INFINITY (OLORI-OKO) THE UNTOLD STORY


Culled from Vine Magazine, read the story of the 5-Man group, the things you have never heard about them, the songs, the member, the split, and many more.
The story of the evolution of the gospel music group known as Infinity is that of grass to grace. From a group of secondary school boys who simply loved to sing, to a mainstream group that was undoubtedly number one in Nigeria at a time. It's an enviable story.

But as inspiring as it is, it is almost marred by the 'breakup' of what used to be five young men, now three, who continue to forge ahead, despite the exit of two members who many regard as their best hands, or in this case, voices.
The breakup of the group may have come as a surprise to some at the time, but those who knew the Infinity story from the very beginning, will tell you that it is not new to the group. Joseph, a member of the group says the exit of Kehinde Olumide Akinbode (Kenny Kore) and David Akintayo Thomas (David Kanjji) at different times didn't come as a surprise. "We knew that a couple of people were going to at some point leave and go and do their own thing," he says, adding that "Infinity has been for over 10 years, and in the space of 10 years, we have had someone leave the group and at some point, someone else joined the group."
That 'someone' who left the group is Francis Alabi, the young man who actually started the group back in 1996. Francis called a group of boys together in secondary school and decided to start an Acapella group known as 'All for Christ'. Soon, people began to commend their performances and churches began to invite them to perform at events and church programmes. The group later became known as Infinity. When it was time to leave secondary school, the group decided that they would choose universities within Lagos, so that they could remain together. But as fate would have it, Francis himself got admission to study at Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, and so he had to travel each time the group had rehearsals and performances. One day, the other group members summoned him to a meeting and asked him to make a choice. That was that, the rest moved on.
It was then Sunny Salu joined them and they became five again. They all confess that the early days were very rough. When you think of Infinity, you probably remember them as the group that sang 'Olori-oko', but indeed, there was a group and in fact, an album and a prison experience before that. Yes, they were locked up.
Our investigations revealed that back in 2002, the group met a rich seemingly philanthropic woman, Madam Princess (not real names) who took interest in the group and decided to sponsor its activities. She rented an apartment for them and bought them a car – an Opel Omega – while the group was at her beck and call, to perform at her events, whether in public or live in her living room.
During this period, they recorded nine songs in the studio on Madam Princess' bill and were beginning to smell the possibility of having a debut album. Suddenly, she decided it was time for them to sign a contract with her. They were excited because their relationship with her all the while was simply based on benevolence, but now that there was going to be a contract, it would mean that there would be restrictions and obligations which would in turn enhance their effectiveness. However, things changed when they saw the terms of the contract. Madam Princess was demanding about 90% of the group's profits, while the five of them would share 10% since she was going to be the one financing the group. Like any right thinking young man would do, no matter how hungry, they humbly rejected the offer. That was when trouble began. Madam Princess threatened to collect everything she had invested into the group if they refused to sign the contract.
After a tussle that went on for months, the group decided to release one of the songs which they still had access to, in order to revive their career and earn themselves shows. But unknown to them, it was the loophole Madam Princess needed to latch on to them. She got them arrested for armed robbery and, wait for it…attempted murder! That was how the group ended up in police custody. They were eventually rescued by the mercies of God through a link they had with the then I.G of Police.
We learnt that it was after this episode that they decided to leave the past behind and come up with a new album which included songs like Olori-oko, Only Praise, Aye Ole and the others which took the nation by storm. They became the rave of the moment and all sorts of marketers began to come after them with offers. They eventually settled for Iyke The Don based on his track record with Midnight Crew. The deal was worth 12million naira, although the group claim he still owes them about 4million naira till date.
Money and fame are never a very easy couple to manage, and so it was with Infinity. With the success of their Olori-oko album came increased pressure and desire for more. At the time, we began to notice a few differences within the group and decided to do a cover story on the group that would be called – BREAK UP SCARE: WILL INFINITY SURVIVE? We however decided against the story because it would seem like we were wishing the group ill, but then, the handwriting was already all over the wall.
Kenny was the first to take the plunge, jumping at the lure of a solo career and the possible returns it could bring to one, instead of five. Infinity claim he left the group as a result of a bitter fight over leadership and who owns what song. But according to Kenny, he was simply no longer comfortable with the lifestyle of the other group members.
Kenny also told us in an interview that, "I wrote Olori-oko even before Infinity was formed…that song is older than Infinity, maybe like two or three years older than Infinity."  Again, the group refute the claim. They say their style of writing, is in bits and pieces with contributions from members of the group until they achieve a final result. "It's a simple case of one person coming up with an idea for a song and then we call a meeting to fix the bits and pieces of the song together."
Apart from Olori-oko, there are also disputes over songs like Press on, which has appeared in Infinity's Seven Laws of Infinity and Kenny's Eledumare Reloaded. "Press on didn't make the first album (because) Infinity did it at that time and people were clamping down on us for dirty gist. I wanted to include it in my album but I needed to be careful. I included it now because I feel that the whole heat has gone off," Kenny explains.
Interestingly, although the words of the song remain the same, listening to the song on both albums seems to reveal the difference between singing in a group and performing the same song as a solo artiste. Kenny does not seem to accept this as a weakness though. He says, "I have a ten man band. I have those that perform with Kore on stage. If I tell you that Infinity can move on without me, that should also tell you that I can move on without Infinity."
And move on he has done. He also got married in London in 2012, without the knowledge of his former group members, as they claim they got to know about it from his facebook pictures. He has also released several songs and videos which are enjoying airplay, earning him shows and performances. Infinity has also moved on. "Now we've released the video for 'Press on' and very soon by the grace of God we will be shooting the video for Shepe, that's a song we featured Sheyman and Lord of Ajasa. We will also be putting out some fresh singles. People shouldn't think they've seen everything about Infinity yet, there's so much more," says Joseph Okogo, the youngest member of the group.
David, who now prefers to be known as Mosadi Kanjji, the other former member of Infinity, who is mostly recognised as the S.I Unit of the group because of the Africanness he brings into their songs, also left the group shortly after Kenny. But unlike Kenny, he still maintains a cordial relationship with members of the group. Maybe because his exit was more 'dignified', as he was said to have explained his plans and convictions to the other members of the group, knelt down before them, was prayed for and released by them before his trip overseas for personal reasons.
There might have also been another reason for the breakup of Infinity. The two who have left the group till date are Yoruba, while the rest who have stayed behind are from the east. Although this may not be a strong reason, it may have played a minor role. We've seen such disputes in secular music, with members of a group like The Plantashun Boiz going on to have successful solo careers, but one would least expect such from spirit-filled artistes. Now that such is the case, one can only wish them – Infinity, Kenny and David – all the success in the world as they move on with their separate endeavours. They deserve it, if only for all they've been through together in the past.
(Kenny Kore Interview by Omo Bazuaye, Joseph Okogo Interview by Ayobami Oyesanwen)
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