August 26, 2015
liufadmin (615 articles)

Collaborations with American artistes – a necessity?

The Nigerian entertainment industry, particularly music, is almost on auto-pilot these days. The industry is at a point where only slight priming is required for it to ignite fully.

We are especially at a point where the music industry’s hotshots can be said to possess the Midas touch with almost every piece of music translating to pure art, exponential returns, valid international recognition, etc. But in truth, the industry is still green with everything we see and deem a success actually mere flashes in the pan.

Psquare and Rick Ross

If there’s an argument on how great we have done with the music leading to the current international collaborations and the likes, there should definitely be a counter point that answers how much these collaborations have added to the artistes and their international run, because in truth, not much has been achieved with regards to this.

Did Tuface’s African Queen stop being his biggest hit ever after he collaborated with Bridget Kelly on Let Somebody Love You? Did P-Square increase their performance fee after the collaboration with Rick Ross? Did he oblige them by appearing on their tour in Europe or Canada after said collaboration?

So what exactly do these collaborations do for Nigerian music?

The futility of it all

Akon, for instance, has done many collaborations with Nigerian and African artistes from every corner of the known earth – music partnerships that haven’t exactly helped bridge any gaps. Oh well, maybe a few more glitz and glamour here and there, but nothing particularly substantial for the Nigerian artistes. How then do we rationalize this vis-à-vis the need to break into international markets?

Wizkid is currently at his peak; so, considering it was Drake’s idea to jump on his Ojuelegba single, we should respect that hustle and acclaim as well as give some time before saying whether or not the collaboration or remix has (or will) cut the ice or not.

Davido and Meek Mill

Ice Prince is galactic at present, perhaps the most successful Nigerian rapper we can point to today. But his collaboration with Joel Ortiz regardless, he’d be just as great. Not to say there’s any wrong in the partnership, but if there isn’t complete maximization of these things, then it’s almost a futile process.

It is futile to have an American artiste come in on a collaboration just for the sake of garnishing your Wikipedia page and personal websites. It isn’t enough to have the song on an artiste’s album when s/he cannot command the exact same respect on international scenes.

Don’t get this wrong; there’ll always be that class difference between Nigerian artistes and their American counterparts.

But the point where an Ice Prince and a Wale reach an agreement as to what contractual benefits each man stands to get with a collaboration should be the point where Ice realizes that whether or not Wale flies on for his Fire Of Zamani album launch, he’d get just as much cheques via the markets, digital music platforms and corporate clients.

Knowing your worth

You see, it’s really painful how our artistes don’t even know – or appear not to know – what they’re worth. Otherwise what does Ice Prince stand to gain in a collaboration with a D-list American artiste like French Montana?

Meek Mill went off on Drake for not supporting his album. The back and forth between both sparked off a week long frenzy on microblogging site, Twitter. Mr. Mill also attacked Wale for not helping promote his album. But he forgot so soon how he also didn’t promote Wale’s, nor his collaborative effort with Davido.

This leads us to asking how exactly the collaboration between Davido and Meek has helped make the former a bigger star than he already is in Nigeria. How does it ensure Davido is any more revered in Nigeria, Africa or on an European tour than he was?

Does Fans Mi remotely have anything to do with his back-to-back MAMA wins as Best Male Artiste? Would the song have been any less a hit but for the near average bars Meek spat on it? These are pertinent questions, and we should find answers so it helps put this discourse in true perspective.

Yemi Alade is Africa’s Best Female Artiste this year, at least that’s what the MTV MAMAs say. And if they think so, I couldn’t agree any better.

She doesn’t have any American collaboration. She is where she is today from sheer hard work and skills.

Asa is one of our most celebrated from here; I’m struggling to find her American collaborations given the overt importance of it.

Asking the important questions

Just to reiterate, international collaborations are very good only as much as they optimally serve their purposes. Outside that, it makes no odds.

Sound Sultan doesn’t sell the highest records today but he has been consistent and his art is pristine. He was on the Wyclef-assisted song Proud To Be African. Doesn’t add much to Sultan’s overall acclaim, won’t have changed how much renown he has today were he not on the effort.

Fela is probably our greatest conscious music act of all time. Sunny Ade is up there on the list of greats from this end. MI Abaga is called legendary in many hip hop circles today. He didn’t need to pursue a certain international collaboration to get this far. If he had one, however, it wouldn’t have changed much were it not fully optimized.

Don Jazzy and D’Banj had a fling with Snoop Dogg and subsequently Kanye West. And while Jazzy backed down and focused more on the local market, Dbanj went on with a Good Music contract that never really panned out.

Still, DBanj is respected across circles today, in spite of being directly with some of the biggest hip hop stars of this decade in JayZ, Kanye West and other acclaimed producers, and failing to properly launch his music internationally.

Collaborations help. International collaborations will always help. But the question is – if these artistic synergies are not fully maximized, then to what end are they in the first place other than for Wikipedia and local soft sell magazines?


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