Archive for May, 2007

NIGERIAN COMEDIANS BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF EUROPE

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on May 21, 2007 by ayenithegreat

Tee A

IT’S dinner time at No. 30 Bromley road, Catford.

The unbelievably vast property, situated in south-east London , is a luxurious apartment that’ll make some kings abandon their austere palaces. With a multitude of well-furnished rooms, an indoor swimming pool, dozens of other indoor games (including snooker and monopoly) , fish pond, lush garden, self-serve bar and dual exits, this is the type of structure reserved for holidaying royal kids, or, maybe, a corrupt African ruler, surrounded by an ego-massaging entourage.
 But tonight, the ad hoc cooks are preparing tables for the most unlikely guests ever, from the most unlikely place too.  The roll call for tonight’s dinner: Ali Baba, Tee A, Jeddi, Teju Babyface, Basorge Tariah Jr, AY – all star stand-up comedians from Nigeria,  a large and populous west African country, whose image has been incredibly battered, and whose post-colonial rulers have continually raped and abused. Joined by compatriots 2face Idibia, Paul IK Dairo and Weird MC,  all best-selling musicians, the party has travelled all the way from  Africa, flying at almost 40, 000 feet above sea level, to bring present-day Nigerian-type entertainment – a potpourri of music and comedy- to Londoners. Amongst other things, the Bromley residents discuss the pending arrival of another comic BasketMouth, the unpredictability of UK weather, the possibilities of buying the tempting property (and shipping her to Nigeria) and another Nigerian show holding in another part of town.
 Both shows are to hold on Sunday ay 6, 2007. Dinner is served.
 Meanwhile, a long distance away, another set of Nigerians – led by comedian Julius Agwu and Musician Sammie Okposo – are crossing Ts and dotting Is to ensure success for a gospel concert that’ll also feature saxophonist Mike Aremu.
 Aware of competition, both parties adopt aggressive publicity strategies, relying on bulk electronic mails, guest lists, TV adverts and word-of-mouth in a society where indiscriminate pasting of posters is not tolerated. Interestingly, at an average fee of £30 per ticket (N7,500) and hall capacity of approximate 5oo persons, both shows are completely sold out, with fans scrambling to get tickets, and some coughing out £50 (about N12, 500).
 So, Nigerian comedians are finally getting the international attention they deserve, right?

Wrong.

So why, since Basketmouth ‘exported’ his highly successful show ‘Laffs and Jamz to London in April 2006, are Nigerian comedians forming long queues, heading for the UK ? Since Basket’s London debut, fellow comedian-entrepreneurs Julius Agwu, I Go Dye and Tee A have taken the bold move too. Julius’ London edition of Crack Ya Ribs, was planned to coincide with 2006 Nottingham festival and those present say it was a huge success. Little wonder the stylish entertainer returned to the city this year. Tee A’s own debut lived up to every expectations, causing other colleagues to erect machinery for their own London gig. Comedy godfather Ali Baba who performed briefly at Tee A’s show, is among those rumoured to be planning a show for London . And while everyone is trooping to the UK , comparing hall prices from Stratford rex to N-Tyce, Porchester Hall and even the coronet, Basketmouth, arguably Nigeria ‘s funniest comedian is moving to other parts of Europe . On Monday May 14, 2007, sources spotted him (along with Gordons) at the French embassy in Nigeria . Though it is uncertain if he made a visa application, a close source told us he’s considering having a show in other parts of Europe . ‘we were in Amsterdam recently and he was amazed at the acceptance. He told me he won’t mind doing a show there’, said the source. Gordons, a less known comedian is also said to have a tour of Europe in the works. It may not be too long before up comers AY and Jedi join the fray. Even star actor Richard Mofe-damijo is already planning to take his annual music-comedy show ‘Live In Warri’ to London and other European cities.
 ‘Present-day comedians have replaced Fuji ad Juju stars on the international route, said an industry source. ‘The difference is just that they are filling halls instead of parlour parties’.
Although the competition is fierce at home and abroad, the comedians are playing to the same set of audience: Nigerians. And apart from tee A’s Live n Naked, which held in London’s west end, most of the shows hold in typical Nigerian venues, in Nigerian communities, without managing to attract the attention of non-Nigerian fans or media. ‘That’s why I’m not crazy about doing a show abroad. I want to do a show abroad where all my audience will be Non-Nigerians and I’ll be able to crack jokes in pure English and make them laugh. That’s what you’ll call an international performance, not performing to people who have seen me in Nigeria before’, said actor-comedian Teju Babyface in a recent interview. 
As the signature shows continue to spread further into the heart of Europe , pundits say it may not be long before the world takes note. ‘But at what costs?’ asks an industry watcher who has witnessed most of the shows. ‘they crack jokes about kidnapping white men in the Niger delta, they paint a gory picture of Lagos, portray Yorubas, Ibos and Hausas as the only tribe in Nigeria and worse still, they’re abandoning a vast market back home all in the name of coming to Europe at a time when everyone is desperately finding ways to do business in Nigeria’.
‘But it makes more sense to organise a show in a place like London ‘, argued a comedian who craved anonymity. ‘Let’s face it, if you’re popular within the Nigerian community, you’ll get a good crowd. And you don’t have to settle area boys, OPC or LASTMA. You don’t have to run diesel or fear NEPA will take light. Your cost is minimal. And you can charge as much as £20. That’s N5, 000. How many people will pay that to watch us in Nigeria ?’

AT 40, EDDY NEEDS A REMEDY

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21, 2007 by ayenithegreat

Edward Ashiedu- Brown a.k.a. Eddy Remedy will be 40 on November 5.    But it’s not likely the former Remedies lead singer and his wife Kenny St. Brown will be planning any elaborate celebrations. It’s been a tortuous road to neglect and obscurity for the talented songwriter-performer since parting ways with his partner Eedris Abdulkareem in 2000. When the duo of Eddy and Eedris were to go their separate ways, analysts were quick to write Eedris off, predicting that Eddy a truly talented and likeable singer would go on to achieve critical and commercial success.
Both had the promotion machinery of Kennis music.
Unfortunately, over half a decade later, Eddy, despite repeated attempts, is yet to score any major hit, while Eedris, prior to his recent downfall, boasts of at least three successful albums, with multiple awards to his credit (he was even voted, in 2002, to join Pat Utomi, Segun Odegbami and Dora Akunyili as Nigeria’s representatives to lift the Olympic torch).
Not even the big-budget ‘Arrival Of eddy Montana ’ had any major impact on fans. Song after song; album after album, it was all the same result: no one was interested in listening to Eddy. Yes, he still had the voice. He still had the energy. And he was still as hardworking as ever. But something was missing  – something no one could identify.
Even when he got ‘born again’ shortly after marrying his wife, and dumped Marijuana for a while. All remained the same. A hit continued to elude the man who in 1997 nudged all Remedies songs to acceptance with his melodic hooks, ad-libs and choruses. Remember Shakomo? Judile? Shade? Jealousy? He was even king enough, along with Eedris, to help Wale Thomson and Yinka Best with the formular. God. Did it work!
Now, the cheerful and down-to-earth performer has no post-Remedies hit to call his. And age doesn’t appear to be on his side. With the dismal rating of his recent song ‘Call me’, the situation looks more scary, and Eddy might need two things to get out of the blue: a remedy. And – a remedy!  Pundits are already predicting that he and his languishing-in-self-caused-obscurity partner Eedris Abdulkareem walk up to Tony Tetuila and arrange for another Remedies album.
 But that may not be the only solution. Eddy needs a remedy beyond another Remedies album. He needs to define his kind of music. He needs to stop singing love songs to young girls – they all know he’s a married man with a baby at home, and they don’t find him particularly sexy, anyway. He needs to drop marijuana again, and this time for good. He needs to shed the thug toga and recreate himself as a mature cool crooner whose music we can listen to, reason with, learn from and bounce to – if we choose. Really the drowning singer needs help. Unfortunately, judging from the situation of the Nigerian music scene, almost no one can help him for now: not the calibre of over-burdened artiste managers hovering around. Not the half-baked pretenders claiming to be oublicists. And certainly not the hundreds of mushroom labels springing forth everyday, with no clear A&R blueprint, yet boasting of affiliations with the label that made ‘Thriller’ sell 8 million copies.
Only one man can help Eddy Montana: Edward Ashiedu- Brown.

HOW I COPE WITH FEMALE FANS- PASUMA WONDER

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on May 19, 2007 by ayenithegreat

crown prince of fuji?If you take time to ask, apostles of the hip hop culture would happily tell you that the past few years have been particularly kind to the radical culture and its half a dozen elements. Ask, and they’ll be quick to tell you that rap patronage is at an all-time high, that gone are the days when labels told wannabes to sound like Daniel Wilson or Dayo Kujore. These days, almost no label wants to touch you if you can’t sing what they perceive hip hop. While these ‘heads’ may be right to a great extent, what they fail to realise, is that, Fuji, a distant cousin of rap, though fully home grown, is witnessing as much boom. Like rap, Fuji thrives on impeccable rhythm and poetry, with an unflinching street credibility, and a times, thuggish image. The genre is a predominantly Yoruba art form which emanated from early morning Islamic chants, popularly called were (sung to alert Moslems to early morning prayers, especially during fasting periods). Initially propagated by bonafide Lagos islanders including Sikiru Abiba, Ajadi Ganiyu, Ayinde Muniru Mayegun a.k.a. “General Captain,” Ajadi Bashiru, Sikiru Onishemo, Kawu Aminu, Jibowu Barrister (under whom Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister performed), Ayinde Fatayi, Jolly Lawal, Saka Olayigbade, Ayinla Yekinni and Bashiru Abinuwaye, the genre was officially christened Fuji, by Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, in the early ’70s after he visited the Mount Fuji in Japan.
Over three decades later, two young men, who were nowhere to be found when the seed of Fuji was being sown, met to discuss what has become one of the few potentially exportable music of Nigerian origin. One, a charming, athletic six-footer, is one of the fastest growing Fuji singers alive. The other, well, a nosy reporter who is yet to master the art of minding his own business.
The call came in from his manager about a few minutes before noon. ‘I’ve arranged the interview with Pasuma. He’ll be waiting for you by 2pm’. So, an hour and a half later, after breaking enough traffic rules to earn a life sentence; all along, committing the history of Fuji (and the history of Pasuma) to memory; wondering all along, whether the interview would be in Yoruba, or pidgin English(how many Fuji stars can pass a grammar test, anyway?) and remembering, disappointedly, that the 37 year-old husky-voiced performer may not even be at home, anyway, the driver pulls up in front of his Omole (Ikeja Lagos) residence. Wasiu Alabi Pasuma has called Omole home, since leaving his childhood neighbourhood mushin (a notorious Lagos ghetto known to have produced majority of the present-day Fuji stars). The rented flat houses him and a few of his personal staff, including one of his brothers. His green Lincoln navigator which replaced his Mercedes Benz coupe is parked just outside his flat – a sign that the singer is at home. Several knocks after, and an absolute zero response, it appears the flat is totally deserted. Celebrities. They never keep appointments, not even when it’s in their own house. Well, you can erase that. Because, this afternoon. Pasuma is at home. Only, obviously preparing for the night’s work, he’s taking a nap.
‘paso is sleeping, I’m sorry you can’t see him’, said the aide that eventually opened the door. And it’s always a thin line between life and death. For, the boss woke up just in time to confirm our appointment, and usher us right into his living room. There’s no light this Friday afternoon. The entire city of Lagos has been in perpetual darkness for several months now and this afternoon, paso and his folks have either run out of fuel, or are just not interested in generating domestic electricity in exchange for carbon monoxide and deafening noise. So the flat is hot and dark, leaving the air conditioner, large TV screen and home theatre in a coma of sorts…But their owner appears to be untouched by the apparent failure of the Nigerian state. Afterall, he’s making music and it’s paying dividends. ‘It’s a better year for my organisation. We’re moving to the next level, and I thank god for that’ he says, in a mixture of Yoruba and English. For someone whose spoken English was catastrophic only a few years ago, Pasuma has improved tremendously, and he is quite confident with his pronunciations too. ‘I enrolled to study English language in Lagos state university, at least to help me communicate more in this profession. I haven’t had time to follow it up though, but it is top on my priority, he explains. If he indeed succeeds with the English language, it’ll be one of the many ways he has successfully emulated K 1 Ultimate, the revolutionary Fuji performer who has, in two decades, gone from semi literate to a self-trained master of English grammar, flaunting a vocabulary that’ll leave many English scholars in awe. ‘I went into fuji cos of kwam 1. that’s why I always tell everyone he’s my mentor. He did talazo 84 and I loved the album… So I said to myself, if he can do it, I’ll toe the path… I see him as my mentor… my idol… and since I started in 1985, I’ve not had cause to regret’.
When K 1 (then Wasiu ayinde Barrister) made his first major hit in 1984, Wasiu Alabi was just a final year student of Nigeria model high school, Idi Oro, Mushin; getting ready to leave high school, with uncertainties hovering above his future like a rain-bearing cloud. For an average kid in such circumstances, the future was bleak. Life on the streets was inevitable. By default, many turned to street urchins, bus conductors, drug peddlers, or even armed robbers. And despite finding Fuji an escape, many still thought Pasuma was a singer by day and robber by night. Especially with incessant reports of robbery anytime he was on the bandstand. ‘I can never regret that experience. We had to go thru that. They have to say something about you if you’re moving up… We just had to be prayerful… my focus was to be somebody… I told my back up not to mind anyone…because of the said rumour, police came to my house to invite me and I explained myself… they did their investigation and left me to go back home’.
Then he quickly adds, sitting up and adjusting his faded jeans pants: ‘but that;s not why I left mushin. After you become successful, you have to leave the ghetto. Because of your fans, they have to be able to reach you in a highbrow area…its better to move out from there… not that you forget that place cos that’s your root….i still have an apartment in mushin … my mom is in papa ajao… I still have an office in mushin…i can never forget mushin. That’s my root’.
Unfortunately, he will not build his first house in the neighbourhood where he first found fame and fortune. ‘I’m almost through with building my house. I’m just trying to build a home for me and my family. To show people I appreciate what they’ve done for me since.. it’s a very tasteful property. Something you’ll see and say no wonder it took so long… I want people to see it and say its beautiful… it’s in river view estate, Ikeja…’
Fuji stars, especially K 1 ultimate, Abass Obesere, and Sikiru Ayinde Barrister own palatial houses around the country, and in different parts of the world. Pasuma wonder remains one of the few fuji stars yet to own their own homes. And now that he says he’l be moving into his own home with his family, we’re left with no choice but to ask, ‘what exactly’ he means by family? That’s because, despite having several children from different woman, the fuji star is yet to be married. Pictures of his children 9most of whom are based in the US adorn the wall of his living room, but the only woman on display is his mother, whom he talks fondly about. ‘Its very clear to everyone that I love my mom… she single-handedly brought me up.. she separated from my father when I was very young… not too long ago my mom and father and I reconciled… we started seeing each other again… they just invited me… I knew him before but we were not on talking terms… he apologised and we started life afresh. It’s okay, even though I didn’t miss him at all. My mom gave me all the support and happiness I needed, I didn’t even remember him. I was a happy kid… it was later she called me and told me what happened…I’m the only child between them both…but my pop has his own family now… And talking of family, I have children and I don’t hide them. I’m still single but I’m not searching. I am very proud of my kids. That’s why you see I always praise-sing them in my songs. As long as they continue to do well in school. As long as they continue to make me proud, I’ve promised to always give them the best. But about marriage, it’s not something you rush into. It’s not that I’ve given up on marriage, I can’t give up on marriage… it’s very important…But it’s not something you rush into… it’s a lifetime project… maybe when I finish building my house, I’ll do the house warming and marriage together…’
Who will you be getting married to?
That’s personal best known to me and my god for now…But God knows I want a God-fearing woman…a caring wife that can take care of the house, mingle well with friends and family and is well educated’.
Is it likely he’ll be marrying one of his female fans?
I’ve had fans who have ended up becoming my close, true friends…I’ve found very good ones. But I’ve had Radical fans too. I try to manage… some will call you on the phone and say all sorts… you just have to good with them.. by doing this you know how to put them where you want to keep them… you just try s much as possible to avoid trouble…One wrote her number on a paper and gave it to me… I thought it was her complimentary card. But when I opened it, she wrote ‘if you don’t call me, I’ll die o’… Of course I didn’t call her…I don’t know maybe she’s still alive now…you have to be careful’.
Reports say he has over half a dozen children, from different women, and that he is considering walking down the aisle with one of his baby-mothers. But he vehemently refuses to comment on this, maintaining he’d rather stay out of controversies, and let time tell. He wouldn’t even comment on the lyrical war between veteran fuji stars kollington ayinla and Ayinde Barrister over the true story of fuji creation. His message his clear: Pasuma may have a thug image, street credibility and an out-going persona, but controversies are his phobia…he wouldn’t touch such issues with the longest pole in the world. How then, does he manage to be friends with bith K 1 and obesere when both acts are constantly on each other’s case? ‘Because I do not backbite.. I wont see abass (obesere) and tell him what I discussed with K 1. And I won’t see K1 and tell him what Abass told me. Abass is my friend, K 1 is my brother.. Thank god they’ve settled now’.
The ‘warring’ artistes were reconciled during the last Islamic pilgrimage in Mecca though pundits say it’s only a matter of time before Obesere begins to call K 1 unprintable names again). Meanwhile, Pasuma and Sule Alao Malaika, have finally settled their feud too, after mutual friends waded into the matter. ‘ I don’t want to fight anyone, . I am a peace Mker. I don’t like fighting… our work requires peace and patience…’ he says. And, looking round the picture gallery on his glittering wall, seeing him in warm embrace with older musicians from KSA to ayinde Barrister, K 1 ultimate, and Kollington Ayinla, it’s easy to see that this ‘thug’, with an indelible scar on his neck, and a voice most ‘area boys’ would give anything to have, is just a cheerful soull that wishes no one evil. Well, except something tells us we shouldn’t digest his words hook, line and sinker

2face Idibia To Be Named UN Ambassador

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on May 19, 2007 by ayenithegreat

2baba2face Idibia To Be Named UN Ambassador

He has beaten the sophomore jinx to a pulp. He has shamed critics and pleased loyal fans. He has made more money than any man from his clan. Now Innocent 2face Idibia Nigeria’s bestselling singer and Africa’s most iconic pop star is on his way to becoming a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations’ new world food programme. The tremendously popular singer who’s recording a new album with his ex group Plantashun Boiz will be expected, under the new arrangement, to participate in UN sponsored charity events across the world, especially Africa, as well as support initiatives related to his portfolio. To start with, he will be participating in a rescheduled charity walk initially billed to hold in Kampala, Uganda today. The event “walk the world” was created in 2004 as a fund raising and advocacy event with the purpose or raising funds and awareness to help end child hunger. This year’s walk the world campaign is being backed by the UN world food programme. Speaking on the singer’s participation, his manager Joice Ize-Iyamu explained ‘we’re very excited about the charity walk, and 2face is particularly interested in giving back to a society that has been so kind to him’, but refused to confirm her artiste’s pending ambassadorship. “I really can’t say anything about that yet, yes, there have been discussions, but we are yet to get a letter. We’ll definitely call a press conference if anything of such happens. 2face Idibia joins other Nigerian icons: Wole Soyinka, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, John Fashanu and others who are working with the UN to fight different causes across the African continent. A total philanthropic venture, the relationship sees the individuals donating their time, money and other resources, as well as using their goodwill to help implement initiatives to fight different scourges across the world, especially Africa. These include hunger, poverty, war, malaria, corruption and child abuse. Angelina Jolie, an American actress donates one third of her annual income to charity and has adopted three children (Maddox, Zahara and Pax) since becoming a UN ambassador in 2001. Same for TV host Oprah Winfrey who has become a cherished idol for young women across South Africa- where she has built several schools including the Oprah Winfrey Academy for Girls, in Johannesburg), orphanages, and has donated millions to charities. And Nigerian actresses Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Ramsey Nuoah (both UN ambassadors) and Genevieve Nnaji command tremendous respect and follower ship across poverty and war-ridden African states (especially Liberia) where they continue to be involved in diverse charity work, though most of these are rarely reported in the Nigerian media. If Idibia eventually joins this league, he will become the first Nigerian singer to be so decorated. And it will be another first for him. The 31 year old father-of-two has recorded almost a dozen feats since his solo debut on May 15, 2004: the video for African Queen was the first to be aired on MTV base when the urbane music channel debuted in Africa, and months later, he was named as the first ever “best African act at the MTV Europe music awards. He was also nominated for “best African act”, along with Femi Kuti, when the category was introduced at the MOBO (Music of Black Origin Awards).

MAINTAIN’S OLU DEBUTS!

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on May 18, 2007 by ayenithegreat

olu likes his girlsOne-half and most visible of rested pop group Maintain, Olumide Adegbulu a.k.a. Olu Maintain has released his debut solo album on May 14, 2007. The Lagos-based artiste who parted ways with his cousin Tolu Ogunniyi in 2005 shortly after a UK show is finally embarking on a solo recording career after it became clear that Maintain may not make it back together. Though there had been speculations that the duo, along with their protégé Big Bamo (‘Boye Bameke) were negotiating a come-back, sources close to the acts maintain there has been nothing of such. ‘Fine, Tolu was calling Bamo at a time, but I don’t think he and Olu are thinking of coming back together. Tolu is not even based in Lagos and Olu has already started recording his own album’, said a source privy to inside information. Olu’s album titled ‘Yahoozy’ will be released on the singer’s own label ‘reloaded records’ and marketed by Afrobest Productions. Cuts like ‘Fatima, Yahoozeey and Fantasy are already finding their way to DJS’ playlists, and may be the first hits to leap off the album.
Meanwhile Olu is not the only one preparing to release his own body of work. Big Bamo has also released a video for his first single ‘popoti’, in preparation for an album that is scheduled to feature his kid.
Maintain found their way to the limelight after meeting Big Bamo who financed their recordings and shot innovative videos for their early songs: Domittila (a remake of LL Cool J’s ‘doing it wild’) and Blah. Almost overnight, they were winning awards, getting rave reviews and gathering a community of fans despite critics’ constant hostility due to their excessive sampling and interpolations – they even got ‘dissed’ by rapper Ruggedman on his historic Ehen Pt. 1