Archive for June, 2008

R.KELLY FREE LIKE A BIRD!

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on June 25, 2008 by ayenithegreat

innocent?

Promoters seeking to bring R&B wizard Robert Kelly to Nigeria can now begin trying again.

 

The 41 year-old singer who’s been standing trial for a sex-related offence sincee 2002 was finally let off the hook when a new jury, sitting in Chicago, discharged and acquitted him last week.

 

R.Kelly was first slammed with Child Pornography charges in 2002, after sources leaked a video tape allegedly showing him having a romp with an underage girl. Kelly denied being the one in the tape, but the prosecution could not make any headway after the presiding judge had a terrible accident, and Kelly himself had to undergo an appendix operation.

 

The victim, now 23, was believed to be about 13 years old as at the time of the recording. Both she and Kelly denied being the ones in the tape.

 

But Kelly, who’s been turning out raunchy ballads all his life (and occasional gospel influenced classics like ‘I believe I can fly) was already deemed guilty by conservatives, most of whom had earlier accused him of dating Aaliyah (his late Protegee) while she was still underage.

 

Although he couldn’t travel throughout the duration of the trial, he continued to turn out hits after hits, staying calm and appearing undisturbed over the embarrassing trial.

 

From his known lifestyle, his lyrics and a couple of unrepentant witnesses, many believe Kelly may have committed the crime.

 

But the jury of 12 did not think so. And, on Friday June 13 after establishing that the ‘man’ in the tape did not have a mole on his back (R.Kelly does), they freed him of all 14 charges, leaving him to go and continue his business as usual.

 

Kelly’s freedom, coming on the heels of Michael Jackson’s acquittal (Michael, a popstar and suspected paedophile was found ‘not guilty’ of child abuse charges in 2006, after a prosecution that attracted fierce media coverage), has got observers divided in thier opinions. While some believe the judgements were nothing but ‘slap’ on the emotions of the public, and a ‘shame’ on the integrity of the judiciary, citing other cases like OJ Simpsons’, other simply opine that the ‘black brothers’ were ‘nothing but victims of  systemic racism targeted at blacks who have reached levels of successes the American establishment is ‘uncomfortable with.

 

Now no longer ‘trapped in thee closet’, Kelly is expected to begin taking his art around the world; and with loads of offers already on the table from Nigerian promoters, it will not be surprising if the country is one of his first point of call. But first, he will release a new album in a few weeks.

 

And then, because he has a serious phobia for fyling, it will be a herculean task getting him to come down to Africa.

 

 

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GOODBYE, STYL PLUS?

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on June 25, 2008 by ayenithegreat

back and better? 

 

I first met Tunde Akinsanmi on a quiet, uneventful evening in Lagos around 2003. His childhood friend Bayo Omisore who was one of my closest friends had arranged for us to meet because in his (Bayo’s) words, Tunde needed to know one or two things about the haphazard music industry; having been trying desperately to break-in, without luck.

 

So we met very briefly at Ayo Animashaun’s house, exchanged ideas, contacts, and a lil’ info.

 

That was the last I heard of the ambitious young man. Almost a year later, I started hearing about STYL Plus. After wondering why there was so much ado about the group, I heard their first offering: Olufunmi, and immediately became a fan. The R&B group brought a new, even exciting dimension to the genre in Nigeria, making them thrive where many had fallen, and instantly making them the darlings of fans and critics.

 

Like many Christians who had found Christ; who were already converted and consumed with the passion to win more souls, I preached the gospel of STYL Plus like I was paid to. I listened to their music like it was going out of fashion, and I told who ever cared to listen that music now had a new name: STYL Plus. Fortunately for me and many others, music isn’t like religion where you have to worship one god and discard the other. So I still rocked Plantashun Boiz while trying to make up my mind whether or not the trio of Faze, 2face and Blackface would have a future after STYL Plus.

 

One day, I placed a called to Bayo Omisore and after talking about girls, work, mode 9, girls and more girls, he told me of how Tunde had gone on to hug fame and fortune, as one of the three singers that make up STYL Plus. As someone who had seen artistes transform from nonentities to superstars, I was glad for the singer and his friends. I was reminded again, of the power of dreams and I told myself I must dream harder.

 

But I was also scared. Every success comes with some level of responsibility, and I wondered if the trio would be ready to take the bull by its horn. But as a fan, it is usually difficult to see your star’s imperfections. I was in love with STYL Plus. Nothing else mattered. As far as I was concerned, the boys had become the R in R&B, anyone who didn’t like that could go and eat ‘spaghetti’.

 

My little niece Temitayo was with me in the evangelism. A young, impressionable girl, she not only liked STYL Plus’ music, she was in ‘love’ with Tunde and the more she tried to hide it, the more obvious it became.

 

But now, almost five years after, I doubt if she still feels the same way. Just like me, she has found a new ‘crush’, a new obsession; she has fallen in love with a new ‘sound’.   The reasons are obvious. A lot has happened to us, the fans. our tastes have changed. We are more aware, we have more choices to pick from now, and we have grown. But my darling trio, have they grown with us or ahead of us? I’m afraid no.

 

Staying put in Abuja, where they operate with their managers TJazz and Joey, the boys have failed to capitalise on earlier opportunities, they’ve failed to renew pact with fans. They are no longer hungry! At a time when they should have moved over to Lagos, in order to be closer to promoters, corporate bodies, mainstream media and music industry professionals, STYL Plus remained in Abuja. It didn’t matter to them that D’banj left London to slug it out in Lagos; Psquare left Jos to make home in Lagos and Mode 9 abandoned Abuja when he realised Lagos was where it was all happening. Since STYL Plus first made their first hit, over 20 artistes have left different world cities to make homes in Lagos. Many of them, including Weird MC, Kween, D’Banj, Psquare and Mode 9 have gone one to establish successful careers while staying in the city regarded by many as the headquarters of music in Nigeria.

 

The boys not only remained stubbornly in Abuja, the headquarters of politics; they started churning out badly conceptualised, badly directed videos that did little to enhance their status. Fans and friends were worried; and many tried to step in. but nothing changed. Two albums after, and a couple of lack-lustre videos too, STYL Plus remained unreachable, unavailable and high- up- there. With near-zero media mentions, total absence on the social circuit, and no banging new music to speak for them, the once-upon-a-time R&B saviours soon went into relegation, taking the reserve seat while the likes of Psquare, Faze, 2face, and 9ice reigned supreme.

 

 

Now, just like Eedris Abdulkareem, the boys appear to be realising their folly, and are making efforts to return to the centre stage. Unfortunately, a new album- their third- has come out nothing but a woeful attempt, and a painful embarrassment to the reputation they have struggled hard to build. Is this the end for STYL Plus, or the beginning of the end? Or will fans forgive their past mistakes and embrace their new body of work despite it being absolutely mediocre? At a time when everyone is bouncing to near-excellent music coming from Asa, 9ice, Sound Sultan and others, why would anyone want to stop and give STYL Plus a second listen? And in an era where young R&B cats like Wande Coal, GT The Guitarman, W4, Terry G, and Sho’Boi are warming up to grab fans’ attention, how will STYL Plus win the battle to remain in contention?

 

I wish I had the answers. I wish I had the solution to the problems of a group I once idolised. But beyond answering these questions, STYL Plus needs to do more than record a couple of half-baked songs to win our patronage again. We’ve given them the chance before, they squandered it. If we must give them again, they must tighten their loins, dust their pants and get ready to play the game by the rules. For starters I think they should call an estate agent, get a home in Lagos, and move over with the speed of light.

 

Oh, they may consider sacking their managers too!

OJB TAKES NEW WIFE

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on June 25, 2008 by ayenithegreat

three women can surely give a man some headache... 

 

There were strong indications last week that respected producer OJB may have secretly tied the knots with his long-time lover Korede Shobamowo.

 

Since news of the pair’s affair became public in 2006, very little has been heard about them, as OJB took time off the public glare to get medical attention for his ailing daughter, as well as work on a new album.

 

But last week, Miss Shobamowo, a professional dancer who runs a dance agency, was spotted in Victoria island, Lagos, heavily pregnant and wearing a wedding band.

 

She refused to oblige requests for an interview, but a close friend told us she’s ‘carrying OJB’S baby’.

 

It is uncertain if they had a private wedding ceremony or simply exchanged vows in the registry.

 

I could not confirm if they have moved in together.

 

If the development is true, Miss Shobamowo will officially become the singer-producer’s third wife.

 

When the story of their romance first broke in 2006, she confessed ‘we’ve been dating longer than anyone can imagime, we’re in love and I know what I’m doing’.

 

She told me then, that marriage was on the cards, but many who heard her statement took it with a pinch of salt.

 

OJB, who likes keeping his private life private, has refused to be distracted by all the drama surrounding the affair.

 

D’BANJ’S ALBUM LAUNCH FOR JULY 25

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on June 25, 2008 by ayenithegreat

 

D’banj may be so busy amassing a fortune, inking a thousand-and-one endorsement deals, putting the Mo’ Hits’ album together, planning his own reality show and running the label with Don Jazzy, but the exuberant, maverick entertainer still found time to put an album together.

 

And, after months of speculations about the new body of work, we can now authoritatively reveal that the new album- his second full length album- will officially be released on Friday July 25th 2008. Titled The Entertainer, the album is expected to reveal the new, improved D’Banj – a singer that has matured over the years. Pundits predict that while the central theme may still be sex, the dashing singer will also offer near-gospel songs, inspirational materials and a couple of autobiographical narratives reminiscent of ‘Mobolowo won’ on his debut album.

 

Already the first singles off the album: Mogbona felifeli, olorun maje, Kimon (C’mon) all currently enjoying radio airplay, have given fans an idea of what’s to come. Mo gbona feli feli is a bragadocious, self-assertive song in the mould of 9ice and 2face’s collabo ‘Street Credibility’. Olorun Maje is reminiscent of ‘Loke Loke’. While the song themes may vary greatly, the music – as heard so far- is characteristically D-Banj: a cross between Afrobeat, pop, highlife and hip hop. And, not disappointingly, the Don Jazzy signature is as overtly present.

 

It remains however, uncertain if the rest of the tracks on the album will follow this pattern. ‘You know you can’t really know what to expect from D’Banj, he’s full of surprises’, a source close to him told us during the week.

 

Entertainer, the album after which the singer’s upcoming reality show is named, will be released At Expo Hall, Eko Hotel, on July 25.

9ICE STEPS UP

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on June 24, 2008 by ayenithegreat

That 9ice has joined the league of music industry millionaires is no longer news. The 28 year-old ethnic singer is making more money than he could ever have imagined.

And although he’s yet to but that Bentley he keeps talking about; although he’s yet to get that grammy he keeps fantasizing about; 9ice has come a long way from the struggling, talented wanna be who used money for his JAMB form to book his first session.

Today, with over a dozen cameo appearances, two solo albums and a pouch full of hit songs, 9ice is living the good life; and he’s loving it. With a new home- a palatial duplex- in Lagos, a new Volkswagen Touareg (with customized number plate ‘9ice’), and a weekly income that continues to soar, Abolore Akande is one of Nigeria’s fastest-growing singers, and one of the latest entrants into the millionaires’ club.

It’s uncertain what he’s worth right now, but the singer confessed to glitz beats that ‘God has been good’. Sitting comfortably in his new home, he talks passionately of his new projects: ‘we’re already rounding up plans to release the VCD. I’m also planning to give back to society through my NGO: ‘Be 9ice Foundation’, to help take kids of the streets.’

To reflect his new status, and a total image overhaul, the singer now spots a new hair-cut, with inscriptions that are changed on a regular basis. With customises T-shirts made by Nigerian designers (Toni Payne, Marko, etc), the singer is building for himself an identity that’ll register in everyone’s mind an image that’ll guarantee his street credibility.

9ICE is currently in London where he is scheduled to perform at the 90th birthday celebrations for Nelson Mandela.

GOOD NIGHT OLIVER DE COQUE

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on June 23, 2008 by ayenithegreat

 

 

 


SAMMY NEEDLE EXCLUSIVE

Posted in MUSIC NEWS FROM AFRICA on June 16, 2008 by ayenithegreat

 

‘Hi Sammy’

‘Yeah who’s that?’

‘It’s me. It’s so nice to hear your voice again’

Who?’

‘It’s me Ayeni. Ayeni Adekunle. Remember me?’

‘Hey Ayeni how far now? Ol’ boy una pursue me reach here again?’

‘No I’m just checking n you. Everyone’s worried that you left without saying. We’re wondering if you’re okay?’

‘Oh don’t mind those people. They didn’t give me time to prepare. Imagine, I couldn’t even take my master tape and my new videos… but wait, how did you get my number? Even some of my friends here don’t have it yet’

‘Oh, Koledowo left two days after you, so I begged him to help check the directory and send your contacts to me. He sent it by SMS’

‘Contacts?’

‘Yeah. For you, Sonny Okosuns, Steve Rhodes, Fela and the others.

‘Ok. But you won’t be able to speak with them now o. there’ a festival going on. Everybody’s performing. Men, you need to be here. I wonder how come I wasted so much time with you guys. This is the place to be!’

‘Don’t worry. I still like it here. But how come you are not performing?’

‘No o. I no go fit join them yet now. I’m still doing orientation. Even Koledowo is here with me. Baba Adedibu just come here yesterday. They’re taking us through a learning process.’

‘But you went there same day with Steve Rhodes. How come he’s performing?’

‘Baba na elder statesman for here o. they’ve been expecting him since. So he has been on fast track since he got here. Na im dey conduct the orchestra sef. Ayeni meeen… beautiful music.’

‘I can’t hear it’

‘Of course you can’t. Except you come over here. I can send you an invitation if you want’

‘How kind of you. But, no thanks. I’d rather stay here and be listening to Asa and 9ice instead. Tell me, do they know Asa in heaven?’

‘Ashewr? Who’s that?’

‘It’s not Ashewr… It’s Asa. You can’t remember her? Asa!’

‘I’m sorry. So sorry. I no sabi that one’

‘What of Sunny Neji? Or 2face Idibia?’

‘Ayeni what are you talking about. Are you Okay?’

‘Yes I am. I was wondering if you are, too?’

‘Yes. And you’re upsetting me. If you won’t talk about Steve Rhodes or 2pac or Okosuns or Swing Paw Paw or Gbenga Adeboye or Fela or even Jaiye Aboderin, then leave me alone. Those are the people we see here everyday….. Not Ashewr or Sanny Nuji…. Gawd!’

‘You see Jaiye?’

‘Of course now. He launched his new album yesterday. That’s his 6th album since he got here’

‘Oh that’s good. I’m sure Stella would be glad to hear that. But I’ve been trying to reach him…. I spoke with him once, but since, it’s been difficult’

‘Ol’boy the guy na superstar o. How you wan take reach am. Even we wey dey here sef, na from afar we dey hail am. Jaiye don make am big!’

‘What of Fela. Abami Eda?’

‘You mean Fela? I’m even going to see him now. I’m going for counselling’

‘Or you’re going for some wraps of igbo?’

‘Better stop that nonsense. That’s why I say you need to come here. Fela is the pastor in charge of freshers here. If you see the guy bible ehn, na five angels dey carry am’

‘Fela? Pastor?’

‘Siddon there. Even Gbenga Adeboye and dem Abacha dey im church. Lemme tell you one secret… wait, make I comot the phone from speaker… see, Even 2pac and biggie, na im dey preach for them. And now, dem go soon begin to come im church. 2pac say im get one song wey im wan do with Baba. And baba say if 2pac fit born again, im go do the song. If Fela feature for your song here, you don hammer be dat o!’

‘So you mean Abami Eda is winning souls even over there?’

‘Better don’t call him abami eda if you reach here. If you try am, im people fit kpai you o’

‘Okay. Thanks for that advice.’

‘What of Gbenga Adeboye?’

‘He was the MC when we had our freshers’ nite. I hear he runs a radio station close to Kola Olawuyi’s office’

‘Oh… but tell me, why did you leave so soon. You didn’t even say goodbye’

‘I didn’t leave. At least I didn’t want to. They came for me.

‘who?’

‘Don’t worry. But would you believe it if I told you I may be here, but I know all that’s happening there?’

‘You don’t mean it’

‘Siddon there. Even you, I can see you right now. You told me this was a private conversation. But, you put me on speaker and called all your colleagues to come and listen…’

‘em em// it’s not what you think…’

‘Or is it all those people who came to my wake-keep, crying so much that their eyes were bleeding? They’re all jokers. Why dem no pay my wife the money wey dem dey owe me. All of them wey I don help. Wetin dem don do for my wife. Or for my male? Even you sef. You no even come my wake keep. And your people wey come, na gist dem stand for corner dey gist… Your people funny for dat side o!’

‘I really don’t know what to say…’

‘Then say nothing abeg. You people should sha not cry for me. Me I dey enjoy for here. I go soon start my new album now. Na Okosuns go produce am.  Meanwhile the guy say make I greet you…’

‘who?’

‘Okosuns’.

‘Oh I’d like to ask him a few questions too’

‘OK. He say im go call you later’.

‘Thanks. But do you have any message for you wife? Hello… Heloooo’