Archive for April, 2008

FU.M.I.NG (FUTURE OF MUSIC IN NIGERIA)

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on April 11, 2008 by ayenithegreat

                                                    

 

 

                                                  
 
                                                  
  
I met ‘Tunde Kuboye for the first time last December. I had gone to his Lagos home on the invitation of his kids Tamilore and Tunmida. After hearing and learning so much about the great music performer and enthusiast from afar, it was a DIFFERENT experience shaking hands with him, exchanging banters with him, and learning from his feet. I left the Kuboyes’ home inspired and refreshed.
 
I’ve met baba Kuboye twice again these past weeks, and I am yet to change my mind. Absolutely humble, full of knowledge and frank, I have since become a fan; while still ‘studying’ to become a ‘devotee’ of ‘Kuboyeism’. A lot of this generation of musicians have A LOT to learn from him. But that’s not the point of this piece.
 
What I’ve found very interesting, is that unlike many of his colleagues who stay on the outside and criticise the music industry and its actors, Tunde Kuboye is actually stepping in, joining the industry’s leaders to enthrone initiatives that could provide a direction for a wandering ‘industry’. It is that direction that I’m interested in talking about. The direction to the future of music in Nigeria .
 
On Monday April 7, industry stakeholders spent the first work day of the week meeting inside the conference room of the British council in Lagos . The agenda? ‘The way forward for the industry’; ‘how to tackle piracy’; ‘how to create a distribution network’; ‘how to lead the industry by the hand, straight into the international music scene’.
As expected, the attendance was poor. In a country with scores of grade A acts, not one was present. In fact, I saw only two artistes at the venue: Inferno and M.I. Only one record label was represented. Only one music marketer deemed it fit to come. Apart of the chairman of NARI, Toni Kan (of Visafone) and a couple of talent managers, it was a room filled with journalists, cameramen and folks from Chocolate city, the conveners.
Okay, the level of discourse was high and interesting. The passion tangible and the analyses on point. But, with major industry stakeholders absent at such parley, even if a resolution was reached, even if a WAY FORWARD was agreed on, wouldn’t it amount to attempting to shave a person’s head in their absence? Oh, so you know it’s impossible too!
 
Past attempts like this have not yielded any better results anyway. From Dele Olukoju’s ‘let’s face the music’ talkshop to the recent vigorous attempts by the music businessmen forum to create a blueprint for the industry, and form a pressure group to can influence government policies and guard the interest s of practitioners. MBF meetings have recorded very impressive turn outs, but nothing tangible is yet to be achieved.
In my opinion, it appears as if the people making the money now – the artistes, the marketers and a few labels – don’t see any need to fret. They’re comfortable with state of things; after all it’s in their favour.
They forget that according to the law of diminishing returns, ‘when a fixed factor is working in conjunction with a variable factor, there is continuous initial increase in output. Until it reaches a peak and everything begins to hurry and crash downwards (okay I confess I memorised this when I was in junior secondary school. That’s nearing TWO decades now – I hope the law hasn’t changed!)
 
What we need to tell ourselves is this: we stand at an advantage to erect needed structures now; to organise the system and harness all its potentials. PMAN has failed, so let a coalition of talents, businessmen, analysts, managers, lawyers etc come together to do what PMAN has failed to do since it was founded over two decades ago. It doesn’t matter who gets the credit. It doesn’t matter whose initiative it is.
What should matter is that there should be a level playing field. Investors must be sure there’s a system that can help them recoup their investment. Labels and record companies must be in control of distribution, not pirate-marketers. Government policy on Piracy must change. The collecting societies must stop fighting themselves and start fighting a common enemy: users of musical works who see no reason why they should ‘pay-per-play’.
 
I can go on and on. But let me not bore you. The good thing however, is what the British Council is doing with the international young music entrepreneur of the year awards (IYMEY). The global winner for 2007 is a Nigerian; Audu Maikori. And his company, working with the British Council, is hostingNigeria ’s first pavilion at London Calling, a key event in the global music calendar. I see a lot of practitioners jostling to be part of the delegates to Londoncalling already. I hope it’s not just because we want to go to London and see the queen.
I see London Calling 2008 as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the brains behind the music system in Nigeria to get together, six hours away from home, with no distractions or ‘busy schedule’, to rub minds candidly; put sentiments and ego and grudges and selfish interests aside; and hopefully return home to give us a blueprint that the government, the media and other stakeholders would find impeccable.
 
We may keep dreaming about 9ice headlining a gig at Madison Square; about 2face and Asa winning the Grammies; about Sony, Motown or Interscope opening shop in Nigeria (or at least partnering with domestic labels); about having mega record companies and studios and becoming the biggest music industry in Africa. We may keep dreaming. And it is not wrong to dream. But first, we need to take time off our slumber, to put the house in shape. It is only when there is organisation and structure and ethics and a fool-proof blueprint subscribed to by all practitioners that there can be an industry.
 
And it is only when there is an industry that corporate Nigeria will take us serious. It is only when there is an industry that the government will listen to us. It is only when there is an industry that the global music players will look this way again.
 
It is only when there is an industry that labels, managers, songwriters, producers and other key professionals can be ‘bank-sure’ that they are not squandering their lives, while hoping to get their rewards in heaven…
 
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WALE EWEDEMI WINS BRITISH COUNCIL AWARD

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on April 11, 2008 by ayenithegreat

 
On-air personality and CEO of M54, Wale Ewedemi has emerged the Nigerian winner for this year’s international young music entrepreneur of the year awards organised by the British Council.
 
The Abuja-based broadcaster and music enthusiast was interviewed in Lagos , alongside several other young music entrepreneurs. He was declared winner Monday April 7.
 
Ewedemi is expected to join other national winners from select developing countries to contest for the global prize in June.
 
The IYMEY is one of several creative industries awards initiated by the British Council to encourage young entrepreneurs in the creatuve sector and stimulate growth in those industries.
 
Emem Ema, a rapper and talent manager is the first Nigerian to win the prize. Although she lost the global prize, the award served as a tremendous boost to her career. In 2007 Chocolate City ’s Audu Maikori emerged the global winner for the IYMEY.
 
Interestingly, both Maikori (the outgoing winner) and Ewedemi (the new winner) are based in Abuja .
 
Ewedemi was until recently, the most respected OAP on Cool FM Abuja. Popularly called ‘the whiz’ at the station, he joined cool FM in 1999. He reportedly resigned his appointment recently to become a full time entrepreneur. Before now, he had made a name for himself in industry circles with his exploits in the PR and events terrain, using his company M54 as a vehicle…

DBANJ READY FOR NEW ALBUM

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on April 6, 2008 by ayenithegreat

 

We thought it was just Wande Coal’s debut album that was coming. But it appears the young and daring guys at Mo Hits have a major surprise up their sleeves.

 

An informant at the thriving label has told AyeniTheGreat that work has begun on D’Banj’s second full album. D’Banj, a pop act who debuted on the label in 2005 is Mo Hit’s first act; and the biggest yet. He’s also the label’s Vice President.

 Since his debut album ‘No Long Thing’, D’Banj has kept his art in our faces, riding on the success of his first album, followed by a single release ‘Run Down’, and a good dose of collabos with fellow Mo Hits acts.

 And, along with CEO Don Jazzy, he has been able to create a brand that has become the darling of music fans, corporate bodies and the media. He’s got a MOBO nomination, an MTV award, and a string of endorsements to show for it.

 

Now, with the new album on the way, the pop star is preparing to navigate to a new level in his career.
Don jazzy is producing the new album, although there may be inputs from allies like Dr Frabs. And it is perhaps still early to know what to expect. ‘They’re keeping their lips sealed now. We like surprises’, said one of D’Banj’s aides last week.

 D’banj and Don Jazzy were not immediately available for comments as they were away in South Africa.

 

 

WANTED: MUSIC OF NIGERIAN ORIGIN

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on April 5, 2008 by ayenithegreat

I grew up listening and dancing to music. Fela, Obey, Victor Olaiya, Bobby Benson, Dele Abiodun, Barrister, Orlando Julius, Rex Lawson, Osadebe – father had them all. And, the jolly good fellow that he was, he always played his music loud; so that wherever we were in the house, we had a taste of the groove seeping out from the speakers of his radiogram.

 

God! Father played a LOT of music. Mom would complain it was too loud, yet he would pretend not to hear – and he’ll play, play and play. Today, I owe the much I know about early Nigerian highlife, juju and Fuji music and musicians to my father.

 

And I understand and sympathise, when those who experienced that era frown and hiss and complain about the kind of music ‘we’ play today. I understand when I see people dedicate so much energy and time, trying to bring back the good old days of highlife, juju or Fuji . I understand when they’re a little bit impatient with the artiste of today who has been consumed by the spirit of hip hop’.

 

But I have said it before; and I will say it again. We will never experience the highlife of the late 50s and 60 again. We will never enjoy juju music of the 60s and 70s again. Never! Times have changed. Culture is very dynamic, and a lot has changed about our values as a people, about the way we live, the influences we imbibe and what informs our choices; our essence.

So while I still love highlife, and will give anything to buy any of those old classics, I know that if those albums were made today, it will definitely not have the impact it had in its time.

 

The reasons are obvious. We have been influenced by cultures around us – mainly America . The first generation of musicians have not mentored enough protégées to carry on from where they stopped. The early privately-owned radio stations fed our young men and women with too many ‘western music’; so much that they have become more accustomed to the elements of hip hop, than the ingredients of Fuji, ikpokrikpo or apala.

 So, instead of crying over spilled milk, trading blames and trying to ‘undo’ what has been done, my stand has always been this: before the likes of KSA, Ebenezer Obey, Fatai Rolling Dollar, Ayinde Barrister, Benson Idonije, Orlando Julius, Victor Olaiya and others pass on to the other side, we need to have young producers, songwriters and performers understudy them and their art.

 

We need to create an opportunity for this generation of music makers to try and learn from these men, concepts, ingredients and how to weave the fabric of traditional Afrobeat, highlife, Fuji and juju. Not so they can begin to attempt to resuscitate the fading genres. But, so that they can incorporate their elements into contemporary forms like rap, soul, R&B, rock and others.

 

This is imperative, not just because the onus lies on us to preserve these excellent genres of music, for future generations, but also because, as the world continues to shrink into one little village, it will be to our own benefit, if we conceive and create a musical formular that the rest of the world would find interesting and irresistible, like we have found rap and reggae and pop and R&B. Okay, the world already knows that Juju, Fuji and Afrobeat are from Nigeria .

 

Thanks to Fela, Femi Kuti, KSA, Obey, Ayinde Barrister and few others. And if you think of Nigeria , the first thing that comes to mind is Afrobeat: but, since Fela and femi, how many mainstream afrobeat acts have come up? Apart from white and black bands keeping the genre alive in the US and Europe , how present is the genre in the mainstream international music scene? It’s even worse for Juju, fuji and highlife. I think there’s something about the genres – the big band style, the predominant Yoruba, ibo or pidgin language- that’s made it difficult to get the wider appeal they deserve… that’s why, despite admitting that his music was ‘excellent’, Island records went ahead to drop KSA after a two-album deal. That’s why Virgin dropped Ebenezer Obey.

 

So, will Fuji or Juju or Highlife ever become to us, what Reggae is to Jamaica ; what rap is to America ? I fear no.

 

Bad news?

Yes!

 

But wait, there’s a good side – we may never have a true music of Nigerian origin; loved at home and abroad; that’ll take over youth cultures in Africa, America , the Carribean, Europe, the Far East and everywhere else, if we do not use one of our original local forms as starter culture. And guess what?

 

The experiment has started already. I’m happy beyond limits anytime I turn around and see fans and critics pouring encomiums on 9ice. Never before has one man packed so much history, proverbs, lore, into one album. If you had never heard about the ibos, all you need do is read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall apart. By the time you’re closing the last page, you would have been to Umoufia and back. It works same way for 9ice. You finish listening to his music, and, no matter where you’re from, it’ll be difficult not to have a few Yoruba proverbs stuck in your memory.

 

9ice and his producer ID Cabasa are fusing elements of our local music and culture into their music which is otherwise purely urbane and contemporary. And they’re not alone. If you’ve heard Dare’s ‘Fuji music’ and his new single ‘carry dey go’; if you’ve heard rooftop MCs’ ‘Shock Therapy’, ‘Silence’ and’ Lagi Mo’; you’ll see that Cobhams is flirting with Fuji as much as Cabasa.

 

 

These guys are bringing Fuji back! Between these two producers, and other visionary music-makers like Mosa, Bisade Ologunde, OJB, Don Jazzy and Mr Skillz, I see the key to the future of modern Nigerian music dangling. What I do not know is which of them will grab it and unlock the door that’ll lead to the industry’s future. Soon, very soon, I see little white kids dancing to ‘new improved Fuji ’. I see the whole world tuning to Nigeria to get a dose of ‘Apareggae’ (fusion of apala and reggae) or ‘poplife’ (a fusion of pop and highlife).

 

If we continue these experiments; and if the formula works for other acts like it’s working for 9ice and RTMCs, who knows, maybe very soon, America and Europe will be condemning its young fans and music makers, for abandoning their ‘own’ traditional music and imitating music coming from ‘Africa’. Let me paint the picture for you, state governments and multinationals in America will be flying 9ice to the Madison square garden, for sold out concerts, paying him like 10 million dollars, after fulfilling other conditions;

Funk Master Flex, Rick Dee and others will have more of Asa, Dare, 2face, Lagbaja, 9ice, Pasuma and Ruggedman on their playlist than Alicia Keys, Neyo, Akon or Beyonce. American artistes will be trooping en masse to Nigeria , in search of a career in music; and they’ll be rolling on the floor, paying through their long noses and willing to give an arm, to record a duet with 2face Idibia, Sound Sultan, Seun Kuti or Lord of Ajasa…

 

Okay, I’m beginning to dram too much? Maybe I should just go to bed!

FRAGRANCE LOSES MOM

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on April 4, 2008 by ayenithegreat

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Please kindly say a little prayer for upcoming singer Fragrance.

 

The young singer grew up without knowing her father. And now, the one person her world revolves round – her mother- has died; leaving her cold, alone – a bona fide orphan!

 

Fragrance’s manager Ena Ofugara confirmed the news on Tuesday. A text message he sent to friends reads: ‘Fragrance lost her mom yesterday. She lost her dad quite early in life. Please call to console her’

 

The 20 year-old singer herself sounded very weakand shoked, when we spoke to her on Wednesday.

 

Fragrnace’s late mom was half-Scottish and half-Urhobo.

TERRY, NOVEMBER RECORDS PART WAYS

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on April 4, 2008 by ayenithegreat

  

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When Terry Tha rapman finally releases his second solo album, it will not carry the November records imprint.

A reliable source revealed to me last week, that the rapperr and the label (owned and run by Charles novia) have partned ways after a one-album deal.

   

Terry , presently working on a mix tape and his second album, is one of Nigeria’s most witty rappers. Despite being blessed with good looks and great dose of talent, a major break has continued to elude him. Several years squandered at PayBacktyme records took its toll on his career, until he moved over to Lagos to take his future in his own hands.

   

The rapper’s career has been on a steady rise since moving to Lagos. And many approved when he pitched his tent with November records. Together with the label, terry pushed his first full-length album ‘Tha Rapman Begins’, and earned immense critical acclaim, athough the album refused to leap off the shelves.

   

‘Right now, I’m busy putting my new album together’, terry told us when we contacted him. ‘Yes it will not be on Novmber records. But believe me, there are no issues. We had a one-album deal, and we both saw it through’, he added.

He refused to confirm if whether he is in talks with any labels presently, or planning on an independent release.

M.I. RELOCATES TO LAGOS

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on April 4, 2008 by ayenithegreat

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Those who have heard his debut single ‘crowd mentality’ will easily tell you M.I. is not your average artiste.

Those who have seen him on stage will tell you even more – that he’s got a wild presence and a stage persona that endears his audience effortlessly.

He’s already enslaved them in the north. He’s thrilled them across Africa. And he’s dazzled fans in Lagos.

Now, still keeping his eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel, the Chocolate city act has made a move that should put his career on fast track – He’s moved over to Lagos!

The rapper told AyeniTheGreat he took the step, so he can be closer to the music community. And if he makes it big in the centre of excellence, he will be joining the likes of Psquare, Kween, 2face Idibia and others who have abandoned their home towns for a life of fame and fortune in Nigeria’s commercial capital.

Although he’s been rapping since 1998, M.I.’s career has only been on a steady rise for several months now, and pundit have tipped him as one of the new breed of talents likely to blow big anytime soon.