Lessons From Asa Asika’s Interview on the I Said What I Said Podcast

Posted on
Asa Asika ISWIS

I Said What I Said is one of the biggest podcasts out of Nigeria and Africa at the moment. Hosted by Feyikemi ‘FK’ Abudu and Jola ‘Jollz’ Ayeye, the ISWIS podcast, now in its fourth season, is a humour-laden socio-cultural commentary podcast that documents the African millennial experience according to FK and Jollz. It’s an honest, engrossing, funny and meaningful show full of opinions nobody asked for. 

On the newest episode (S4E20) of the show, the FK and Jollz were joined by Asa Asika, Nigerian talent manager, entertainment consultant, and co-founder of The Plug and Mainland Blockparty. Asa Asika is also popular for being Davido’s manager. They discuss all it takes behind the scenes of the entertainment industry.

The episode kicks off with Asa introducing himself simply as an entertainment consultant. He goes on to talk about The Plug and working with CKay, Victony, Boj, Focalistic, amongst others. Asa also mentions that he’s investing in building a studio and will reach out to the duo when it’s completed. The duo then ask Asa to help them solve some of their listeners’ problems. Jollz reads out the problems which are complicated and hilarious, and they all make comments on them.

After a conversion that took multiple directions, Jollz picks things up by asking Asa when he started working in music. Asa says he could answer the question in two ways; when he was just dabbling around with it, or when he actually started making money. “Probably in SS1. That’s when I started dabbling in music,” he says. He mentions that he started making money from it when he was 17. FK then asks Asa how he got into the game. He talks about how a group of guys came to meet him to help them get signed by his uncle. At the time, Asa didn’t know what his uncle (Obi Asika) did but knew he was this cool guy. He had a meeting with his uncle, the guys didn’t get signed but he got dragged into things: using his parties to promote music. 

He talked about how he got interested in the business side of the music stuff, and working with Naeto C and other artistes. He finished secondary school and told his dad he wanted to take a gap year. “YQ was the first artiste who let me ‘manage’ him,” he adds. He recalls doing a club tour with Banky W (for Lagos Party and Strong Ting) and Dr Sid, and how things just started happening from there. 

Jollz starts to ask Asa if he always knew he was to be BTS in the industry or if he ever wanted to be an artiste. She doesn’t finish asking the question before Asa cuts her off. “I wanted to be an anthropologist,” he says, eliciting shock from both FK and Jollz. “People always forget I wasn’t always a bad guy. I know it’s weird. I was into social sciences, current affairs, history, literature and English. That was me.” He talks about how he liked and enjoyed those fields. He brings up the famous “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” quote but quickly debunks it, calling it a scam. He then goes on to talk about the complexities of making sure things happen the way they’re meant to. “It looks like fun,” he says, and FK completes the sentence by saying “but it must be a lot of work.”

Moving forward with the conversation, FK asks Asa if he knew exactly what route he wanted to take after exploring different spaces or if he just went with things. Asa talks about leaning towards artiste management. He speaks about his co-founder Bizzle Osikoya and how Bizzle would rather be behind a desk making phone calls and closing deals than having to travel with an artiste. “I like travelling. I like being on the road. So that’s why the partnership works,” he says. He also talks about how the business has been expanding to incorporate new verticals and his excitement about signing his first female artiste. He also brings up how Victony won a Block Party competition and that’s what led to signing him. 

Furthering their discussion, Jollz asks Asa what an artiste’s day-to-day running looks like. “Do you know the complications to book those flights or book a jet? We had to book a jet to Portugal from London to meet Afronation,” he responds. “We were on tour in the US, finished that and went to London to handle some other stuff and we had to go to Portugal for Afronation. At the last minute, our jet wasn’t available and we had to book a commercial jet. That weekend was Wireless festival, Afronation, and everything was mad busy.” He goes on to explain how they had to call in favours to find a jet that cost an arm and a leg, and all the complications along the way. 

FK asks Asa what the process of figuring out what route to take with new artistes is like. She wants to know if that’s up to Asa or the rest of the artiste’s team. “It varies,” he says. “I feel like an artiste’s brand is more important. At the end of the day, you can have a hot song. Hot song is not hot again, and you become that guy that sang that song,” he continues. He cites not wanting CKay to become the love nwatiti guy, and how even though they had opportunities to do more with the song, they didn’t. He explains how creating a brand that is true to the artiste is paramount.

Talking about his holiday with his girlfriend and how he destresses, Asa mentions that the holiday is the first in 2022 and the only one since “2017 or 2018.” He talks about how he doesn’t really get to go on holiday but sometimes makes himself hard to reach when he wants to slow things down. “People forget that I don’t just run The Plug. I have 3 other businesses,” he says. He goes on to talk about Q4 being his worst quarter of the year because of how crazy his schedule always is. He brings up CKay’s first USA tour, throwing 6 Block parties, a huge Davido event happening in December, and more. He recalls when his club first opened and he was going there every single night till he realized that it wasn’t sustainable. 

Talking about working with 3 of the biggest Afrobeats artistes right now and the pressure to replicate their success with newer artistes, Asa says that everyone’s story is different. “David became a superstar off his second single. With CKay it took a while. With Victony we had issues. He had the accident and stuff. It’s always different,” he elaborates. “With me, you’ll always get there.” He recalls being humble and learning the hard way to talk about his achievements more. “I’ve learnt that I’m going to blow my own trumpet,” he says. FK reinforces his comments by talking about it being a matter of legacy. 

Jollz asks about managing long-term relationships and Asa says it varies. He says he tells people his relationship with David is beyond artiste and manager. “That’s my brother,” he says. He mentions that he and David have 3 other businesses together excluding the music. 

Talking about the parts of the industry that no one gets to see, Asa uncovers how he and Davido fight multiple times a week. He recalls getting into a huge fight with David at his first O2 show that had promoters questioning if the show was still going to happen. He further delves into how important it is to be in the game for the right reasons and not frivolous ones, and talks about his and David’s falling-out and how it strengthened their partnership. He also recounts how on multiple occasions he’s been overwhelmed by the fan attention he receives, and says if you do your job and do it right the recognition you deserve will definitely come. 

On how money and fame have changed or influenced him, he attributes his current level of maturity to how long ago he started in the industry. He recalls his days of reckless spending and how it taught him that isn’t all there is to life. He says he doesn’t feel like he makes any money because of how much of it is reinvested into other ventures. “It’s always crazy in the beginning,” he adds.

On what he’d do if he was no longer doing music, Asa points to his investments in the tech space, his club, and other major things he’s still working on in the background. “If that one clicks, I probably wouldn’t care about music anymore,” he jokes. He talks about wanting to get married and have kids and how he doesn’t see himself being on the road all the time at that point. 

Exploring the distribution arm of music, Asa talks about the roster of artistes he works with: David, Peruzzi, Mayorkun, Oxlade, and Zlatan; and how artistes are still learning about all the ways they can be earning from their records. He shares his preference for organized and coordinated project releases over spontaneous drops.

Listen to the full conversation below: