Damilola, better known as L.A.X in music, is the son of the Chief Executive Officer of SIFAX Group, Taiwo Afolabi. He tells OLUSHOLA RICKETTS about his father
How do you describe your personality?
I am a cool person who loves doing music. I am a positive person and I love staying around positive people.
Why didn’t you do business like your dad?
I am still a businessman; I am into show business. All my life, I always loved business but I fell in love with music when I started visiting the studios with my friends.
Did dad ever talk to you about your career path?
When I finished my secondary school, we had a conversation and I told him I wanted to study business and psychology. After university, he sat me down and wanted to know my plans. I told him I didn’t intend to work in a company as well as my plans to set up a record company. He is very understanding.
Did dad tell you to pursue a master’s degree too?
Apart from music, I love school a lot too; so, I don’t need anyone to tell me to study. Next year, I plan to do my PhD. Education is important and one needs to learn every day. But for music, I would have been doing my PhD now.
How did your dad react when you told him you wanted to do music?
My dad was very positive about it, but he just wanted me to finish my studies and be sure I wanted to venture into music for the right reasons. We spoke about it extensively and he told me to conclude my studies before anything. At present, he now listens to my songs and makes sure I shoot the best videos. He calls me constantly to know if I have new songs and he demands to listen to them.
How many siblings do you have?
I have six siblings; we only have a girl. My sister does fashion and she is a lawyer as well. I also have a brother who works in the marine sector.
How do you describe your dad?
I think he is a very down-to-earth and friendly person. He is the type who makes sure that everyone around him is happy.
What are your fond memories as a growing kid?
I had an amazing upbringing. My dad was always there for his children regardless of his busy schedule. He likes to listen to people; so, whenever we had problems, we ran to him and he would give us the best solution.
How often does he spend time with his children?
He makes time for us as much as he can, but he is not always around. We understand that our dad is busy and he is doing everything he does for the good of the family.
Did you get preferential treatments in secondary school?
My teachers dealt with me seriously and my mum didn’t help the situation. She came to the school and gave the teacher a go-ahead to discipline me once I misbehaved. Though they didn’t encourage teachers to cane children in my secondary school, my case was different. She made sure that my teachers watched me closely.
Don’t you feel the pressure to be as successful as your dad?
I feel this daily. If I don’t feel like that, there is a problem. I want to be as successful as my dad and he has been like a motivator to all his children. I work hard because I believe that there is nothing you do in life that cannot bring you success. Despite doing music, I want to be very successful. Someday, I still plan to own a petrol station, a restaurant and venture into other businesses. I plan to help myself and empower people around me with these establishments.
Does he attend your shows?
He is very busy but he attended a few. He saw my performance on my brother’s wedding. He has also watched my performance at Shina Peller’s birthday this year. But when I am on stage, I don’t look for him in the crowd. I am a different personality during a performance; I don’t see anything.
Why didn’t he attend your recent album listening party?
We didn’t have enough time to plan the album listening party; so, he wasn’t around at a time we did it. But he made sure he spoke to me that day; he made sure everything went well.
What is your dad’s favourite track on the album?
My dad’s favourite track on my album is a song titled ‘Shakara’ because he has an afrobeat dimension. The song is similar to Fela’s music. He had listened to the songs on the album before its release. Whenever I record a new song, I make sure he hears it to get his opinion on it.
How did he react the first time he listened to your song?
When he listened to my song, he told me it was good but I could do better. Three years later, he is now in love with my music and dances to it. He even goes to watch me on YouTube. I have caught him many times checking me out online.
Can your dad sing as well?
He loves music a lot. I used to tease him that I felt he wanted to be a musician but settled for business. Apart from enjoying music, he loves dancing as well. I think he would have been a good dancer.
Does his have a favourite musician?
I know he likes King Sunny Ade a lot and obviously L.A.X too.
How did he discipline his children?
I am certain he has never used the cane on me, but I cannot speak for my siblings. Whenever you do something bad and my father speaks to you, his words can make you cry and emotional. He didn’t need to use the cane to pass his message across to us.
Did he reward his children bountifully whenever he was impressed?
Whenever a child impressed him, he always pretended as if he didn’t notice or mean much to him. However, he would still buy that particular child a gift.
Do you feel bad when people say you are riding on dad’s fame?
I don’t feel bad because, in life, you have to use your instrument in the best direction you can. We have people who use all the instruments they have at their disposal, yet they are unsuccessful. For me, it is how you use what you have to your advantage. My dad has given me a platform, which I have used well and he is proud of my achievement so far.
When I started out, most people didn’t know I was an Afolabi. But it was not a deliberate effort; I just wanted to make a name for myself and get to the top of my chosen career regardless of my background. I am a private person naturally. If not music, I would be working in a company and staying a quiet life. I don’t like attracting too much attention; I just try to get the job done.
What is your dad’s favourite food?
I am not sure he has a favourite; he doesn’t even eat a lot. He hardly finishes it, but I know he likes pounded yam and rice.
Is your dad fashionable?
He is very fashionable and I think all his children inherited his fashion sense. If you look at him well, he likes to wear nice wristwatches and hand chains.
What’s dad’s secret to success?
He is a very good listener. He listens to people around him and he doesn’t impose his decision on others. He hears what you have to say and take his decision. He doesn’t sleep too. If you visit him at 1am, he will still be awake and it doesn’t stop him from leaving the bed at 6am. He is very hard-working.
Was your dad receptive to your female friends while you were growing up?
I cannot remember coming home with girls when I was much younger. Even if I did, he would just laugh and probably tease me with it.
On my first day at the university at Manchester, England, he told me that he knew I was a smart kid and he would not ask me to read my books, but I should always differentiate a wife from a girlfriend. I didn’t understand what he told me then until recently.
What are those things you’ve learnt from him?
My dad has taught me that regardless of your wealth, you must be humble and never stop to strive for excellence. Despite my father’s success in business, he still wants me to do more.
What nickname do you call him?
We just call him dad at home, but I know his friends call him ‘Afo Guarantor’; but I have never addressed him in that way.
How did he mark his recent 56th birthday?
He celebrated it in London, but I couldn’t make it as I was booked for shows. My dad was not happy I didn’t make it and he told me. My dad’s birthday celebrations are always fun and we celebrate it mostly in London. Last year, we had a dinner together as a family in London.
Do you think your dad is fulfilled?
At his age, he has done a lot but he still wants to be the President of Nigeria someday and I hope his dream come true. He told us this on his birthday three years ago when we asked him what he wanted. I also know he wants to own a hotel and he is working towards that. Being a businessman, I feel he has more things to do.
However, I think he looks younger than his age because of the way he carries himself.
Will your dad be a good politician?
As the president, I am sure he will make great decisions for the nation and we need a businessman to help grow this country. But I don’t think my father can cope with the stress that comes with being a politician.
How do you like your dad to be remembered?
He is already in a position where people would remember him a lot. He has done well as a businessman and he is kind at heart. I don’t think he will change his personality anytime soon and I know he would be remembered as one who wanted everyone around him to be happy.
What would you like to change about him?
I don’t like the fact that I can’t spend huge time with him. Given a chance, that is the only thing I will change. In terms of closeness with my dad, I will score it 70 per cent. But whenever we have time to speak, we say a lot.
What has kept mum and dad together for years?
I think it is love. For a relationship to last for many years, there must be love and understanding.
What do you think can easily irritate him?
If you want him to get angry, all you need to do is to tell him lies. He gives people two chances. If you mess up once, he will give you another opportunity. If you mess up again, he forgets you. Similarly, if he asks you to do something for him too and you don’t get it right twice, he might never ask you again. That is the type of person he is.
What turns him on about people?
Firstly, he loves people to have call credit on their phones. If he asks to use your phone and you don’t have credit on it, he becomes furious. He feels like they might be an emergency at any time. He also doesn’t like liars.
Does his name open doors for you?
It has both disadvantages and advantages. My dad’s name brings me favours, but in the music industry, they feel I don’t need to work or be called for shows since my dad is rich. But over the years, we’ve conquered this by making hit songs. Now, people know me for what I do.
My father has done a lot for me in my career; he supported me from the start. He made sure I shoot the best videos. Sometimes, when I did a video with my money and he felt the quality was low, he would sponsor another video. But at present, he thinks I am now making money from music.
Following your brother’s recent marriage, has your dad asked about your marriage plans?
I can’t be told I am the next person for marriage as I am still searching. My parents are not mounting pressure on me as well, but I am a family person; so, I will like to have my family too. But it will happen at the right time and my father understands this.
What are your dad’s regrets?
Every man makes certain decisions and when they don’t go as planned, regrets set in. While I don’t know his regrets, I am sure he has some. But he should have overcome them and he would have made better decisions afterwards.
What is that thing he fears to do?
I think he doesn’t like going near water; I have never seen my dad swimming.
Do you have similarities with your dad?
I sit the way he sits and we look alike a lot. Like my dad, I don’t smile a lot too, but I am working on it. Most people don’t understand him; they feel he doesn’t smile with them because he doesn’t like them. He wears a serious facial expression most times.
What does he still wish to achieve in business?
I know he wants to own a hotel and he is working towards that. Being a businessman, I feel he has more things to do.
How does he relax?
He likes to see music channels and read newspapers a lot. He likes to travel, he plays golf and he likes to party too. I have been to the club with him once in America, but I left him (there) because I didn’t feel comfortable.
What is his favourite colour?
He likes white and dark blue a lot.