Afro-Reggae/Dancehall artiste, Cynthia Morgan, now Madrina has been in the news for sometime over her grouse with her erstwhile record label boss, Jude Okoye. The ‘Don’t Break My Heart’ singer fell out with the Northside Inc boss, who happens to be the former manager to defunct PSquare duo and there have been several accusations and counter accusations from both parties.
The Nation’s met her a few days ago and she spoke on the crisis with Jude Okoye, her upcoming projects, relationship with other music acts and her regrets so far.
Going by recent happenings with you and Jude Okoye, would you say signing with Northside INC was a blessing or curse to your music career?
Well, I wouldn’t say it was a blessing. Let me be realistic, it was more of a curse because I went through a whole lot. I’m a very private person because I feel like life is a journey. And then people will only relate with you when you are somebody, they do not care about you in the period of struggling. It is just like gold, it goes through fire because nobody will buy when it’s still raw. So, I saw it as a learning process for me and I moved to the next episode. I did learn a lot (Laughing). It was deeper than music.
So tell us about your contract with Northside INC?
Yes, I did sign a contract. It could have been the same contract but some parts were edited or words were missing. There was a part where he said that the label always fund my project with 50 percent; that never really happened because I funded my project hundred percent. The other party never invested up to 50% as mandated in the contract. This, by the law of the agreement, is a breach of the contract signed. Again, yes, I did sign the contract but he wasn’t the one that prepared the contract, it was from Joy Tongo. Let me clarify this, I was signed to Joy’s label and that is the part people need to know. Joy had a record label but she didn’t have the resources and funds so she threw it out to Jude to ease her stress. That was how I got signed to Jude in 2013 and the contract expired in 2017. And I never said to him, ‘I’m done with your contract.’ Jude was the one who breached the contract unlike what he was telling people that I breached the contract. No, that was a big lie. In the third year of my contract, Jude came up with the idea of me signing a new contract and then I resisted. I think that was where the whole problem started. So, in the fourth year of my contract, I went ahead to shoot a video of ‘Put Out’ with my own money. I later sent it to him but he didn’t respond. So that was when I knew he meant ‘if you don’t sign a new contract, we’re not working with you anymore.’ For me, I was fine with it. To shock you, Jude didn’t know where I was living for the first two years of my contract, so there was so much that I couldn’t take as a person.
Are you saying a lack of cordial relationship affected your contract with him?
Yes, as an artist or creative person, we are very emotional people. You need people to understand you so I think that is where we got it wrong because Jude didn’t really know me. He just had an idea that he had an artiste. At first, when I wanted to get signed to him, I heard some people saying, ‘Oh, he went through a lot with May D’. But I felt like I’m not May D. Probably, because he felt hurt by someone, he has to transfer the aggression to other people just for him to feel better. Personally, I don’t have any more issues with Jude, I decided to let it out of my mind and I have moved on. I saw it as a life lesson for me. There was even a point in time when I said ‘if this is how music is, I’m not gonna let my kids do music.’ It was that terrible, but I overcame it. So, my message to the whole world now is that I’m a different person and I respected the Okoye family until all of this happened but I would like to move on.
You recently took a shot at Joy, your ex-manager, Jude Okoye and his brother, Paul of PSquare, on Instagram, could you share your reason for this?
Well, I reacted because I didn’t watch Jude’s interview until about two weeks ago. When he aired the interview then, I had all the things I was dealing with, mentally. And, again, I didn’t even know that you could actually do an Instagram live video and then save it and watch it afterwards. Firstly, I wasn’t interested in anything he (Jude) had to say, so when I heard he went on Instagram live, I just thought, ‘Oh, he did a live interview and then it’s over with.’ But when the video starting trending and people started tagging me, I had to watch it to found out the false claims and lies he said about me. I did hear and read a lot of stuff, but this recent incident was something I couldn’ take as a person and I felt I need to talk about it so that people can know the truth and my side to the story.
But your ex-manager claimed that Jude got you a Range Rover and also bought your mother land in Benin. How true is this?
That was a big lie. I bought the car myself, he didn’t buy the car from me instead I bought it from him. I will be sincere with you, I didn’t watch the whole interview but a lot of people would call you that he said this and that. At some point, I just got confused and turned off my phone because I was really tired of the whole rumour. About him saying he bought my mum land, I didn’t watch that part but Jude never bought my mum land.
Why did you change your stage name from Cynthia Morgan to Madrina?
Madrina has always been my alias right from the time of Cynthia Morgan. So, when I found that I couldn’t access my VEVO account, it was easy to alternate and the only name that came to my head at that point was Madrina.
And do you think the transition is going to work?
It’s already working. At first, I didn’t want to talk about the rebranding because I didn’t see it as a big deal. I was hurt and there are times in your life when you just want to move on. I saw it as freedom and a blessing. Though, I understand how my fans will feel but even me too I had issues accepting it but it wasn’t something that I planned. Just like what Jude said in the interview, saying, ‘I sat him down and I told him, I wanted to change my name…’ It just happened all of a sudden but the truth is, I am still me and I can do it.
What does Madrina mean?
It means the godmother in Spanish.
Tell us the unique thing about Madrina that sets it apart from Cynthia Morgan?
Music is music but if you notice my career, I’ve evolved. But for now, I am more on the conscious side now instead of the party bangers and I can’t wait to share the new projects with my fans. This time, I will be playing conscious music. I want to express myself by passing messages. I am coming out to be my real self and still do the music I love and used to do. And my fans will definitely enjoy me being me, so will the general public.
Did your ex-manager coin the name, Cynthia Morgan?
Jude didn’t give me the name. No, I was Cynthia Morgan before Jude.
Many believe you could become a global brand like Burna Boy if you stick with the name, Cynthia Morgan?
Burna Boy is a guy, lol. Unlike Burna Boy, I was the only one in Lagos doing my music thing by myself. Burna had a family, a system but I was the only one doing my own thing, so, it was harder for me. When Burna gets into trouble his mom was already there so I didn’t have that kind of supporting system. And again, I grew up in a Jehovah’s Witness home. Even making music was rebellious and I’m the only child of my mom. So I have to protect a lot of things so that they wouldn’t say ‘Who send you music?’ It is not all you see on TV that is glittery, so I had to shed my family from every challenge I came across. Whenever I broke down emotionally, it was hard for me to start telling my folks, ‘this is what happened.’ I will just ask myself, ‘what’s the next thing for me to do?’
Do you see yourself working with Burna Boy?
Yes, I am open to working with him.
Davido promised to do a duet with you and asked you to call him on Twitter. What’s the development on this?
Yes, I did call Davido, though nothing materialized yet because we have been unable to communicate with each other properly, however, we are positive.
Would you like to share details of your proposed engagement with Sterling Bank?
Sure, they reached out to us, but we are still working on our relationship.
You recently bounced back after recovering from an ailment, do you mind telling us about it?
Yes. I was sick at some point and then I had a massive breakdown. But, I later regained myself and went back to the studio but along the line, other family issues arose that I had to go back home. But, I’m finally back with better energy.
Do you still have a rapport with your industry friends?
Well, I’ve been away for a long time but whenever I see my friends we start from where we stopped. So, yeah, we are cool. Did your industry friends reach out to you when you are ill?
My friends did reach out, but I was still healing. I’m not someone who likes to talk when you don’t ask me. Friends like Olamide, Tiwa Savage and Seyi Shay reached out to me. I noticed they didn’t understand what was happening and I wasn’t really in the state of mind to explain. You know, I wasn’t really an outgoing type of person, even while I was in the limelight, but I was cool with everyone on a different level. It was when I wanted to be outgoing that the whole brouhaha happened. So, I’m cool and I don’t have issues with no one.
Some years ago, you were seen smoking and carrying a baby in a picture that surfaced online. Could you tell us about it?
I think I’ve spoken about this before, this is one of the reasons why I didn’t want to work with these people any more. My real name is Cynthia, the Madrina image is the real me, the Cynthia Morgan image is not really me, it was an image they wanted me to project. The red hair, nose ring, makeup and crazy dressing personality was not the real me, it was just like an actor playing a role. So, these are some of the things I am trying to correct with Madrina. If you watch my latest music video, ‘Bubble Up’, I was fully clothed and covered and even in a ‘Billion Dollar Woman’ video, I was wearing a tracksuit that is more like me. At some point in my career, I got fed up with the whole thing and I was like, ‘I want to be me and do what I want’ so people that truly love me will resonate and understand where I’m coming from.
How’s COVID-19 affecting your music career?
It’s a huge setback for everyone, especially artistes. You could drop songs and not be able to perform. Though you can stream music online. But, for me, I haven’t performed for a while and I would love to. So, it’s a setback and we hope we get over it as soon as possible.