Dear Nigerian Artiste,
It is Christmas season again, that blessed season of giving, getting…and attending shows and concerts. I don’t need to wish you a merry one because I know that by now the state of your bank accounts has told you all you need to know about how merry or not it will be.
This seems to be a season of letters, yes I know, and even more intriguing of leaked ones. I assure you, this letter is different. If it ever gets leaked, know I had no hand in it. It could just be the handiwork of my detractors and political foes.
You are probably wondering who I am and the reason I have chosen to write you a letter rather than tweet at you or send you an email or a text. Wonder no further, you and I know you will never reply me. I am not a celeb. I digress.
So, how many concerts have you signed up for this period? Your account manager at the bank should by now be delirious and you already checking out rides at Coscharis. Bulletproof BMW 7 series maybe? That shouldn’t be an issue now, aren’t you all Princesses and Princes? No pun intended here.
I have a question by the way. How do you plan to make these concerts rock? Like make them totally unforgettable, make them headline grabbing and stuff? Have you been rehearsing with your band?
Say what? You don’t know what a band is?
So how do you plan to make it worth the while of fans who pay huge amounts for tickets and who take the risk of coming to crowded venues and willingly inhale a toxic mixture of second hand smoke, mouth and body odour? And probably get fondled by jagudas all in the name of jumping up and down to the sound coming from the loudspeakers?
Oh? You plan to get a DJ to play your CDs while you lip synch along? Come on! You have to agree that is unfair, unethical, unprofessional, mediocre, untenable, une….. ok let me stop.
It will do you a world of good if you read this letter carefully and take some of the advice and criticisms that will flow from it under advisement.
Your fans are getting smarter and more demanding by the day. A day will come when they will rather listen to the radio or sit in their cars or homes and just flip through CDs, than come to your concert. At least it is you performing (we hope), and of course cheaper, more convenient and less stressful, than struggling to get into VIP at Eko Hotel.
Laziness is the only reason I can think of that will make you, a professional artiste (I definitely can’t refer to you with the more particular title of Musician, you cannot convince me you are one yet) perform from CDs at a show. Your counterparts abroad take time out to have sessions with bands (whether theirs or rented) in preparation for concerts and tours. They don’t rely on DJs. At worst, DJs are a backup. This actually applies to Hip-Hop artistes too.
Instead of giving a show that will make you go down in history and be hailed a legend like TuBaba or be referred to as good concert material like Asha, Omawunmi, and Waje, you will rather stand inebriated in front of hundreds (maybe thousands) of fans and have the gumption to turn back at a likely equally stoned DJ, screaming at him or her “DJ track 7…no! no! that is track 6, I want track 7”. Not good at all. You should aim for better quality.
Imagine if in the middle of you rambling through a track we all have concluded you performed in the studio while recording, the DJ mistakenly pulls a cable and the only gadgets left working are the microphones and we (including your dazed self) find out that you weren’t uttering anything all evening? That you have instead been busy just throwing in the occasional “yaw! yaw! Put ye hends up!! Lagos are you happy??!!!!” Dude come on! How can Lagos be happy after you have been found out to be scamming them? Lesser things have led to concert riots in other places. This picture I painted recently happened to one of Nigeria’s top gospel artistes after collecting 500,000 naira as performance fees from an hapless church. Is what you collect really a performance fee or merely an appearance fee. We need to be clear on this point.
Let me park this letter here. I have had the chance of seeing quite a number of Nigerian concerts; either physically or on TV and I can safely say one more time that artistes of now are largely a lazy bunch. Your concerts merely feed on adrenalin that makes it look like the fans are getting value, not the quality and sheer artistry of your live performances. You all need to fix up.
I can count on my fingers the number of artistes who can actually pull off a concert with a live band. Many of you very likely don’t know the lyrics of your own hits and you many times in those concerts default to pointing the mic at us poor fans so that we can help you insert the forgotten words. Too poor! Fix up else you will have to rely solely on the number of CDs that Obaino and the rest of the Alaba gang can make us buy to make ends meet.
While I believe you will, after reading this missive, make changes and ultimately get more professional; accept the assurance of my highest regards.
Yours respectfully,Henry Okelue