Friday, 5 July 2013
Ever since I began doing music professionally, I have always been fond of looking away from the circus, and taking up the responsibility of addressing serious issues that affect my industry.
"Can't I do the RIGHT thing in a WRONG industry?" - That is a quote from a song I recently recorded. And actually, this article is centered on that thought.
Apart from wordplay, you would also notice the lyric contains an ounce of depth if you meticulously read between the lines. It might even be deeper than I think. After all, people's perception and standpoints differ.
I will be paying more primacy to two phrases in that context, viz: 'right thing' and 'wrong industry'. What is the 'right thing'? And why did I frankly use the term 'wrong industry'?
Well, a wrong industry is one that does not encourage the right art. And as such, mediocrity is celebrated while creative freedom becomes a myth. I could go on to list a myriad of other definitions that will describe a 'wrong industry'. For now, I will just pitch my tent with the one stated earlier.
However, the fact that a particular thing is unacceptable in Country A does not mean it won't be embraced with open arms in Country B. Variety is the spice of life, but that does not rule out the fact that mediocrity will always be mediocrity. There is no such thing as 'little mediocrity' or 'too much mediocrity'. In fact, it could be likened to sin. Sin is sin. I guess I will have to stop there, otherwise I might start quoting bible verses if I choose to proceed with that topic.
In Nigeria, sometimes I feel talent is wasted on talented people. Hard work beats talent where talent does not work hard. In other instances, these talented individuals are not given appropriate and enough platforms to showcase the ample skill they possess. "What about Project Fame, Peak Talent Show, Nigerian Idol and the likes?" - That is probably one question you are craving to ask me right now, isn't it? Yes, what about them? No doubt, they hunt for talents, but at the end of the day how many people get selected out of thousands of Nigerian youths that participate in these auditions annually? The ratio is like 1 out of 100. Even those that eventually come tops, win just the money and not all the required support they need to make them stand the test of time throughout their music career.
I also noticed something pathetic that made me shake my head in 3D. After the contestants were short-listed, they were asked by Reggie Rockstone to dance in the next round before scaling through to the finals. Those that couldn't bust a move to save their lives were evicted, despite they had nice voices. Then I asked myself; 'Is X-factor a singing competition or a dance competition?'. Perhaps the organizers could have been more specific.
I remember the last talent hunt show I participated in, some years ago. It was held in Enugu. I performed a rap verse right before the judges (DJ Jimmy Jatt and one other dude from Jamaica). I was applauded and received positive remarks that seemed honest. Majestically, I left the stage smiling, with the thought that I would get to the finals. To cut the long story short, I did not. As much as I was disappointed, I never allowed that experience deter me. Years later, I got featured on a mixtape alongside mainstream acts such as Tha Rapman, Ice Prince and Wizkid. Coincidentally, the project was hosted by Jimmy Jatt and my first music video even got premiered on his TV show (Jump Off). I didn't allow that audition define me, because I believed in myself and I knew my potential was limitless. Perhaps today, Uncle Jimmy does not even remember I participated in that audition. It is a small world.
As long as Nigerian show business is concerned, nobody cares about talent unless you are wealthy. These days, daring to be different alone won't cut it. If you lack affluence or you are not affiliated to one superstar or the other, it is difficult to draw the attention of the media. And that is probably why it is easy to manipulate today's showbiz. Some Nigerian bloggers are more concerned about the traffic their sites get than the content of a song. While some Radio DJs and OAPs want their arses to be kissed before they play your song. Notwithstanding, I acknowledge the few good people that still unconditionally support great music in this country. I hope they won't become extinct someday.
It is rare to find Nneka's album on the streets of Lagos, but I am pretty sure she is contempt selling her intellectual property to the world and Africans in Diaspora via iTunes. Germans and Europeans alike adore her afro-centric style and music. It is safe to say that this talented Nigerian songstress based in Luxemburg has been doing the right thing in the right industry.
So is it better to compromise standards because you find yourself in a really frustrating industry that celebrates mediocrity? Well, personally I believe artists can always find a way to strike a balance in the aspect of making great music that is enjoyable and still delivering good content. That is one of the key factors that define your creativity anyway.
Working hard is good, but working smart is better. Truth be told, without proper positioning and making your skill sellable, talent won't pay bills in this country, or even anywhere in the world. Once upon a time, good music spoke for itself in Nigeria; am afraid, not anymore!
Apparently, the Nigerian music industry has evolved, but this sudden evolution has yielded more cons than pros. The outcome is something I have always previsioned. And it is inevitable simply because our music industry grew at a fast pace without a more streamlined structure and solid foundation.
Unless music is just a hobby for you; as an artist based in Nigeria, you just have to discover whatever works for you, and make it lucrative. Your persistence, creativity and versatility will eventually make you stand out in the long run.
The other day I explained why I went M.I.A. Since then, I think my online presence have improved to some extent, right? I guess it's due to the fact I haven't really been occupied with academic work lately. School's yet to resume. Although I have been busy taking a course on how to work with the Adobe CS6 Suite software. Studying various tutorials; from Adobe Photoshop to Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition, Indesign and Illustrator. Graphic designing is cool, but video editing and 3D animation is even more fun, although a bit complex. Learning new skills and adapting to old ones.
Meanwhile, it seems I have been slowing down on the music. My deepest apologies to all my fans. Blame it on the fact that a brother has to place his priorities right.
Anyway, I recently recorded a verse on Dominant-1's forthcoming album. The Malawian hip hop veteran also featured the likes of Modenine and The Holstar on the same project. I also did a cover of 'Can't Hold Us' by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. The beat of that song was yelling 'jump on me!’ I had to pour my heart out on it. The brief freestyle drops this July.
Then I was featured on a song by Overdose, Pherowshuz and Terry Tha Rapman, look out for it on the B.A.N.S compilation album, which also feature the likes of Dammy Krane and Remininsce.
I was interviewed on Paradise FM (Calabar) a while back. Shout to Duke Emmanuel for having me on his radio show. And big ups to everyone that tuned in.
I’m still promoting my latest pan-African collab 'Raw African Poetry 2.0'. You know I am one not to keep y'all waiting, so Teck-Zilla and I are back in the lab working on a new EP, tentatively titled 'The AfroRhyme Sayers'. For the recs, the last EP we worked on together was 'Raplogic'.
And here's the highlight. I plan to work with an A-list artist from Angola on a commercial afro-pop track soon. The artist’s name remains anonymous for now. Y’all can keep guessing. And yes, you can say 'Fecko is about to sell out' (Laughs). Just going with the flow! The last gist was meant to be top-secret, but I couldn't help but let the cat of the bag.
One of my childhood ambitions was to become an astronaut someday. Astronomy has always been one of my favorite topics. So things like; aliens, space ships, asteroids, stars and other celestial bodies fascinate me. Ironically, I am not a huge fan of 'Star Trek'. Although, I love other space themed movies such as; Battle Star Galactica and After Earth.
I stumbled upon a documentary last month titled 'Sirius'. It was narrated and put together by Dr. Steven Greer (CSETI & Disclosure Project) and it kind of sheds more light on evidences that prove aliens really exist. At first I was skeptical, but later while watching it; I was flabbergasted when I saw a real life specimen of what appeared to be an alien. This tiny creature had 10 ribs and a DNA in its brain that was almost human-like. Of course, scientists carried out a lot of research on it.
Also, I saw several footages of Unidentified Flying Objects in the sky. Another interesting thing I noticed is that there was a group of people that attempted communicating with aliens via meditation. And it seemed as though these UFO's were actually listening and picking up signals and vibrations from the thoughts buried deep down in their subconscious. It was incredible.
When I was a kid, I loved gazing at the stars (I still do, once in a while). There was a time I saw a comet or a shooting star floating in the sky at night. I was overwhelmed when I did. (Laughs). So as far as the galaxy is concerned, there could be more that meet the eyes. Are aliens really out there? Well, only time will tell, or maybe not. Fingers crossed. I do not anticipate an aggressive alien invasion though (as it is being portrayed in most sci-fi Hollywood films). Who knows? It could just be a friendly visit.
Babatunde Okungbowa aka OJB Jezreel is one of Nigeria's greatest music producers of all time. Popularly known for his Midas touch on Tuface's hit single 'African Queen', he has never ceased to excel as a talented beat maker and vocalist over the years. He has contributed immensely towards the growth of the Nigerian music industry.
I remember the first time I bumped into him at his studio in Surulere years ago. He struck me as a humble man when I saw him. Today, this veteran musician suffers a kidney problem. It could have been anybody. Living itself is a risk. Shout out to everybody helping out in raising the money for his surgery. I believe OJB will be fine. Saying a prayer for him, and I know a lot of other people out there are doing the same. Check out his brand new song titled 'Don't You Let It Go'.
Monday, 1 July 2013
The producer of the sleeper hit 'Sweet Poraro' by Wizkid has teamed up with Terry Tha Rapman on a brand new song. Victoriouz Icon proudly presents Terry Tha Rapman on a new song titled 'Bans Is The Motto' This song sees Terry Tha Rapman rapping and flipping bars on a crazy, left field instrumental.