Archive for March, 2008
Around 8PM on Tuesday March 18, Peter Okoye, one-half of Psquare called me. I wasn’t surprised he was calling, and I had an idea what the subject would be. But I pretended not to know.
‘Ayeni I want you to tell me the truth. What is your opinion of what happened last Saturday?’
Because I don’t like mincing words, I told him straightaway: ‘I’m disappointed in you guys. I think you are bad losers’.
Before I go on, let me give you a background. ‘Last Saturday’ was hip hop world awards. ‘What happened’ was that Psquare did not win ANY award, despite having five major nominations. The pop stars were nominated for song of the year, best R&B/Pop album, Artiste of the year, best music video and album of the year. They lost to Olu Maintain, 2face Idibia, D’Banj, DJ T and Asa respectively. But since then, the twins and their brother-manager Jude have been crying foul. In an interview with a Lagos-based journalist, Jude made the following comments: ‘That award should have been called Yoruba hip hop awards’. According to him the organisers simply gave awards to people of South-west origin, and I other cases, their friends or associates. Jude alleged that the video for Stylee, which won the Director’s award, was ‘trash’ compared to the video for Do Me, which he directed. So Peter calls me up and asks for my opinion. My candid Opinion, dear Peter, is that Psquare are bad losers. That Psquare (and their brother Jude) need to enrol in Lagos business school for a course in public speaking. My opinion is that Psqaure are tribalists. And that the boys are just a bunch of spoilt, overrated, over pampered superstars.
My opinion is that, as we all saw on March 15, Hip hop world awards 2008 was far from perfect. The organisers had their issues (like not starting on time, like nominating OJB for a song Omololu produced, like omitting Ruggedman’s name from the initial list of nominees for Best Rap album. Like not getting us our IVs on time!). But having served on the jury now for three consecutive years, there is one thing I know: the awards only go to artistes the judges deem deserving. In 2006, Ayo Animashaun, the executive producer did not even see the final list of winners before the show. This year, there was amplified voting, the log sheet are still intact. And in my opinion, any of the nominees could have won. For example, for Next rated category, GT the Guitarman could as well have won instead of Wande Coal. I think he deserves it too. But Wande Won and GT is not crying over the roof. Faze, an extremely talented singer came empty-handed and left empty-handed. The young man deserved to have won. Same for TY Bello, Lara George and others who were not so lucky this year. How come it is only Psquare (who in my honest opinion are a bit over estimated) that’s crying foul, playing the ethnic card, and behaving like nursery school kids deprived of ice cream and pop corn? To say the truth, for the video category, if DJ T had not won, I still believe Asa’s Fire on the mountain or TY Bello’s Greenland would have been a better choice, instead of Psquare’s Do me. Okay, so it was shot on 35mm. Tell me, what’s the concept behind the video, how does it interpret the song’s theme, what’s unusually creative about it? Jude okoye (and whoever he employs to do his videos for him) have a way with pictures. He has a way with clean, unblemished images. But that’s not all there is to a good video. There’s more.
But that’s not even the point here. Ladies and gentlemen, the point is: how come hip hop world awards was not Igbo hip hop awards when Psquare won five awards in 2006? How come the Yoruba acts didn’t suddenly start crying foul? For a couple of desperate wannabes, who, earlier this decade were unsure of where their careers were going, I think Psquare have suddenly started taking themselves too seriously. And it hurts to think they’ll be playing the ethnic card at this stage. A Yoruba man (Howie T) discovered them and gave them their break. They won the B&H competition in 2000, living and schooling in the north, and when they moved over to Lagos, didn’t the Yoruba accept them with open arms? Now, here’s a word of advice for Psquare: please hire a publicist so he/she can coat your words and help you make sense. Because, really, Like Kanye West, you guys have the right to complain if you feel cheated. But why leave the issues and throw up non-issues? What would you guys be saying next year if you win, say, five awards again? That you eat your words? Or that the organisers have ‘repented’?
But then, maybe we should not even be taking Jude Okoye’s careless talk so seriously. Peter told me on phone, during our hour-long discussion that their brother was just speaking his personal opinion, and not necessarily speaking for the crew. But again, maybe we should. Afterall, we were together in London for the MOBOS in 2006. Psquare and Tony Tetuila were the nominees from Nigeria. They lost the award to Ghana’s Batman Samini. While Tony maintained his cool, Psquare went hay-wire, telling all that cared to listen, that Sheilla Okonji (AUMG boss, whose company sponsored the Best African act category) ‘gave’ the award to a Ghanaian. They said they were cheated, and were almost not on speaking terms with Sheilla for the rest of the trip. I spoke with Okonji the night after the MOBOs and she was willing to show me the log. The truth? Batman simply had more votes! It’s bad enough to be bad losers. It’s bad enough to be so arrogant and so ‘high-up-there’. It’s bad enough to forget so easily that only a few years ago, you were some bunch of hopeless, helpless wanna bes, scorned by critics for lack of originality and illegal sampling. What Psquare and their manager should not do is throw their arrogance and amnesia in our faces. Show me an artiste that talks from both sides of the mouth, and I’ll show you an artiste who’s heading for disaster. Ask Eedris Abdulkareem. Anyway, the lesson to be learnt in all of this is that, no award is any artiste’s birthright. I have been particularly mad that Akon did not get even one Grammy this year. Even in life generally, you win some and you lose some. You.Can.Not.Always.Win. Then whatever you do in life, it pays to be humble. Even if you’re not, you can at least pretend to be. (There’s a joke presently circulating about Psquare. Mind you, it is not fabricated. It happened at an airport. Some little kids walk up to them to say they love their music. Guess what their response was; ‘we know. People tell us all the time’) I’ve seen DJ Jimmy Jatt, 2face Idibia, Keke Ogungbe and D’Banj display an excess dose of humility. If Psquare can’t learn from these four gentlemen, maybe they should place a call to DJ Humility. Having said that, I now have a few words for the organisers. I think the screening process should and must be made more transparent; the identity of the judges made public. I think the organisers should treat the talents they’re honouring with more respect. I think potential award subjects (like Sasha and DJ T) should not be involved in the awards. I think the accreditation process should be made less burdensome, and IVs should go out earlier. And I think the quality of production and content could be far far better. I don’t know about you, but me I haven’t seen any edition like the first one, in 2006. Okay, and then one more thing they MUST as a matter of fact do next year: Give Psquare an award. I’m tired of seeing spoilt superstars sulking and crying like little babies.
They came in for the show with thier entire crew…
They hopped on the Yellow carpet, fielding questions from reporters, and carefully rehearsing, for the umpteenth time, the mode thier acceptance speech (es) would take.
But alas, the duo of Peter and Paul did not go home with any of the 22 carat gong on offer at the 2008 Hip Hop World awards. Yes. They came in empty handed, full of hopes and thinking of how they’ll leave the venue of the awards without losing the exquisite and exorbitant plaque to bandits. but they went home empty-handed, without anyone noticing when they sneaked away.
Pundits had predicted that it’ll be a tough contest between current hitmakers at this year’s edition of Nigeria’s most respeted music awards. But no one anticipated that Psquare will be a major casualty.
Until they started losing in all the categories they were nominated for…
SONG OF THE YEAR went to Olu Maintain, for ‘Yahoozeey’
BEST RnB/POP ALBUM went to 2face Idibia, for his Grass 2 Grace album
BEST MUSIC VIDEO went to DJ T, for STYLEE
ALBUM OF THE YEAR went to Asa, for her eponymous critically-acclaimed debut
ARTISTE OF THE YEAR went to D’BANJ.
It won’t be surprising if the Anambra-born twins and thier crew are yet to get over the shock!
Interestingly, it was an over-excited Psquare that went home with over five awards, at the debut edition of the awards in 2006. Last year, they went home with the best video gong, amidst other trophies.
Now, it appears the jury at HipHopWorld awards are trying to tell the popstars something. ‘I think it’s time we begin to encourage only those who are truly talented, those who play original music’, said a source close to the organisers. But a spokesperson for HHWA insists that is not the case. ‘the competition is just fierce this year. Psquare have been very hardworking, and they deserve every award they can win. But you’ll agree with me that this past year has been particularly tight, what with Asa’s debut, 2face Idibia and other cats like Jimmy JAtt and TY Bello standing up to be counted’
Other winners at this year’s HHWA include Wande Coal (Next Rated), who went home with a brand new Hyundai Sonata sedan; 9ice (HipHipWorld Revelation, Best Vocal Performance Male), M.I. (Best rap single), Mode 9 (Lyricist on the roll), Ruggedman (Best rap album), Asa, (best vocal performance, female), Batman Samini (Best African act), Cobhams Asuquo (producer of the year), Timaya (Best reggae/dancehall), DJ Jimmy Jatt/2face/Mode9/Elajoe (Best Collabo).
HHWA 2008 held at Planet One, Maryland, Ikeja on Saturday March 15, 2008. Anchored by the duo of Basketmouth and Dakore Egbuson, the event featured an elaborate yellow carpet segment, which was broadcast live on AIT and STV.
Olisa Adibua and Obi Asika were inducted into the HHW hall of fame.
This year’s event was sponsored by MTN, with support from Virgin Nigeria, Digiprints, Hip TV and several media partners.
On Monday march 10, while everyone joined the building traffic; headed for work, a group of entertainers and allied professionals, unknown to many, downed tools for a while.
Pained by incessant robbery attacks on their friends and colleagues and even fans, the group of concerned entertainers converged somewhere in Ikeja, determined to carry out a rally that’ll show residents of Lagos how embittered they are; how unsafe they now feel in Lagos; and how much they want the relevant authorities to do something.
Time was 10am.
D’Banj, Kunle Afolayan, Dekunle Fuji, Princess, Tee A, Ayo Animashaun, Bisoye Fagade, Yinka Oyedeji, Jedi, DJ T, Wale Oluwaleimu and Efe Omorogbe, all carrying placards, hopped into a coaster bus and set out. Along the way, they were joined by Wunmi Obe, Ego, Joice Ize –Iyamu, Teju Babyface, Buga and other notable entertainers.
Marching towards Galaxy TV, the Governors’ office, the state house of assembly, Channels TV and the office of the commissioner of Police, the aggrieved entertainers made their voices heard. For once, this was no time to joke.
This was no time for music. And they definitely weren’t acting. ‘Robbers have taken over the centre of excellence’, read the inscription on D’Banj’s placard. He told Glitz beats during the rally ‘we’ve become hostages in our own town. Why are robbers after us, we that are making them happy and creating employment?’ he queried. ‘We want the government to so something. We are not safe. And we have nowhere else to go to’ Comedienne Princess, getting very close to tears, lamented ‘it’s getting very unbearable. Broad daylight, that’s when they operate now. And they keep going scot-free. The government needs to do something about this. The police needs to be better equipped; we need street lights in Lagos. And we want people to be very careful when they move around. Bandits are on the loose’.
Other participants expressed similar concerns, narrating personal ordeals in he hands of robbers, and crying out for help. Most of the entertainers made references to the death, on March 2, of Yinka James, wife of Digiprints Chief Marketing Officer Kingsley James. In what appeared very interesting, some of them also made a passionate plea to the robbers. ‘Please do not hurt us. Do not take lives. Take whatever you want to take and leave us alone please’
The speaker of the Lagos state house of Assembly Rt. Honourable Adeyemi Ikuforiji who met with the demonstrators at the assembly complex, shared their agony and assured that the state government was ‘doing everything possible’ to combat crime in the state. ‘It’s top priority on the governor’s agenda. He has told me several times, even in our private moments’, he said. The governor was said to be away in Abuja when the crew stopped over at his office. But the Commissioner of Police, Lagos state, M.D. Abubakar, met with the entertainers in the commission’s board room, exchanging ideas with them, and attempting to throw more light on the inhibitions of the police.
My very good friend, Olumide Iyanda, the editor of Saturday Independent is not on facebook. He likes to deceive himself that he is still anonymous and faceless, so he shies away from these networking sites that request for your pictures, date of birth, and allow remote friends access your virtual world. So for him, facebook, myspace, hi5 or Linkedin are no go areas. Another mutual friend of ours is about quitting facebook. Why? He says we’re all mugus (what does that mean in proper English?); that Mark Zuckerberg, the 23 year-old whiz kid who owns Facebok is worth over $1.5 billion – thanks to you and me and every other mugun who’s hooking up with friends on the network. I don’t particularly agree, not just because I don’t find that word mugun complimentary, but because I believe that life is all about give and take. Yes, Zuckerberg and his buddies at facebook are building a fortune, having now lured over 64 million people all over the world to be on facebook. But, does the site give us value? Come on. The answer is yes!
That’s the value to seek for; to use in making yourself, or your business better. For example, as a very nosy, restless reporter, I steal loads of information daily from people’s profile on facebook and myspace and hi5. I’ve gotten leads to major stories from these sites, and God knows how many of my subjects the networks have helped me establish contact with.
So I like facebook. No apologies. Okay, looking at it again: $1.5 billion is A LOT of money. A lot! And to think that we all helped the guy amass so much fortune. Now, Forbes is rating him as the youngest self-made billionaire in the world. Now, Microsoft is buying into his business, and a couple of other conglomerates are dangling a couple of more billions in his face, begging him to sell his baby. But, next time you think of these kind of figures (try finding out how much the guys at Google are worth now, or how much the owners of Youtube sold…), no need to fret. You’re helping others make money. You’re getting value in return. And then, you also have an opportunity to CREATE your own idea, see it to fruition and turn us all into your muguns. We won’t mind, trust me. For as long as you give us VALUE.
In my opinion, it’s better to be a mugun to David Filo and Jerry Yang (the founders of Yahoo!) or to Larry Page and Sergey Brin (founders of Google). Imagine a world without Yahoo!; a world without Google. Truth is, we’re all muguns. I’ve thought about this carefully. All of us – that’s what we are – MUGUNS! But let me console you: one man’s mugun is another man’s Zuckerberg. So while there’s nothing we can do about we all being muguns, we can at least ensure that we develop and nurture the Zuckerberg in us.
So it was, that as a bonafide mugun on facebook, I logged in on Tuesday morning to discover the angst of another friend of mine, Ayo Shonaiya. Shonaiya, a filmmaker, talent scout and promoter, enjoys the best of three worlds – shuttling between Lagos, London and Atlanta. On a post titled ‘Tool or Toy: the 35mm craze, Shonaiya poured out his soul, lamenting bitterly about the sudden craze by Nigerian acts for celluloid. ‘I am sick and tired, not to talk of embarrassed, by the new craze in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Yes folks, never thought I’ll see the day when shooting on 35mm IS the main focus in a film or music video. Only in Nigeria!’, writes an embittered Shonaiya. He goes on: ‘I swear, 35mm is the new Hummer Jeep, everybody wants one! As it happens, the effizy kings of Nigeria, Kenny and D1, who tuned Nigerians in to the Hummer Jeep craze were the first cats to hype music videos on the cost and also claiming to have painted a whole aircraft in Kennis Music colours for Eddie Montana’s video. Where is Eddie now? I think I better leave that one.
Just like most things Nigerian in the entertainment world, we tend to make a lot of noise about unnecessary features; so and so artiste’s wardrobe was imported from Germany, hey, but he’s singing crap but who cares, I say his jacket was specially flown in by Gunther Jacketmaker himself!
Shooting on 35mm is good if you can afford it, or know how to use it for that matter, it does not however make your video the best or anything special if your concept is not tight. If you can afford to shoot 35mm and produce a good video, the good video part is what we should applaud, not the fact that it was shot on film, or it cost so and so amount to make, or it was taken to Los Angeles to edit, you can edit as good an hour away in Ghana.’
For someone who is not known to be so radically vocal, a lot of us have been shocked and surprised at Shonaiya’s outburst. But did he make any sense? Absolutely! He hit the nail on the head; doing at the same time, the job of a seasoned filmmaker (to guide), the job of a journalist (to inform and educate) and the job of a critic (to critique). And if we keep sentiments or pride aside, it’ll be easy to see that the dude only wants the best for our emerging industry.
Let me give you a bit more of his venom: ‘A little Film 101 for all the 35mm “wannashoots” out there, It’s all about the LENS and LIGHTING! You can get crisp pictures with a good HD body and some cool Canon lens for a quarter of the cost of shooting and developing 35mm, unless the South African guys are giving you rock bottom bargains (which I doubt, they know you don’t know). 35mm is industry standard for film set for theatrical release (the big screen), music videos are often set for television (the small screen). If you want to shoot on film, you can shoot on 16mm or even 8mm if you want to really rough it. Your fans don’t really know the difference between video and 35mm, all they want to see is YOU, the artiste, because they love you, they want to see you dance, sing, rap, show off your 12-packs (note to P Square) and so on, please stop insulting their intelligence by telling them what you shot the video with or how much it cost, even though it’s true, let us enjoy you and your art.’
The argument is still on-going. For and against. Many are lending their voices to the discourse. And a lot of artistes who hitherto knew next-to-nothing about the difference between HD or DV or celluloid are joining in. in her comment, Lara George, a gospel singer says : ‘Brother, I bless God for u and this write-up. Thanks for making some sense. Please send this page out to everyone because I only stumbled on it by chance. We all need to wake up some!’ in Qudus Onikeku’s words : These are the sort of effort we need, let people understand that the art is not for business men and vulgar opportunists who call themselves pro-whatever… promoters or producers.’
And Bayo Omisore, the editor Of Soundcity Blast writes: ‘I was speaking with my good friend Clarence P who is one of the biggest directors in Nigeria about this whole phenomenon yesterday. He insists that they will all come back when they realise the folly in shooting on film. I spoke with Olu maintain just last week and it was about the same thing. The problem most Nigerian artistes (all, in fact, save three or four of them) have is that they do not in fact know anything about the business in which they are, and would not bother to arm themselves. They lack education. You know what Fela said, ‘follow-follow’. That’s the Nigerian way. One day perhaps…’
The responses are numerous and all so convincing that I’ve had to add my voice. My verdict? We’re paying too much (unnecessary) attention to the COST of videos; too much attention to the glamorous lifestyles (cars, houses, designer accessories etc) at the expense of CREATIVITY and ORIGINALITY. If only homeboys will spend half the amount of funds, attention, time and energy spent on videos and cars, on songwriters, beatmakers and producers. If only people like Ayo Shonaiya will voice out more often.
But that’s not my point. See the kind of creative-constructive discourse even muguns can chart? Thank you Zuckerberg. Thank you Facebook!
It was a few minutes past 2.am, local time in Lagos Nigeria.
The country’s most iconic disc jockey, DJ Jimmy Jatt was holding a cup of red wine, sipping excitedly and exchanging banters with friends. Seated at the lobby of the Night club inside Planet One hotels, Jimmy was in the mood to celebrate.
Few hours earlier, ‘Stylee’, the lead single off his career-defining mix-tape ‘Definition’ had been named ‘Best Collabo’ at the 2008 hip hop world awards. The song’s video, directed by DJ T, was also named ‘Best Music Video, at the keenly contested awards. Jatt has worked hard for all the recognition he’s getting. But everyone knows he’s not gotten all the recognition he deserves. But tonight, sorry, in the early hours of Sunday March 16, the itinerant DJ was in no mood to complain.
And it’s not just because he’s getting applause for the work of his hands. Jimmy is happy, grateful to God for sparing his life, after a very serious auto accident in the early hours of Saturday March 15.
He told me, as we stood side by side, exchanging notes, over our impression of the third edition of HHWA 2008, that ‘I’m lucky to be here. I crashed my GMC this morning. If you see the car, you won’t believe it. It’s a complete write-off.
According to him, ‘I had already gotten home the night before. I was relaxing when a call came in from some of my friends who were visiting from South Africa. They were bored, and thought I was the only one that could take them round Lagos. So I had to go pick them up. We went round, and I later dropped them off at their lodge in GRA, Ikeja. I knew I was tired, ‘cos I didn’t sleep at all the night before. But I hit Ikorodu road, driving very slowly just in case there was a broken-down truck on the way. I don’t know what happened, but I musty have dosed off. When I opened my eyes, my four airbags were out, my car had climbed a culvert, and it was an electric pole that stopped it’.
‘The impact was serious. Let’s say I was lucky to have had my seatbelt on; and that my airbag was working. God saved me; if not, we would have been saying something else now.’
Jimmy bought the GMC SUV from the US in 2005. With customized number plate J.JATT, the blue jeep has in a few years, become part of the DJ’s identity, even though he has other cars.
‘This is my first accident since I’ve been driving’, he told AyeniTheGreat regrettably. ‘And I’ve been driving since I was 14…’
In spite of a few unsavoury reviews by some international critics who do not understand the colour of her music, Nigerian-born soul kid Asa is not stopping in her quest to conquer the world. The 25 year-old musician, born Bukola Elemide is building an amazing followership across the world, finding her way to mainstream music caucuses, and moving impressive untis of her debut solo album.
And, as if to add icing on the cake, sources told Glitz beat last week that urbane music channel MTV is considering making her an official ambassador for the continent of africa. Although no official pronouncements have been made, a report on her official Myspace indicates she has been ‘approached by MTV to be ambassador for africa’. And a report on bbc.co.uk reads in part ‘… she is currently being approached by MTV to take up the role of ambassador for Africa…’ Meanwhile, Asa’s eponymous album was released in the UK on February 18.
Judging from the performance schedule on her official myspace page, the rapidly-rising singer is not expected back home until later in May. The singer has a long string of performances across Europe, but will take a three-week break on May 25th, after performning at the Africa International Festival in Frankfurt.