The Mavin Doctor of love, Dr. Sid is one of Nigeria’s very few qualified medical practitioners making great strides in the entertainment industry. A Dentist, by training, Sidney Esiri is the son of the veteran actor Justus Esiri.
Dr. Sid’s journey into music started about ten years ago while he was studying Dental Surgery at the University of Ibadan. He was signed on to Trybe Records while in the University but put his music pursuit on hold to complete his National Youth Service Corps programme and Housemanship. Afterwards, he joined Mo’Hits Records where he released some hit tracks including “Pop Something” and “Something About You”. The The 2011 winner of the Hiphop World Awards Hiphop World Revelation of the year moved on to the Mavin Camp after the group split in 2012.
In this exclusive interview with Adeola Adeyemo, Dr. Sid talks about his musical journey, the controversies that surrounded the Mo’Hits split and his plans for the future.
2012 was an interesting year for Dr. Sid. The events surrounding the Mo’Hits break up and a leaked private conversation he had regarding his former label mate, D’Banj was perhaps the very first time his name was associated with any controversy. He was very reluctant to address it but when he finally did, proved that he had moved on and was breaking new grounds.
Looking back at 2012, how was the year for you?
It had its ups and downs and I’m grateful that I came through it. I am looking forward to 2013 which happens to be my tenth anniversary as a recording artiste so I’m excited about it.
Mo’Hits to Mavins
Let’s start with the ups. What were the high points of 2012?
It would be coming out of the Mo’Hits break up and being part of Mavin with people that I’ve been involved with for over 8 years – Don Jazzy, Wande Coal and D’Prince. When you’re in an industry and you have a family that you’ve worked with for a long time, if something goes wrong with that family, it would be nice to still be involved with the same people when you’re getting back on your feet so you don’t feel as if you’re in a new, unknown territory.
Some people left the Mo’Hits and someone else joined to form Mavin. How has it been rebuilding that bond as a family?
The only new addition is Tiwa Savage and she is someone who has been around us for a while so she is pretty much like one of the guys. It wasn’t really different; it was like another day in the office. It’s pretty much the same thing.
You only spoke about the person that joined. How about those that left? How has it affected the family?
There are some things that should just be left alone as far as I’m concerned. But I think it’s great for everyone. If you look at it objectively, it is sad that we had a vision of dominating all over but at the end of the day, things happened – people changed, people grew up, people had different responsibilities and focused on different visions. Now everyone has new challenges and moving forward, everyone is better off for it.
Tell me about the Mavin family. What are your dreams as a team for 2013?
The Mavins are a group of people who have come together for a common goal. We are talented individuals who believe in the music. We work tirelessly to make music and to constantly push boundaries. In the Nigerian music industry, it appears that people recycling music, recycling the same sounds so on our own part, we try to come out of that box and give you a different kind of flavour.
You once said you were loyal to Don Jazzy on Twitter while there was speculation about a Mo’Hits break up. How will you describe him and what is your relationship like?
Don Jazzy has had to take on a lot of responsibility and I commend him for it. It’s not been easy coming out of a long term relationship where you’re used to certain things and starting all over again. He has worked really hard to get where he is today and he deserves every bit of praise and success that he gets. He is an amazing human being who puts the needs of others above himself. When I said I was loyal to him in that tweet, it wasn’t because of what I get from him, but because of who he is as a man, a brother and a friend. Regardless of the music or entertainment, he is a true friend.
The Controversial Leaked Conversation
That was not the only tweet of yours that created some buzz last year. Towards the end of the year, you apologized to your fans with a couple of tweets about some controversies. What prompted those tweets?
I looked back at the year and saw that there was a lot of negativity surrounding me. The truth is people who know me know that I’m not that kind of person. A lot of things were taken out of context, putting me in a dark light. When things like that happen, it’s disappointing to the fans and not just myself so I owed some of the people who felt I let them down an apology. I’ve never been an artiste that has been associated with controversy prior to 2012 so I just wanted to clear that up and move forward.
Is that why the tweet response you gave to the controversial leaked conversation about D’Banj was not defensive?
There was no need to be defensive. I was in a room having a heated conversation with people which was recorded and the conversation was edited to paint me in a particular light. There is no amount of explanation I could give. The people who edited that conversation and released it had an agenda so it was pointless to convince anybody otherwise and I wanted to put it behind me.
Although you say the conversation was edited, it revealed some aspects of the relationship between you and D’Banj that people didn’t know about.
Let me give you a history. When I met D’Banj in London, he was part of the 419 squad and I was part of the Trybe. He is a charming guy, he has a lot of charisma and we got along really well. When he came to Nigeria to continue his music, I had given up music for a while to focus on my Housemanship. When I decided to get back into music, he was really big. I went to him and he was reluctant to sign me saying I was the boss. But I told him I respected his hustle and I played my position, I supported and assisted his brand. But after a while, things came up which might be how people react to growing up and moving forward. I hope he is happy wherever he is. I haven’t seen or spoken to him in a while.
There was a distinct part of the conversation where you said he overshadowed other people under Mo’Hits. I’d like you to please tell me what you really meant.
I said he overshadows “effortlessly”. It was there in the conversation and I don’t know if a lot of people heard it but it basically means that you don’t do it on purpose. It’s not like you wake up in the morning and say I want to overshadow Dr. Sid, it’s just who you are. You are a shinning light and it’s hard for people to see anything other than you. It’s not your fault, you’re not doing it on purpose. That’s what that line meant but it was obviously taken out of context.
Lastly on this issue, the conversation sparked some rumours that you were behind the Mo’Hits split because you wanted to have a bigger brand.
I believe in team spirit and that as a unit, we are stronger than as individuals. If anyone would tell the truth, they would say that I fought my hardest to keep Mo’Hits together. What would I gain by splitting Mo’Hits up? I made plenty money under Mo’Hits Records, I had a great album under Mo’Hits Records, I can proudly say that I was affiliated to the biggest artiste in Africa. Would I now say that I should split it up so that Don Jazzy would focus on me? Does that even make any sense?
Still on Twitter, you lashed out at an online portal, The Net when they gave D’Prince’s album a 3-point rating.
I wish I had done a screen capture of what I read because I thought it was not objectively written. The write up on the album was very harsh and at the end of it, it was rated 3. I was very upset because the amount of work put together on that album was amazing. There are so many songs on that album that would appeal to different people. So after my Twitter rant, they edited the post and changed it to 3/5 but in the initial post, it was just a 3 which most people would have thought meant 3/10. They edited it quietly and didn’t come out to say it was an initial mistake. They just left it there so it would look like I was making noise about 3/5.
Family & Education
Let’s talk about your background. As the son of the veteran actor, Justus Esiri, how has he influenced you and your career path?
I’m one of my Dad’s biggest fans. He was a celebrity before people even knew what celebrities were. He is a living legend, I have the utmost respect for him. He trained me well. He thought me how to handle being a celebrity because the most important thing is not to lose yourself. He taught me to always have a tether to reality so that as much as I can soar to the highest heights, I must always keep myself grounded.
You have a very interesting degree in Dental Surgery which must have taken a lot of time and dedication to obtain. When did the passion for music take over?
I had always been involved in entertainment and show business in school but I was very passionate about dentistry because I’m a guy who is very hands on. I like to take a screw driver, roll up my sleeves and take something apart and then fix it. So being able to do that inside the human body was amazing. When I had that scalpel in my hand, I would take the cadavers apart skillfully. When I went to the UK, I did a course in Dental Anesthesiology and when I came back, my Dad insisted I do my Housemanship and Youth Service. After that I was running a club, hosting events, performing with a live band and then I got a job as a Dentist in a private dental clinic. They offered me N45,000 per month to work 8AM to 6PM Mondays to Saturdays! That was the point when I knew it and decided to put dentistry on hold. I was earning N30,000 a week hosting events, N50,000 monthly running a club, and another N50,000 a month hosting a monthly event along with some other things I was doing. So I was making close to N250,000 monthly and I will be able to sleep from Monday to Thursday.
Do you have any intentions of going back to Dental practice?
I might not practice but I do have intentions of opening a state-of-the-art medical centre not just for dental surgery but for General Medicine as well. I owe it to the community that gave me my training and most of the things I learnt in the University.
Sexyrization of Dr. Sid & Dating
Some months ago, you came out with the new image which you branded “sexyrization” of Dr. Sid. What inspired the rebranding?
Everybody who knew me in the University would say, Sidney is sexy. I was slim and fit. I was involved in Martial Arts and Basket Ball but somewhere along the line, I went from being sexy to cute. You know when you add weight, you don’t really notice. I had graduated from the University, I had peace of mind, I wasn’t active in sports any more so I added a lot of weight. I got lazy and kept telling myself “I’m not that bad”. I’d look at some other people and say “that guy is fat, I’m not fat”. Then I started shooting music videos and when I saw myself on the screen, I said, “Am I really that big?” I decided to do something about it at the end of 2011 but 2012 was a year I had to focus on other things so my weight fluctuated but this year, I’m getting back to the Sexyrization of Dr. Sid. If you look around you’d see my exercise ball, my gym shoes, my skipping rope, my Yoga mat; I’ve got a bench upstairs where I push weights and I’m into my gym routine. When you came in, I was eating bananas so right now, I’m literally taking bananas till I yo!
What was the idea behind the new hair style?
I’ve always wanted to do it for a long time but Don Jazzy was like “no, you have to keep that Doctor image”. After a while, I said “leave that Doctor image for a while”. My Mum was like “I’m not too sure, maybe it would grow on me” but now she says “you look good”. My sister thinks it’s sexy so with those two people, that’s fine for me.
Apart from your Mum and your sister, who is the other special woman in your life?
There’s somebody who is actually responsible for a lot of the changes I’ve gone through as an individual. She’s a woman who makes me want to be better. She’s very interested in my career, my sense of style and fitness. I owe a lot of the changes that are happening to me especially this year to her and the kind of attention that she’s given me.
That sounds sweet. How long have you been together?
About 8 months. We met under very “interesting” circumstances which I will not discuss.
You know she is “the one” already?
What makes you say that and what qualities attracted you to her?
It’s something you just know. There was a connection. You don’t have to say words, when you look at each other, you know that it’s there. When I’m not with her, I constantly want to; I constantly try to make her proud of me in everything I do.
Your last single Afefe has been out for a while. When are you coming out with new music?
I’m working in the studio but I’m not going to rush to put out any music. Afefe is a great song but I think the release was probably rushed. I have songs with Dammy Krane, Ice Prince, Sarkodie, Lynxxx, but I want to keep making music and when I’m comfortable with what I have, I’ll put it out. Now I’m working on some non-music related stuff.
I have a production company which deals with some content for Radio and TV. I’m also planning something in line with Nigeria’s Centenary Anniversary coupled with the fact that this year is my 10th Anniversary. I’m launching a product in the food industry which I’m sure BellaNaija would be telling people about in the next few weeks. It’s a luxury item. I don’t want to give out the exact name but people who have watched the Afefe video might have an idea of what I’m talking about. I’m still very much involved with Mavin, but I would be putting out things to make people understand who Dr. Sid really is.
It was great chatting with Dr. Sid and from BellaNaija, we wish him the very best!
Dr. Sid – Afefe
Photo Credit: Obi Somto