Archive for August, 2007

NIGERIANS ROCK AT 2007 NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on August 28, 2007 by ayenithegreat

awon omo naija yi sha!

2 million people attended this year’s carnival

Police order or not, Nigerians still trooped out in thousands to display thier love for the motherland; at the 2007 notting hill carnival…

though the ambridge ardens, usual venue for the nogerin corner was cordorned of by the metropolitan police, Nigerians, young and old, still came out to soak the fun… displaying the green-white-green and hooking up with lost friends…

 olopa abeg sir

And it didn;t matter that there was no Nigerian music on the P.A…. walking rund the Obalende suya and AIT stand was enough, and many took time to wine and dine, as well as enjoy the music blasting from jamaicans and the fun-loving people of Trinidad and Tobago…

omo naija tokan tokan

naija with arttitude

Guests this year were all holed up around Oxford Gardens, just a street before Cambridge. there hve been allegations and counter alegations as to why the Nigerian corner was closed. while some explain that it was purely due to security reasons, as the area was designated as a security zone for this year, Tokunbo Odebunmi, CEO of Obalende suya told me this year’s event was a victim of last year’s success. he recalled that the Nigerian crowd was the largest static crowd, and there was serious difficulty managing the crowd. he also alleged that some group of people wrote a pettition to the Police, alleging that some 3,000 illegal immmigrants were converging on the Nigerian corner.

See?  your homeboy was there too…. walked so much that my feet were weary. So many others defied the negative reports to attend the carnival this year. Keke ogungbe was in town with his partners Dayo Adeneye and ID Ogungbe. Acclaimed cinematographer DJ Tee was behind the cameras for Storm Visin and Hip TV. Julius Agwu, Ruggedman and Jumoke Alao also make the list. And if you saw T-Shirts screaming ‘str8 from Lagos’, that was the team from the Lagos state government led by Tokunbo Afikuyomi…

 obalende-representin.jpg

It was fun. So much fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i like my green

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MY FIRST SHOW WAS A FLOP – HOWIE T

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on August 27, 2007 by ayenithegreat

with muma geeamma-2-208.jpg 

On Wednesday April 18, 2007, a few days after returning from London,  Howie T – DJ, promoter, and talent manager was on his way to Gabon. Looking tired but not worn out, he exchanged banters with his associates as they waited at the Murtala Mohammed international airport for the flight that’ll convey them to their destination. Howie, as he’s fondly called is travelling with rave pop twins Psquare for an exclusive concert in Gabon, a small west-central African country with a population of 1.4 million. ‘It’s a very big event, and I won’t be surprised if the whole country shows up’, he tells someone in a funny-serious manner. Psquare, now bestselling acts with an incredible fan base may be touring the world and recruiting fans by the day, but it’ll be difficult to forget that Howie T gave them their first break. Not just because he managed the talent hunt where they emerged winners in 2001, but, as they rightly documented in their song Timbuku records, led by howie, came to their rescue, releasing their debut album ‘last nite’ after they had searched endlessly for a label. As the party boarded the aircraft, Peter and Paul, obviously the center of attraction must have been thinking and saying in their minds: thank you God. Thank you Howie T.  But Howie, the bulky showbiz impresario had something entirely different on his own mind. A few hours away and he’ll be 40. he must have been busy thinking. ’40 years gone down the drain. Have I used my time wisely, or have a squandered it all like a prodigal son? Fortunately, everyone who knows the ‘hardworking man in the background’ knows he’s achieved far more than he would ever realise. From his days as full time disc jockey, rocking fun-lovers at Enter the dragon(western house, Lagos), sunrise nite club( Victoria island, Lagos), club Towers (Victoria island, Lagos) to when he became general  manager at Ibinabo Fiberesima’s Pyramid nite club, he was convinced entertainment was is calling. And he gave it his best, moving from being an artiste, to being a manager, first, of people and clubs, then later, of events, and now, of an outfit that’s Nigeria’s fastest growing events solutions company. Looking back at all he’s been involved with, it’s easy to know that if he was a boxer be an heavy, he’d most probably be an heavyweight champion by now. But then, who would believe his first show was a flop?

Brimming with nostalgia, and happy that fate has dealt him a good luck, he tells us without any regrets: ‘my first show was a flop. It was in 1985 when I was just 18. I had only 7 people in attendance. DJ Jimmy Jatt was the DJ. But I kept going on because of the love of entertainment. I’m happy it paid of eventually’. Of course it’s paid off. With a brand new range Rover to call his won, occasionally having breakfast in Lagos, lunch in the air, and dinner in London, it’s easy to see that Howie’s venture has paid off. Now, he sits atop KISS events, his two year old baby which he co-founded with partner Dipo Abdul.

Because it’s his 4oth, and, unbelievably, his fourth wedding anniversary (he got married on April 26, 2003) it’s difficult to conceal his excitement. And, especially, he’s willing to go down memory lane, tracing the early days of his foray into showbiz, and chronicling the careers he’s helped shape. ‘In 1988 had the first ever talent hunt show called Rap Attack and on my Panel was Lanre Ijaola,Edi Lawani,and some guys from Classique Magazine. Then in 1991 I was the DJ for the Children of Africa Concert in Lagos… In 1992 myself, Jimmy Jatt and GMG went to Togo for Africa DJ Championships. Then 1993 i was the first Promoter to take a Hip Hop Group to Togo on Tour and it was a huge success. The group was called Solid Grove. The members were Ernest Asuzu and two other guys called Tokunbo,and Micheal. . Then over the years I’ve discovered dozens of acts, from sound sultan to Psquare, Faze, Black solo, Elizabeth Deega and several others. My Story has always been around up & Coming and i think that’s my calling. What we’re doing with Rhythm council will even be bigger. It’s a great source of fulfilment for me…’

 

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Interestingly, he belongs to the class of folks who have found favour with their careers as well as their private lives. Getting married very late (at 37), he must have been quite sceptical about marriage. But so far, despite not having children yet, it’s been ‘a smooth ride’. ‘it’s good to marry a prayerful and supportive wife’, he says, confessing that he constantly banks on the support and understanding of his wife, (who’s with Chevron) especially when he has to make long trips or sacrifice family time or resources for projects that may not necessarily bring immediate returns. He seems to be saying: ‘I’ve had it good. I’m doing what I love to do. I’m getting paid for it. I’m working and partying together. I don’t have to knot ties and sit in offices from nine to five. And then, I have a wife who knows she married to an itinerant husband, and she’s not complaining’. What more does a man pray for?

 

 

So when the Gabon trip is over, Howie (oh, sorry, he was born Adebayo Olayiwola Odusami) will be doing a few things; he’;; be unveiling the new equipments for KISS studios. He’ll be preparing for the finals of rhythm Council talent hunt. But most importantly,  He’ll be hosting friends, family and all to a double dose of celebrations: a lavish 40th birthday gig. And a wedding anniversary. For one who has spent the better part of 40 years putting events together; from parlour parties to club raves and mega concerts, who’ll be surprised if he invites us all to the moon for a once-in-a-lifetime gig?
 He’s already confided in us ‘I might do something. But not very elaborate. I just want to return home first and then make proper plans’.

We’re waiting.

LAGBAJA RELOCATES FAMILY

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on August 22, 2007 by ayenithegreat

lagbaja in yankee

Veiled musician Lagbaja may be a firm believer in African culture, and a vocal exponent of the ‘Nigerian dream’, but it did not stop him from moving his wife and two kids to the United States of America, where life is believed to be more secured and promising.  Though the pseudo-highlife musician is himself still resident in Lagos, Nigeria, a source very close to him told us his wife has left her job as head of human resources First bank Nigeria PLC to be with their kids, aged 15 and five in the US.  It’s obvious why Lagbaja himself (real names Bisade Ologunde) will not think of relocating in the near future: The biochemist-turned musician is heavily in demand on concert stages across the world, and he’s busy combing several world cities, propagating the gospel of his newly created genre Africano, causing fans to marvel a his mask, and usually acrobatic choreography.

D’BANJ BUYS $2000 BRACELET

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on August 22, 2007 by ayenithegreat

a fortune on my wrist…like fela, like dbanj?the best bracelet money can buy?  

By the time you read this, he would have settled down in the United States, where he’s scheduled to honour performance engagements and resume the tour he broke in order to perform at the ThisDay Festival.  Dapo Oyebanjo, 27, has never had it this good. In fact, he could never have imagined life would take this fabulous direction. But having found fame and fortune following his dreams, he’s not  one to scaringly take the austere, boring route. First, he got himself a BMW 530i, after a widely reported deal with Power Fist. Now, the showbiz industry is agog with news of his purchase of a Jacob&Co glamour wrist band during his previous visit to the US.  ‘he just walked into the shop in NY’, said a close source.  ‘He had always liked Jacobs’ jewelries. So he went in an tried to get something cool.

my bmw est fantastique… 

But the price was outrageous so he couldn’t pick too many things. But he saw this writs band, a bracelet that he liked and he went for it’ The bracelet, which he wore on stage at the This Day music festival reportedly cost $2000 (about N250, 000).  But those close to him are not at all surprised. The charming pop star is known to be fond of exquisite jewelry and expensive fabrics; they make him weak in the knees. It is however, the first time since his three year-old break that he’s identifying publicly with any major brand. Not that Jacobs&Co needs the endorsement – the outfit has on its regular list of clientele, heavyweight names like Beyonce, Nas, J.Lo, Diddy, Rihanna and Jay Z.

Asa Lands International Record Deal

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

SOOTHING FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN

Bukola Elemide, the wonder soul kid many call Asa is in the news again. Barely a year after her famed battle with Questionmark records; and despite the label’s threat that she’ll neither get another record deal, nor be able to use the brand name Asa and its known repertoire, the talented act has bagged an impressive deal with France-based Naive records.
Asa had walked out of her production deal with Questionmark in 2006, alleging, amongst many other things, that the label was trying to sign her on to a foreign label without her consent, and insisting that the circumstances surrounding her deal with Questionmark were suspect ab initio. In what became a media battle, Questionmark, led by Kevin Luciano-Gabriel, maintained the singer was an ingrate, and threatened to get a court order restraining her from performing any of her known songs (eye adaba, iba) or using the name Asa. Despite high-power interference (including a reconciliatory meeting brokered by Wole Soyinka), both parties could not reach a truce. And Asa took a walk.
Now, the young lady, who continues to find favour with music buffs and fans, is back after a long hiatus. And this time, she’s no longer weeping over any brouhaha with Questionmark. She doesn’t even want to talk about the troubled label, which is at present, immersed in an ugly controversy with Streetmonks. Asa has only one thing on her mind: her deal with Naive and her upcoming debut album. ‘I’m happy now. At least I can sleep with both eyes closed. I’m happy with my label because they respect me as an artiste. And, as an African who has a story to tell, I’m glad they have allowed me to take control of my music. I can do what I like. That’s why I have Yoruba songs on my album, even though it’ll be released in France’, she says enthusiastically last week.
Her debut album, to be self-titled, puts a final clip on protracted speculations on the future of her career, and widespread concerns that she may no find a foreign deal without previously-released materials in her home country. Interestingly, with the naive deal, Asa becomes one of the first few non-released Nigerian performers with an international recording contract.
Already, the first two singles from the album ‘Binbanke’ and ‘Fire on the mountain’ have been released to critical acclaim. Despite only having being released two weeks ago, ‘Binbanke’ has taken permanent residence on most radio stations’ playlists- and the fans- who have been starved long enough- are already taking note. Both songs, with great production input from Cobhams Asuquo, are characteristic of Asa – poetic, melodic and intensely spiritual. With unusual soulful, enthralling vocals, groovy rhythms (plus an unexpected reggae twist on ‘fire on the mountain’!) and near-excellent productions, the songs will join earlier recorded songs ‘Jailer’, ‘Iba’ and ‘Eye Adaba’ to endear the album to lovers of beautiful music.
‘We took out time to record this album. Thanks to Air France, we were able to fly (Cobhams, myself and my manager Janet) to France over five times. And during this period, I knew I had to withdraw from circulation because I had to have something to show to all those who believe in me’.
Thankfully, she has hit back on speculations she’ll be relocating to France following her debut. ‘This is my country. I don’t want to be big abroad and uncelebrated at home. Yes, we’ll be spending a lot of time in Europe. But we’ll also be spending a lot of time here too. That’s why the album will even be released in Nigeria before it’s released in Europe. There’s no way I’m going to abandon my motherland’, she said
Asa was born in France in 1982 to Nigerian parents who later returned t Nigeria where she grew up in Jos and La

RESONANCE BREAKS UP

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

They’ve been the subject of national adulation. They’ve won awards in Lagos while lounging in Enugu. They’ve got a future as bright as a trip to the sun. Unfortunately, the duo of Esther ‘E-Star’ Abigbo and Uche ‘Gucheano’ Ozoigbo, of Resonance fame, have decided to squander it all- by toeing the worn path of break up.
Abigbo and Gucheano, who are rumoured to be cousins, will no longer be recording or performing together, according to Gucheano who confirmed this in Lagos two weeks back. Though he refused to give reasons for the separation, a source close to him alleged he is ‘bitter’ for ‘doing all the work while Esther gets all the credit’.
Details of their partnership remains unknown, but while Resonance lasted, many fans were unaware the band was a duo or group. Many automatically believed Resonance was Esther Abigbo.
Gucheano has already confirmed plans to kick start a solo career. And shortly after he confirmed the break up, he was spotted meeting a talent and event managers in Lagos. It remains uncertain if he has made any deal yet.
The name Resonance became popular when TV music shows bombarded viewers with the video for ‘chinwe ike’ off the duo’s album of same title.
The seven-tracked album was released by Resonance records and marketed by Ahbu Ventures.

DON’T CALL US GOSPEL ARTISTES – BOUQUI, DEKUNLE FUJI, SEGUN OBE

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on August 10, 2007 by ayenithegreat

thug 4 GodCOOL LIKE THAT

His new album No Problem (No Lele) may be filled with gospel songs and messages and he may be busy wining and dining with gospel artistes, but Michael Adekunle Oloyede better known as Dekunle Fuji is tired of being seen as a gospel artiste. The University of Lagos theatre Arts graduate who employs Fuji music; its street parlance, attitude and lore in his otherwise bible-inspired music has been circulating gospel circles for over a decade, surviving initial criticisms to become an established act with his own niche and growing followership. With a clientele that revolves round the church-going public, and mentorship from Taiwo Odukoya and his late wife Bimbo, it came as a shock when the bearded actor-singer told me ‘I’m tired of being seen as a gospel artiste’.
‘Can I quote you?’ asked the reporter.
‘Yes of course’, he said. ‘After all, there are Christians who are bankers, why don’t we call them gospel bankers?’
It is interesting that since the past few months, there have been attempts by some of Nigeria’s finest gospel artistes to redirect their public images. Rather than being seen as ‘gospel’, they’d rather be perceived as Christians playing a particular type of music. Dekunle Fuji is not alone in this group. Rapper Bouqui who worships with Daystar Christian Church continues to insist she’s a Christian who happens to be a rapper. Same for Segun Obe who sources say is completely overhauling his image, seeking to appeal to a wider audience instead of conventional church-goers alone.
The idea, say pundits, is ‘to make sure the message reaches the real targets – those outside the church who need to be saved’.
‘If everybody keeps seeing us as gospel and we are restricted to the church, where most people are believed to have heard about Jesus, how are we the supposed to win more souls? We should be the ones playing the biggest concerts, jamming with so-called secular artistes and competing with them for fans’ said a top gospel artiste who begged for anonymity. He admits he’s already working on a formula that’ll stop fans from seeing him as ‘gospel’.
If the formula works, many more ‘gospel’ acts may join the rush to dump the toga. For, most awards have very few categories for ‘gospel’ music, despite the genre having a huge market across the country. Then most radio stations only deem it fit to play overtly gospel songs on Sundays, the general worship day for Christians – a trend which is still better than the situation in the US where most gospel acts don’t even get any radio airplay. Best-selling rapper Kanye West has admitted he did the song ‘Jesus Walks’ because he discovered most songs with ‘Jesus’ on them never get played on American radio. He broke the jinx, joining performers like Kirk Franklin (who continues to blur the lines between secular and gospel) and Mary Mary in defying an unwritten tradition.
In Nigeria, all these may change even faster if, for example the next Sammie Okposo song wears a pop garb and can easily fit in the same category with, say, a new cut from D’Banj during a mainstream music awards. Or Psquare hitting the studios with Kenny St. Brown for a new song MTV base will find difficult to resist.
But the likes of Jeremiah Gyang and Infinity have already crossed that hurdle. Gyang (otherwise known as Callen), a tremendously gifted singer-producer has everyone-Christians, Muslims and non-believers- singing along to his hit ‘Na ba ka’, most times forgetting to remember the song and its singer are actually on a mission to ‘win souls for Christ’. Same for Infinity, who literally enslaved the entire nation in 2006 with their ground-breaking song and video ‘Olori Oko’.