scopevisualsng
Assist: Adetola Adebayo @adei_tola
Creative Director: Rayo Kasali @therayokasali
Executive Producer Edun Adedamola @adedamolaedun