Q&A: Ify Adenuga interviewed by Munya Chawawa

The mother of Skepta, JME, Julie and Jason speaks to comedian Munya Chawawa about her new memoir, Endless Fortune.

Ify, nice to meet you! How is the family celebrating mother releasing a book?

They never believed it! I’d be going on about how I was going to write my book and they were like: Yeah mum…” When it finally landed everyone wanted to know what I put in about them. Julie is like my manager and the other two are like the founders.

Did you get a slap on the wrist for including any particular stories from when they were growing up?

I made them keep the same trust they have with me – and I proved it to them. From beginning to the end they didn’t see anything that upset them. I’m happy about that because they now understand that I understand them well.

It made me laugh when you were recalling the story of taking them to Nigeria for the first time. The other kids were squashing the bugs and yours were like: No, don’t kill the bugs!”

They still do that. You step into the bathroom and you see them in the bath going, Mum, daddy long-legs, daddy long-legs, come and get it!”

You’re telling me that JME and Skepta are scared of daddy long-legs?

When they were growing up, yes! JME must have been a vegan from day one, because he didn’t like hurting animals, no matter how small they were.

My dad is Zimbabwean, and he eats everything and he wants me to eat everything – flying ants, goats, cows, you name it. As an African parent, along with your husband, how did you feel when JME went vegan?

He didn’t have to say that, you know why? Because he went vegan when he got his own house, innit. So we didn’t have any authority over him. The first thought that crossed daddy’s mind was: God, that’s going to cost an arm and a leg.”

You’ve raised creatives and your husband studied architecture. A lot of creatives like the room to be a certain way while they’re working. What were your rituals when writing your book?

Half a slice of lemon from the freezer in ginger ale with a straw. Pretend that I’m drinking, and then I write. I could be in the living room, I could be in the shower, I could be anywhere. I just write whenever it comes into my head because I want to catch it.

Did your children have any favourite story books when they were growing up?

My children made things rather than read things. JME would come home with a drawing he drew, or sometimes he’d come back with a box he’d made for my trinkets.

When you went to parent’s evening, what would they say?

In my case, I only went to school for JME and Jason. They’d just say: Oh, he’s doing well,” and it’d be like, oh, OK, good, let’s go. To be honest, they were all good with their grades throughout secondary school.

It sounds like they had pretty smart parents.

I don’t know about that! Maybe because, when they were studying, I was studying so everybody in the house was learning. And we really wanted to feel like this team was achieving all the time. But we also enjoyed working all together in the house. We were always a team rather than parents and children.

What’s some of your favourite songs of theirs?

I love almost all of their songs. I know [A$AP Rocky’s Skepta featuring] Praise the Lord, I know [JME’s] Just Being Me. What’s that one [starts singing]: We’re been growing apart, duh duh duh, been through the wars and I can show you the scars, they should’ve told you that I glow in the dark”? That’s it! [Skepta’s] Glow In the Dark.

I find it really fascinating that you were so embracing of grime. If I played my father it, he’d be like: What’s this, turn it off!” But you seemed to be saying: Look, go with it.”

You’re forgetting about the bad press at the beginning of it. During that time, you can imagine how Britain was feeling about grime – and I have two sons in it. So I made sure where they were all the time, which is either by me listening or driving them there. Daddy wasn’t OK with it that much. But he was trusting of me.

I was reading about how you used to create MySpace accounts so you could fight anyone who writes negative comments. Have you given that up or do you still do it?

I made that account to see what people were saying about them, and I made the mistake of replying to one of them one day and
I was so, so upset. And I remember Junior [Skepta] was like, Mum, don’t be silly. Don’t write anything.” That was the last time Junior got really vexed at me. From then, I just read it and I’ll be cussing the person but I won’t say anything. But from my laptop I’ll be saying, Silly idiot!”

Endless Fortune by Ify Adenuga, and Piers Morgan, the new single from Munya Chawawa’s Unknown P, are out now

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