In that conversation exists a key ingredient, prayer. Nigerians lift up their addled voices up to the skies in a bid to tear down the firmaments and get a response. In the background, their pastors urge them to cry harder and harder like drill sergeants.
But on the real side, some of these Pastors simply feel the same pain as members of the congregation and aim to see the pain translated into wishes. After those prayer sessions, a Pastor then wrings out a bunch of prophecies and affirmations to his congregation which leaves the church joyously at the end of the service. The situations make a lot of these people have more faith in the Pastor than God.
]]>Some of those members of congregations across the country are artists. Their prayers are littered with wishes for sponsors and that “One Hit Song,” like Cobhams Asuquo sang on that conscious song. For a lot of them, it’s not exactly about a relationship with God either, it’s probably about forming a lasting and rewarding relationship with the music.
A relationship that will help them go from singing from the throes of Victor AD-esque yearning for wealth to featuring their mothers standing regally clad before a beautiful edifice in an opulent music video like Drake did in the quite telling, ‘Started From The Bottom.’
For artists, their relationship could also be with the dream of topping the charts one day, bedding beautiful women (against church principles) and touring grand cities. The relationships keep birthing other relationships. At the root of each relationship is a prayer each artist says anytime he is about to do something worthwhile.
A prayer, a prayer, a prayer…. Until they can pray like from a place of opulence like Wale did on his ‘Power Circle’ verse – he flipped a traditional blessing that was originally written in Gaelic. The prayers Nigerian artists seldom say though are those of wisdom to navigate high waters of supreme calling, wisdom to handle the road to success when it beckons and wisdom to properly process change.
‘Lord help me get a label/sponsor to see my talent…’
Three is a perfect number. It is the alignment of possibilities and a ground for superstition. But for this discussion, it’s just a statistic… oh yes, it is also a topic for prayer, ‘The Three.’ Within the space of 48 hours, Obama Music Worldwide, an imprint of Davido Music Worldwide announced the signing of Ayanfe, a fresh-faced boy with Teni-esque vibes and Wizkid’s technique.
Before then, Chocolate City announced the signing of Candy Bleakz, the avant-garde embodiment of Generation Z Lagos and former frontman of now defunct, Street Billionaires. The biggest of all of course involves the tale of snooping Lion, Buju and the Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Nigerian music, Burna Boy. Yes, he’s also a lion… duh.
Burna Boy’s label signed, Spaceship announced the signing of Buju. Apparently, Buju has always been a Burna Boy disciple. It’s also a good thing that he didn’t just learn how to catch attention, he also learned how to stir up trouble. For the three artists in this conversation, their prayers were answered the moment they held those meetings and got those calls.
After the ink on paper dry and hand shakes are exchanged with grins that represent, ‘done deal,’ the prayers usually cease. This is most-common when those hand shakes come with car keys and apartment deeds. The cruising goes round town and relationships formed in the bowels of prayer get strained. Not always, but usually.
The problem though is that, prayers are good. Most artists just have the wrong wishes or like the average Nigerian desperate to break free of poverty or live the spendthrift lifestyle, they get shortsighted.
The missing prayers
Let’s hope the atheists and agnostics forgive the next line… Only God knows what is the perfect prayer. As human beings, we’re instinctive and quite banal. Thus, we mostly pray on momentarily pressing needs that are either from the concept of vanity or with a need for immediacy. As such, vision is missing from prayers as vision is usually missing from dreams and aspirations.
We dream, but we seldom think about what comes after our dreams are fulfilled. We dream and pray, but we ignore the machinations that make a dream work. For example, Olamide is praying for a car, but she never prays for wisdom to buy the right car, wisdom to drive it properly and the grace to upgrade on that car without issues as she matures.
It’s not our fault either, importance is only rendered to pressing needs in the human mind. Asides that, you can simply not see everything in the moment which you pray. So, you pray on what you deem important. Wretch 32 underlines the problematic simplicity of prayers in his song, ‘Thug Prayer’ thus;
]]>”Thug prayer; pray that our mothers are safe
Dad prayer; pray that our children are raised properly
Love prayer; pray that our brothers can play monopoly
Son’s prayer; pray that my father can be a god to me…”
For all the prayers in that song, there are a million other important things that each character in Wretch’s opening lines could be praying for. But because they’re in the moment, those other things don’t matter. We can forgive those characters and even regular human beings, but artists cannot afford to be that neglectful with the important topics of prayers.
The neglect of those prayer points means an artist does not understand what is important.
The important prayer points for artists
]]>A prayer to be sure music is the right path.
A prayer to sharpen the talent and use it productively.
A prayer to apply that talent as it is useful.
A prayer to make the music as it helps nurture the talent.
A prayer to work with the right people at the right time
A prayer to always be on time.
A prayer to spot opportunity.
A prayer to have the right brand and image.
A prayer to get the right label/sponsor to see my talent.
A prayer to be in safe spaces to manage my shortcomings and grow as a human being.
A prayer to negotiate the right contract with renegotiation clauses.
A prayer to know when to and when not to leave.
A prayer to deal with the bright lights of stardom.
A prayer to manage the ego that comes with stardom.
A prayer to make the right impact.
See these prayers as metaphor, but that’s not the important point here. The important point here is that those three Nigerian acts seem to have missed certain points in their days of praying to their respective versions of God.
The boy has talent and shout-out to ObamaDMW, who probably discovered him. But something seems off about signing to Obama, a member of DMW with little to no proven track record of label business. Nothing suggests this is doomed to fail. Even if something does, this is a prayer session, we cannot afford pessimism.
Ayanfe might have been better served with a deal to DMW directly while Obama owns some form of right to him. It could have been like the situation with Jay Prince’s son, Jay Prince Jr and how he helped Drake sign to Young Money/Cash Money. Jay Prince Jr did not even sign Drake to his father’s label, Rap-A-Lot, he signed Drake to a label he felt could better serve him.
In return, Drake became part of the Prince family while Jay Prince Jr was getting more than 10% royalty on Drake for 10 years. Drake subtly rapped about that relationship on ‘Mob Ties.’ The current situation with Ayanfe and OMW feels like an ownership and it’s quite eerie. A prayer was not said somewhere.
Candy Bleakz was the frontman of Street Billionaires, a group that was affiliated with Chocolate City. Throughout the time of that affiliation, Street Billionaires never got out of the underground despite their potential and alluring brand. Yet, Candy Bleakz went back and signed to that label. Yes, the label is huge and has an affiliation to Warner.
However, they struggled with cracking your group with the same style. Yet, you re-signed with that same label. Let us pray…
Burna Boy features on Buju’s new single, ‘L’enu (Remix).’ (Spaceship)
The biggest deal of all sees the unity of two large egos and problematic personalities. Already, Nigerians are saying prayers for them. In that spirit, this writer will join the intercession. Somewhere on Twitter, someone is currently likening this deal to Suge Knight, Tupac and Death Row.
Word is the worst thing to ever happen to Tupac was uniting with Suge Knight who weaponized Tupac and turned him into a monster. Okay, relax. Breathe. Buju and Burna Boy will never be that bad, we still have prayers. However, there is such a thing as working with the right people in talent, temperament and personality.
I can’t be the only one who sees the missing prayer in there before this deal got into the works. Let’s bow our heads and hope it works. Nonetheless, at its worst, this deal should make Buju a star. What comes after the stardom should be interesting in a case of two alpha personas with large egos and documented nastiness.
]]>Music relationships are not built to last, what matters is how they end. There is also a chance this relationship goes smoothly, but as well-wishers, we must now lift our hearts…
The artists have now forged a relationship with the music. Whether they prayed or not, we don’t know. For the ones who prayed, it’s probably not a case of believing in the Pastor or God anymore. It’s more about believing in the music. For us, we are stans, neutrals or detractors. Whatever camp you belong to, we need to believe in something.
In this case, I suggest optimism. There is only one prayer to be said and it was championed by former Senior Editor of Pulse Nigeria, Ayomide Tayo on April 16, 2020. He wrote, “Congrats. May it be productive.”
To all the record deals going down across Nigeria, we must hold our hands together and sing the intercessory kumbaya, “Congrats. May it be successful.”
We have seen an excessive amount of artist-label dispute that every record deal seems destined for the rocks. We must caution ourselves and learn optimism. It’s time, people.