Music business these days is so competitive and artiste have to stand out from the competition . An artiste will have to set himself apart from the rest in order to create a reputation for himself and gather fans. One area musicians invest their resources, time , and energy in order to stand out is in creating good cover arts. Cover arts most times is the first impression a listener gets of your music – You see before you hear .
I remember when i used to buy records from vendors on the streets. Album covers were the first thing that would attract me to your music. My eyes would navigate a stack of records in seconds , the record with the best graphics , color , format , message and layout would grab my attention. Today , the market is quite different but the challenge is the same. Most music is downloaded , streamed or viewed online, but still , pictures play a vital role in what songs people pick to play. A good album art should easily generate interest. It portrays your plan , purpose, direction , creativity , intention and conveys the message to the fans . Sometimes the message is controversial but ultimately it is used to summarize a project . How creative your album cover appears tells a lot about how much creativity you have put in to the album as a whole, as the album design is closely related to the album concept.
Due to the Buzz an album cover can can generate , album covers are very essential and important to music marketing and distribution. It is not a coincidence that the most sold albums are usually the ones with the best album cover . They influence the buyers choice and hence directly impacts sales . A bad album cover could cause people to reject the album and hence affect sales negatively. There has been cases where records flop or get banned due to unaccepted album covers . Therefore, You have to understand how people would perceive your cover in the environment you find yourself . What is regarded as sensitive in one society might not be as sensitive in another society.
A good album art will include the title of the project , Track listing , copy right information , warning label , credits, and contact information . Although Professionally taken portraits of the artists seem to be the most common , many designers also employ the use of abstract painting, canvass painting, 2D and 3D graphics to convey a vivid message to the consumer . In other words , Album art may not necessarily be a picture of the artist , sometimes it is plain text or just a combination of colors . The most essential thing is to ensure that it is attractive and informative . Clarity is also important , the design must allow for the write-up to be readable and clear. Here are some of my best album covers of all time.
Hip hop in Nigeria has become a controversial topic . Every one has an opinion about what Hip Hop should sound like . Honestly , there is actually no formula but the basic fact is music should sound good regardless of it’s genre .
King Jaja Bars by illgod & xplain is one song i recommend Hip hop heads in Nigeria should listen to . In my opinion , this is what African Hip-hop should sound like. I am a believer that Africans should tell their story through their art , be it music , painting or movie making . The fact that we have left our history to foreigners to document is disgusting . The reason i was not a fan of Wakanda . The narrative of that movie did not develop in the mind of an African child . It was the narrative of people who have probably never stepped foot in Africa. An African child will never conceive a super hero dressed in a cape or suit and mask. Super heroes in Africa are in the form of Princess Amina , Jaja of Opobo , Fela , Sango , Amardioha , Ebubedike, Yaa Asantewa, Haile Selassie etc . Also, there will be no reason to work with the CIA or build centers in foreign lands . There is also an element of false or bad publicity in there for Nigeria . The producers claimed the movie is fictional , but the proceed to name places like “ Sambisa forest ” . My problem with this is that , like coming to America starring Eddie Murphy , American movies make people conceive false ideas of Africa and hide behind the fact that it is fictional or they exaggerate the problems in Africa in the name of fiction. They also make it seem that all Africans need to come to America to have hope , education or a life . These views are totally false, unacceptable and very bad publicity for Africa.
I have no problems with Foreigners expressing their opinions about Africa in their arts as well, the problem is Africans should be aware of these false / foreign narratives and realize they have a duty to make their counter perspectives known . We need to tell our own story . Imagine reading or watching the African narrative of Slavery or Colonization devoid of European influences or narratives. It will be way different from what we see on TV .
When you write a song about your environment and experiences , it never gets old. illgod and Xplain D Don are aware of this fact and they exploit it in all of their tracks . Although the general opinion is that the days of Boom-bap hip-hop are behind us, illdagod will always awake it’s spirit because he is telling his story and that of his people, the narrative is original . I replayed this song a minimum of 10 times (no kidding ). One was because it felt like i visited my beloved Port Harcourt again. The slang and terminology was basic Rivers State lingual . It’s like seeing a documentary of your favorite city . The references they made through out the song reminded me of my back ground . I really do not pay attention to rappers who talk about things they know nothing about or who try to tell a tale from a foreign perspective, lingual or ideology. You are not being original .
This song is titled King Jaja Bars , after King Jaja of Opobo (full name: Jubo Jubogha; 1821–1891) . He was a merchant prince and the founder of Opobo city-state in an area that is now the Rivers state of Nigeria. Born in Umuduruoha, Amaigbo, in Igboland, he was sold at about the age of twelve as a slave in Bonny. Jumo Jumofe later took the name “Jaja” for his dealings with the British.
Jaja proved his aptitude for business at an early age, earning his way out of slavery; he also dominated the Palm oil trade and was a real super hero because he resisted the British from controlling his people until he was arrested , exiled , and poisoned .
I dominate beats like Jaja dominated the oil trade .
Event’s organizers often need artistes, musicians, and performers to provide entertainment for their guests. Some of the performers are established acts while the majority are often up-and-coming artistes. Unfortunately, It has become a trend for event organizers to refuse to pay up-and-coming artistes, most times the excuse is that the event already provides a platform that would expose the artiste, hence there is no need for financial compensation.
In my opinion , no business should run at a loss. Unfortunately most upcoming acts run their businesses at a loss. People say that unless an artiste is a household name they really do not deserve to get paid. But on the contrary, upcoming artistes need as much money as the established acts do. They spend a lot of money on music production, photography, album art designs, radio promotions, video production, distribution and promotion. The average cost of producing music is #100,000, most photographers will charge you anywhere between #50,000 and #300,000 for a well shot photo session. The cost of promoting and distributing music runs into millions of Naira. Therefore, it would be very inconsiderate to expect an artiste who has spent all these amounts on their work to make an appearance at your event for free. Unpaid gigs and event will run your music business to the ground and it has ruined a lot of artistes and music businesses already.
Artistes should get paid just as Upcoming DJZ, Models, Vixens, Producers all get paid for their job at events. It disturbs me why most event organizers find it difficult to compensate a new artistes for their work. Paying people for their work ensures that they also grow as a business, they become relevant in the society and ultimate helps grow the economy. An event promoter would also benefit from it as more artistes will be willing to work with you in the future and give their best because there is a financial reward. Be you a farmer, a trader, a mechanic or an artiste, if you are invited to work you deserve to get paid. An upcoming artistes job at an event is to entertain guests until the main act or main agenda comes on stage. They help to you hold your crowd together. You should be able to offer a decent amount of compensation for the Job they do for you. Without upcoming acts, people will not be primed for the main act and many may eventually leave the venue.
The problem is that there are too many desperate artiste out there who either do not understand business or are just too desperate that they pay to perform at events. The problem with this is, once you started in that direction it would be very difficult to find organizers who are willing to pay you. Because they all know that you perform for free. There is a popular saying “Do not start what you cannot finish.”
Another problem is the lack of a management for most fledging acts . Every artiste needs to have a management or a business manager whose responsibility is to ensure that the artist interest in being protected at any negotiation. They would ensure that bookings, appearance fees, endorsements are reviewed and is in the artists favor. Failure to have a management means that you may continue to accept deals that are not in your favor just because you want to present your music to the crowd.
In conclusion , Even if it is a token amount compared to established acts, please set aside a budget to compensate the work of up and coming artists. it is an insult to their work , struggle and effort to persuade them to work for free. It is also unjust and unfair. It is not a favor it is a right.
Just this weekend , I was in an Uber ride, the driver was an African American lady named Kafilat. As soon as i saw her name on the app while ordering the ride, I recognized she may be Nigerian. I was half right. Apparently , she was half Nigerian and half American. Her dad is Nigerian. We immediately got talking…
“Is Juju real ? ” she asked . I started to explain how Africans originally had their traditions , religion and practices before the Europeans and Arabs brought Christianity, Islam, colonization, and slave trade. Most of what is regarded as Juju today is the worship of African gods for protection , wealth , health and economic growth . It has been portrayed in negative light. Bad people use any tool at their disposal for bad and African religion is not an exception .
Today , Africa is a confused place with all kinds of religions . Some practices are a mix of African religion and Western Christianity or Arabic Islam . I told her that African spirituality is not a myth but new generation Africans have been forced to believe that our religion is inferior to the European based monotheist religions . We also made reference to Beyonce’s recent video’s depicting her as a follower of Oshun the river goddess.
African Americans have been deliberately left in the dark for ages . I think the Education system here was designed to keep us asking questions rather than providing answers. Many African Americans who have approached me are constantly asking questions about their origin and their identity . While Some have taken the added step to traced their lineage to different parts of Africa, others are still in their quest to find where their families originated from . You need to know your history to discover who you are and understand your purpose . I encouraged her to research the topic and I gave her some references .
One thing remains obvious , The Western Media will not tell the truth. Have you ever wondered why Africa is depicted in today’s media as 100 percent poverty , diseases and Mal-nourished kids? It has resulted in African Americans begin ashamed of where they are from, and grateful for being forcefully taken across the Atlantic – That’s the aim . That is why Africans need to tell their own story . No foreign entity should help you define your religion , history , shape or background . Africans need to guide their own interest . We need to take a cue from the Chinese and Indians; who have battled against western influences to retained their culture , religion, and heritage. It is only when you understand that your father was a scientist , a king , or a queen then you can hold your own. When your history is constantly depicted as useless , you subconsciously become afraid , shy , and grateful rather than outspoken , confident and forceful . It is a control mechanism.
The notion that Africa’s Religions are Fetish and crude is false . Christianity and Islam were similarly crude, but as time went on became refined to suit modern society . African Traditional religion would have evolved the same way if it was not for Europe’s invasion of Africa. To cut the long stories short, American Rappers , namely Seven Six Supah & Yosun Tala just dropped a single that summarizes all i have said above. They are seen in the video Praying to the Yoruba orishas ( Obatala , Oshun , Sango , olodumare , Ogun , Ifa ) and remind Africans to be proud of their heritage and history.
Have you met Tobe Nwigwe? A First generation Nigerian – American who is rapidly on the rise. He was born and raised in Alief, Texas better known as the S.W.A.T .Tobe is a very conscious rapper and most of his music centers around his life experiences. He speaks about everyday life and is definitely a voice of his people. Being a First generation Nigerian – American, he shares a similar story with Jidenna: both artists tell a similar story of what is is like to grow up in America being black and having African parents .
Recently Tobe was invited to be a part of the Legendary B.E.T CYPHER ( an event that is preserved for the Crème de la Crème of the hip hop industry ) and soon afterwards he was labelled by Jill scott : the legendary American singer , as a Genius .
His new video Spice ft Spice Adams will definitely impress you . He even spits Pigin in heavy igbo accent on this one.
Shut that your dirty mouth / Come my friends please get out / wetin do you when you talk about / who you talk about / what you talk about / see the boy go in and out / put the pigin so they can listen just a lil different when i’m spittin /
He is currently on tour with most of his venues already sold out . Los angeles , Atlanta , Washington , and New york have been sold out, but you can visit his website here to buy tickets for Chicago and Dallas which are almost sold out , if the reports reaching us is anything to go by. so waste no time if you plan to be a part of this event and grab your tickets fast !
The purpose of my blog is to provide a place where dope independent artists i have come across, especially in the cities i have lived in ( Indiana Usa , Chicago , Lagos , Port Harcourt ) can interact . Having said that , it means the scope of my blog for now is very limited. It is a personal blog and the views are a personal opinion.
Today i want to introduce you all to an artist named ” Blaqbonez “, a rapper I have followed since i lived in Lagos Nigeria . Over the years, Blaqbonez has been very consistent and has dropped projects, most of which have contributed to his rise in the hip-hop circles in Nigeria. His works have brought him a lot of accolades and consequently a deal with 100 Crowns; a company affiliated with choc city music ; home of arguably Nigeria’s no. 1 rapper MI Abaga.
In August 2018, he dropped a project tiled “Bad boy blaq” . I took time to listen to this project on spotify and i have decided to provide a general overview on the project (My opinion) . Over the years, i have seen Blaqbonez evolve from being a battle rapper to making music that sounds good and have a commercial value. From the East coast boom-bap music to a project that is heavily trap. This goes to show how far blaq has come and that he is in touch with the market and has tailored his music to suit what the market wants. Blaq has also grown from being an artist that only cares about accolades and hype to a fully grounded business man, and i am happy at his attempts to wrap his head around the business part of music.
First, I love to pick up an album and after listening to it i can tell the artist’s origin, language , life experiences , purpose and ideologies . 2017/18 has seen a slight shift of in the way artists approach content creation . Artists like Lil wayne, Cardi B , Drake , Nas even our own Mi Abaga dropped projects that are very inward and introspective . The shift has seen artists go from money and hoes to spreading the word on concepts like business , self study , and self awareness . On this project , Blaq follows the same direction, i could identify his culture, his beliefs and most especially i could understand his story. The songs are laced with English and heavy pigin and verbiage and slang are ingenious to Nigeria. Also, the subject matter he raps about is relevant to his environment and the message is clear. What i enjoyed most is the realness. He is not trying to talk about issues he knows nothing about but he draws inspiration from issues around him and those that are common within his surrounding. That is very important to the success of music globally. You have to listen to your environment and speak a language they speak to connect your music with them. I had no problems identifying Blaqs motives and message. From the album cover you can tell that Blaq had set out to be creatively unique . I love the color combination and i suppose the pictures on the cover represent different facets of his personality or personal journey.
The introduction to a project means everything. it tells the listener if to continue or not . Blaqs first track ” Accommodate ” gives a summary of his state of mind. ” Real life not knowing where dinner is coming from / real life f**k what u see on Instagram broke as fuck but living without stealing “. It sets the stage for what to expect . A dope rapper fighting to get heard ! . The second song on the tracks-list “Denied” starts where he left off on the first , he raps
” I am so ahead of time / 2018 held me back / carry the cross i am like Christ / prayed to God to save my life / cos i am real, going and killing this people like flies / well on my way to the ice / never been lucky my life/ aint no roll of the dice / i just cannot be denied/ Mi Abaga told me i am the one / everybody be like shii i am the one / even q said i am the dopest, to disrespect him must be stupid / ”
The arrangement of the tracks is impeccable . The production is top notch . Blaq had tweeted that M.I spent time working on this record and it definitely paid off .
One thing i noticed even from Blaqs previous projects is the way he uses skits to connect tracks . This is an old practice but it is a potent tool. Skits are to albums what conjunctions are to essays . If used intelligently they provide a beautiful link and add value to the project. It tells me that Blaq has done his home work and he knows what makes up a good project. I also love the use of recorded phone conversations to add a real life feel to the records. Blaq uses this effect to show that he draws inspiration from everyday life and that his music centers around his life. it is a priceless feature. Another very impressive thing about the project is how Blaq manages to bring in heavy features. Loose Kaynon , Aq , Terry Apala are veterans and they came through heavy on their records. Aq and Loose Kaynon came through on the track ” Low key ” and alpha although i do not know a lot about him was no push aside on the record. Stand out lines from the veterans are …
There is nothing new you can show me / get a pat on the back like Utomi / . See y’all can ask my exes , i quietly take my exit , they roll around with that L forever like a life time deal with Lexus, passport tatted like Rick Ross/.. add aesthetics to the project .
Terry Apala is a beast on the song ” I told you ” and delivers his agbero vibe that everyone loves. I would have been very happy to see an MI Abaga verse on this project. Asides the very heavy features, Blaq also showcases some impressive young talents on this project . I particularly love Oxlade on the song ” mamiwota ” . Kudos to Mi Abaga on the production of this master piece . it is flawless in my opinion , the mixes are very balanced and even through the cheapest of head sets you still are surrounded by the ambience of the sound. The beats are mad from top to bottom so kudos to Blaqs production team.
If there is any where the project scores a low , it is in marketing and promotions. So far, it has been more of a online project. I believe this record is bigger than the promotional budget it has been accorded . I was very excited when i heard Blaq had finally landed himself an agreement with Nigeria’s biggest rap brand choc city , therefore his record is going to be on heavy rotation and videos were going to fly out left right and center. This has not been the case and we are still awaiting the first video off the project. I will not lay all the blames on choc city , if you follow recent happenings in the music circles ; revenue , sales , and show money is hard to come by these days and record companies lose all their capital in promoting and distributing but no returns to show for it. Therefore, it is understandable if choc city, led by Mi Abaga are taking their time to explore the possible income streams for him. It is better to take things slow than to run into debts.
Over all this is a solid project and i hope we have not seen the last of it. I believe that this project still needs videos , events and a promotional plan and we could have a heir to M.I ‘s throne already. My favorites on the album are the more introspective tracks like Tosin’s song , consent, 5.00am . Songs like Play , Mamiwota , I told you ft Terry Apala, and woke give the project a heavy commercial appeal and a repeat value. I recommend this to any music lover. This is definitely top 3 projects in recent times by a Nigerian.