There is no exact template to attaining success, especially in a trend driven industry like the Nigerian music scene, but certain elements have proven critical over the years and understanding how short the period an artist has to make an impression and fully making the best use of that period remains an evergreen ingredient to creating a meaningful career.
Sometime in 2017, former Pulse scribe Joey Akan wrote an article titled ”Terry Apala’s window is closing fast, and he is doing nothing about it”, the piece was scathing, yet enlightening.
The most reverberating line for me was ”The window of opportunity in Nigerian music is what defines the career of an artist, especially in the early stages of their appearance on the mainstream radar.
Being able to keep the window open, and constantly bursting through, is what separates the relevant from the momentary.”
Many disagreed with the writers view at the time, I may not have all the facts but I sense the word ‘hater’ might also have been thrown around, but over a year down the line, the article stays true in respect of the state of Terry’s career.
Another artist whose career calls for many questions is that of the obviously multi-talented singer/producer Tekno.
It is quite easy to forget that the singer has been prominent on the scene for the better part of the last five years since the release of his early singles ‘Onyenekwu’ with Ice Prince, ‘Holiday’ featuring Davido and ‘Dance’ in 2013, with his major breakout single, ‘Duro’ released the following year.
Half a decade later and Tekno despite enjoying mainstream commercial successes with singles like ‘Pana’, ‘Rara’ and ‘Jogodo’ and also having label support in MMMG Records, still does not have a solo body of work to his name, [even though he has severally hinted that his album was ready], limiting him to being regarded as an ‘almost there’, when considering the names of A-list artists in the country at the moment.
It is noteworthy that the likes of Davido and Olamide who released their debut singles just a year before Tekno have gone ahead to solidify their place as mega artists on the scene.
There is also the mysterious case of Slimcase, who rode on the ‘Shaku Shaku’ trend to fame. The excitement of the dance trend seems to be finally fading and as such the career of the murkily voiced artist.
The singer who became renowned for his street slangs and features surprisingly does not have a solo hit single to his name. The songs where he has stolen the show the most all bear the names of a different artist, from Idowest‘s ‘Omo Shepeteri’ to DJ Enimoney‘s ‘Codeine Diet’, Slimcase has thus far been unable to transfer the magic to his own songs, and again time is running out on the window he has.
But this is not just about one artist, this is about a reoccurring theme that seems to be eating deep into the fabric of the Nigerian artist with very few putting in the effort to break out of it.
The Nigerian artist creates a buzz around their music, gets the people hyped and shifts the focus of the audience in his direction, but consistently, they stay stuck in that ’15 minutes of fame’ period and are unable to provide the lift to elevate the material from a trending moment into a movement.
Recently, Chocolate City boss, MI Abaga developed a master plan to revive hip-hop in the country. Off the back of his withering single ‘YRSFURL’, M.I was out to salvage the game and he was armed with three projects to make that happen.
Individually, these are three solid projects that were well conceived and deserving of all the praise that has followed its release.
But the fact is whatever goodwill these projects garnered in August have almost being forgotten in the first week of November.
30 songs across the three projects [10 songs each] and no single video has been pushed out for any of the songs as at the time of writing this piece. Not even for iconic records like the Show Dem Camp assisted ‘Crown’ or Blaqbonez‘s ‘Play’ that was burning up social media at the time.
There were talks of merchandising at some point and even though one understands the complexities that come with these sort of things at times, it is befuddling that artistes willing to make a cultural difference are seemingly holding back in pushing boundaries to make it happen.
Credit to Blaqbonez, who has constantly kept the conversation on his album going with his comical Instagram videos and freestyles.
In this internet age, where social media trends and viral moments have placed music consumption at an abnormal pace with the volumes of releases every week, shortening the attention span of a project.
The job of ensuring that your album which took months or even years to put together is heard longer than a week, achieving longevity, is not one that can be left alone to talent or the brilliance of the project.
A clear plan and intentional execution is key, one that requires teamwork, patience, self-belief, constant interaction, and unending hours of hard work, and that is the major areas where Nigerian artistes continue to struggle.
Breath-taking music is good, exceptional albums are vital, but having a unique and identifiable brand and effectively positioning oneself to make use of every moment that the spotlight is upon you remains key to sustaining success in the industry.