The rap industry in Nigeria has come alive in the last few months. There has been a resurgence, a couple of significant events that have regenerated and rekindled interest in the art form. At the turn of the millennium, rap music could pride itself as the most followed form of music in Nigeria. Rewind time to the days of Ruggedman, Idris Abdulkareem, and Eldee, rap in Nigeria at one time had a very honest and fanatical following.

Blaqbonez albums,  E.P’s and battles, Chocolate city’s Martell Cypher, Mi vs Vector Beef, Blaqbonez vs Khaligraph Jones, Timi Kei’s soul soup Album, and Dr. Barz record detailing the killing of a Mechanic in Port Harcourt are some events that have lifted the face of rap music in recent times.

Today, we had a chance to sit down with Dr. Barz who is emerging as one of the best rap acts in Nigeria and this is how it went.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Born Victor Akpomon, Dr. Barz is a uniquely versatile Afro-hip-hop music artiste. Born in the early ’90s in Benin, Nigeria and raised in the southern city of Port Harcourt, his love for music began from his early years as he started writing music at a tender age of thirteen in high school.

Dr. Barz’s music is an expression of his vast life experiences, societal struggles, and deep knowledge. With a voice texture and rhyme scheme likened to that of Kendrick Lamar, the soul of J. Cole and the spirit of a Port Harcourt hustler, Dr. Barz produces all shades of dope any day.

Why did you choose the name, Dr. Barz?

I chose the name Dr. Barz because I doctor bars. At first, it was just Barz, because I needed something simple and self-explanatory but it needed some distinction. I switched to 16 Barz for a short time because most of my verses were 16s, but in the end, I finally decided to be a Dr.

Can Tell us who your creative Influences are?

My major influences currently are J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and Burna-Boy. Although at different times during the span of my music career, I have had several other influences

Who do you consider the best rapper in Nigeria?

I consider myself The Creative God and one of the best rappers in Nigeria. I personally hold the opinion that the best is a set of people and not just one person, contrary to many people’s beliefs.

What is your opinion about mumble rap?

I think mumble rap is largely overrated and glorified – sad. I personally think real hip-hop/music should be comprehensible, possess clearly defined messages and inspire people to a positive end

What do we expect from you in the future?

In the future, expect way better songs, videos, bigger collaborations, award-winning projects and definitely real poo-poo

I’m working on my debut album, can’t specifically say when it will be out but it promises to feature a number of amazing artists worldwide.

What are your thoughts on selling digitally?

I think digital platforms are an amazing inclusion in the music industry business, one today’s generation of artistes should feel privileged to have Traditional hard copy sales should not be overlooked too as different regions have their preferences and this is also a good source of revenue during tours.

Are making enough money from streams?

Not enough But I am making some considerable amount of money

Would you say you have all the support you need?

I would say I am grateful for all the considerable amount of support I am getting, but I wouldn’t say that getting way more is a bad idea. It is required for growth

Are you signed to a label?

No, I am independent but I am currently managed by an independent outfit, Kporwell Inc. There are big advantages of being on big labels, but for the integrity of my sound and creative freedom, I would prefer to be independent

But you sure need some type of investment, right?

Music is a business Businesses need investors The more the merrier.

Thank you so much for joining us today.  we honestly think your video is pretty solid, gritty and dope. You are one of the best rap act out now.

The music business these days is so competitive and artists have to stand out from their competitors. An artist will have to set himself apart from the rest in order to create a reputation for himself and gain fans. One area musicians invest their resources, time, and energy in order to stand out is in creating catchy cover arts.

Koshi

Most times, covers are the first impression a listener gets of your music.

I remember when we used to buy records from vendors on the streets. Album covers were the first thing that would attract people 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 and may likely be what would end up in my shopping cart.  Today, the way music is bought and consumed is quite different but the significance of covers are still the same. Nowadays, Music is mostly downloaded, streamed, or viewed online, but pictures still play a vital role in what songs people choose to listen to. Therefore, A good album art should easily generate interest, convey your message, and speaks about the creativity that was put into making the body of work.

Liah B
Liah B – Bitter Sweet

Album covers can provoke a reaction and generate the desired response. Therefore, covers are a great tool for music marketing, promotions, and distribution. It is not a coincidence that the most sold albums are usually the ones with the best album covers. They influence the buyers’ choice and hence directly impact sales. A bad album cover could cause people to reject the album and hence grossly affect sales. There have been cases where records flop or get banned due to issues with the album covers. Therefore, You have to understand how people would perceive your cover art in the environment you find yourself. What may be considered as insensitive in one society may be accepted in another.

Take II Track list

A good cover will include the title of the project, Tracklisting, copyright information, warning label, credits, and contact information. It is a mystery why many streaming platforms refuse barcodes or contact information on the cover arts, but it is a wise decision to make two variations. One variant for the streaming platforms and the other variant for physical copies or blogs where you can display all relevant information.  The reason why these platforms frown upon covers having contact information like social media handles is not really clear but I believe that they do not want people leaving their apps in search of the artist. They rather have you search for the artist on their platforms or maybe it raises some legal issues we are not really aware of

UCHIMS - Front cover faith in me

Most cover arts are derived from professionally taken portraits of the artists. However, quite a number of artists or graphic designers employ the use of abstract painting, canvass painting, 2D, and 3D animations to convey a vivid message to the consumer. In other words, Album art may not necessarily be derived from a picture of the artist, sometimes it is plain text or just a combination of colors. The important thing is to ensure that it is clean, attractive, and informative. Clarity is key, the design must allow for the write-up to be readable and clear and should be spaced-out.

Here are some of my best album covers of all time.

If you have not been paying attention to how your covers look, you have been missing out on a great opportunity to promote and market your music to millions of people. This may just be the reason why people are not listening to your content when they find them on streaming platforms. Hence quit using low-resolution photos or low budget photographs to make covers for your songs covers.

—Written by Mazifeanyi

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.

crowd in front of people playing musical instrument during nighttime

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.