Showing posts with label Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Music. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Davido commits ₦300 Million for orphanages in Nigeria

Grammy-nominated Nigerian musician Davido has announced plans to donate a sum of “300 million naira to orphanages around Nigeria as my yearly contribution to the nation details of disbursement tomorrow."

Davido made this revelation in an Instagram post on Tuesday.

The pledge on Tuesday, February 20 is an outcome of the Adeleke Foundation founded by Davido in 2022 with the help of other charitable organisations, in a bid to help vulnerable children.

In July 2023, he announced the foundation donated over 200 million to orphanages in the country and 13,818 children benefited from it. He also promised to donate some more money in 2024.

In the press release posted at the time he said: "I founded the DAF in 2022 with a strong desire and passion to continually assist and create a proper framework for the ongoing charitable works to benefit the good people of Nigeria...", arts and entertainment online portal xtribeafrica reported.

The charitable tradition began back in 2021 after the singer's birthday, when he made over ₦200 million in donations after sharing his bank account details on his Twitter (now X) page.

Africa News


Monday, February 5, 2024

Tyla's win over Burna Boy and Davido at Grammys 2024 fuels South Africa-Nigeria rivalry

 South African singer Tyla's victory at the Grammys, beating four Nigerian nominees, has fuelled the rivalry as the two nations prepare to face off at the Afcon semi-finals on Wednesday.

"South Africa won today but Nigeria will win on Wednesday where it matters most" one user wrote on X.

Tyla won for her song Water in the Best African Music Performance, over Davido, Arya Starr and Burna Boy.

Nigerians have called on their national team, the Super Eagles, to avenge them.

"No Nigerian won a Grammy, but a South African won. This is Nigerians being generous so that when we win them in AFCON, they will have something to banter with," another user wrote on X.

Nigerian Afrobeats giant Burna Boy was nominated in a total of four categories but did not walk away with a golden gramophone, yet his spellbinding performance at the award ceremony left the audience in awe.

Despite the fierce rivalry between Nigeria and South Africa, Davido extended his congratulations to Tyla on X and told her to "keep soaring".

South Africa was also represented by comedian Trevor Noah who was at the helm of the prestigious award ceremony as he was hosting for a fourth time. 


Thursday, November 16, 2023

Oladips: Nigerian rapper dies aged 28

 Tributes are pouring in for popular Nigerian rapper Oladips, following his death at the age of 28.

"We are still in shock as we speak," his management said in an Instagram post.

The cause of death is unclear but the post read he "kept his battles within himself" for two years.

Oladips was a talented musician who rapped about political issues like the ENDSars protests against police brutality.

He also touched on the subject of mental health and depression in his songs.

"His story telling rap was top notch" one fan wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Big Brother Naija contestant Hermes Iyele expressed his shock over the young rapper's death saying: "May God grant the family the grace to carry this grief."

The rapper was due to release his new album titled SUPERHERO ÀDÚGBÒ (The Memoir) on Thursday. His last single was called Die Young.

Oladips rose to fame when he won a rap competition called the King is Here hosted by Nigerian music giant DBanj in 2015.

Oladips's death comes a few months after another popular musician, Mohbad, died in September, leading to countrywide protests.

By Danai Nesta Kupemba, BBC 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Video - Nigerian creatives make voices heard at Abuja concert

A remarkable concert in Abuja saw the convergence of young music lovers and climate activists determined to use the universal language of music to amplify their message about the dangers of global warming.


Thursday, August 10, 2023

Video - Nigerian music producer praises AI as productive and cost-saving

Eclipse Nkasi, a music producer based on the outskirts of Lagos is generating afrobeat music using artificial intelligence. One of his first creations is an artificial musician named Mya Blue.


Thursday, July 6, 2023

Video - Salsa teacher helps to dance the blues away in Nigeria

In Nigeria, the power of dance is being used to battle mental illness and the stigma attached to it. Men and women in the capital, Abuja, are coming together to attend free weekly salsa lessons for those battling trauma and depression … or even just to keep fit. Al Jazeera’s Michael Appel reports.

Al Jazeera

Monday, June 12, 2023

Video - Burna Boy gives Jamie Carragher dancing lessons

Burna Boy gives former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher some dancing tips during 2023 Champions League final televison broadcast.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Seun Kuti released on bail





A Nigerian Afrobeat star facing trial on charges of assaulting a police officer will embark on a delayed concert tour after being released on bail, his manager said Wednesday.

Seun Kuti, who was in court on Wednesday, has concerts scheduled in more than a dozen countries but his departure had been on hold because of the trial, his manager Ayo Moses told The Associated Press.

The son of Nigerian musical icon and political agitator Fela Kuti, who himself was serially detained by Nigerian military regimes, Seun Kuti had been held for more than a week after he was caught allegedly assaulting a police officer in Nigeria's economic hub of Lagos.

At Wednesday's court hearing, the presiding judge ruled that it was the public prosecutor – not the police – that had the power to prosecute the musician. The judge then adjourned the case until a further hearing on July 3.

"He is on bail and as a responsible citizen, he will continue to enjoy his rights because he is presumed innocent," Femi Falana, his lawyer, said after the hearing.

Viral videos appeared to show an agitated Kuti shouting and pushing the officer along a major road in Lagos last week. It is still not clear what caused the confrontation, though Kuti alleged the officer in question "tried to kill me and my family."

While he was in detention, the police searched Kuti's house, causing an uproar among some Nigerians and his lawyers. But Benjamin Hundeyin, a spokesperson for the Lagos police, defended the search as necessary and approved by the court.

"In the course of our investigation, we stumbled on certain suspicious things that needed to be proven/disproved beyond reasonable doubt," Hundeyin said without providing further details.


Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Afrobeats star Seun Kuti Arrested in Nigeria Over Alleged Police Assault





Nigerian Afrobeats star Seun Kuti was arrested Monday (May 15) after being accused of assaulting a police officer in the commercial hub of Lagos.

Kuti was detained at the Lagos State police headquarters after turning himself in, according to police spokesperson Benjamin Hundeyin, who tweeted photos of the celebrity in handcuffs.

The son of Nigerian musical icon and political agitator Fela Kuti, who himself was serially detained by Nigerian military regimes, Seun Kuti was “captured on video assaulting a police officer in uniform,” the police said.

Videos posted online appeared to show an agitated Kuti pushing a police officer as the officer stood beside a police vehicle along a major road in Lagos on Saturday.

It was unclear what led to the confrontation, though Kuti tweeted that the officer in question “tried to kill me and my family.” He suggested the officer tried to ram their car.

Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali Baba ordered an investigation into the incident. The inspector general “assures Nigerians that acts of contempt/disdain for symbols of authority will not be tolerated while offenders of such hideous crimes will be surely brought to book,” the police said.

“I welcome the investigation and will give my full cooperation!” Kuti responded on Twitter. 


Related story: 'The system is rigged': Seun Kuti on reviving Fela's political party

Video - Fela Kuti - The father of Afrobeat

Video - Femi Kuti reflects on a life in music and activism

Monday, May 8, 2023

Video - Artist aims to popularize African classical music in Nigeria

Nigerian music has gained wide acceptance both across the continent and around the world. Genres like afrobeat and highlife have remained popular. However, African classical music isn't as well-known. But one Nigerian musician is looking to change that. Struggling Kenya 7s in desperate battle to avoid relegation.


Monday, February 6, 2023

Tems wins Grammy award





Top Nigerian artists have joined music fans from across the world to congratulate singer Tems on winning a Grammy award.

She won the Best Melodic Rap Performance category for her contribution to the hit song "Wait for U" with Future and Drake.

They beat a strong field which included Kendrick Lamar and DJ Khaled.

Artists including Tiwa Savage, Waje and Omowunmi have posted messages congratulating Tems.

"It's Tems' time. Nobody can stop her shine. Superstar," posted Afrobeat singer Olamide.

Many fans have also taken to Twitter to congratulate her.

The 27-year-old has been praised by fellow artists for her vocal talent.

She reportedly has collaborations lined up with several mega starts including Beyoncé and Rihanna.

Meanwhile, South Africans Wouter Kellerman, Zakes Bantwini and Nomcebo Zikode also won a Grammy Award - for Best Global Music Performance for their collaboration Bayethe.


Monday, December 19, 2022

Davido performs at the 2022 World Cup finals







In a history-making event, Nigerian superstar Davido joined the duo of Aisha and Trinidad Cardona to perform ‘Hayya Hayya’ (Better Together) at the finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup 2022 Official on Sunday.

The track is the first single of the multi-song FIFA 2022 World Cup 2022 official soundtrack.

It is Davido’s first public performance since his son, Ifeanyi, died in an unfortunate drowning incident in September.

The trio performed the FIFA theme song before the estimated 88,000 fans in attendance at Lusail Iconic Stadium, Qatar.

The tournament’s closing ceremony, which FIFA dubbed ‘A Night to Remember’, also featured a performance by Puerto Rican reggaeton singer Ozuna and French rapper Gims’ collaboration Arhbo’.

Moroccan-Canadian singer Nora Fatehi, Emirati pop star Balqees, Iraqi musician Rahma Riad and Moroccan vocalist Manal concluded performances with ‘Light the Sky’.

The trio emerged from underneath the stage, simulating a blossoming flower.
History made

Davido made history as the first Nigerian artiste to perform on a FIFA World Cup stage.

It is the first time that the tournament’s soundtrack will feature a multi-song collection, with international singers showcasing diverse musical genres that span the world setting.

During the tournament, other Nigerian singers, Kizz Daniel and Patoranking performed before football lovers at the FIFA fan arena in a series of concerts by the football governing body.

Amid speculations, Davido, who arrived in Qatar before his appearance at the FIFA 2022 World Cup’s closing ceremony, was supposed to perform at the beginning of the football tournament but couldn’t.

The ‘Stand Strong’ singer’s appearance at the World Cup was first announced on Thursday by Chinese businessman Stephen Hung on Instagram.

Before then, the singer’s fans doubted whether he would form as he had maintained a social media silence after his son died.
Fans react

Unknown to many, Nollywood actress and filmmaker Omoni Oboli is one of Davido’s biggest fans.

The actress spared no words in celebrating the arrival of the singer and his wife, Chioma, at Qatar, the venue of the World Cup.

“My joy is full. My love for these 2 is something even I can’t comprehend. We are all praying and rooting for you,” she captioned a photo of their arrival on Twitter.

Although he is the first Nigerian to grace the World Cup stage, other Africans have been privileged to perform at the acclaimed arena.

In 1998, Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour and Axelle Red performed their song ‘La Cour des Grands’ (Do You Mind If I Play) at the tournament’s opening ceremony hosted by France.

The song was from the album, ‘Music of the World Cup: Allez! Ola! Ole’, released in 1998 by Sony Music Entertainment.

It was also chosen as the official anthem of the FIFA World Cup that year.

Also, Grammy-winning singer Angelique Kidjo performed at the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa.

She was one of the headline artists for the Kick-Off Celebration Concert in Johannesburg.

By Ovwe Medeme, Premium Times

Related story: 3-year-old son of Davido drowns in home pool in Nigeria

Thursday, December 8, 2022

D'banj arrested in Nigeria for youth fund fraud









Nigerian Afrobeats star D'banj has been arrested over allegations of fraud after millions of dollars meant to help unemployed youths start businesses was reported missing.

The artist, who has claimed to be the brand ambassador for the scheme, has turned himself in.

The N-Power initiative was launched in 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

But many beneficiaries have complained for months that they were not receiving their grants.

Nigeria's anti-corruption agencies said in a statement on Wednesday that "billions of naira" had been diverted.

Lawyers representing D'banj - whose real name is Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo - have denied a claim by the anti-corruption agency that their client had ignored multiple summons.

They said the artist willingly turned himself in on Tuesday and that he will cooperate with the investigation.

More than two million Nigerians aged between 18 and 35 have benefited from the N-Power scheme since it was launched, according to the government.

At least 280bn naira ($629m; £516m) was distributed in 2019 to beneficiaries who started small businesses, the authorities said.

Ten other people, as well as D'banj are being investigated, the anti-corruption agency said.

"The investigation will be all-encompassing and also be extended to other collaborators of the fraud and the banks where the beneficiaries' accounts are domiciled," a statement read.

The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, which oversees N-Power, said it had no official engagement with the artist and that his claims to be an ambassador for the scheme was misleading.

D'banj's 2012 hit Oliver Twist won him fans across the continent and in the diaspora.

Two years ago his one-year-old son drowned in a pool at his home in the commercial city of Lagos. 

BBC, by Nkechi Ogbonna

Related story: Son of Nigerian music star D'banj drowns at home

Video - D'Banj talks new album and Kanye West

Thursday, November 3, 2022

3-year-old son of Davido drowns in home pool in Nigeria

Singer Davido's 3-year-old son appears to have drowned at his home in Nigeria, police said.

The incident happened Monday night, two weeks after Ifeanyi David Adeleke celebrated his birthday.

Davido, the Nigerian music star whose real name is David Adedeji Adeleke, and the child's mother, Chioma Rowland, were not home at the time, Lagos police spokesman Benjamin Hundeyin said in an emailed statement.

Authorities questioned eight members of Davido's team who were at the home and released six of them. A nanny and another unidentified person are still being questioned, Hundeyin said.

He said the investigation continues to "ascertain if it was truly drowning or otherwise."

Lagos Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said Tuesday on Twitter that the child had a smile that "made the world smile" and offered his condolences to the grieving parents.

"Death leaves a heartache no words can heal and today, I express my deepest condolences to David and Chioma, over the death of their son," he wrote. "I pray that God grants you strength even as my thoughts and prayers are with you."

Davido, 29, and Rowland, a popular chef, have not publicly commented on the death. His representative could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Last month, they shared pictures of their son as he celebrated his birthday.

"I pray with all my heart that God grants you perfect health and pure happiness for as long as humanly possible. You will grow to be greater than Me, Happy birthday, son #BIG3," Davido wrote in an Oct. 20 post.

Rowland called her son the "love of my life.

"Mummy loves you so much, may God always bless you for me. God has been so faithful to us and I’m so grateful to be called your mummy," she posted. "May you be greater than your parents in Jesus’ name, amen. Love you twin! #big3."

Davido, who was born in Atlanta, has more than 25 million Instagram followers and is one of Africa's most prominent artists. His 2018 single "Fall" became the longest-charting Nigerian song in history in 2019, Billboard reported. He has collaborated with several high-profile artists, including Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Nas, Stefflon Don, Young Thug and Lil Baby.

NBC News, by Minyvonne Burke 

Related story: Son of Nigerian music star D'banj drowns at home


Monday, June 20, 2022

‘The Devil’s Music’ No More: Inside Nigeria’s Rock Resurgence

In 2013, Bianca Okorocha, a Nigerian artist who performs as ClayRocksU, received a DM from one of her Twitter followers. It was an invitation to Metal and Romance, a party in Lagos focusing on rock music — a genre long plagued by negative stereotypes in Nigeria. When she got there, she couldn’t believe what she saw: a whole community of fellow rock fans. “It was one of the happiest moments of my life,” she recalls.

Okorocha grew up listening to her father’s rock records, mostly by foreign bands. Through her teenage years and early adulthood, she immersed herself in punk fashion. But she noticed that people were always wary of her. “In church, I was always called to the pastor’s office for one complaint or the other,” she says. “People always gave me the side-eye and refused to approach me. So I didn’t expect to see so many people in tune with rock music.”

During Metal and Romance, she was shocked to hear Danjuma, lead singer of the metal band 1 Last Autograph, growl — something she’d never seen a Nigerian do. “When I saw them perform, I said to myself, ‘No way I’m not going to collaborate with these guys,’” she says. She’d later become friends with Danjuma, and perform and release music together with 1 Last Autograph, including the metal single “Down” in 2014. These days, they’re still playing together anywhere rock music can be found in Lagos and elsewhere in the country.

And they’re not the only artists leading a new wave of Nigerian rock. For the Love of Woman and Country, the latest album by Lagos’ Oma Mahmud, features both Afrobeats and punk-rock songs, along with songs that blend both genres. “There’s a lot of people that actually want to listen to [rock] songs like this,” Mahmud says. “Every single time I perform my music, it’s usually one of the highlights of the night. Mostly because most rock songs are people just venting their frustrations, and living in Nigeria, [it’s] a country where almost everybody’s frustrated.” His music speaks to Nigeria’s everyday problems, such as corruption, poor government, and a failing economy. Mahmud’s high-energy performances make his audiences feel connected to his music. “They immediately lock on to the music and feel like I’m their best friend,” he says, “like I’m telling their story.”

With artists like Burna Boy selling out Madison Square Garden and Wizkid and Davido doing the same at the 02 Arena, Nigerian music is becoming part of the Western pop mainstream. Could Nigerian rock be the next breakout sound? Okorocha thinks so. “If we can combine the rock that we love with Afrobeats, it may go a long way,” she says.

While rock music is often aligned with non-conformity and resistance, in a hyper-religious society like Nigeria, the genre is also branded as evil — or even associated with the occult. “Most people just think rock fans are listening to something demonic,” says Deoye Falade, who started listening to rock and metal in the mid-Nineties and now attends rock festivals and meetups in Lagos. “The kindest reactions I often get is that this is noise.” But, he says, he no longer cares. “When you like something and you understand it, you just enjoy it.”

He recalls a video of a Nigerian wedding that trended on Twitter in 2018, which featured the couple and their guests headbanging to System of a Down’s “Toxicity.” Some viewers couldn’t understand why Nigerians were partying to rock while dressed in agbada. “But you don’t have to paint your faces or rock the fashion before you like rock music,” Falade says.

A 26-year-old Lagos-based graphic artist going by the name of Queen, who has loved punk and metal since she was 13, says she felt shunned by her peers for listening to music from her favorite bands Bring Me the Horizon and Asking Alexandria. “People were wary of talking to me, and I struggled to make friends,” she recalls. “Once I started rocking and nodding my head, my roommates would say ‘the spirit’ had possessed me, which is weird because even the Christian music they listened to is pretty much rock music — just a softer kind.”

But rock music wasn’t always perceived like this in Nigeria. In the 1970s, after the Nigerian Civil War, and as the country was experiencing an economic boom fueled by the discovery of crude oil, rock bands like Ofo and the Black Company, War-Head Constriction, the Hykkers, the Funkees, and the Lijadu Sisters graced the airwaves with psychedelic rock and funk that captured a distinctly Nigerian sound. These artists chronicled the evils of the civil war, and Nigerians reveled in a renewed sense of optimism that turbocharged the growth of the nation’s music industry. But leftover war trauma and unresolved tensions got swept under the rug — along with Nigerian rock.

Music historian and researcher Uchenna Ikonne, who spearheaded the two-volume compilation Wake Up You! The Rise and Fall of Nigerian Rock 1972-1977, says that rock’s youth appeal in Nigeria — which set it apart from the then more popular genre of juju — ultimately hurt the genre. “In Nigeria, [young people] have the least amount of disposable income, compared with the West where teenagers have jobs and can spend money on entertainment, buy records, and support artists,” he explains. “Teenagers [have never really had] jobs in Nigeria, and the ones that do are doing it to help support family. So rock music had a niche culture that had a hard time sustaining itself, as opposed to juju artists like King Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey who would make entire albums praising the richest aristocrats in the society. Those social elites would in turn attend their performances and shower these musicians with their money. … So while juju artists were making money hand over fists, rock artists were struggling.”

Ikonne also draws distinctions between Nigerian rock artists and the country’s most recognizable musical icon, Fela Kuti. On one hand, Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat sound shares stylistic similarities with Nigerian rock: percussive rhythms, and grungy electric guitar and organ work. (Compare the solos in “Ije Udo,” a track by Seventies Nigerian rockers Magnificent Zenians, for example, with Fela Kuti’s “Shakara.”) But, Ikonne says, “coming from a middle-class background, Fela was able to sidestep the struggles of rock artists at the time, as he had more resources.” In the end, his experimentation with Afrobeat, highlife, and rock, coupled with his larger-than-life personality, attracted more attention than his rock peers. “When [Fela] perfected his sound, it kind of upstaged and cannibalized the Nigerian rock scene,” says Ikonne.

By the Eighties, an era that saw a growth of Christian revivalism in Nigeria, heavily influenced by the Moral Majority movement in the United States, rock music gained a bad rep in the country. Those prejudices have lingered for decades. Even in the 2000s, Dammy Lawal, who grew up listening to foreign rock artists and would go on to found the Metal and Romance fest, faced criticism for his taste in music. “Most of what I was hearing was that it’s the devil’s music,” he recalls.

In 2013, Lawal started a BlackBerry Messenger group where he and his friends could share rock playlists. “We had people sharing songs from Disturbed to Linkin Park, AC/DC to Creed, and so much more,” Lawal says.

The collective grew and transferred to WhatsApp. As each group reached its member limits on the app, newer offshoots were formed: RockazWorld, Rock Republik, Rock Haven. Eventually, Dammy decided to host an in-person event: Metal and Romance, where he also met ClayRocksU. “It was meant to be a meetup for sharing music playlists and dancing to our favorite songs, but by the next year, members started demanding that we include performances,” he says. “That was when we knew we had to host an actual show with a bigger venue. We were on to something.”

In October 2015, Rocktober Fest was born. Rock bands and artists visited from all over Africa to attend the show. More than 700 tickets were sold, and 15 performers delighted fans. The numbers grew exponentially over the next two years.

Lawal believes that African rock artists need to embrace their culture, rather than simply emulating Western sounds. “The best rock songs are the ones that have local flavor,” he says.

Oma Mahmud agrees, saying that Nigerian rock artists have to make rock music “native” to the country. “I can perform regular punk-rock songs, but I know who I expect to listen,” he says. “But to scale, the rock has to sound [more] Nigerian.” He says that his friends often play his songs in front of random people, “to see if it’ll draw a reaction.” It always does. “When you hear rock music that sounds like it comes from here,” he says, pointing to his heart, “it catches people’s attention.” In 2021, Afrofolk artist Johnny Drille featured a punk-rock song on his album Before We Fall Asleep — a politically satirical rock song in pidgin that involves growling — to positive reception.

ClayRocksU excels at something similar, fusing Igbo language and local pidgin folk elements with punk rock. In February 2021, she released “Amin” with her band, the Misfits, creating a subgenre of sorts: “Afro-rock.” With the song — a feel-good tune sung in Nigerian pidgin and blending punk rock, Afrobeats, and folk — Okorocha and Co. are also attempting to challenge the negative stereotypes attached to rock music in this part of the world. The singer recalls performances where audience members were shocked to learn that what they were listening to was rock music. “Sometimes, people don’t care about genre,” she says. “They just like what they like.” The lyric video for “Amin” now has 12,000 views on YouTube, a feat she’s achieved organically.

“Not bad for a rock artist in a country where no one listens to rock, eh?” she asks.

By Ama Udofa

Rolling Stone

Related stories: Universal Music Group strikes partnership with Nigeria-based Aristokrat group

Nigeria's Burna Boy says Grammy win marks 'big moment' for African music

Friday, April 29, 2022

More accolades as Burna Boy becomes first Nigerian singer to headline MSG

 Grammy award-winning superstar, Burna Boy is still soaring higher. The Afro-fusion pioneer has officially become, not just the first Nigerian music star to headline at the Madison Square Garden, MSG, New York, but also, the first to sell it out when he live-streams his wildly anticipated “One Night In Space” show at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden yesterday on YouTube.

This massive win for Burna Boy and the entire African continent goes to buttress his point in the lyrics of ‘Way too Big’ when he sang “Because I’m way too big”. It’s clear he wasn’t joking. Featured as a guest on the American Talk show “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”, Burna Boy left everyone including Trevor himself, in stitches with his naturalness and authenticity, a teaser of what to expect at the MSG.

The self-acclaimed ‘African Giant’,who has also revealed that an exclusive limited line of merch will be made available to commemorate this historic event as the first Nigerian musician to ever headline the world-renowned venue, however, promised a classic fusion of elements and themes combined with his explosive energy and the true spirit of New York City, which will culminate into an unforgettable night in New York City.

This ‘One Night In Space’ showcase follows Burna Boy’s recently sold out debut at LA’s The Hollywood Bowl, electrifying performances at 2021 Global Citizen Festival and The Governor’s Ball, as well as sold out international shows at London’s O2 Arena, Paris’ Accor Arena, Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome and more venues around the globe, as part of his 2021 Space Drift tour which echoes the sounds from his groundbreaking fifth studio album ‘Twice As Tall’, an immediate sensation, earning more than 5 million worldwide streams within its first hour of release. 


Related story: Nigeria's Burna Boy says Grammy win marks 'big moment' for African music

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Video - Why nothing will stop Yemi Alade

Nigerian pop superstar Yemi Alade is a force to be reckoned with. In her own words, a "Woman of Steel". Alade's accomplishments in music are many. Her song "Johnny" was one of the biggest hits on the African continent in 2014. In 2015 and 2016 she won Best Female performer at the MTV Africa Music Awards and was nominated for Best International Act at the BET Awards. In less than a decade, she has released five studio albums and has collaborated with artists such as Rick Ross, Duncan Mighty, Angelique Kidjo and Funke Akindele. But perhaps her biggest collaboration to date has been with Beyonce, contributing to the Black is King Album with The Gift and Don’t Jealous Me. Alade boasts more than 450 million YouTube streams, has close to 15 million Instagram followers, and is about to begin a second season as a judge on Nigeria’s The Voice. As if all of that wasn't enough, Alade has now become a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, working to highlight COVID-19 vaccine inequality. The daughter of a police officer, she was also part of Nigeria's huge End Sars campaign against police brutality and is passionate about women's rights. In this episode of The Stream, Yemi Alade us in-studio for a conversation about her music, women’s empowerment, her activism on COVID and for an exclusive live performance.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Nigeria's Burna Boy says Grammy win marks 'big moment' for African music

Modern African music is altering perceptions of the continent as part of a global cultural shift that marks a “big moment”, Nigerian music artist Burna Boy told Reuters after hailing his first Grammy award.

Burna Boy was awarded a Grammy for the Best Global Music Album this month for ‘Twice As Tall’ which was released last year.

He is part of a generation of Nigerian music artists, which include Wizkid and Davido, that has enjoyed global success in recent years as proponents of the Afrobeats sound. The African genre is now almost as likely to be heard in London or Los Angeles as it is in Lagos.

“It’s a big moment and a big time for African music and Africans in general,” said Burna Boy, during an interview at his home in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos.

The artist, whose real name is Damini Ogulu, said his award was part of a “domino effect” that gives Africans more control over the way they are perceived through technology, as streaming services take the continent’s arts to a global audience.

“I didn’t even want to be African when I was little,” he said. “I wanted to be anything but who I was, because who we are wasn’t really the cool thing to be,” said the artist, who grew up in southern Nigeria and moved to London as a child before returning to the west African country.

He said his win showed that African music was attracting worldwide respect.

Those sentiments were shared by many at Edge Music Academy, in the Jakande district of Lagos, where students compose music in a studio decked out with microphones, laptops and a keyboard.

“The future is bright,” said student Obi Prince. “The way Afrobeats is represented in the world right now can only be a start for Nigerian artists. We just have to do our thing and bring out ourselves more globally,” he said.

The academy’s chief executive officer, Michael Tijani, said Burna Boy’s win was a “huge deal” for Nigerian music.

“People coming into the industry now have a more concrete belief that you can actually get as far as anybody else in the world can go,” he said.

Reclining in a chair in his home studio, Burna Boy reflected on his success.

“You can’t mention the top five musicians in the world without throwing me or an African in there,” he said, smiling. “Now we’re eye to eye with the people we used to look up to.”

By Alexis Akwagyiram, Angela Ukomadu


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

'The system is rigged': Seun Kuti on reviving Fela's political party

The musician and youngest son of the Afrobeat legend has been galvanised to act after police brutality in Nigeria

“For 60 years nothing has really been solved in this country,” Seun Kuti says. “Healthcare, education, electricity, transportation, welfare – nothing has been accomplished.”

Galvanised by the brutality meted out by Nigerian police against protesters in October last year, the 37-year-old Grammy-nominated musician and youngest son of the Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti resurrected his father’s socialist political party, the Movement of the People. Against a backdrop of widespread and mounting frustration over how Nigeria is run, he hopes the MOP can be a vehicle for change in 2021.

The “weird” past year was, he says, compounded by peculiarly Nigerian challenges. In October Kuti marched alongside thousands of others in the #EndSars protests against police brutality, nursing the wounds of shot demonstrators. The protests, some of the largest in Nigeria for decades, erupted after footage emerged of police brutality by the notorious Sars unit. But the underlying causes were broader, Kuti says. “The people made it known that EndSars was a slogan. How I interpreted it was they wanted an end to oppression, not just a manifestation of it that is Sars.”

More recently, he lost his band leader, Dave Obayendo. “We couldn’t even tell whether it was Covid or not, he wasn’t tested,” Kuti says. “The hospital turned him back. Before they took him to the next hospital, he died in the car.” The rejection of patients by hospitals is rife, he says, sometimes for issues such as a lack of adequate equipment.

The MOP was founded in 1979 by Fela before his sole, failed presidential bid, one episode of an extraordinary life of music and resistance during which he faced near-endless violence and suppression by Nigerian authorities.

According to Kuti, the prospects for anti-establishment parties, though still remote, are better now. “Today it will be easier for such a message to reach the core of Nigerian people than it was in the 70s. The problems are so glaring,” he says. “Elites have imposed this sinister, anti-poor capitalist system, going on for years and years, but are people really in favour of it? How can you be a capitalist with no capital? You’ll begin to see that the system is rigged.”

Kuti hopes the new version of the MOP, which brings together an array of small leftwing activist groups, will more effectively articulate these issues, “giving the masses a voice and building class consciousness”. But he scoffs at the prospect of a presidential run and says the group’s aims are long-term. “No, that’s not me. I’m an artist. But we will have candidates across the country for sure,” he says.

“The military hierarchy has consistently made sure that they are the ones in power, we have to put an end to it. We have to build a mass movement from the grassroots up, giving ordinary Nigerians a platform.”

A bleak sense of deja vu feels hard to ignore in Nigeria. In the 1980s Muhammadu Buhari, who is now the president, was a military dictator and a prime target of Fela’s ceaselessly political songwriting. Then as now, economic suffering, a weakening currency and a flailing anti-corruption campaign were causing widespread dismay.

The killing of scores of protesters by army and police officials in October, including at the Lekki tollgate area of Lagos, was one of several episodes where protesters and critics were attacked, arrested or met with state aggression.

“During one protest a guy came to my house who had a gunshot wound in his side like this,” Kuti says, gesturing to his torso. “People talk about the Lekki massacre but they shot people everywhere, people were shot to death all over Lagos.”

MOP’s first meeting was due to be held in December at Fela’s old club, Afrika Shrine, a bohemian enclave where he often performed. But scores of armed police surrounded the building and banned them from organising, so the meeting was held elsewhere.

“It just shows that they [the authorities] are spooked,” Kuti says. “They are trying to send a message, but they can’t stop what we’re doing.”

Rolling joints with his own self-branded rolling paper, Kuti describes how the absence of touring over the last year has been hard. “I miss my band, we had plans last year that were cancelled, but I’m hopeful we’ll start things up again this year,” he says. Playing his saxophone, he says, brings him joy.

Although music, family, and new business ventures to offset the lack of performing are time-consuming, political change is front of mind.

“Maybe it can be hard to be hopeful but I’m hopeful, Kuti says. “We want to set up different ways of reaching out to the masses because frankly they are ignored. We can’t bring change without the people, so giving them a voice is the most important thing.”

By Emmanuel Akinwotu

The Guardian

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Thursday, August 6, 2020

How a grandmother from Nigeria ended up in Beyoncé's 'Black Is King'

Mojisola Odegbami did not anticipate that a trip to the United States would land her a part in a visual album by one of the most popular music artists in the world -- Beyoncé.

The 69-year-old Nigerian grandmother appeared in two music videos in Beyoncé's highly anticipated "Black Is King" album, which premiered on Disney+ on Friday.

The album is based on the singer's soundtrack album, "The Lion King: The Gift," which was created for the 2019 remake of the original Disney film "The Lion King."

In a video, speaking about the release of the album, Beyoncé said the goal of the project is to show that "black is regal and rich in history, in purpose and in lineage."

Multiple African artists including Nigeria's Yemi Alade, Ghana's Shatta Wale and Cameroon'sSalatiel also appeared in the almost 90-minute album.

Odegbami appeared in "Bigger" taking on the role of an African queen, and in "Mood 4 Eva"where she was dressed in African attire, including a gele, a traditional head wrap commonly worn in West and Southern Africa.

She told CNN that her journey to being cast began with a medical trip to California in July 2019, where she met Folajomi "FJ" Akinmurele, a young actor. "I was staying with my daughter's friend, and this friend of hers has a 7-year-old son. The son, FJ, is the main character in "Black Is King," Odegbami explained.

"Each time he needed to go for practice, I was the one who drove him there cause his mum would have gone to work. At that point, Beyoncé's staff got to know me as grandma Moji," she added.

Participating in 'Black Is King' 

Even though Beyoncé's staff knew Odegbami, she did not get invited to cast in the album until her daughter's friend took a leap and signed her up with the talent agency responsible for choosing characters for the album.

"I was out shopping one day and she called me, and asked that I come home immediately. I was scared, you know. She said "Grandma, it's very important I need you to please come back home," she said.
When Odegbami got home that afternoon, she said her daughter's friend confessed to signing her up for a part on the album.

"That was how I found myself on the way to L.A .that same day for a part in the album. I initially didn't want to go but she kept begging me, so I agreed," she said.

After a two-hour drive to the set of "Black Is King," in Los Angeles, she was ushered in by Beyoncé's staff and given instructions on scenarios to act.

She was tested with fun parts to play like receiving a baby, holding it, and putting a mark on the baby's forehead. "I was just having fun, you know. Everything was going on smoothly, playing those parts I was asked to," she said.

Right after acting out the scenarios, Odegbami said everything happened fast. She was told she would be featuring in the album and meeting Beyoncé.

Meeting Beyoncé
Cameras and phones were not allowed on set so she did not get photos of her with the Grammy-winning singer, she said.

Odegbami also was required to sign a nondisclosure agreement, preventing her from revealing details of the video shoot to the public until after the album was released.

"They dressed me up, did my makeup, and chose outfits for me. And then they showed me where to stand on set waiting for Beyoncé," she explained.

The team was able to guess her size correctly from photos and videos her daughter's friend had sent to them, she said.

In a scene in the "Mood 4 Eva" video featuring Jay Z, Childish Gambino, and Malian singer Oumou Sangaré, Odegbami was seated directly at Beyoncé's back, dressed in a colorful pink dress with a cape.

She also wore dark shades, and purple gloves matching her extravagant gele.
And the "Better" video featured her dressed in all-white while walking behind Beyoncé and FJ.

Representing Nigeria

Odegbami said meeting Beyoncé was a wonderful experience. Everyone on set, she said, was receptive and kind.

"I mean before that day I knew there was a singer called Beyoncé, but I had never seen her. My children are her fans. In fact, my last born is always referred to as the Beyoncé of our family. Her siblings call her that," she said.

She added that like her children, she is now a fan of the singer.

Odegbami, who lives in Abeokuta, southwest Nigeria, told CNN that she feels happy to have represented Nigeria, and by extension Africa, in "Black Is King."

It was an opportunity to showcase Nigerian culture through her appearance, she said.
"I give credit to my daughter's friend who saw me fit to represent our culture. She didn't even know what I was going to do on set, she just felt I'd be a right fit to appear in the album," she said.