I was just watching a youtube video of Cossy Ojiafor “grinding” Eedris Abdukareem on stage, but that was not really what caught my attention.
At the show, just before bringing Cossy on stage for the seductive performance, Eedris performed “Oko Ashewo”. To put things in proper perspective Eedris Abdulkareem performed a song which was released on an album in 2002 at a show in 2013 after he has released 4 albums subsequently! And of course, it wasn’t because he wanted to go retro; it was because that was the best he had to offer, after 11 years.
And I just couldn’t help but wonder, what’s this guy still doing in the music industry? Why not just call it a day and drop the mic once and for all?
I’m not here to knock Eedris Abdulkareem particularly here but I see him as a convenient case study and I’ll make reference to other artistes in the course of this piece.
Now, to first clear the air and preempt the “He’s a legend” claimers, I’m not in any way disputing that. I’ve followed Nigerian contemporary music right from the days of the Plantashun Boyz, Remedies, Azadus, Maintain and others. I remember diligently saving my lunch money to buy their CDs. And only God knows how times I replayed the video of “Oko Omoge”.
To be sure, Eedris Abdulkareem was actually the first big Nigerian CONTEMPORARY music export, ahead of even 2face Idibia. If awards like the MTV Base and BET awards for African artistes had existed back then, he would have easily copped them all. In fact it was not until the beginning of his decline in 2004 when he had a “misunderstanding” with 50 Cent that 2face Idibia’s first solo album was released.
So what am I saying? I’m saying the man has had a fine run, a majestic run and it’s time to call it a day.
A write up by a certain Gbemisola Adesuwa Abayomi titled “Why do Nigerians hate the truth? Eedris Abdulkareem and the Nigerian Music Industry” published here on jaguda.com and some other blogs online attempts to justify his continued presence in the music industry by saying he is a founder of Nigerian contemporary music and even went on to insinuate that the reason Nigerian artistes are better paid today is because of Eedris’ scuffle with 50 cents. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The incident was a misunderstanding which marked a significant decline in Eedris’ career, but nothing points to the fact that it marked the beginning of greater things for Nigerian music artistes. After the incident, Eedris fell out with Kennis Music, lost favour with Nigerian Breweries (the organizers of the show), and even according to him was betrayed by PMAN, which was then headed by Charly Boy. Who then seized upon that incident to start treating Nigerian artistes better? Eedris even apologized to 50 cents 6 years ago (it’s on video). Why did he do that if he really knew deep in his heart of hearts that the earlier quarrel was not bad behavior on his part?
Contemporary music is more lucrative in Nigeria simply because the industry has grown bigger. No one was paying much attention to contemporary music back then because it was not yet very popular; it was in its infancy. At that time, Fuji and Juju music were more dominant and the celebrities of those genres like Wasiu Alabi Pasuma, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall, King Sunny Ade, Abass Akande Obersere and others were making a lot of money from their music.
In fact, it is actually an illusion to believe that Nigerian musicians are now treated like their foreign counterparts. It is simply not true. Chris Brown is rumored to have been paid more than a hundred million naira for his concert in Nigeria last year, the number of Nigerian artistes who are paid a hundredth of that can hardly be counted on 10 fingers!
Eedris should be recognized as a pioneer, but I believe he should stop saying things like “the reason D’Banj and others gets paid millions today is because of me”. It is a very vain statement.
It is like MC Hammer saying the reason Jay-Z is worth half a billion dollars today was because he pioneered rap, or Lil Kim saying the reason Nicki Minaj is so famous now is because she popularized female rap.
Someone starts something, others follow suit, and it’s the nature of life. Eedris didn’t invent rap too, he copied others. Why doesn’t Eedris ever say the reason he started rapping in Nigeria was because of the rap pioneers in the US? Or is that not a fact?
Why is he always looking for an opportunity to say the reason every single person that sings or raps today makes money was because of him? He still did it by revisiting a comment Don Jazzy made early last year and has already apologized for in his latest song titled “I go Whooz you“.
I don’t mean to turn this post into a complete critique of Gbemisola’s article, but permit me to say or word or two about the words she rounded up with. She said and I quote “A dj friend in Nigeria told me, many rappers had turned to singers in Nigeria now. This means it’s a one direction thing and reasons why all we hear every day is all about ladies, sex appeals, money and no message or reality”.
Is rap music synonymous with “message or reality”. Are the top rappers in the world not those who talk about pu**y (where * = s), sex and money?
Gbemisola says she works with MTV Hits UK, I took a look at the MTV Hits playlist for today and the Official MTV UK top 40 Singles chart and I didn’t find one song which dealt with message or reality, follow the links and check too. So I don’t understand her condescending attitude of looking down on Nigerian music when the artistes here are actually following the lead of their counterparts abroad!
Now, note that I’m not dismissing Eedris as old school; I’m saying he’s not able to perform and deliver at the highest level anymore. 2face has been around since like forever, yet he still manages to consistently deliver top quality songs, and that’s good, more grease to his elbow.
If Eedris isn’t able to do better than what he’s brought to the table 11 years ago, why not just call it a day? Is that like a taboo or something?
Eddy Remedy quit almost immediately after the Remedies broke up, Tony Tetuila had a fine run but he has honorably receded to the background now. The list goes on and on, MP, Freestyle, Nomoreloss, Rasquie and others.
It is obvious that the money in the industry is way more than back in the days. Heck, Skales has probably made more money in his career than the likes of Eedris Abdulkareem and Azadus made back then. That is probably why they still want to hang on and see if they can eat up a few endorsement money and the likes before they retire, but churning out below par records isn’t going to get them an endorsement anymore than praying will make a car fly.
Weird MC is another specimen in this category. After the success of her 2006 album which spawned the hit song “Ijoya”, she hasn’t been able to match the success of that song anymore. She then went on to make the remix of the 7 year old song this year. Why?
As for Eedris Abdulkareem, he now seems to have an interest in making “conscious music” i.e. songs about the situation of the country, boko haram, niger delta etc. He probably wants to mold himself into a new Fela of sorts. If he was passing conscious messages across in good music, that would have been commendable, but even he’s so called conscious songs are mediocre at best, Fela made very good music, and channeled his message into them.
The music has to be good, before the message can be taken seriously.
In my opinion, he’s spoiling the enviable record of the past with the desperate attempts of the present.
Every true champ must know when to quit.
Keep supporting Nigerian music.