Riding in a Keke Napep from Ajah to Ajah bus top, I sat in front and on the windshield was a sticker of a musician who is the king of new school Hausa music, who resides miles away in Northern Nigeria, but has his image splashed on Bikes and Tricycles in Lagos state. I pointed to the sticker and asked the Keke driver if he was a fan. The driver beamed with a smile and nodded in affirmation.
Meet HAMISU BREAKER
the sensational red-hot music talent who is ruling the airwaves in Northern Nigeria, and on a mission to become a household name.
Hamisu breaker is a difficult man to get a hold of. He is always busy with something and always on the move catching flights to different parts of the North where he has huge followership.
Getting Hamisu in front of a camera was proving to be difficult and it was beginning to look like a sit down with Arewa’s special talent won’t be happening anytime soon. After rescheduling on different occasions, TurnTable Charts was finally able to get Hamisu Breaker on the phone for an interview as he waited at the domestic wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to catch a flight to Sokoto. This interview wouldn't have been possible if not for the understanding, patience, and cooperation of Hamisu Breaker's PR manager.
Hamisu Breaker needs no introduction in Northern Nigeria, however, substantial followers of TurnTable Charts are consumers of mainstream music. So can you take a few seconds to introduce yourself? Who is Hamisu Breaker?
My name is Hamisu Yusif Sa’id, popularly known as Hamisu Breaker. I am a singer, songwriter and occasionally an actor (laughs). I was born and raised in Kano State.
Many musicians believe that music was a calling and for most, music was something they have always wanted to do since childhood. For these musicians, it was music or nothing. So when did you know you were going to go into music? And when did you know you were going to become a musician?
Music for me is like destiny. Since I was a little boy I could always tell I had the talent in me and I knew I could sing. I began writing music and singing way back in primary school. I took a break at some point when I became an adult, but at some point in my life, I experienced some travails of love, which led me to rediscover my love for singing, and love is what has motivated me to keep singing till today.
What's the latest with Hamisu Breaker? You're currently waiting to catch a flight to Sokoto, so are you traveling for some performance or music related business? So what’s new?
Yes, I was booked to perform at a wedding in Sokoto. You know how it is, traveling here and there. It’s just work. I released a song titled Masoyi Majinyaci. At the moment, I’m working on my album, which is due for release in 2021. So that’s the latest and that’s what I have been up to and currently occupied with.
Most people just know you as an artiste who sings in Hausa language, but how would you describe your music? What type of genre do you do?
My genre of music is Afro Pop. That’s what my sound falls under.
The first time Hamisu Breaker popped up on Turntable's radar was when his video was the most viewed video across Nigeria on YouTube in July. The discovery naturally spurred Turntable’s curiosity to find out who is this artiste from Northern Nigeria giving mainstream artistes a run for their money. Our curiosity led us to discover that Hamisu Breaker was the tenth most-streamed Nigerian artise on YouTube for the first half of 2020. This was no small feat for a non-mainstream artiste who sings in Hausa language.
Hamisu, you were the tenth most-streamed Nigerian artiste on YouTube for the first half of 2020. How does the knowledge that your music is in powerful company on YouTube makes you feel?
I feel happy and delighted because this is a big achievement I honestly never thought I would attain. I never thought my music would reach this height and the realization fills me with happiness.
We have noticed that YouTube is the platform where you get most of your traction, and we also noticed that a few other Hausa songs occasionally pops up on our radar. So is this a deliberate market strategy or is it organic and based on consumer preference?
It is not a market strategy, it is organic. I don't push my music on YouTube. I simply put my music on a platform where it would be easy for my fans to access and that platform happens to be YouTube. My fans go on the platform and search for the songs themselves and I'm honestly surprised by the number of views and tractions my songs have generated on YouTube.
You’re currently the king of new school Hausa music and your music is very popular in the North. As the most popular Hausa artiste, do you feel the need to bridge the gap between Hausa music and mainstream music?
My priority is to make music everyone can enjoy irrespective of tribe. I am part of those who listen to artistes whose language I don't understand. Any music can be mainstream music, regardless of the language. I believe that is the beauty of music so I intend to cut across to everyone, everywhere in Nigeria and the world.
Are you signed to any label or are you an independent artiste?
I am an independent artiste. I am signed to my own label.
Commonly, achieving success and fame requires the backing of a top record label who funds and promotes the music of an artiste. How have you been able to achieve this level of success as an independent artiste?
I will have to appreciate my fans who have supported my music from the start. I have been able to achieve this level of success through their support, and my hard work and commitment to creating good music. Over the years, I have been able to achieve a level of popularity that has made a sought-after for performance at events across Northern Nigeria. That has served as a major source of the funds which I have used for push my music and brand.
Can you share what are your musical influences and inspiration?
Every artiste has something which inspires their sound, and inspiration differs according to individual experiences. For me, what influences my music is love. I find the subject of love to be soul-warming and captivating, and it inspires me to write songs that reflect how I feel or have felt at some point in my life.
As a Muslim, how does your faith influences your music?
My music is compatible with my religion. I sing mostly about love and love is something my religion preaches and promotes.
A lot is going on in Nigeria at the moment especially with respect to the #ENDSARS protest that has swept across the country. In the North, there are wide cases of insecurity arising from kidnapping, banditry, and terrorism. As a music star from the North, do you feel the need to use your platform to speak up on the state of the North?
A lot of Northern artistes have been using their platform to shed light on the case of insecurity in the North. I have linked up with a couple of artistes to release a song calling the attention of Northern leaders on the plight of the masses. I have also used my social media pages to put out posts on social issues we’re facing in the North.
Do you have any projects on the way?
Yes. I have an album dropping in the first quarter of 2021 by God’s grace.
Your music has popped on Youtube Chart and you have gotten the attention of mainstream audiences. We believe you are the Arewa artiste that is well-positioned to break into the mainstream market. Do you plan to cross over to the mainstream audience through your upcoming projects, or would you still be targeting the Northern demographic alone?
I don’t create music for my tribe alone and I want people from other tribes to be able to enjoy my music. The plan is to grow my music while still retaining the attention of the Northern audience. In recent, I have seen tweets on Twitter and comments on my Instagram from people from other parts of the country about my music and that makes me really excited about the future. Hopefully, my future projects would feature some artistes outside the North.
Aside from music what else do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy working out and staying fit.
What about sports? You don’t fancy any sport?
*Laughs* working out is my sport. I also enjoy watching football.
What is your favorite football club?
This club thing is a bit personal for me as I have fans who love different clubs and I don’t want to upset them by choosing a particular club.
What mainstream artiste would you like to collaborate with?
Diamond Platnumz, Davido, Mr. Eazi, Sauti Sol, Shatta Wale – it’s a long list. I am a huge fan of their works and I’ll love to work with them.