After her reign in 2007 as Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, most people expected less from her. But Munachi Abii was quick to shake cynics off when she started appearing on shows and singles as a rap artiste. Munachi, who put up a stellar performance at the last Headies (Hip hop World Awards) talks about her life, career, and other issues in this chat with MERCY MICHAEL. Excerpt…
WHAT's your background?
I think people already know about me but for those who don't know, I am from Imo State. I had my primary education in Port Harcourt and I went to Federal Government Girls College, Abuloma in Port Harcourt, same school as Agbani Darego. The school is a breeding ground for a lot of people. I went to Benson Idahosa University where I studied International Relations and Diplomacy. I did my Youth Service in Rivers State as well. I think my journey of life just revolves round Rivers State.
Having studied International Relations, why did you choose to do music?
I chose music because I like it. I like music generally, not just rap alone. Music is very personal to me.
How well did your family accept your choice of music?
I have the most amazing family. They support me in everything that I do. I like the fact that I have people who love me, care about me and want to see me succeed. I feel like the sky is just my stepping stone because my family is behind me. It's ok to do it on your own but once your family is behind you that is the best thing you can ever ask for.
From Munachi the beauty queen to Munachi the rap artiste; what is it like?
I am just going back to who I used to be before I became the queen without losing the queenly attitude, poise and glamour. I am combining everything into one person.
There is this story that you used to be a member of the group called the Ijaw Boys; how true is that?
No, it is not true. I don't know who put that information on Wikipedia. I wasn't a member of Ijaw Boys. They were just my friends and we used to rap together. The first group I actually did a song with were from Port Harcourt. A friend of mine found out that I could rap and introduced me to them and that was how I did the first thing I can call rap.
You were already rapping before you became a beauty queen. How much of rap were you doing then?
I was rapping before I wore the crown but nobody knew my name. They were already playing the song I did with Specimen A in Port Harcourt and a song I did with Terry D'Rapman just before I became queen in 2007. Just a few people knew I was the same person that was on those songs with the artistes.
Most female rappers are known to possess the attitude of a tomboy; how do you intend to blend your elegance with the rap swag?
As long as I still bear my feminine features, I think you can tell I am a female. Being a rapper doesn't mean that you have to be a gangster. You can still be nice and feminine and do what you do. I think Nicki Minaj is doing that so everybody can relate with that. I don't have to change anything about myself. People see female rappers as tomboys but not all are like that. Sometimes, we have this persona that is kind of confrontational which is why people think that we are like that. I think it does help sometimes, because of the way the music goes. You cannot rap in a ball gown.
Is your single entitled I feel Real a song about you?
It's just a feel good song. It doesn't necessarily have to be about somebody in particular.
I understand that you also write songs for other people, so I could call you Muna the rapper, the song writer and what else?
Muna the artist because I sketch; Muna the song writer; Muna the rapper; Muna can sing and act; Muna the entrepreneur as well. I am a business woman; I am a rapper, a singer, an entertainer, and a brand.
Does it bother you that for artistes to break even, to a large extent, they must show some flesh?
No, you don't have to do all those things to sell. It also depends on what you are singing about. You cannot be singing Touch My body and you're wearing a gown. It depends on what you want to do and how you want to go about it. I have no problem with how people want to sell their music as long as they are true to themselves and they are happy with what they are doing.
As an ex-beauty queen, it is believed that everything about you must be expensive. Is that always so with you?
I am not particular about acquiring material things; I am not a vain person. I am a low-key kind of person. I don't know what people perceive beauty queens to be. We are human beings; it's just the crown and it is not as if the crown is made of real diamonds. I am not different from anybody else. I have problems too. There are days I don't have money too and there days I have.
Have you ever thought about practicing what you studied in school?
Being in show-business or being an entertainer, one way or the other is a kind of International Relations. It depends on how you approach showbiz. If you are just there to entertain, that is fine. If you are also using that to pursue other causes, better. So, either way, my course comes into play.
Who is the man in your life?
I can't tell you that.
Do you get disturbed by the fact that a lot of musicians in Nigeria do so much but get so little that they practically have to depend on shows to make something out of their music careers?
It does because I am in the industry too. I really don't want to depend on shows to make ends meet. It is a terrible thing because these past years, there were no shows that much and it is quite depressing. It is sad. I pray that more avenues will open up for us to make more money other than shows. I wish more companies will come and invest in Nigeria so we can have more endorsement deals. I pray that things will change.
What was it like growing up in Port Harcourt?
I grew up in Port Harcourt and my grandmother used to live in Imo State. So, I used to go to Imo State to stay with her. My mom used to work in a bank so she did not really have time. Most holidays like Christmas, I would go to the village or Imo State to stay with my grandmother and that was how I learnt to speak Igbo.
How do you handle the fact that people link you romantically with different guys?
To be honest with you, whatever they do in their spare time does not bother me. Everybody will always have their different opinions about you.