Nigerian rapper, A-Q granted an exclusive interview to Jaguda.com during his recent trip to Jos with Chocolate City’s rapper, Loose Kaynon.
During the interview, A-Q briefly shared his background, and how he paved the way through insightful conversation that revealed his plans for the Nigerian hip hop music industry; how he was supposed to be signed to Chocolate City before Blaqbonez came into the picture, likewise his struggles and successes among other things.
It would interest you to know that A-Q single-handedly started the label, 100 Crowns on a zero budget before Loose Kaynon came in to help steer the relationship with Chocolate City.
“A-Q, rapper, lyricist, part-owner of 100 Crowns Entertainment, Kings College (secondary school), Fountain School Surulere (Primary School), University of Lagos, Abia State (origin),” he said as he introduced himself.
When asked to clear the ambiguity about the ownership of 100 Crowns, he said “Chocolate City owns part of 100 Crowns. Nigeria is not a country where people fund you because they believe in your dreams; they have to be a part of that dream for you to sell what you’re bringing to the table. So everybody bears a certain amount of risk in it.
Citing the structures laid out by foreign record labels, he went further to describe how he needed more than just a distribution deal to get 100 crowns running on full speed. “What we needed from Chocolate City apart from the platform is funds. We are being funded now by Chocolate City,” he said.
He also explained how they had to break the cycle of their relationship to fully understand the structure they were trying to put in place. “At a time we were on fire. L.A.M.B August, Martel Cypher, Blaqbonez album came. We are still on the way figuring things out but yeah 100 Crowns,” he added.
When asked how the relationship between both labels have been, he vehemently said that it has been good but he would exit if things go bad. He further stated that since he is capable of adding value anywhere he is, starting all over again is something that doesn’t scare him.
We digressed a bit to talk about Blaqbonez and what the label has done differently to make Blaq a successful artiste.
Before going deeper into the conversation, A-Q faulted the foundation of most record labels and their executives for the failure of their hip hop acts. He used Audu Maikori and Paul (ChocBoss) to cite an example of why Chocolate City became a huge success, adding that label executives lack an understanding of the hip hop corridor.
“The reason why Chocolate City was successful is that Audu and Paul are hip hop guys. They listen to rap, they read all the Source Magazines, the Vibe Magazines. So the culture is embedded in them,” he said as he made his arguments clear.
Citing Skales, Poe, Ycee, and Dremo as examples, A-Q used the aforementioned points to buttress why some of these ‘hip hop’ artistes end up becoming singers.
“The truth about this is that, at some point, an artist will become bigger than hip hop itself which is what I’m trying to do with 100 Crowns. The culture is not big enough so when an artist starts to get big, he becomes bigger than the whole culture so he has to pivot to something because the hip hop space cannot contain him anymore. The streams are capped, the shows are capped, then you want to be in the same place where your peers (using Blaqbonez as an example) are; people like Rema and Fireboy,” he explained.
He further went on to reveal how hip hop artists struggle to get gigs, mostly because there aren’t enough hip hop shows and platforms to accommodate rappers.
Explaining the dynamics of how hip hop artists can’t move beyond a certain cap in the industry, he argued that being able to strike a balance between hip hop and pop to appeal to a wider range of listeners spurred him into signing Blaqbonez.
Revealing how he started the label on zero budgets how he got Blaqbonez in, and what they have done differently, A-Q said “strategy, planning, understanding the field that we’re playing in has played a major role so far.
Again stating a case for why hip hop artistes rush into the pop scene, A-Q asserted that understanding the market forces and consumer behaviour remains a major reason. He maintained that since a vast majority of music lovers in Nigeria aren’t lovers of hip hop, it only makes sense to feed the larger population with what appeals to them. However, he concluded that the non-existence of platforms to push hip hop artistes in Nigeria has challenged 100 Crowns to come up with a system that caters for these needs.