How I Recorded ‘Billionaire’, ‘Happy Mumu’, Other Nollywood Soundtracks- Stanley Okorie


He came to Lagos to obtain higher academic degrees, but found other companies. His name may not immediately ring a bell, but Stanley Okorie witnessed the birth of Nollywood, and his songs have appeared as soundtracks to over 1,000 movies.

Some of her works include TikTok and Instagram favorites ‘Billionaire’, ‘Happy Mumu’, ‘Ashawo no be Work’, ‘Fine Mama’ and ‘Iyeme’.

He is also the singer-songwriter behind the international hit song “I go chop your dollar”, the soundtrack of the Nollywood film “The MASTER”, which featured Nkem Owoh, who visually performed the song in a KAS-VID video. .

His first big song for the Nollywood soundtrack was ‘Karishika (Queen of Demons)’ from the 1996 horror film KARISHIKA.

In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES he talks about his friendship with the late Sammie Okposo and his musical career, among other topics.

PT: Tell us about your foray into Nollywood as a soundtrack producer.

Stanley Okorie: When we started doing movie scores, most of the people who got into what they were into, now Nollywood, were all hobbyists learning on the job.

I had come to fulfill my father’s wish to do a master’s degree at Unilag. My father is a teacher and he really likes education. He didn’t think anyone could make a living selling plastic (the plastic he was referring to was cassettes).

I didn’t want to do a master’s degree but I came to Lagos to fulfill his wish, but I was in Lagos to do my master’s degree in Mass Communication as I had also obtained a degree from Nsukka in Mass Communication.

I took some Political Science courses and I thought I would be a painter because I was very good at painting, but my late grandmother said, “Who goes to school just to be a painter? Other people built houses and you painted them.”

She didn’t understand what I meant then, but I always wanted to paint. I have yet to have the opportunity to be a painter.

Painting led me to music because when I was drawing and singing, my friends at school would say Nna, your singing is better than your painting.

That’s how it started. I started fighting with my father when I got a job at the Federal Foreign Office in the late 1990s, and I didn’t; I said I wanted to make music. That was the beginning of my problem with the man.

I’m shy and I don’t go to nightclubs. I could do choirs to get ahead, but I would be left behind; He did not want to be known.

stanley okorie

At some point, people started asking to see and hear who was doing the backup. Then I started playing small shows.

So I ran into a friend named Sammie Okposo when I was in Lagos. I lived with Sammie for a few months. Sammie was my everything; She had just arrived in Lagos and I let school go for a while. I signed up for the program and sent proof of enrollment to my dad, but he wasn’t attending lectures; instead I followed Sammie to record in the studio.

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PT: Was it the Klint studios?

Stanley Okorie: Yeah, it was mainly the Klint studios, then there was a guy named Johnson Davidson from Midtown and a lot of people. Sammie was a fantastic keyboard player and producer. His production skills were only as good as my writing skills.

We did some jobs that I liked back then in the south. When I started working on my first album, the ‘Jesus I Love You’ records, Sammie was still doing the soundtrack.

PT: Between live music and studio recordings, which do you prefer?

Stanley Okorie: I wouldn’t say I like live music. Live music is loud. I love studio music. Study music can be adjusted.

Sammie was a live music man. He wouldn’t say I like live bands, but he and I would go back home and do backup. We were very close until a few years after I left Nigeria for Canada. We lost contact, but now we re-established contact when I got back.

Sammie played an important role in my music career. Sometimes we would come to a place together, he would make music and ask me to put lyrics.

I focused more on writing for Sammie, who produced my first soundtrack.

PT: Can you remember the soundtrack of your first movie?

Stanley Okorie: I think it was ‘Compromise.’ That was my first soundtrack. Sammie had done a lot of soundtracks and I was writing and producing. Like his friend, there were sometimes full and partial payments, but I didn’t bother.

Later, he started doing his thing and I started doing mine. They gave me a bottle of Sprite as payment for the soundtrack to my first movie.

PT: Tell us more about your relationship with Sammie.

Stanley Okorie: I was new to Lagos and with Sammie’s influence I was able to do a few things in the studio. Sammie and I started fighting because he felt like I was concentrating on my job and ignoring his.

So I said, okay Sammie, you know what would happen; I would write for you and you would play for me.

We agreed, but then on another occasion, Sammie was now saying that he would play for me, but I would write for him and sing for him.

I said ahh, I would be doing two things. I said if I’m going to sing for you, you’ll have to find me something. This was a discussion between friends, but I liked working with Sammie.

We tossed it away, so we realized it often got into various things, so I got into the soundtrack.

PT: Were you doing soundtracks in conjunction with your gospel music career?

Stanley Okorie: Yeah, I was doing soundtracks, I was working at an ad agency, and I was working at Sonny Irabor’s Ruyi Communications. At the same time, he was also doing some independent jingle productions for a lot of people.

He was singing backup, and he was also printing, and he was doing pretty much anything that would make money.

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If I had to cough for a living, I’d come cough, and you’d pay me.

PT: What was it like coming up with those concepts?

Stanley Okorie: When Nollywood started, there was no format at all. Sammie had become a major player in soundtrack production long before I came along.

He is given the script most of the time and is asked to come up with music.

They give you a hand, and you make music that would interpret it. There is a uniqueness to making music in the Nollywood industry. It’s different from making music for Hollywood or Bollywood.

Making music for Nollywood is different, and it’s interpretive, and you’re almost interpreting the story. Some people tell the story in music, but that doesn’t happen. After the scene has happened, you can now resolve it. But the editor can even play the song before the scene happens.

That is what happens. I remember Sammie was really pissed off about it because a lot of publishers didn’t know much about playing music.

If there’s a death scene, you don’t do a dirge before the character dies. Wait and let the man die first. But sometimes, these editors would start playing the dirge, thereby telling the viewer that the character would die soon.

PT: Let’s talk about some of your memorable work, like the one that’s causing a sensation right now, ‘Billionaire.’

Stanley Okorie: My first soundtrack was ‘Compromise’ for Emalex Productions. My second soundtrack was ‘Atrocity’ for Amako Investment.

My first big movie was ‘Evil Genius’. Then there was ‘Karishika’ (Queen of Demons)’ from the 1996 horror film KARISHIKA.

I shot ‘Billionaire’ for a friend of mine, Osi King, who made a movie for Aki and Paw Paw. My friend told me that there was already a song for the movie, but he wanted me to do something better, a song about money, not too English but something street.

For something to make sense to me, it had to be simple. I’m not that into complicated things.

Before ‘Billionaire’ went viral, there was ‘Happy Mumu’. I don’t remember what movie it was from, but I know it was for Ossy Affason.

PT: Did you record your songs between the late 90’s and early 2000’s?

Stanley Okorie: It has to be in the early 2000s.

I have worked with everyone. My music has made many prominent billionaires; some got their movie titles from my music.

PT: Did you stop making soundtracks and were you ever tempted to act?

Stanley Okorie: No, no, I’m more of a study person. I’m too shy to act. But I used to be a gospel artist. I am mainly a producer, singer and songwriter; that’s mostly who I am.

PT: In your gospel music career, did you release albums or did you only have a collection of tracks?

Stanley Okorie: He only had two music albums, including the famous ‘Jesus I love You’. it greatly influences the Nigerian gospel to this day. He won multiple awards for that album which remains one of the most popular Christian albums in Africa.

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The Complete Version of The Goodness of God, Vol. 1 and 2, was released on digital streaming platforms on April 17, 2022.

I was the singer-songwriter behind the international hit song “I go chop your dollar”, the soundtrack of the Nollywood movie “The MASTER”, which featured Nkem Owoh, who visually performed the song in a KAS-VID video.

I also produced ‘National Moi Moi’ for Mama G. I have almost 800 songs on Spotify, Youtube, Audiomack and others.

PT: So you’re earning a lot from royalties.

Stanley Okorie: Well, we thank God for doing this, but it can be better.

PT: Your assessment of Nollywood?

Stanley Okorie: You know, Nollywood is getting better in one sense and going backwards in some ways, like the quality of the staff.

Many untrained people jump in and start with no one to monitor them.

The quality of what we do has remained the same. So we didn’t do it for the money; we were doing it with passion and showing our gifts.

But now it has to be for money, and now it’s more challenging, unlike before, to make a living from the soundtrack.

It will be expensive if they ask me to do a soundtrack.

Nollywood should go back to telling stories our way. Another thing that needs to be corrected is the training of staff. There is a lot of mediocrity in it. The exhibition has certainly become more comprehensive.

If we keep exploring foreign concepts, it will keep us second, but if we study and make movies about our ancestry and culture, it will improve us. Our music would be unique. A lot is being copied, and many people have walked away with the offense.

PT: Are you an independent artist?

Stanley Okorie: Long before I started, there was DMI, Premiere Recordings and others, but they were all gone.

At one point, the music moved to Iweka Road, Upper Iweka and Idumota, Ebimpejo Lane. You as a musician had to write, sing, record, produce and promote the masters, hoping to find a marketer, and then it was Confidence or Osi Aphason.

I had to finance my record and work getting a job to record it and then sell it to a label who then sells it to me and pays me my royalties.

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How I Recorded 'Billionaire', 'Happy Mumu', Other Nollywood Soundtracks- Stanley Okorie

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