The Nigerian music industry is characterised by surprises. Almost every season, the rise of a new star is witnessed. Over the years, as a matter of fact, we have witnessed the success of artists who gained recognition beyond the continent.
However, currently, they are no longer making waves. While they still release songs periodically and even collaborate with mainstays, their impact is not as widely felt as it used to during the peak of their career. In fact, some of them have been advised to quit music for good.
You could say, from careful observation of the workings of our music industry, that every artiste has a season. Yet, the career longevity of a (or multiple) breakout star(s) is largely unpredictable due to unforeseen circumstances that include label rift, bad publicity (disputable by brand strategists), loss of creativity, and audience reception.
Having a hit song is highly hinged on audience reception, and audience reception can be studied. In 2016, for instance, we saw the ‘wash’ sound gain widespread acceptance. Interestingly, the breakthrough of Mr Eazi that year was built from the audience’s growing romance with Ghana’s pon pon that time. Pon pon is basically soft music heavily laced with doses of dancehall and hiplife. Runtown jumped on the bandwagon only to emerge with his biggest hit ‘Mad over you’.
Fireboy’s entrance into the mainstream scene was majestic (for lack of a better word). Although he calls himself an Afro-life artiste, he does R&B and Afro-pop well. ‘Jealous’ wasn’t just a club banger; it was a mega-hit. It got him the Listener’s Choice award at Soundcity MVPs recently held in January and a nomination for Headies’ Next Rated 2019.
His following single, with a video that currently has over a million views on YouTube, ‘What if I say’, gave industry watchers and critics alike quite the impression that we have a rising star on our hands this time.
The video for ‘King’ followed, and Fireboy DML gradually grew on fans who waited on his next release since the first hit he dropped. It also helped that he went about granting interviews to radio and TV stations.
But he is not alone you see; he has Olamide as his boss and that’s what’s also huge. Olamide is widely known for his skilful management and grooming of artistes into becoming the “next big thing”. He did it with Lil Kesh and Adekunle Gold. All his artistes are known, even if they’re not all big stars – talk of Chinko Ekun, Viktoh, Temmie Ovwasa.
Fireboy DML released Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps; it’s one album that has grown in leaps and bounds and is likely to be a strong contender for album of the decade based on commercial success, relevance, track listing, composition and style.
For Fireboy, all these achievements, within a year of fame, are why he’s being betted upon as one who would linger and not be a one-period-wonder.
With Rema, his success isn’t even debatable. My teenage cousin always went on and on about him before I listened to his music for the first time. I watched his Colors TV performance of Bad Commando – and boy was I hooked.
Rema has it all: the voice, the looks, the swag, and the versatility. The way he switches from rap to trap to Afro-pop to Latino then to Afro beats – he is currently killing it beyond the continent. From performing at the NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago, USA to being on the favourite list of Barack Obama to a collaboration with Becky G, Rema is consciously staking in the larger world music market – and I’m here for it.