This is an insider’s story on how NET newspaper was born. This is a continuation of my article on the night Dagrin died.
On our way back from LUTH, Mr Ayo Animashaun called us and told us to go where Dagrin lived to see if anyone was at his apartment and probably interview them.
Prior to his death, Dagrin had moved to a new and fancy housing estate, sort of a like a mini-1004 estate, at the outskirts of Agege. We found the estate in no time and convinced the security guards to let us in.
Dagrin died on April 22, 2010 after several days in coma following a car crash
]]>We drove around the estate for thirty minutes because we didn’t know Dagrin’s building and apartment number. I guess a bus roaming around a pretty estate at midnight must have scared the people who lived in the estate.
We parked the bus and found Dagrin’s apartment eventually. It was locked. Nobody was there. When we got back to the bus, some of the residents had already come out from their flats. They more or less kicked us out of the estate. Everyone was protective about Dagrin.
Anyway, we got back to the office and it was empty.
I wrote the news of Dagrin’s death on the website with a heavy heart and slow fingers. In the morning, work continued and I updated the website with news about Dagrin. I was beyond tired at this point but things were moving at such a fast pace I couldn’t rest for a second.
James Silas was in the building. He was the day-to-day editor of Hip Hop World Magazine. Also in the HHW Magazine office was Mayowa Adedokun, the hardworking graphics designer who never complained. The three of us pretty much ran Hip Hop World Magazine with the supervision of Animashaun.
James, Mayowa and I were dedicated to churning Dagrin content all day long. Most of the posthumous Dagrin creatives that the public saw were created in our tiny office.
We toiled till a few past minutes past seven, then strolled in Adekunle Ayeni, now the publisher and founder of Nigerian Entertainment Times (NET), a leading Nigerian entertainment website and founder of Black House Media, a PR company.
Adekunle Ayeni is an alumnus of Hip Hop World with the likes of Bayo Omisore, Efe Omoregbe and other classic writers. Ayeni had launched his website NET a few months earlier. He is however a print man at heart and had been mulling with the idea of publishing a weekly print edition of THE NET.
In our small office, Ayeni and Ayo Animashaun had a discussion about this. Being the great motivator the Hip TV boss is, he encouraged Ayeni to start the paper. He told him he could use any of his resources to start off. James, Mayowa and I were around and that’s how we opened our laptops to start the maiden edition.
“As a collective of Hip-Hop World magazine, we were following the story and update since the accident, and praying for Dagrin” James Silas tells Pulse.
“Now, Ayeni had always had NET on his to-do list and it was destined to start on April 22, 2010, the night Dagrin died. I think (I’m not sure), the first publication started with myself, Ayomide Tayo, Chooka, Mayowa, Dare, Ayo Animashaun and Ayeni. The rest, they say, is history.”
]]>I can’t remember what I wrote but I remember it was easy to come up with the words. I had been writing about Dagrin for 24 hours so I knew the flow. Less than an hour later, I had submitted my article. James quickly wrote his article too. This was on a Friday and I don’t think we had plans of staying at the office over the weekend.
We left Mayowa (Mayor as we fondly called him) to deal with the design. He stayed at the office all weekend.
I was fagged out when I got home that Friday night but a surprise was still waiting for me. I couldn’t sleep so I checked what was popping online. Lo and behold a mysterious Dagrin song had popped up.
I clicked play on the audio file and I the next thing I heard was “If I die…”
Was this Dagrin singing from the grave? Nigerian producer who recorded this track before the rapper passed away released it 24 hours after his death.
Nigerians were shocked. This was Dagrin singing about his death. It was very spooky. Did he know he was going to die? Why did he decide to do such a creepy song?
Anyway, the first edition of NET came out that weekend. On the front page was Dagrin unconscious, hours after his accident with the headline “Tragic Death of a Rising Star.” This is how NET newspaper was born. The edition featured stories from James Silas and me, Adekunle Ayeni and Chiagoziem Onyekwena who was NET’s online editor at the time.
NET Newspaper became defunct in October 2015 (BHM)
]]>Writing this article a few minutes away from NET and Hip Hop World offices, I realise that night was a passing of the torch.
As Ayo Animashaun expanded his empire by making Hip TV into a 24-hour station and cementing the legacy of the Headies, Adekunle Ayeni’s NET filled the void that Hip Hop World Magazine would create.
NET hired young energetic writers who broke major entertainment stories and took the bar for entertainment journalism higher. It continued from where Hip Hop World Magazine stopped even though the magazine continued for a few more years.
Stories such as the break-up of 9ice and Toni Payne, Goldie’s death, the 1004 murder and others were covered in great detail by NET. The publication soon became the most authoritative voice in the land with regards to celebrity news.
Just like Hip Hop World Magazine, NET also boasts of the finest entertainment writers in the land. Osagie Alonge, Chiagoziem Onyekwena, Dimeji Ogedengbe, Dayo Farore, Steve Dede, Victor Enegedi and others made the NET newspaper the most credible in the country. According to Adekunle Ayeni, Dayo Farore, who was NET’s top entertainment journalist got photos of Dagrin.
“In the lifetime of every successful publication, there’s usually a turning point that forces people to sit up and take notice – at NET, it was the death of Dagrin” Onyekwena tells Pulse. Chiagoziem popularly known as Chiaman on Twitter has a 9 to 5 in the city of Abuja but also doubles as one of the brains behind Filter Free, a contextualized Nigerian music website.
“No one provided better coverage, amazing insight and exclusive visuals than NET did, no one. It was the turning point for the website and helped to launch the newspaper arm of the publication. But at the same time, I was conflicted – and still am till this day – because we benefited from telling arguably the saddest story in Nigerian entertainment history” he further says.
With regards to photojournalism, NET also set the pace. The swashbuckling photographer Victor Obot started working with NET a few days after Dagrin’s death.
]]>Victor is the bane of bouncers because he can sneak his way into any event no matter the security. He once travelled to Dubai with no place to sleep and wedding invitation because he wanted to cover 2face’s wedding. This is how far he goes to get a photo.
Victor is the only photographer in the land that has the picture of Dagrin in the morgue.
He submitted the tragic pictures but after an intense debate involving Ayeni, Animashaun and a few others at the office it was decided that it would not be published.
NET had caught some flack after it posted on its site, a photo of Dagrin unconscious in the hospital. I have never seen the pictures again. God knows which hard drive Dagrin’s morgue photos are. The paper went the extra mile to get any story or photo and this separated it from the pack.
On October 20, 2015, Ayeni Adekunle announced he was shutting down the print edition of THE NET.
“There’s a narrow future for the print business all over the world. The situation here in Nigeria is made more scary, because of poor distribution infrastructure, media agencies’ chronic debts, and increasing availability of a faster alternative: everyone now can potentially access news on the go, on their phones or laptops” he wrote on THE NET website.
Social media and the fact that the paper wasn’t commercially viable, The Nigerian Entertainment Today was shut down. For five years, print edition was the very best.
It gave Nigerians top quality entertainment articles and was a breeding ground for many young writers to hone their skills. The death of a promising rapper gave birth to the print edition of NET. The impact of this significant day is still unfolding.
]]>There are more stories to tell. Watch this space.