Tag Archives: felakuti

On African Artists and ‪#BET‬ Awards

On ‪#‎BET‬ Awards Treatment of Their African/International Winners

Here is an article that I will like to share written by Sam Mobit (DJ Chick). It makes sense and I hope it serves as food for thought.

“The BET awards were established in 2001 by the Black Entertainment Television (BET) to celebrate African Americans and other minorities in music, acting, sports, as well as other fields of entertainment. The awards are presented annually and are broadcast live. The BET awards has several components: preliminary awards, the main ceremony, and the post award show. The preliminary portion of the show is not televised and does not take place on the main stage such as the awards given during the main ceremony. Among the preliminary awards is the “Best International Act” award. This award is given to the international artist who has demonstrated outstanding achievements through their music. Although this element of the BET awards is fairly new, it does not receive any coverage or publicity to confirm its existence. I can assure you that a majority of the viewers (American or non-American) are unaware of the international Segment. As a result, I ask myself why do these African artists keep coming back to get disrespected year after year? These artists must travel from their respective countries in Africa and come out of pocket for their accommodations in order to receive an award from a public who doesn’t even know they exist or care about their music. It seems as though the artists in this ” Best International Act” segment are just pawns to fulfill a diversity clause or serve as BET’s attempt at buffering their empire through the use of weak international promotion.

I think it is great that BET is recognizing these African artists and their work, but my main issue is the way that they are treated. It is as if the African artists are treated as second class. They do not receive their awards on prime time television like the American artists, and their segment of the award show is either pre-recorded or held in a separate backroom location. How rude is it to invite someone to an event but only allow them to be present for the preliminary events but not the main ceremony. Artists like Davido, Ice Prince, Fally Ipupa, Sarkodie, Diamond Platnumz, Toofan, Mafikizolo,and others have either won or have been nominated for this “Best International Act” award. Winners, such as Davido (2014) were handed their award at a pre-event taping way before the main ceremony took place.

BET also doesn’t allow these artists to perform during the main ceremony or provide them with a platform to introduce their music and culture to the American public. Contrastingly, there are moments in the main ceremony where new or unknown American artists are granted the opportunity to perform and introduce themselves. These small segments take place throughout the show, either in between performances or leading into commercials. Why cant these African artists be granted the same spotlight? If they are recognized enough to receive an award, then they should also be given the opportunity to share their work like the American artists. Furthermore, these new American artists are on the “come-up” in the U.S, whereas the nominated African artists are already established and have fans all over the world.

It is sad that Africans are receiving this kind of treatment from African Americans. Ironically, when African American artists come to perform in Africa they are well received and treated as kings and queens. This same treatment should be reciprocated to the African artists when they come to perform or attend an event in the U.S. Some of the blame should be put on the African artists themselves because they allow themselves to be treated like this. These artists take pictures at the BET events and post them on Facebook and other social media networks as if their presence was valuable. The posting of these pictures is just a way of deceiving themselves into believing their attendance held some importance, when in reality they are unnoticed by the American public. I am trying to understand why an artist would continue to attend an event in which they are seen as insignificant. I wonder if it has anything to do with the “African inferiority complex”. This complex leads Africans to believe that because something is from or provided by the U.S/Western world that it is superior. Again the irony in the situation is that the superior value these Africans provide Americans/Westerners with is not reciprocated. The BET “Best International Act” award has no significance in the African artists music careers nor does it provide them with a true platform to share their music in the US. It angers me that these artists continue to come back as if the BET approval is needed in order to legitimize their success.

I do not believe that African artists need to seek recognition or fame within a demographic that doesn’t understand, or is ignorant to their music and culture. These artists’ main focus should be on remaining true to their art and composing great music that can stand the test of time. There have been a plethora of accomplished African pioneers in the music industry that have been internationally successful without BET (or the equivalent of BET in their era). Some of these artists include: Fela Kuti, Youssou N’dour, Manu Dibango, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masakella, Salif Keita, Angelique Kidjo, Oliver Nthukunzi, Cesaria Evora, Alpha, Blondy, Lucky Dube, Brenda Fassie, King Sunny Ade, Sonny Okosun, Madjeck Fashek, 2Face, Franco, Tabu Ley, Mbila Bel, Papa Wemba, Koffi Olomide, Omar Pene, Baba Maal, Oumou Sangare, Mohamed Mahmoud, Aster Aweke, Teddy Afro, Eboa Lottin, Sam Fan Thomas, Richard Bona, Henry Dikongue, Petit Pays, Meiway, Gadji Celi, Ofori Amponsah, Kojo Antwi, Nana Acheampong, Daddy Lumba, and many more.

Fela Kuti is one of the most accomplished African artists of all time. He was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, musician, composer, and pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre. Fela is the only African artist, and one of the few artists in the world, for which a Broadway musical was created to pay homage to his influence on pop culture. His Broadway show went on a worldwide tour and was sold out in every single city. Fela sang exclusively in pidgin or broken English. Although Fela traveled around the world, his permanent address was his shrine in Lagos, Nigeria. Fela did not seek approval or recognition from an organization to legitimize his work. Another example of an accomplished African artist is Youssou N’dour. Youssou N’dour is a Senegalese singer, percussionist, songwriter, businessman, and politician. He is one Africa’s most successful and arguably richest artists. He still lives in his homeland and sings in his mother tongue, Wolof, as well as English and French. N’dour helped develop a style of popular Senegalese music known as Mbalax. He is also the subject of award-winning films which were released around the world. Youssou N’dour is one of the few African artists that has sold out international shows year after year. Fela and N’dour never had to assimilate to the Western world or seek approval in order to be loved worldwide. These two artists are perfect examples of achieving success on a grand scale through hard work, remaining true to themselves, and remaining true to their art. Once again Fela and N’dour did not seek help from the likes of BET in order to become accomplished on and off the African continent.

I am curious and also angered by whoever is managing these African artists that come to the BET awards. How could one allow their artist to be treated as second class or not fit for American prime-time television? These artists need someone right here in the U.S that understands the music business in order to guide and protect these artists, as well as preserve the African pride. I believe that African artists should boycott the BET awards until they are treated with the respect they deserve.”

Dj Chick (Twitter Handle @DJChicandFrendz )

www.djchickandfriends.com

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Love, Peace and Beautiful Afro Music,

Tosinger

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Man No Die… Music No Die ~ Gone But Not Forgotten

When it comes to music and general aura of the cultural creative, I am an old soul as evident in a huge section of my music taste. So it was with sparked interest and melancholy that I heard of the news of the death of Nigerian highlife, afrogroove, afrofunk  musical legend ‘Bola Johnson’ who ironically, his discography included a title tagged ‘Man no die’ . I got the news of his demise, as posted on the wall of a fellow afro old-school music connoisseur who is a music historian, DJ & owner of ‘Comb & Razor’, Uchenna Ikonne. The news was broken to him this morning, however Mr Bola Johnson passed on recently, April 6, 2014 to be precise. No further info on the circumstances of his death. May his soul rest in peace. His music legacy lives on.

From the vaults of Philips in Nigeria comes this collection of mysterious trumpeter and bandleader Bola Johnson. Unmissable 60s and early 70s recordings for all highlife and Afrobeat fans. A missing jewel from a golden age of Nigerian music – Vampisoul  Records

 Bola Johnson & His Easy Life Top Beat

About Bola Johnson – as culled from a VampiSoul Publication which now links to Munster Records.

Up till now, Bola Johnson only seems to figure in the margins of the high octane Lagos music scene of the late 60s and early 70s. He may have never had the focus, the career longevity or the catalogue of titans like Afrobeat’s Fela Kuti, juju’s King Sunny Ade or highlife’s Victor Olaiya, but his music took its own magnificent route through the popular music of the time. His joyful treasure of a voice embellished every style in his repertoire, from the sweetly melodic heights of highlife and palm wine to the soulful skanking of Afro-blues/funk and Afrobeat; his red hot trumpet scorches its way to your yearning soul; his tunes vibrate with infectious hooks and undulating rhythms; he seems equally at home composing across the stylistic range… Funk? Calypso? Highlife? You got it!

Bola Johnson was born in 1947 into a musical family. He attended Livingstone Academy in Lagos and, after that, the prestigious Eko Boys High School. In 1962 he dropped out of school to follow his musical destiny. His trumpet dreams were inflamed by his time playing with Nigerian trumpet-playing legend and highlife maestro Eddy Okonta, but he joined Eric Akeaze’s highlife band as a singer and maracas player in that same year, then resident at the Easy Life Hotel, in Mokola, Ibadan, which was the hub of the music scene in Nigeria in the 60s. When Eric Akeaze and his band left the Easy Life Hotel, Bola was asked to stay and set up the Easy Life Top Beats. They also toured the northern part of Nigeria. When Bola returned south, this time to Lagos later in 1968, he and his musicians were match fit and ready to make their funkiest tracks.

In 1964, while still only 17 years old, Bola had been signed to the Philips West African record label, and he recorded many of the rootsier tracks you can hear on this album as 7-inch singles. In 1968, in Lagos, he recorded the funkier material on his “Papa Rebecca Special” LP and later a rootsier album entitled “Ashewo Ajegunle Yakare”. Given how great he sounds, you’ve just got to ask exactly why more material wasn’t recorded. According to Bola, the A&R people at Philips in those days allowed sentiment for the past to override their judgment in promoting new artists, because they had highlife giants on their label such as Osita Osadebe, Rex Lawson, Victor Olaiya and Bobby Benson, and so it was hard for younger artists to get their attention, backing and consequent exposure.

Additionally, it was always difficult for him to own musical instruments, and bandleaders were the people who owned and supplied their musicians with musical hardware. Of course, you must factor in the civil war and the consequent decrease in popularity of highlife. Then the rise of juju, Afrobeat and the briefly fashionable Afro-rock. Classic and unique as Bola’s approach was, it didn’t seem to light the same kind of fuse for young Lagos. As his musical opportunities began to go off the boil, Bola went into broadcasting, firstly at Radio Nigeria Ibadan in 1970 and then he moved to the FRCN (Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria) in 1973. Sometimes he played at the Cool Cat in Ebute Metta, Lagos.

Bola Johnson  1947 -2014

Listen to his “Lagos sisi” track

Boomkat product review of ‘Man No Die’ CD

The irrepressible Vampisoul label presents a wonderful overview of Nigerian legend, Bola Johnson. With all the attention afforded to Fela Kuti, Victor Olaiya and King Sunny Ade, Bola seems to have slipped by all but the most ardent collectors and Nigerian natives, that is until Kayode Samuel painstakingly researched and dug deep in the crates to collect these twenty two track, spread over two discs. As you’ll discover when dipping in, Bola was a charming personality who could adapt his charming vocals and trumpet playing to a range of styles, from Calypso to Funk, Highlife and Afrobeat. Disc 1 contains the Afrobeat spiced palm wine styles of ‘Asewo Ajegunle Yakare’, the frisky merengue-like rhythms of his house band Easy Life Top Beats on ‘Oro Aiye’, and the swinging highlife of ‘Iyawo Kokoro Mi Da’ with its charming soap opera intro. Disc 2 opens with the killer drums of ‘Mimo Mimo Loluwo’ (sample hunters beware), before firing up the deadly James Brown-debted Yoruba Funk of ‘Ezuku Bozo’ and ‘Lagos Sisi’, plus the infectious blues licks and conga shake of ‘Lagos Special’, and heartwarming rootsy Highlife in ‘Edumare Soro’. Once word gets out about this album, there’s gonna be a stampede from the Afrobeat lovers!

Bola Johnson - Man No Die image

Whatever happens to music royalties of legendary Afro musicians? What is the structure in place for African musicians to get what they rightfully and legally deserve when they are long retired or gone? or after foreign music tastemakers see the treasure in their work and take over representation/distribution, do they get what they rightfully deserve? This will be a great “look into” for future and I’ll be checking with my friend, Uchenna Ikonne, on his thoughts on that soon.

Talking about mysterious legends, this video documentary about William Onyeabor,the man and his music, intrigued me so much,  to say the least. It is interesting how the relevance of ‘old music’ is now catching and riding on the waves of the ‘modern age’. Watch this.

Keeping the legacy of afro music alive, and promoting and supporting talented indie afro~artists today, who make contemporary afrofusion music on the continent and in the diaspora, is a passion/project of mine tagged ‘Afrodreamfest’. Check on it and be in the know and kindly spread the word. Thank you!

Beautifully Dreaming, Positively doing..

xoxo

Tosinger

CAPTAIN ‘KEZIAH JONES’ THE RUGGED – Audio & Visuals

Hiya,

Have you heard of the  Guitar Wiz Musician Keziah Jones? What?! You haven’t?  Well, now you do, no dozing on a musical bicycle 🙂 The continents are loving his “Afro BluFunk” music, Europe in particular. An eccentric Afro ~ Bohemian, he is very relevant to the new wave of the Afro musical scene even though he has been around for a while. I personally love his branding, the uniqueness and incorporation of Afro elements ( especially on his latest project which depicts him as having superpowers dressed in a simple yet dramatic costume made out of African Ankara fabric) Here are a few picks from his photoshoot,  so distinctly intriguing, a representation of a musical African SuperHero.. His new album ‘Captain Rugged’ is available on iTunes.

Biography

A Nigerian-born rocker heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix and Fela Kuti, Keziah Jones gained popularity in England and France with singles like “Rhythm Is Love” and “Beautiful Emile.” Jones was sent to a boarding school in London when he was eight, and he started busking in the London Underground when he was in his teens. He gigged up a storm in Covent Garden and Portobello Road, which led to his discovery by manager Phil Pickett. One bassist (Phil “Soul” Sewell), one drummer (Richie Stevens), and many gigs later, Jones found himself with his first album, Blufunk Is a Fact!, in 1992. Several more albums ensued over the next 15 years (African Space Craft, Liquid Sunshine, and Black Orpheus among them), fixing Jones as one of the more prominent blues-rock musicians on the European music scene in the late ’90s and early 2000s.

Less talk, more audio/visual stimulants.

Feed Your Eyes  – Photos by Vincent Thomas (From Keziah Jones’ FB)

Feed Your Ears

Afronewave

The first song of his I ever heard ‘Kpafuka’. Album Version here

And this  one about my hometown : Abeokuta – Egba anthem ‘Oke ati Petele’

For more about Keziah, check out his Wiki or his site here

Beautifully Dreaming, Positively Doing…

xoxo

Tosinger

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT : TOSIN

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.  ~Berthold Auerbach

Hello Peeps,

Hope everyone is doing alright. There’s always music to make you feel a little better. Right?  The spotlight is on a very good, personal, musical friend of mine, coincidentally a namesake, TOSIN (Tosin is a Nigerian (Yoruba) unisex name, short form of Oluwatosin which means ‘God is enough to be worshiped or God is worthy to be worshiped). Tosin is a songwriter, vocalist, drummer extraordinaire, composer and arranger. He is one of ‘us’ carrying the torch of African music in the US diaspora. He is  a renowned drummer & percussionist (oh I said that already :)) former – Ayetoro band member who has played with who’s who in the industry including Spyro Gyra, Femi Kuti, Andres Levin, Jon Carroll, Antibalas, Julie Dexter among others. More on his site. I absolutely love his sound and vibe, afro feel with a touch of contemporary lacings, and his use of the Yoruba language, just like my music. Keep scrolling. 🙂

Tosinger (Left) Tosin (Right) at AfroDreamfest

I will let this video of his interview with Heather Maxwell do the talking. Enjoy.

Music Time in Africa presents TOSIN with Host Heather Maxwell

Click on Tosin’s image below to learn more about his music, connect with him and get his latest project ‘Life Begins’

Beautifully Dreaming, Positively Doing..

xoxo

Tosinger