Archive for April, 2007

AMEN AWARDS BACK WITH A BANG!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 30, 2007 by ayenithegreat

IT’S  pay back time for Nigerian artistes. After years of consistent lull, with government and corporate organisations shunning the industry, the past few years have witnessed tremendous growth, with a total skyrocket in earnings for major stakeholders including artistes, producers and label owners. The industry may still have a long way to go, but society and relevant organisations can’t cease rewarding practitioners for excellence and unprecedented achievements. On March 17, 2007, Hip Hop World awards had its second outing, dishing out awards and treating Nigerian artistes like the international counterparts. Celebrities sashayed on the red carpet, everyone showing off their attires, and for those fortunate to mount the stage; it was like a dream come true. Hip hop world awards only started in 2006. Meanwhile on May 19, the Nigerian music awards hitherto organised by PMAN under Tony Okoroji’s regime, will return in grand style, laying siege on the city of Abuja, after what the organisers have called a soul flight’ from Lagos to the nation’s capital. NMA promises to attract the nation’s crème-de la –crème.
But the big one, the one that set all tongues wagging, is the return of awards for Musical Excellence in Nigeria AMEN, organised by ENCOMIUMS ventures, publishers of encomium Magazine. Presently Nigeria ’s longest running music awards, the event has not held since 2005. But when pundits were beginning to dig the grave of the music awards, the organisers have finalised plans to resuscitate the awards, in a manner those close to the secretariat say will be earth shaking. AMEN awards has been scheduled for the Civic Centre, Ozumba Mbadiwe road, Victoria Island, Lagos on Sunday July 1, 2007.
This year’s event is facilitated by the Academy of creative arts in Nigeria , peopled by diverse music and media professionals including Kenny Ogungbe, Efe Omorogbe, Wale Oluwaleimu, Tokunbo Modupe, Charles O’Tudor, Sunny Neji and several others. But it is uncertain if any sponsors have been confirmed for the event which is in its ninth year.
But with the calibre of the committee members, it is expected that the requisite resources would be generated, especially as corporate bodies are now more disposed than ever, to entertainment related events. Last march, organisers of hiphopworld awards pooled an amazing sum of N100Million for the much talked-about awards.
Meanwhile, as if to add icing to the cake of Nigerian artistes, two international music awards may hold in   Nigeria this year. Channel O African music video awards, fast-growing inter-continent award, has, according to dependable sources been scheduled to hold in Lagos or Calabar, in the last quarter of 2007. Same for urbane music channel MTV base  whose MTV Europe music awards is one of the world’s most reputable annual award events. It is yet uncertain if MTV is doing an ‘African’ music video awards, but it has had an African category for the EMA since inaugurationg MTV Africa in 2005. 2face Idibia won the first ever best African act, at the first edition held in Lisbon , Portugal in November, 2005.
 These developments mean only one thing: that despite the piracy scourge ravaging the music industry, rubbishing artistes’ toil and ensuring that most label owners go broke; despite the continued absence of necessary industry structures, and in spite of total government neglect, reward for excellence from very qualified quarters is compensating practitioners- planting smiles on their faces, and showing upcoming artistes and wannabe music pros that hardwork still pays.

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KUSH GIRLS READY WITH SOLO ALBUMS

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2007 by ayenithegreat

Three years after they stopped performing as a group, all three members of the celebrated gospel group KUSH are ready with individual solo albums. The group which was signed to DKG (an international label headed in Nigeria by Sam Onyemelukwe) and managed by Gbenga Shokefun, died unceremoniously in 2004, shortly after its soprano singer Lara got married in Lagos. But before then, there had been incessant speculations about a pending break occasioned by internal rancour on one side, and issues with manager Gbenga Shokefun on the other. Despite constant denials, with even a promise of a second album, and an international release of ‘The Experience’ their debut album, the young University of Lagos graduates soon drifted apart: TY (Toyin Shokefun) went ahead to pursue her dreams with photography; Lara (Lara Bajomo) took up a full time job, and established a catering firm while the group’s rapper Emem (Emem-Abasi Emah) settled for music business partnering with friends, first to form Vhishuns Media, and later One Management. She was named British Council’s International Music Enterprenuer of the year for Nigeria in  2006.
However, few years down the road, it appears the trio have failed to resist the lure of music, with each now clutching a master tape, DV tapes, and record contracts. TY  a much sought-after photographer and member of depth-of-field (a photography collective) is about now, releasing her debut single and video ‘Greenland’, and is ready to unleash her full album on Nigerians before mid year. ‘She’s been busy recording all these while.
I don’t think she really ever took a break from music’ said a source close to her. Lara who now has a baby, took a break from her record contract with Solomon Arueya’s Westside Music to feature in the reality show West African Idols where she failed to make any fantastic impact. But there’s no doubt that the singer is immensely talented. With a voice that leaves fans, critics and even haters in awe, Lara is optimistic about a solo career – and her first single ‘ijoba orun’ is a sign that she’s got some goodies.
She’s even getting busy with the treadmill, anxious to burn some fat, so that when we like what we hear, we’ll fall in live with what we see too.
Emem Emah now called Mem’O doesn’t have any fats to burn, but she’s burning a lot of energy kicking rap verses on her colleagues albums, and on her own material which she says will be ready for the public soon. ‘Really, I’ve just been busy recording. Putting down anything that comes to me. I’m trying to say some things, trying to express myself’ she told a friend recently. Mem’O is presently managed by One Management.
With the recent developments, industry watchers are beginning to say there’s more to the KUSH break up than meets the eye.
For, why would all three girls remain good friends, even collaborate on each other’s albums, yet are unable to come together and hit the stage as KUSH? While an informed source says only manager Gbenga Shokefun and KUSH lawyer Toyin Subair understand the complications in the KUSH saga, the girls maintain there was never a planned break up. Speaking to a magazine last year, Lara, shortly after delivering her baby (Adeoba), said ‘…it happened the way it happened.
It wasn’t really planned or anything. I’m not sure I’ll say anything went wrong. Essentially we are three different people whose lives were going in three different directions. We are still friends, we still relate with each other, but musically, we are just seeing things from different points of view’.
KUSH (an acronym for ‘kinetically ushering salvation into hearts and homes’) was formed after Emem, Lara, TY and Dapo Torimiro met at Rock Solid Choir in Unilag while all pursuing undergraduate studies. With Dapo, the only male member as producer, the group spent night and day generating songs and concept, and making plans for a music take over.
Then they got Gbenga Shokefun, CEO of Spirit Rose Entertainment  and elder brother to TY to shop for a deal in the US. Gbenga was then based in the US, with enviable contacts in mainstream music business.
After getting the girls signed to DKG music, he returned to Nigeria to nurse their career full time, eventually releasing their debut album ‘The Experience’ a 16 tracked LP which spawned hits like ‘let’s live together’ and ‘angel’. The album was produced by Jeff Taylor and Chinaku Danforth.

I’VE NOT DUMPED HIGHLIFE MUSIC- PAUL PLAY

Posted in Uncategorized on April 18, 2007 by ayenithegreat

When Paul ‘Play’ Babatunde Dairo clocked 35 on March 6, he had cause to celebrate. Over a decade after abandoning a career in engineering for an unlikely future in music, the singer-producer has done well for himself; making hits and making more money, signing autographs and signing cheques. And he would have popped more champagne, if he knew that eleven days away, he would be carting home four major awards, at the second edition of hiphopworld awards. Maybe he would even have invited us for a drink! But seriously, he may like to be called Paul ‘play’, but the gentle crooner doesn’t play with things important to him. Here’s the type of man that creates a playground where it’s all work and no play. That’s why only masterpieces come from his playground studios, where he produced his Hitsville album, cuts off Nomoreloss’ album, and a couple of other fans’ favourites. That’s the same place we laid ambush for him, days after his historic hiphop world win…It was a full house, but the singer was in a mood to talk to Ayeni Adekunle

Congratulations paul did you expect that you were going to scoop all the awards at hiphopworld awards 2007? That was really unexpected. It was really shocking. If you can recall, the other three awards, I had to run to the stage to pick them up. I was just like ok, now that I have the award for RnB, let me just get out of here because I wasn’t expecting to win anything after that. But as the whole thing went down, it was really shocking to me. That really goes a long way to show that my fans out there really appreciate what I’m doing. It’s a good thing and I’m very grateful for what I got.
Do you think that you deserve all the awards that you won?
Well some people may say that I don’t deserve them but I just think that I’ve really worked hard enough. Why I said that some people may think that I don’t deserve them is because when I was releasing that song, a lot of people felt that the album wasn’t going to be a success because it was just R’n’B and Nigerians believe that you only have to do something in pidgin or in your local dialect before you can break barriers or before you can make money in music industry. That album: Hitsville, has proven that idea to be wrong. Out there, I know the numerous calls and texts I receive everyday and I think that if a part of the awards has to do with vote from fans, I think… I’ve been receiving so many calls and texts from my fans that the award is something that is well deserved. So if my fans say yes, I don’t know…I can’t say for myself but all I know is that I’m working hard and I’m still going to work more. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing to make sure that my fans are happy and the industry keeps going forward.
You won awards for best Rnb album, artist of the year, album of the year and record of the year for ‘forever’. What do these awards individually and as a group mean to you and what impact do you expect them to have on your career?
If this were to be in America, I know my bank account would have soared up now and I’ll be smiling to the bank (laughs). But all the same, hiphopworld awards is very big. It was big last year and so was it this year. It’s the biggest music awards in town right now. A lot of people are coming to terms with the fact that we need awards of this calibre to promote and to improve the standard of music in Nigeria. So far, I’ve been receiving calls and I know that it’s going to get me some positive results and I’m going to get so many things because of those awards. A lot of good things are coming my way right now and I’m just grateful to God that an award like that was held for growth and for the exposure of stars in Nigeria and in the industry as a whole.
Did you have a prepared speech?
Funny enough, that day, all my speech was incoherent. If anybody really studied what I was saying… I was anxious because I wasn’t really expecting that. I  didn’t really rehearse my speech because I felt that once I just get on stage, I know the people that I worked with on this project and I think at first when I collected the first award, I had to say some things because I remembered what Jaiye (Aboderin) told me in South Africa. The RnB award was really vital because if I didn’t win that it means all those advice would have just gone down the drain. It would have really discouraged me. I had to talk about what Jaiye said and what Efe Omoregbe said about the need to revisit that aspect of my creativity which I did and I was grateful and had to thank them for it. As for other awards, I was just beating around the bush because I was too shocked to believe that it was going to come out that way.
Why didn’t you  dedicate any of the awards to your father…
I’ve won so many awards and I’ve dedicated so many to my father. I think this time around, I just need to appreciate the people who were behind me when I was doing this project, who supported me, who believed in what I was doing, those who said well, you’re going against the odds, if you do that kind of music in Nigeria, it wont sell… all through that, I just had to remember them because they are as important as any other award I won that day.
The last time we spoke, you talked about the industry not rewarding your father enough and not recognising his contribution so much. Do you think that posthumously, IK Dairo has received as much recognition for his contribution to the music industry in Nigeria?
I’ll say yes and I’ll say no. I’ll say yes because …people can identify with the kind of music I play and they know that before this RnB album it was an offspring of what IK Dairo used to do and that has sort of brought back his old fans who loved the music and they always wanted me to come around and perform for them. That has brought the name of IK Dairo back into their minds and they’ve gone back to celebrating him and celebrating his music but in terms of national honour, nothing has happened. If the Queen of England honoured somebody in faraway Africa that is about 3000 miles away and in his own country, no honour has been given to him, that’s really appalling. That’s what I was calling for. It’s not about his fans because his fans are there and they enjoy IK Dairo’s son’s music. Although you can say probably it’s not like Ik Dairo but a least you can have a feel of his music. But we are working on so many things. I gave it a try like four five years ago to see what we could do about the foundation but so many people were not interested. We are trying to push it again this year. We are working on a project right now and we are doing AFTER TEN YEARS FOR IK DAIRO. A lot of programmes have been marked out to celebrate him after ten years and maybe this time around, they will listen to us.
Why do you think children of legendary musicians find it hard to find their feet in music? Why is your case different?
I just believe that I’m favoured by God. I believe that God has really lifted me above all my troubles, my trials and all that. I think it’s the handwork of God. Even when I was going to sign my first contract, I grudgingly slotted in ‘Mosorire’ because I didn’t want to put it there. I felt it was like trying to step into IK Dairo’s shoes; trying to do the impossible because my father was a very creative musician, a multi instrumentalist, you have a dad that played four instruments and you can just play one; you need to go back to learn other instruments like the accordion, the talking drum and all that. It wasn’t easy for me but I just believe that I was just lucky. I’m not saying that these other guys have not tried, they must have tried their best. It’s just because maybe their time is not yet here. I know about some of them that have made it particularly Musiliu Haruna Ishola.
If your father were alive and you were to record a song together, what song would it be?
It would still be ‘Mosorire’ because the song celebrates success, it celebrates life, progress and that is a song that people who don’t even speak Yoruba go so far to know what the song is talking about and when they find out, they embrace it more. I think that’s the most powerful song that I’ve ever heard from my dad and that is the song I’m going to choose.
Why do you think that this generation is embracing hiphop and the urban culture more than highlife and juju or fuji? What do you think is responsible and do you think that it’s a trend that should be encouraged?
That’s a rather complicated question. I have not ditched highlife music because highlife music is what fed me and raised me, gave me education and brought me up till I was old enough to know my direction. That part of me that is about continuing with the legacy of I.K. Dairo will continue to exist because I can never do away with that. But you know, one has to follow his dreams because RnB is my dream. I started with RnB, I started producing with RnB and along the line, I knew I was supposed to do something. The Yoruba people have an adage which says ‘ omo ale lo man fi owo osi juwe ile baba e’. So you have to represent your home, the fact that your father is a musician, you have to represent what people love him for.
That was what I was doing for about six years but now, I’ve decided to step into my own shoes but the fact that I’ve done that will not in anyway hinder my interests in doing highlife music and playing IK Dairos’s music. Going to your question now, you know the embrace of urban music was always bound to happen. In our radio stations, we play a lot of foreign songs and urban music. All these things will affect the orientation of young people. How many times have you heard Sunny Ade on radio or heard Obey, or heard Wasiu?
Now, you’ve done highlife/juju songs, you’ve recorded a RnB album, will your  next album be a rap album?
No, I won’t mess with rap. I’ll rather call Alabai or other rappers I know… but if I get one of them to write a rap track for me, I could give it a try…
How about the women? What kind of woman do you think an artiste should marry?
A very very patient woman. No artiste can marry an impatient woman. The marriage will break up as fast as it was made.