Adekunle Gold, Brymo and Kiss Daniel have found the right sound. Now they need a personality. Here’s what they must do.
Screw what anyone is saying about Nigerian music and its future here or abroad. Screw all the jollof sound, repetitive lyrics and cliché beats currently enjoying domination.
Those with the password to the future of Nigerian pop are not playing the big shows or signing the biggest deals yet. They’re not multiple ambassadors or chart toppers, yet. It’s not likely they’ll make it to the VIP lounge at Escape or Quilox on a good night out.
While the industry is busy cavorting with fluff, these ones are busy making great music and building a loyal network. Klitoris, the new album by former Chocolate City star Brymo, is a good example of such. Brymo has been the darling of those who love good music for more than a minute. Even the average listener will tell you he handed the rapper Ice Prince the key to fame and fortune with his iconic Oleku chorus.
Kiss Daniel, rising on the success of a string of singles has now dropped his new body of work, the album New Era. Just this morning, a fan, Don Boye wrote on Twitter, ‘Kiss Daniel has the huskiness of 9ice and the delivery pattern of 2Face’.
Another wrote: ‘I wouldn’t say I’m a Kiss Daniel fan but rating any album out so far this year including Brymo’s above his is pure deceit. Best album by a mile.’
Brymo and Daniel are no longer trying to prove they are fantastic music makers. Just like Adekunle Gold and 9ice and Niyola and Shaydee and more, they’ve shown they have the goods.
But it is unlikely they will get to use the password if they don’t take lessons from the charm and swag and braggadocio of those hitting the right notes with the media and fans and businesses.
Recent case: the awkward interview Kiss Daniel had with Ebuka, where he seemed not to know how old he was and the apology of a press release that followed. Brymo, in his own case still can’t shake off the Chocolate City toga, years after his controversial exit. He’s rarely ever up to anything newsworthy outside of releasing music.
Not done with stealing the limelight off ‘proper’ rappers and comedians, Falz is even stealing the shine off Adekunle Gold when the subject is Simi.
Why is M.Ia more successful rapper than the almighty Mode 9? Why did KSA get much farther than Ebenezer Obey? How’s it that Olamide and Da Grin became legends in an art largely made popular by Lord of Ajasa? Why is Don Jazzy a bigger and more profitable brand than almost all other music producers (with the exception of Cobhams, perhaps?) combined? The art matters a lot. But today, it’s only 50% of what you’re selling. Match a great art with a personality that works (M.I: Swag and reliability; Don Jazzy: mystery and pseudo access; Olamide: street credibility, reliability, unpredictability; KSA: charm, swag; Da Grin: bad boy, grass to grace, mischief; Wizkid: first innocence and promise, then luxury and style and aspiration) and you’re on your way to packing stadiums like Wizkid Psquare and Davido.
And the personality must be contagious. Remember the way Don Jazzy would whisper in D’Banj’s ears in the early days? Remember how M.I, although diminutive, would make everyone stand up and clap with his dramatic entrance? Remember the costume and choreography of P-Square and KSA? Remember Lagbaja’s mask and Fela’s string of controversies?
Having made great music, the next set of music stars truly interested in making it big will need to invest in brand development and exciting reputation management.
Online and offline, they will need to make sure their appearances are memorable, their performances remarkable. They will need to set a clear target: match or beat the likes of P-Square, Asa, D’banj, Olamide, Tiwa Savage and Flavour when it comes to delivering a ‘show’ – and every where’s a stage, today. From Twitter to Snapchat, Facebook, Freedom Park, Airport lounges or Landmark.
It will be herculean. But what’s it they say? You either play big, or go home.