Nigeria musician Timaya has told the BBC’s DJ Edu that most people don’t know he’s Nigerian and think he is “from the Caribbean,” as he is well known for his reggae music and has a strong fanbase in the Caribbean.
Timaya, whose real name is Inetimi Timaya Odon, is from Baylesa State in the south of Nigeria and is known for his first single in 2005 called Dem Mama which saw him shoot to stardom, as well as his 2021 collaboration with young Afrobeats star BNXN called Cold Outside, which got 75 million streams after just three months.
He said Dem Mama was based on real life and the destruction of his community by soldiers, including his grandmother’s bakery: “I just had to use my voice. That’s my way of contributing. The fact that it was a true story got the people’s attention.”
He said he mostly writes about painful life experiences: “You know I was born into a family of 15. It was hard there. I didn’t see that kind of love growing up as a child so there was no love to preach about.”
In 2017 he won an Afrima award for Dancehall Act of the Year. The following year he was nominated for a Grammy in the best reggae album category when he featured on Avarakedabra, an album by Morgan Heritage.
Timaya’s next album is due for release later this year, and he says he has so many new songs, he just needs to decide which ones to include. He didn’t want to give too much away about who he’s collaborating with on this next release, but he did reveal that Jamaican-American star Shaggy and Nigeria’s Olamide are just two big names who will feature.
To hear the full interview with Timaya, listen to This is Africa on BBC