6 May

VIP is back in the U.S, promoting their latest Album. On June 16,2012,VIP, along with Tiffany Hayden,Castro, FOI, Nana NYC, and others will be performing in New York City at the ARMENIA BALLROOOM, located at 630 Second Avenue. It has been a long time since I have seen VIP. I hold VIP near and dear to my heart because they were the 1st Ghanaian group I ever interviewed in my career.Since VIP, I have personally interviewed other musicians, including Sarkodie,Ikonz, Stay Jay,Edem, and others. But VIP was my FIRST interview, ever!!! So as we all anticipate their upcoming concert, which will undoubtedly by riveting, the following is the interview I did with VIP, back in August 2010.


*On a hot summer Sunday afternoon in the United States, VIP was lounging in Aburi Gardens, in Woodbridge, Virginia. Dressed comfortably, two of its members, Lazzy and Prodigal, were casually hanging out with the store’s patrons, as if they had known them for years. One could easily mistake them as restaurant regulars, due to their casual demeanor and lack of bodyguards and fancy glittery jewelry, as commonly found among superstars. But make no mistake, despite their humble appearance, VIP is a musical force that is capturing the hearts of fans not only in Ghana and Africa, but all over the world. With a new album, entitled; Progress and an upcoming tour, VIP is undoubtedly one of the most popular musical groups in Africa today. *


*Amy (AFROMUSION) recently chatted with the members of VIP to gain an intimate knowledge of their lives, their dreams, and future goals. *

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*The Q&A:*

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*Amy: What brings you to the Virginia/Maryland area?*

*VIP:* We were invited to perform in Maryland by OpenGate Entertainment, Inc:

Open Gate Entertainment, which is operated by Charles Atobrah, a.k.a Paapy J, and Osei Akrasi, a.k.a Arafat, invited us to perform at their inaugural concert which was held on August 6th 2010 in Capital Heights, Maryland.

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*Amy: How and when did VIP get started?*

*VIP:* We were a bunch of guys who all grew up in Nima, Ghana. Prodigal (from Asylum Down) and Promzy were classmates and we all used to organize shows and concerts, so we always found ourselves in the same social circles. We enjoyed performing and started making music together in 1994. In the beginning, VIP consisted of five members: Promzy, Lazzy, Prodigal, Bone, and Friction. We released our first album in 1998 and our second album in 1999.After the second album, Friction excused himself from the group in order to pursue a solo career and Bone excused himself from the group in order to pursue his education. Now VIP is down to three members-Lazzy, Prodigal, and Promzy.

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*Amy: Can you explain the meaning behind the name VIP?*

*VIP:* VIP stands for VISION IN PROGRESS. The name VIP came from a lot of struggle. Where we come from, Nima, it is a tough environment. Nima does not have a good reputation to outsiders, so we wanted to show the world that it is possible for good things to come out of Nima. We wanted to show that in life, you have to keep your vision in progress in order to achieve success. Many people have tried to make it in the music industry, and many have failed. However, VIP is still around and our vision is still in progress.

Many people think that VIP stands for “Very Important Personality” or “Very Important Person” because that is how that term is commonly used. However, we believe that EVERYONE is important, so the term VIP, our group name, does not stand for that. We knew we had a vision so we came up with the term VIP. So far, the name has been very good for us. Names are very important because they stick with you and people associate you with your name, so you have to be very careful when you are choosing names. You need to choose names wisely and so far the name VIP has been very good.

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*Amy: What goals did VIP have in the beginning, back in the late 1990s?*

*VIP:* People have a notion in their head about people who come from Nima. People think that people from Nima are crazy. Therefore, we wanted to prove to the world that there ARE good things that can come out of Nima. We also wanted to take music to the next level. We have done our best to try to do that. “Ahomka wo mu” was our biggest hit in Africa. We have picked up several Ghana Music Awards for best album, best song, and best group. We have won several awards in Nigeria and South Africa, such as “Most Popular Foreign Group” and “Best Hit”. A few weeks ago City People Magazine presented us with the “Artist of the Year from Foreign Land” award. We are doing our best to take music to the next level and we appreciate all the love and recognition we are receiving from all over the world.

*Amy: What did your parents say/think when you informed them of your musical aspirations?*

*VIP: (Lazzy):* My parents have always supported me throughout, even from JSS to Secondary School (Harvard Secondary).My father is a performer -he performs old school Hausa music, therefore he was okay with it. My mother also supported me.

*(Prodigal):* My parents supported me. They did not criticize me; they supported me and my dreams all the way.

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*Amy: Where were you the first time you heard your song on the Radio?*

*VIP : (Lazzy):* I was home in Ghana . It was 1998 and I was home with my family. Someone who worked for VIBE 91.9 FM had promised me that the station would play our song at dawn on a certain day. When that day came, I arose at dawn, turned on the radio and waited with my family. Then all of a sudden, I heard the song!!!! When I heard the song I was extremely excited and happy. Everyone was jumping up and down because we were all so happy.

*(Prodigal): I was at home fast asleep. However, even though I was asleep, I was having a dream that the song was being played on the radio. When I woke up, my friends informed me that VIP’s song had been playing on the radio. I heard it for myself on Groove FM the next morning.

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*Amy: What was your first # 1 hit?*

*VIP: (Prodigal): Rana Sala

*(Lazzy): Kuzomuyi Wassa

(*when a group like VIP have so many hits, is it truly possible to remember the first # 1 hit? The answer to this question is amusing and displays the multitude of hits VIP has produced over the years*).

*Amy: How many albums has VIP released?*

*VIP: We released our first album in 1998. 2nd album – 1999 ; 3rd album – 2001 ; 4th album – 2003 ; 5th album-2007; 6th album – 2010. Our current album is entitled *Progress.*

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*Amy: How would you define your music?*

*VIP:* Classis Hiplife. The music is fused. We do real world music and we are always seeking more unique beats.

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*Amy: Describe your latest album, Progress?*

*VIP:* The album Progress has 17 tracks. This is our 6th album. Many of the songs are in English because we want to spread our wings and reach people everywhere. We still have Twi and Hausa songs, but the album is also infused with English in order to reach the masses. This album is about love, life, issues, and relationships. Approximately 8 out of the 17 tracks are about relationships and love- the good and the bad. The first song released from the album is called, “I Think I Like Am” . The second released track is called “Away”. The third track to be released is called, “My Baby”, featuring Flavour N’abaia.

The videos for “I think I like Am” and “Away” have been made and are currently circulating around the world. The video for “My Baby” will be released next. We plan on making 10 videos from this album.

*Amy: Can you describe the meaning behind your first two tracks, “I think I Like Am” and “Away”.*

*VIP: “ I think I Like Am” is simply about seeing something you like. The song is about appreciating and liking what you see- I think I Like Am.

The track, “Away” is about getting away from the things you do not need in your life. The song does not simply apply to boyfriends and girlfriends. If you have something bad in your life that you do not need, like bad habits, it is time to acknowledge that those habits are not good for you and put it away, just like the song says.

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*Amy: “Away”, the latest song released off of your album, has such a catchy beat and it is a great song many people do not mind playing over and over again. Plus the video is quite amazing. How do you come up with beats for your songs?*

*VIP: We have various people who make the beats for us. Richie created the beat for “I Think I Like Am”. We like working with various producers because they all have different visions and creativity. The “Away” beat was created by Puffy T. We also worked with Kingdom Studios in Chicago, working with Dan Boadi and AB Mensah. We also worked with Jay Q, who produced the track “Broni Wewu”.

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*Amy: How do you decide which songs will go on an album?*

*VIP: When we have a new album, we have listening parties. People are invited from all over to review and listen to the songs. The songs are presented to the record label and they choose which songs will be selected. At the end of the day, the songs are for the fans, so it is very important that the best songs get selected.

*Amy: Where does inspiration for your songs come from? How do you find the inspiration to write your songs?*

*VIP: Inspiration is sporadic. Inspiration for a song can come at ANY TIME. You may be listening to a song on the radio, and then all of a sudden an idea drops in your head. Inspiration is random. Just by listening to a conversation, you might find a way to use it anyhow- to create an idea or thought that may lead to a song .As a result of that, we listen to all kinds of music: country, rap, R&B – everything, because you never know what phrase or word will spark a thought in your mind. The iPhone by Apple is a remarkable tool for us. Whenever we get an idea or a thought, the iPhone enables us to record it. There is a microphone/recording device on the iPhone which allows us to record any and everything. If we get a thought in our mind, we no longer have to write it down on paper. Instead, we can simply record it in the iPhone and save it until we are able to get to a studio to further develop the recorded thought.

*(VIP graciously showed me how they use the iPhone to record ideas and it was quite fascinating !!*)

*Amy: Technology is so important today. You have already discussed the importance of the iPhone in your life. But in what other way is technology affecting your music, and how has it changed since you entered the music business?*

*VIP: Nowadays, no one buys CDs(Compact Discs). Due to technology, everything is internet-based. You can download our music for free as MP3s, download iTunes, watch our videos on YouTube-everything is technology based. Due to the fact that no one really buys CDs anymore, you can not rely on album sales to make a profit. As an artist, you really have to perform at concerts and shows and try to get endorsements in order to create any type of profit. So in one way, technology is hurting the music industry in the sense that music can be obtained for free. However, technology, such as You Tube, is aiding our visibility. Due to technology, people all over the world are able to hear our music and watch our videos. You no longer have to be in Ghana to know who we are- we are accessible over the internet at all times. It’s a great way for our fans to stay updated in terms of what VIP is doing. Our fans are very important to us because without them, we would not be where we are today.

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*Amy: Will any of you ever make a solo album?*

*VIP: We may drop singles, but we will still remain a group, VIP.

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*Amy: Why do you think people are attracted your music?*

*VIP:* We think it is because we drop music at the right time. We go with the flow of things. Plus, our songs are real so people can relate to them. Also, as a group, humbleness counts a lot too. Even though we have been around for a couple of years, we know that we do not know everything. We are still learning and eager to learn.

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*(In order to give VIP a break, I decided to ask them a few questions which had nothing to do with music, just to get a better feel of who they are*):

*Amy: If you were not a member of VIP, what would you be doing right now?*

*VIP: (Prodigal): I would be working in the field of accounting. Also, I really love soccer.

*(Lazzy): I think I would be in the entertainment business someway somehow. Maybe I would be a producer or an actor, acting in movies.

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*Amy: What is your favorite food:*

*VIP: (Lazzy): Banku and Okra Stew. No pork

*(Prodigal): Anything apart from pork.

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*Amy: If you could perform with anyone in the world, who would that person be?*

*VIP: (Lazzy): I performed with Salif Keita (Mali) in South Africa and that was my dream performance.

*(Prodigal): Even though he is dead, I always wanted to perform with the one and only Michael Jackson, the King of Pop.

* * *(As the interview wrapped up, I asked them to summarize the goals and future plans of VIP)* **

*Amy: What are the future goals for VIP?
VIP:* Right now we are working on promoting our album, *Progress*. We are also working on promoting the group called FOI (Fruit of Inspiration). They have a new song called, ‘”One More Time” featuring VIP. We encourage everyone to buy their album. We are also continuing to work with BDN (Boogie Down Nima) Records . Also, we continue to support the education of three children per album through our Vision Scholarship Fund*.*

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*Amy : Thank you for your time. It’s been a pleasure hanging out with you and talking with you. May you continue having success, and I hope that VIP will soar to new heights.*

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*VIP:* Thank You.


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