Fuji music has thrived over the many years it has been around and is still coming on strong. That is why I tag it as an industry on its own. The Fuji lords created for themselves an industry which consists of their own distribution channel, marketing avenues, and various business systems.
Today, I recognize and award this industry in different categories while I simultaneously discuss them as practical and workable promotional tips. These categories and promotional tips have been at work for so long in the industry that it has become some kind of norm practiced by the new and upcoming. I notice the Fuji peeps tend to be open to new ideas hence they have longed added more sophisticated promo tools to aid talent and business.
As we all know the Fuji industry has the craziest fans in Nigeria and a very large fanbase. Even though many see Fuji in its entirety as razz, noisy and local, but the results and success are quite evident.
Creativity, Talent and Initiative
I am yet to see a successful untalented, shallow and uncreative Fuji act. I noticed in major Fuji acts the elements of depth, creativity, and talent. Search from KWAM 1 to Pasuma; Obesere to Saheed Osupa, you’ll notice the three recipes if you are open minded…
Creativity requires the good use of language, the Yoruba language to be precise, and the ability to create your own style (ASA) and fun words. Most Fuji acts rely on the use of PON (play on words) and outlandish slangs to gain acceptance, recognition and carve a niche for themselves. By this they unconsciously brand themselves with a particular style or slang. Hence;
‘Orobokibo’ (whatever that means!) by Pasuma aka Popsie Aaliyah.
‘Consoli-wateva’ by ‘Oba Asakasa’ aka Obesere.
And if that’s too local for you…
How about ‘Tongolo’ by the ‘koko master’ aka D’banj?
Hope you see the light now.
Talent: Doing Fuji music is very consistent with performing for long hours at live shows, parties and even stage recordings. It requires an ability to sustain your crowd with fun lyrics and tunes. Talking about talent, imagine singing for more than two hours at an all night owambe party and yet ‘omo oloku’ has not come out to do his ritual dance. (Lol)
Depth: A Fuji artiste is usually a thinking singer. The shallow aspect is for fun and to ease tension. The deep stuff is the core attribute of Fuji music. Whether truth or good, the Fuji artiste sings about real life issues which he churns out from his ‘yorub-llectual’ reservoir.
Good use of propaganda
In marketing and even the government, the purpose of a propaganda is to spread information so as to create an awareness through the confusion and frenzy the news causes. Propaganda usually consists of some measure of truth well coated with a large chunk of lies. The lie is to attract the listener and aid the quick spread of the bitty truth.
They organize propagandas about rift between fellow artistes (themselves) to boost sales of album CDs and create traffic to shows. There are even recordings of beef tracks to aid the rumours and create nostalgia between fans. There have been huge fights between fans of one Fuji artiste and another. I’m amazed at the amount of influence these singers have on their followers. Imagine a crazy fan taking a broken bottle on his head for you all in the name of an argument about who is king and who is not. (Sighs) Should I pray, “You will get there”? (Lol)
They (managers, show promoters) organize shows in different active parameters in various hoods all around Lagos and all around Nigeria where their music is understood and appreciated- especially other western states.
This is usually done to create a fan- artiste experience’.
They also export their music. To them exportation is key. There’s an old cliché in the Fuji industry about travelling out to perform and which is seriously about prestige and achievement. And when they do export, they find acceptance because the foreigners find this music different- (of course, it is different-the drumbeats, the chants, the vocal tone)
They always strive to do an exclusive recording, coverage and production of every live show and performances, whether within or outside Nigeria. These includes: all night parties, shows, concerts, ceremonies (all sorts of). They always package into tapes and CDs for immediate sale through their ever ready sales and distribution networks
Fuji artistes start from the street and most times never turn their backs on the streets. The average Fuji artiste usually starts his career ‘practically’ on the street where he performs for recognition until his music becomes a popular /regular in the mouth of fellow street peeps. Once he breaks through, he does not hesitate to adopt his initial style or formula but makes it a bit classier. It’s more like an upgrade of what he did to rise to the top but the basic element is still at work.
“The streets talk about, the street make the hit song way before the paved road neighbourhood think of listening or buying.
The streets will recognize. The streets know its own. Its own does not necessarily should have grown amongst them – they just love you. Once they love you, you are theirs”.
Good use of stage; wonderful performances
The average Fuji artiste usually plays with a live band and least times with a demo or recorded sound on CD. With a list of backup singers, they do their best to look together. They look like they are on stage to entertain and not to show off how much ‘bling’ they bought with the proceeds of the last album. They do all they can to get the attendees entertained and thrilled- all they can. I wonder where they get those boneless, flexible exotic dancers (choreographers?) who interpret every sound and lyric with the movement of their back in other to aid the fans with an understanding of what Mr Fuji singer is singing about.
Word of Mouth
They spread news and stories about shows, awards, new developments (first through word of mouth). News seems to be more believable at first when more than one mouth gives you the load down. Prior to this time, Fuji peeps basically spread their stories this way. They also do soft sell papers and T.V promos but usually in between popular indigenous shows
Promotions: materials and songs
i. Have you ever seen those stickers with pictures of Fuji artiste you were not aware of placed in buses and shops?
ii. Have you seen those latest Fuji tape album covers stuck on the dashboard of the danfo bus with the title of the album and face of the artiste facing the passengers’ side?
iii. They print and paste posters of each and every album and live show CD/tape released all around their network of sales outlets and shops.
iv. Do you also remember when drivers play the latest songs of their favourite Fuji artiste on the bus while they convey passengers to their destination? Imagine how this works with those who are really interested in Fuji music.
In conclusion, I do not say anyone should do verbatim the observations I’ve made about the Fuji peeps. All I’m doing is trying to show all how an industry initially with little or no consciousness of marketing, branding, and packaging can thrive so far. To also show you how one group of individuals see and handle music business. I hope you read between the lines…
Esther Fabunmi is the head of Entertainment Ideaz ( an entertainment social enterprise), and editor of Talentz Bank (www.talentzbank.blogspot.com), a music business resource dedicated to help entertainers ‘turn from talent to cash’. Facebook/Talentz Bank, Twitter: @talentzbank.