Posted by: searchafrica | December 14, 2010

NIGERIAN MUSICIANS SHOULD STOP LOBYING FOR AWARDS

eldee

What is responsible for your constant omission from various award nomination lists, and how do you feel about this?

When I started this whole Nigerian music thing, I had one goal in mind and that is to get Nigerians listening to Nigerians` music. It wasn’t easy but we had to do it and years down the line I can say we (Nigerians) majorly listen to Nigerian music today. I make bold to say this, ask every Nigerian contemporary act today about their early influence in Music; yes, they will tell you about listening to Michael Jackson, Whitney Huston, Fela, Bob Marley and all the legends. But when it comes to the music they listened to before crafting their own unique Nigerian sound; except the person is not honest, they’ll tell you they listened to Eldee’s Trybesmen before bringing forth their own sound. These are achievements that matter to me not awards. Look at the greatest musician Nigeria and Africa ever produced, Fela, did he get any award in his life time? But today, from Ajegunle to the Broadway show in Hollywood he is being celebrated. I am not comparing myself to Fela, rather I am trying to let you understand that all these awards mean very little to me. Because there are bigger things I have done for the Nigerian music industry today that no one remembers. This compact disc (CD) format that we are selling and buying Nigerian music today and the whole Alaba format, will any body remember that Eldee started it? Way back, when we had association of tape sellers in Yaba, I  walked up to Tee Joe and told him look, we can do this thing like this and get our  music  to our DJ’s and today, look at were we are. The first CD ever released in Nigeria was “plenty nonsense” followed by 2shots` “pirated copy.”  When I look at things like this, I am happy. I know when I am probably dead and gone, may be in my life time some young peo ple will be shown my contributions to the Nigerian music industry. The realization that I have achieved the goal that brought me into Nigerian music by getting people to play and listen to Nigerian music gives me a deeper satisfaction than any award.

 

 

How in your own words can we return standards and credibility to our awards` systems?

That can only be done when we as musicians realize that pretence will take us no where. And begin to see that conscious efforts are made in getting the music industry standardized. So long as organizers of an award fail to bring forth the major criteria that are used in the nomination or selection process, then we all have no right to complain. But as long as some people continue with this habit of let’s see that person or this person before and after the awards, we will keep going in circles. I personally won`t do it because I stand for change. Imagine if I had done it in the past and I am somewhere talking all these serious talk of doing things right, some one will just get up and say keep quite! Didn’t you give me this and that for so and so. I won’t ask for awards and I pray people who do it will stop.

 

 

You are sounding all moral right now and that might seem a bite surprising to some critics who believe one of your hit songs “Big Boy” is a track that glorified wealth without hard work.

My apologies go to any one who misunderstood the message in that song. The entire idea in that song wasn’t and is still not to glorify ill gotten wealth or fraud. Rather it is meant to be a confidence buster for young kids. Lets take a look at a boy who is aspiring to be a football, music, legal or dance star, singing to himself “I am a big boy”; that will give him the needed confidence to move ahead in that career.

You said you began the Alaba system and today everyone is crying blue murder, what in your own opinion is the way out?

I am not one of those that will call for the total closure of Alaba market, because if you do, you will be creating another problem altogether. How? If you close down the market today, who will get the masses to listen to the music? You see ,when we started at first, we use to follow Tee Joe to the duplicating plant and we monitored what was printed, but as time passed bye, we all got busy and the lop hole was created. That is when they started duplicating on their own and then piracy took over. My honest submission is this, let get Alaba integrated in to a legal frame work of distribution. This thinking of let government does this and that, is baseless. Except we put ourselves together, there won`t be a way out of all these.

 

Direct music marketing is just one of the major revenue issues our music is facing; what is your take on the number of collecting bodies that should be in Nigeria today?

The problem of Nigeria has never been lack of laws; rather it has been lack of implementation. With only one collecting body it will be difficult to hold them accountable in Nigeria. What will happen when they become two? I totally support the idea of having just one body because if we have two bodies you will begin to hear radio station and other music users saying things like ‘I have paid to COSON or PMRS. When the artist goes to ask for his money they will begin to push you around. So bringing everybody into one umbrella is the way forward.

 

In the days of Sunny Ade, Fela and the rest, we had a music industry that worked. Musicians made money from royalties. Why did the music stop paying?

Thank you for that question, in the 70’s when Obasanjo ruled Nigeria as a military ruler. Remember he promulgated a degree that said Nigerians must own 60% of all companies in Nigeria and this was the period that the Sony Music and Polygram of this world made our music pay. They waited and search for investors who will buy into the Nigerian arm of their labels but the rich then, did not see potentials in owning a record company. So the foreigners who owned the labels had no other option than to pack out because they couldn’t do business without a 60% ownership by Nigerians. That is how we lost the structure. Why haven’t we rebuilt that structure you might want to ask? True a government policy destroyed the first music industry we had, that doesn’t mean the government is in any way connected to the music industry we have built today. In summary, we do not have a structure because this semblance of success that we have today is a product of individual ingenuity.

You have rightly pointed out that a government policy destroyed the music industry in the past, how do you feel about Nigerian musicians lining up behind politicians who have done nothing for the entertainment industry. And will we ever see Hip Hop pioneers like you getting into politics?

I will begin by stating that I will never run for an elective office. But I will be glad to see more showbiz personalities in government. As for musicians and politicians, I will like to liken what will happen in 2011 elections in Nigeria to the George Bush and Algore   elections in the US. The masses loved Algore but they never stepped out to vote and that made George Bush to win. After Bush won it gave the Americans a rude awakening to their civic duties.  At the time Obama came on board, you saw the number of people that came out to vote. The “Vote or Die” slogan started with Algore but it benefited Obama. So for the Nigerian issue it is not about what is wrong or right but I believe the involvement of actors and musicians will awaken the consciousness of the people towards demanding their rights and good governance from those in power.

 

The government hasn’t shown firm commitment in helping the entertainment industry and we are seeing more foreigners coming into the country to understudy or do reports about are industry and take them abroad. Do you see a negative or positive impact if foreigners return to our showbiz industry?

This is one issue that is giving me sleepless nights .This industry is big, and the potentials we all know are enormous, but why are we not moving forward. My prayer is we wake up before these foreigners come in and turn us to tenants in our own homes. The foreigners will raise the bar and the structure will fall in place but at the long run the real money will be taken abroad. And the money that will be taken abroad a million times higher than what they invested. I just pray we all come together and do things right.

 

Talking about doing things right. The first step in building a good music industry is getting good music. In Nigeria, the standard of music seams to be dropping by the day…?

I won’t agree with you on this totally, because we still have good music from Nigerian acts, the problem however is that the volume of substandard music on our airwaves is just too high. How can this stop? It still boils down to structure. When we have big labels on ground who are fighting   to promote their acts, the atmosphere will no longer be conducive for individuals to just put out any song because breaking a single will become very expensive. Right now what do we have, a boy walks into the studio, makes a track, shoots a video, puts it on Sound City, Nigezie and  bingo, he is a Nigerian artist. So, build the labels and you will be closing the doors on singers who should not sing, because labels will only sign real talents.

 

Talking of real talent, you once did a Nigerian version of Drake’s “You are the girl”. Did you not feel that will put a question mark on your credibility and originality?

Not at all, before you query my credibility you should remember I brought you Sasha, I brought you 2shot, Free Style and the first ever Hip Hop idea that combined Fuji, Juju, Apala and Hip Hop to bring forth this sound you call Nigerian music today.  So, you can`t question my originality because I know I have it.

 

This question is for your young fans, is that why you decided to call yourself the Don?

Not at all, you know when we started, there were few people who could shoot videos and the price was over the roof so I had no other choice than to learn how to direct videos. In fact, I was forced to learn how to produce music and when the internet just got to Nigeria I was forced to learn how to upload and promote online. At a point my place became a stop shop for Nigerian music and before you knew what was happening people started saying this guy, you are a don. That is how it came. So being called the Don has nothing to do with pride or a glory seeking thing.

 

With all this achievements and struggles will you say music has paid your bills?

That is a tough one. I know someday it will pay huge bills but for now it hasn’t oh…!

 

What else pays the bills that keep you this fly?

I run a multi media business in the US that is why I fly back and forth.

 

Will we ever see Trybesmen doing it together again?

Time will tell. Let’s keep our fingers cross.

 

What has fatherhood changed about you?

Nothing much! Just that some times like today I have to baby sit and when I look at that little Angel the joy she brings is mind blowing.

 

 

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