By Christian Agadibe

For more than a decade, Bolaji Serah Oluwafunmilayo aka Babyluv has been operating in the music industry, and working as a manager with Aquila Records.

Here, the Ilesa, Osun State-born Babyluv, who currently manages controversial music star, Portable, opened up on her career, challenges and love life. Please enjoy it.

Give us an insight into your background.

My name is Serah Olawale. I’m an artiste manager, event planner and businesswoman. I’m from Ilesa, Osun State. I have OND, Business Administration from Ofa Polytechnic and BSc Accounting from National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).

Tell us about your foray into entertainment?

Basically, I started music when I was in Ofa Polytechnic. Then, we had MC MQ and Planner, Seriki and a couple of them. I have been running the normal school parties and events. Later, I met Que Peller who happened to be Shina Peller’s brother. I met him on Instagram and we started talking. I have been running shows, events and parties until 2016 when I met Que Peller. I wanted to give Que Peller an event; I gave him two shows already and after that, he asked if I could manage him, and I agreed. I really didn’t have much idea about artiste management but I liked to post things online about artistes. So, whenever he released any track, I’d post it on Facebook. Gradually, I started liking Que Peller, until I got to Aquila Records in 2016.

How many artistes have you managed so far?

I have worked with more than 16 artistes including 9ice, Joeboy, etc. Currently, I am working with Portable as manager.

Was music your passion when growing up?

Yes, music was more like a passion to me when growing up. I love music a lot. I was in the choir, and that was how the interest started. I used to attend Celestial church before I moved to Pentecostal.

Can your recall your first encounter with top artistes like Olamide? Were you nervous when you first met him?

I had a friend that was working with Olamide’s team then. So, I was the one that actually got the contact to bring Olamide. It was for MTN Music Plus. I was at the back stage and I wasn’t nervous because it was actually not my first time meeting big artistes like him.

What was the turning point for you in the industry?

It was when I discovered that my Instagram followers were about 100,000. As at that time, I was working hand in hand with Shina Peller. I was managing all the six artistes under his label including his daughter, Naomi Peller. And we were always travelling together. We were always meeting with top artistes like Davido and Wizkid in the house. We were going everywhere together. It was at that particular point that my followers started growing on Instagram.

How do you cope being a female artiste manager in the industry?

It’s never easy but you have to stay focus. Ladies venture into something because they know what they want – they want men; they want money. So, you have to choose what you want. For me, I needed the money, I needed the work, and I needed more experience. I didn’t care about the men; I didn’t care about whatever they have to offer.

Has someone sexually harassed you since you started in the industry?

I will not call it harassment, many people made attempt but I’m always careful. I don’t put myself in a close environment with anyone. When we have a meeting, it has to be in an open place. I won’t come and see you in a place where it will be you and I only. So, I’m always careful.

Have you ever been intimidated by male artiste managers?

I have never been intimidated. You know why? It’s because even male artiste managers can’t do what we do. I have seven artistes straight up and their songs are doing well.

What stands you out from the rest?

Basically, it’s my energy and my availability. My team and I will pick an artiste from nowhere and we’ll promote his music; even when there’s no enough money, we make them big. Go and seek an artist that is nobody and let’s see how far you can go. We have been doing that.

What does it take a young artiste to have you as a manager?

I’ve stopped doing that because I have tried so much for the up and coming artistes. I can boldly say I move them from nothing to something. But now I’ve stopped doing that. I’ve stopped working with up and coming artistes. I’m now doing what some elite managers are doing. When you blow or have made it, everything is good; then you need me.

You can call me and I’m going to work with you.

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Do you also spot artiste?

Yeah, I had encounter with Rema before he came out. One of my bosses was supposed to put money down for him to do one or two things, but you know, we are not God. His music then sounded somehow. You can’t really say this artiste is going to blow, if not I would have probably be Rema’s manager today.

As a lady, what were your initial challenges and the challenges you are facing now?

I noticed that, in the industry, if they need you they come to you but if you need them they are not available. For example, there is this guy who has a very big platform, but I don’t want to mention his name. He told me he needed one elite artiste on his platform. So, I went through the stress and got him the artiste. He was very happy and he left. About a month after, I reached out to the same guy that I had an up and coming artiste, and I said ‘I know you guys charge like N500,000 but can we pay N350,000 so the guy can do one or two records?’ But the guy said no, it’s N500,000 or nothing. I told him ‘I’m your friend, you should be able to do it for me’. He said no, and I said no problem not knowing that he’s going to need me again. So, he came to me another day and said, ‘babe I need your favour’ and I told him I can’t do anything for him. I reminded him of what he did the other time. He said ‘oh, that one has gone, you can bring that person now’. I said no. The guy begged me for more than eight months but I’m still standing on my decision, because when I needed him, he was not there.

Most people see the music industry as wayward. Have you been discouraged by your parents, siblings and friends who look at you like one bad, wayward girl?

Yeah, that’s actually the truth. Our industry is a wayward industry. You see people sleeping with each other. Everybody sleeps with everybody, but for me, I’m married… I didn’t even know I was going to marry an artiste, but I have always been prepared. You can barely hear anything about me with guys, because I don’t go that route. You can never find me there. It’s just the truth; our industry is a very crazy one. You see this one sleeping with that one. We don’t have to lie that the industry is wayward.

What advice would you give someone to avoid this kind of thing?

I think it all boils down to self-discipline. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke; almost all my artistes smoke and drink. But it’s a matter of self-discipline. When you are entering a place, you need to know what you are there for, you need to know what you want, and you need to be focus. Some artistes get carried away with drinks, smoke and forget their vision and mission. If you discipline yourself and say ‘no I’m not going to do this’, it’s not like it’s a big deal. In fact, if you smoke before me, I will just be looking at you. If you like smoke from today till next year, it doesn’t concern me. I have some artistes that don’t smoke or drink. Portable doesn’t drink and he doesn’t take drugs, he only smokes.

Tell us about your husband. How did you meet him?

His name is Habib Olawale Damilare popularly known as ‘eeshoohdee’. I met him through a friend. I think he had someone that was working with him and he got duped. Then Bella Shmurda’s producer told him that he had someone that could help him. So, they introduced both of us, and he was trying to reach out to me, but I was damn busy. I didn’t have time to see him. Later, we met and I started doing his song for him. He’s based in Dubai. I went to Dubai and we met. I came back to Nigeria and he also came back to Nigeria, and we started dating. He’s in the industry and I’m also in the industry. He needed a manager and I am also a manager. Everything was just cool… 

Is it a new trend in the industry whereby an artiste marries his or her manager?

I have managed many male artistes and I have never dated any of them. I have managed more than 17 male artistes and I have never had anything with them. This case was just different.

What attracted you to him or attracted him to you?

He’s a sincere, open-minded person. He’s a giver, and the way he treats people around him is what actually attracted me to him. You know, when you treat people around you very well, it means you are a good person. Regardless of whatever people do to you, even when they are not doing you right and you still treat them well, it means you are a good person. Basically, he’s just a very nice person

How did you feel the day he popped the question?

It wasn’t really a big deal. The first time we spoke, he said ‘you are going to marry me and you are going to give me two lovely kids’. I just laughed. That was the first thing he said jokingly and we didn’t even know we are going to be close, because it was just like a normal gist.

What are you doing to safeguard your marriage against sexual scandals?

My husband is not that type of person. My husband is not a wayward man; he’s not someone that sleeps around. You can’t really say that men are 100% faithful. But my husband loves me and would not want to hurt me.

Would you give up on your marriage because you caught your husband with another woman? 

My marriage is a do or die. I’m not going to give up on my marriage because of someone. I know my husband won’t do such a thing. My marriage is for better for worse; even when it’s at the worst end, I’m still going to be there. 

How did you start managing Portable and how has it been so far?

I started managing Portable when he came to Dubai. Although, I have been giving him shows. We have been doing one or two things for him on a low. He came to Dubai and I was in Dubai then. He wanted to shoot a video and I had video directors, so I had to hook him up with a director, and I had to be on set with him. I had to do many things for him. When I was doing all those stuff, he saw how well I was doing it. He had a manger but I was different. He knew my way of working was quite different. He wanted something different, so that was how I started working with him. I have been managing him since last year, but I was always on a low

How difficult has it been managing such a controversial artiste?

Well, it wasn’t difficult at any point because I have been in the game for a long time, and I have had lots of artistes with different experiences.