Timaya is a brand. A brand that took Inetimi less than 5 years to turn into a worldwide phenomenon. Ask anybody, including most of his die-hard fans about Inetimi Alfred Odon, you are likely to get a blank stare that screams, ‘Who da f..k is that?‘
But that is the real name of the singer and songwriter whose songs blazed through Nigeria like a wildfire in Harmattan. His hits songs became national anthems among the young and old.
Songs like ‘Bum Bum‘, ‘Sanko‘, ‘Dem Mama‘, ‘Timaya‘ completely dominated the airwaves at a time. One needs to be at his concerts to see how the relentless artiste is adored by fans.
Timaya was born into a large family. He was the last child in a family of 15 children. There is a bit of confusion about his real age.
Some sources say he was born on the 29th of November, 1977. Other sources put his date of birth as 15th August, 1980. There is no confusion about his place of birth though. He spent most of his young life in Port Harcourt where he was born.
Young Initimi went to Assemblies of God Nursery and Primary School in Port Harcourt. He proceeded to Nkpolu Oroworukwo for his secondary education.
It was there the sparks (that would later turn into raging flames) of his affinity for music and the stage started to fly. He was known to sneak out at night to attend music show and concerts.
Though his father was a banker and mother a trader, he had to supplement the family income by hawking plantain on the streets of Port Harcourt. This was an experience he captured in the song ‘Plantain Boy‘.
Perhaps because he couldn’t concentrate on his education while in Port Harcourt, he was sent to Lagos with two elder siblings. It was there he completed his secondary education at Ikeja Grammar School.
The Dem Mama Soldier’s final stint with education came after graduation from high-school. He went back home to study Banking and Finance at the Rivers State College of Arts and Science.
His desire to follow his father’s footsteps as a banker didn’t work out. His poor performance meant he had to leave the school after just one semester. He went back to Lagos.
I. THE BEGINNING
Most of the world first got to hear about Timaya after the monster hit ‘Dem Mama’ was released in 2006. The song was a true story about the destruction of his community in Bayelsa State by Nigerian soldiers in 1999.
His popular title, Egberi Papa 1 (meaning Chief Town Crier) was given to him because of the injustice he sang about in Dem Mama.
However, long before hitting the big time with Dem Mama, Timaya worked with Eedris Abdul Kareem as a backup singer. He hung out with Eedris for three years and the experience had a big influence on his career.
He then left Eedris when he felt the time was ripe to start his career as a solo artist. He began by collaborating with other aspiring artists.
His first appearance in a music video was while he was working with the rap group UDX. Sadly, the video was not released.
II. K-SOLO AND TIMAYA
Timaya met his big break when he crossed path with K-Solo, the popular singer and producer, at a studio in Oshodi, Lagos.
This is how it happened. While he was performing at a talent show, Basorge Tariah Junior was really impressed by what he saw. So the entertainment guru took the Timaya to the studio in Oshodi.
The planned was to have them polish and help produce his songs. After hearing a capella version of Dem Mama, K-Solo was so impressed he decided to produce it.
The song was released in 2006. And the rest is history in the Nigeria’s music hall of fame.
The track was a monster hit instantly around the country.
III. ALBUMS AND HIT SONGS
After the success of Dem Mama, the partnership between K-Solo continued as the producer decided to handle Timaya’s first album, True Story.
The album, released in 2007, which also included the hit Dem Mama, is adjudged by some to be Timaya’s best.
Other albums followed in quick succession. They included,
- Gift and Grace, 2008
- De Rebirth, 2010
- LLNP, Long Life N Prosperity, 2011
- Upgrade, 2012
- Epiphany, 2014
Several massive hits came from those albums. They include tracks like, Ogologoma, Timaya, Plantain Boy, I Don Blow, Yankulu Ya, Bum Bum, $exy Ladies, Sanko, Bow Down, and Who Born You, etc.
SINGLES SINCE 2014
After the release of Epiphany in 2014, Timaya has concentrated on producing singles. Some of these singles were in collaboration with notable Nigerian artists like Flavor, who featured in ‘Money’ (2016).
Other singles released since then include Bang Bang, I like the Way, Some More, Ukwu, and I Concur.
His latest single hit and video, ‘Telli Person’, featured superstars Phyno and Olamide.
With the release of successful albums and singles, the nominations and awards came rolling in.
For instance, in the Headies Awards, he has collected the following
- 2008 Best Reggae/Dance Hall Album for True Story
- 2009 Best Reggae/Dance Hall Album for Gift and France
- 2010 Best Collaboration for Korokoro featuring Keefe
And in the Nigerian Entertainment Awards, he won the 2010
Indigenous Artist of the Year Award.
International recognition came to him in 2011. He was appointed a Peace Ambassador by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP).
Though a very public person, Timaya’s personal life is largely kept out of the news. At one time though, he was romantically linked with actress Empress Njamah.
However, the love of his life seemed to be the actress Barbara Nwokolo. She is the mother of his two daughters, Emmanuella born in 2012, and Grace born 3 years later.
The world is still waiting for him to make an honest lady out of Barbara Nwokolo.