Sunday, April 25, 2010


For two days, Thursday, April 22, 2010 and Friday, April 23, 2010, the premises of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), played host to the large number of youths who thronged the compound seeking for information about their own, Olaitan Oladapo Olanipekun, aka, Dagrin. They neither got to see him on the Thursday that he died, nor did they get any information. They just waited and far into the night, around 12 midnight, the authorities at LUTH fearing a breakdown in law and order had to call for reinforcements and a Police Armoured Truck was sent in.

It didn't come in to disperse the crowd, but to watch over things. The crowd themselves were also in no mood to make trouble, because they were mourning. So, getting no concrete information about any arrangements being made for the transfer of DaGrin's body or his burial, they had to leave. But by 7am the next morning, they had already started reconvening and in no time, the crowd was back. This time, something must give.

Most of those present included music personalities who had lost one of their own. YQ, DaGrin's close pal, Sossick, his producer, Bigiano, K-Solo, Lexy Doo, DJ Jimmy Jatt, DJ Bombastic, DJ Rexy, Klever J, Dekunle Fuji, Mr. Kool, Muma Gee and so many others were present. Sunday Are, a respected music personality, had been on ground since Thursday helping to keep things in shape. Around noon, DaGrin's father, Comrade Olaniyi Olaonipekun came in and in the company of the Lagos State Police Command's P.R.O, Mr. Frank Mba delivered a heart rending speech. He said, despite his strained look, that he was not mourning. "I only had the privilege of being DaGrin's father, but he belonged to all of us, so we are all mourning. But let no one use what has happened to my son as an excuse to cause havoc. You cannot miss my son more than me and you cannot mourn him more than me. So we should all stay calm and by Monday, April 27, 2010, we would have information on the burial arrangements of my son, Olaitan Oladapo Olaonipekun. Please you can all go home and await that information. Thank you."

Mr. Frank Mba also charged all to respect law and other and requested that anyone that had any extra information about the circumstances that led to DaGrin's death to come forward in private to him or the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Akpoyibo and they would act on it in strict confidence. Many of the musicians present also had one or more things to say but the likes of Sossick and YQ were too shocked for words. Sossick just sat unobtrusively in one corner and looked lost while YQ was disconsolate. They had to put two guys on him to prevent him from totally losing control.
Here are some of the pictures from the second day at LUTH.
"I am not mourning." - DaGrin's father, Comrade Olaniyi Olaonipekun.

DaGrin's Father and Mr. Frank Mba

DaGrin's Manager, Tunde Peters, pointing the way home

Dekunle Fuji, Dude Tetsola, DJ Bombastic and Lexy Doo

DJ JIMMY JATT was really pained


MUMA GEE cried

The Police almost arrested this guy for taking it too personal




"Our C.E.O is gone"

This is LUTH!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

‘Osondi Owendi Has Opened Doors For Me’ - MC LOPH Confesses

After previous attempts to hit the musical limelight had ended in futility, Mc Loph (Nwaozor Obiajulu) finally drew attention to himself with the remix of the highlife hit of late Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe. The song which he infused with Igbo rap really caught the attention of the Nigerian music loving public, both old and young and even across the tribes. It also won him a couple of awards, including the Best Highlife Music Video at the Nigerian Music Video Awards 2009. We talked about that and the issues he is having with the late Osadebe's family as well as his plans for the future…

What were your earlier efforts and attempts to break even and enter the mainstream of Nigerian music?
I had been into music right from my university days. Before the release of my latest album, Hands Up, which has “Osondi Owendi” inside, I had released an album entitled, Wreckognize, and it featured artists like Nigga Raw, Blackface and a number of other artists. I shot two videos from the album for the songs “Cry For Naija” and “Bend Down Low”.
The videos were directed by DJ Tee and Soundcity. We did a lot of promotion for the album, but I don't know what happened. Maybe it wasn't my time yet. But the album refused to fly. So, I started working on another album and that came out with Hands Up and it had “Osondi Owendi” as the hit track. While recording the song in the studio, I already knew it was going to be a hit and I thank God that it has finally started me off on the mainstream of Nigerian music, but I haven't got there yet.

How did the whole music thing start for you?
I was a popular performer during my university days. I performed in almost all the higher institutions in the east then, but I only took music as a hobby then. I never planned to go professional because when I graduated from school, I came into Lagos and searched for a job. It was only when I found it very hard to get a job that I reverted to music and since the industry was really exploding then, I stayed and here we are today.

How has your life changed since the release of Osondi Owendi?
I have started going to shows and earning some little money for my upkeep. I can now buy most of the things I need and have always desired to have. I have become more popular than I used to be and there are a lot of people interested in what I do and who want to associate with me. I just thank God for everything.

What were some of the challenges you faced while trying to come up?
Basically, the same challenge every other upcoming musician faces: finance. You need money to do everything you want to do: promotion, recording, printing of CDs, among other things. Then, piracy comes in, because immediately you bring something out, the pirates will first feast on it.

Was piracy part of the problems of your first album?
Nigerians don't really have any room for upcoming artists. They only celebrate stars. So, if you are an upcoming artist, nothing for you until you arrive and then they would welcome you with open arms. Everything we did in that first album was to make a way for the coming of the second album. If I had done “Osondi Owendi” in my first album, it would have been seen as the work of an upcoming artist and it might never have got the publicity this second one is getting. The first album paved the way for this second one.

But some artists still make it in their first album?
It is the grace of God. Some also have second, third and fourth albums and they still haven't made it. Everything is by the favour of God and when it's your time, it is your time. When it is your time to shine, nothing can stop you.

Why do you rap in Igbo?
Because I want to be a Nigerian. I want to do music the Nigerian way. When I was in school, I used to rap in English like the Westerners, but when I was about graduating, I switched over to Igbo. A lot of people are in the normal field of rapping in English and that is now crowded. People like Ruggedman, M.I, Naeto C and so many other people are there already, so I wanted to separate myself and make myself unique so that I can be heard. The Igbo area is not yet crowded. So, one is easily noticed when doing rap in vernacular. Hip hop is not our culture and I don't want to stress people and make them suffer while trying to understand what I am saying.

How far has rapping in Igbo helped your career?
Igbos are everywhere and anywhere you don't find an Igbo person, leave that place. I am sure of 60 percent of the Nigerian audience and the fact that I separated myself from the crowd has helped me a lot. Any day I stop rapping in Igbo, then I would seek out another career.

How do you think the non-Igbo section of the Nigerian audience takes your music?
Everybody is doing their own thing in their own way and with their own style. Everyone is just trying to be Nigerian. There are people doing their music in other languages, but we are all promoting the Nigerian brand. Most people, if they don't understand the lyrics, they would love the rhythm of the song and I also mix my music with English and pidgin. So, anyone that doesn't understand the Igbo part of the song would definitely hear the English and pidgin parts of the song.

How did you come about the hit track, “Osondi Owendi”?
It's a tribute song. When Osadebe died, I wanted to do something for him because he is my hero. I grew up listening to his songs, because my father played a lot of it. So, I decided to remix the song with Osadebe's son, Obiajulu, but he died. We had already gone far in the project. So, I went ahead to do it with Flavour (Nabania). We did it and today it is a success.

But the story around is that you are having some issues with Osadebe's family because of the song, what are those issues?
That song is meant to be a tribute song and if you watch the video, you will see everybody wearing T-shirts with the inscription, “Osadebe, Rest In Peace”. Some months after the release of the song, I received a call from Premier Music, inviting me to their office. They asked me why I did the song without their permission and other stuffs and we are still trying to negotiate over it. Then, I started receiving calls from media people who said that Osadebe's family members are asking that my song should not be played again. They had been writing letters to radio and TV stations that my song should be withdrawn from air. So, I got their number and called them and they are trying to sort it out with my lawyer. But the problem now is that I don't even know who to deal with on the matter because Osadebe's family and Premier Music are also at loggerheads over the ownership of the song. If I talk to Premier Music, they will ask me not to talk to Osadebe's family and Osadebe's family would also warn me not to talk to Premier Music. So, I want them to sort out their issues first. The MCSN is also claiming rights to that music and they are the only people that have shown us proof of their claims. So, the Osadebe family and Premier Music should also show us proof of their ownership of song.

“Osondi Owendi” was a good experiment. Are we going to see other similar experiences in your next album?
“Osondi Owendi” is a single. I have 18 tracks in my album. There are other good hip hop-highlife songs in the album. My style is hip hop mixed with highlife and that fact that I did “Osondi Owendi remix” does not mean I will go about remixing other people's songs. I just did it because of my love for Osadebe. My next album would still have the same hip hop-highlife flavour.

Would you say you are where you want to be in music?
We have just started. “Osondi Owendi” just paved way for where we are going to. I have to go higher and conquer other grounds. I don't rest on my oars.

What are your plans for the future?
I am working on other songs at the moment. I am working on new videos and gathering materials for the next step.

‘Lagos Gives Everybody An Opportunity’ - MTRILL

Lagos is a very enchanting place. It is the heartbeat of Nigerian entertainment and most, or if not every artist in Nigeria, who wants to hit the mainstream has to be able to conquer the Lagos market and audience before they can succeed.
Most of the artists who are actually making it in Lagos are from other parts of the country. One of the newer artists who has been attracted to Lagos is Mtrill (Mayjah Teria Yarhere). He was based in Port Harcourt where he graduated from the University of Port Harcourt with a degree in Geology in 2005.
He came into Lagos early last year at the instance of his record label, Grafton Records, which is based in both the UK and Nigeria and Joice Ize-Iyamu's Rouge Management. So far, he has performed at very few shows because he is most of the time on tour in the UK. This time around, he has decided to pass up most of those international performances and concentrate on Lagos in order to gain a strong foothold here. He released a mixtape last year entitled, Ladies and Gentlemen. It would serve to whet the appetite of the Lagos audience while he prepares for a full album.
Mtrill won the award for the Best West African Act at the 2008 Channel O Awards. He was also the Best Newcomer at the African Music Awards which held in London in 2009. In this interview which was inside the premises of ENCOMIUM Magazine, he talks about his movement to Lagos and how he got into music…

How do you feel about coming to Lagos and trying to break into the Lagos market?
I feel music is music anywhere and everywhere. Obviously, the Lagos market is different from the Port Harcourt market, which I am used to, but everything is a challenge and I don't feel the Lagos market would be hard for me if my act is good. I have to do the kind of music that they will relate to in Lagos. Any true musician tries to do wherever he or she feels, but still keeping his or her original identity.
I was born in Lagos, but I started music professionally in Port Harcourt, that's why I identify with Port Harcourt. But my coming to Lagos is more like returning home. My parents live in Lagos and I've got family here. So, Lagos is not new to me. I am not overwhelmed by Lagos because this is where I grew up. It's just for me to settle down properly and rediscover the happening spots in Lagos, because I think I have forgotten those, because I did my university schooling in Port Harcourt.

What have you noticed about the Lagos music scene since you came?
It is a very vibrant industry and I like the amount of energy in Lagos. It's very infectious, because you can't relax for once. But because there are people out there pushing and for one to be on top, he has to always to give his best at all times.

How has it been since you got to Lagos?
It has been wonderful. A lot of people have been showing me love. I have been happy in Lagos. So many people have taken time to recognize me and what I am doing.

All the while you were in the university studying Geology, didn't you know it was music you really wanted to do?
Honestly, I didn't know. I knew that I had a flair for music and rapping, but it wasn't like I have always wanted to be a musician. What happened was that immediately I started, it just sucked me in. Music is very jealous, as soon as you start it. It never leaves you. It's been a wonderful feeling doing what I love and getting paid for it.

At what particular point in your life did you find out it was music you wanted to do?
In my final year. After my final exams, I took time out and recorded a couple of singles and pushed out my first single called “Bounce”.

What's the music scene like in Port Harcourt?
Vibrant. There are quite a number of musicians in Port Harcourt and so many like Timaya, Duncan Mighty and Frank D'Nero have all succeeded in making a success of music.

But these people, except Duncan Mighty, are all now in Lagos, what is pushing everyone to Lagos?
The militancy problem has affected every area of life in the Niger Delta. Companies have moved out of that area and that has affected entertainment. As musicians who make their living off music, most people had to leave. My own decision to leave was as a result of my record label and my management. They were the ones that asked me to move to Lagos.

What is your relationship with your record label and management?
Cordial. I believe an artist should have an entourage of people working for him. They are the ones to make most decisions for the artist and if they are good, the artist will be only be better off because of it. There should nothing less than four managers for an artist. The money an artist makes should not be for him alone. Other people should share in the success of the artist and he would also help society by employing people. One person cannot do everything alone and there should be structures in place to help an artist succeed.

There are talks about you working on a UK album, what makes that different from a Nigerian album?
The UK sound is a different one. That's one of the reasons my label takes me there often. So I can understand their sound and their way of thinking. They are giving me the opportunities to explore and see what I can do with my music over there. I want to be the first Nigerian artist to properly break into the UK market. Not just the Nigerian audience there. That's a challenge and in the very near future, I hope to achieve that.

What are your major plans for the Lagos market?
I plan to be in Lagos for long. I intend not to take up any show outside of Nigeria in the near future so that we can establish ourselves properly in Lagos. We want to concentrate on Lagos and make a headway. Lagos gives everybody an opportunity to express himself. Lagos is not biased. Once the Lagos audience accepts your music, things would be good for you.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Not really, though I am working on that. I am a rapper and it doesn't exactly require one to learn a musical instrument because it has to do with poetry. Poetry is a deep art form and working on it is full time. I am learning to play the rhythmic guitar because I love working with a live band.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Just as his star was rising high, his light was almost extinguished prematurely. Nigeria, in fact, would have been robbed of one of its newest music stars, but for the grace of God. Dagrin drove his newly bought Nissan Maxima 3.5 SE under a stationary cement truck in front of the Alakara Police Station, Mushin (Lagos) at about 3am on Wednesday, April 7, 2010.

He had gone to visit a friend and stayed till the early hours of the morning. It was on his way back that he ran into the truck. He was immediately rescued by nearby policemen who rushed him to Tai Solarin Private Hospital, Mushin. There, they administered first aid on him and then advised his manager and some of his friends who had arrived by then to move him to the Lagos State Teaching Hospital. Dagrin was unconscious all this while and had to be admitted into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at LUTH.

The doctors at LUTH did their best for him. His parents, manager, Tunde and friends all kept vigil at the hospital while he remained unconscious. A number of Nigerian artists have been visiting LUTH since, but none has been able to see him. However, on Friday, April 16, 2010, the crooner was reported to have regained consciousness. His manager, Tunde, later told us that he was out of danger and responding very well to treatment.

A couple of weeks back when the news of his new car got to me, I had visited him at his new place at Sunshine Housing Estate, Agege. And he had happily posed beside his ride for me. He told me then that he numbered the car, DAGRIN 03, because he had ordered a couple of bigger cars and he preferred them to bear DAGRIN 01 and DAGRIN 02, while the Maxima remains number 3. He had also explained to me that his arrangement with Edylne Records was just for management. “I am carrying on with my Misofuyin Entertainment and very soon, we would unveil a number of artists to the public,” he had revealed happily.

For an artist who rose from obscurity, overcoming the impediment of limited education by rapping in his mother tongue to get to where he is today, it was a great achievement and the news that he is gradually coming back to himself is a very welcome one. The pictures here were taken by me a week before his accident.



Sunday, April 4, 2010 was another memorable day in the Nigerian music industry as P. Square and King Wadada were crowed the African Artist of the Year and Best African Reggae Artist at the KORA All Africa Music Awards in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. They beat Black Diamond, a group from Senegal, Paul G from Angola and Amety Meria of Burkina Faso to the KORA plaque and $1 Million cash prize while King Wadada won in the category of the Best Reggae Artist in Africa with his album, If Men Were God, which was released in 2005.

The award was attended by more than 3,000 people, including President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso. P. Square was not present at the ceremony because they were on tour in London. President Compaore received the award on their behalf and a private jet was afterwards dispatched by the event organizers to London, to pick them and their band to Burkina Faso. They arrived on Monday, April 5, 2010 and President Compaore re-presented the award to them at the Presidential Villa. P. Square and the other winners, including King Wadada, then performed to the elated Burkina Faso audience at a free show held at the City Stadium in Ouagadougou. Senegalese-American Hip Hop star, Akon, who was billed to headline the show didn't show up, even after being offered $150,000 and a private jet by the organizers.

Immediately afterwards, they set out for Nigeria. The organizers of the awards once again provided a private jet for the Nigerian artists up to Benin Republic because there was no direct flight from Burkina Faso to Nigeria. From there, they were driven back to their houses in Nigeria with a military-escorted convoy. Speaking to Notes and Tones on their arrival, a very happy P. Square said: “We are dedicating this award to God, our fans all over the world and everybody who has supported us all along.” They also stated that they did not hear anything about the call to boycott KORA and were just grateful to God for winning the prize and His blessings.
King Wadada paid a visit to our office with his award. He told us that he got his invitation to attend the award ceremony, but that they requested him to sponsor himself to Ouagadougou which he did. The organizers then took care of his accommodation and welfare. “We were well treated in Burkina Faso. They lodged us in the best hotel in the city, the Azalai Hotel,” King Wadada revealed happily. “I am so happy to have won this award and I told them so while collecting my plaque. I told them that KORA is great, but that God is greater. Immediately I said that, the President of Burkina Faso stood up and everyone gave me a standing ovation. The President invited me to the Presidential Villa the next day and we all had a good time when P. Square arrived from London.”

The KORA president, Ernest Adjovi, according to King Wadada, promised to visit Nigeria in the coming weeks to present the prize money to the winners during a press conference.

However, there were mixed tales from most of the other Nigerian nominees we contacted. The duo of Rooftop MCs who were nominated in the Best African Artist category said they didn't hear of the recent developments. As at Friday, April 9, when we called them, they claimed ignorance of the fact that KORA awards had held.

Banky W admitted that he heard about the ceremony and duly received an invitation to also sponsor himself to Ouagadougou, but he had seen a publication which mandated all Nigerian artists to boycott the event and didn't want to be caught up in any controversy.

Gospel artist, Nikki Laoye, who was nominated in two categories also didn't know what was going on with the awards. “As usual, I had looked forward to the award ceremony but as the days went by and nothing happened, I gave up and concentrated on other issues.” She didn't get any invitation to the event and also didn't even know the winners when we called her on Friday, April 9, 2010.

Blackky was also of the same view. He received his invitation to the awards, but had a lot of misgivings. “I had a lot of questions I wanted to ask about the awards. Nigeria was not carried and many Nigerians didn't even know the event was going to hold. They had voted in 2008 when the nominees’ list came out but didn't know what was going on all along. I knew the organizers of the awards had issues with the Cross River and Lagos State Governments and didn't want to be involved in it.”

The KORA All Africa Music Awards 2010 was backdated to reflect the works of artists that had been submitted before the awards became embroiled in controversy over its hosting. The awards ceremony which was initially billed to hold in Calabar, Cross Rivers State, was curiously moved to Lagos and finally to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. This was after its CEO, Mr. Ernest Coovi Adjovi, had allegedly collected $2.5 million and $5million from the Cross River and Lagos State Governments respectively. This caused a huge rift between the organizers and the aforementioned states, forcing the Nigerian Music Coalition and the KORA office in Nigeria, managed by Zmirage, to issue a statement calling for its boycott: “The Nigerian KORA office is calling for a mass boycott of the 2010 event by all artists (nominated or not), managers, label executives, jurors, presenters, media reps, reporters and government officials. The KORA office, in association with relevant organizations like NARI, PMAN, AM.B-Pro, MORAN, etc (under the aegis of the Nigerian Music Industry Coalition) shall work to ensure that Nigerian stakeholders who refuse to heed the call by legitimizing the Ouagadougou event with their presence be exempted from any project executed by these organizations and the governments of Lagos and Cross River states.”

A representative of Zmirage who craved anonymity told us that the position of the company has not changed, but that there was no official word yet since the Nigerian stakeholders had not yet sat on it. But Mr. Efe Omoregbe, who spoke for the Nigerian Music Coalition, reaffirmed that stance. “The Nigerian KORA office came up with the stance and we supported it based on the fact that there were court proceedings still going on and we felt that it would not be nice for a Nigerian contingent to validate the event with their presence.” He also reiterated that they had not yet deliberated on it and that there is no official word from the KORA office yet.

‘This year’s Hip Hop World Awards will be hot!’ AYO ANIMASHAUN

The Hip Hop World Awards is now in its fifth year. But in that five years, it has grown to become one of the most coveted and prestigious music awards in the country. Preparations for this year's edition have begun in earnest and from the standards set through the years, we expect another bumper event. The CEO acquiesced to this even though he is keeping most of the aces close to his chest. He still told us that much about the past and upcoming editions of Hip Hop World Awards. It will hold at the new Eko Hotel Exhibition Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos on May 29, 2010...

In the five years of Hip Hop World Awards, how far would you say you have achieved your goals?
I think we are doing well, yet there's always room to do better. But given the usual constraints associated with Nigeria, where things don't get to happen when and how they should happen, it's difficult to put together an awards of this magnitude because it involves a lot of money, discipline, attitude and character and a lot of technical issues. I will give us a very big pass mark.

How much do you think you have contributed to the Nigerian music industry with the Hip Hop World Awards?
That's not for us to say. As much as we feel we have done well, I think it should be left to the artists and the entire Nigerian music loving public to say. Each artist has a different story to tell and they should be the ones to answer the question.

How far do you think you have covered the grounds of musical reward in Nigeria?
The Hip Hop World Awards is an all encompassing music awards. A lot of areas like the technical areas are not covered yet, but the industry is growing. As we progress, we are going to include more categories, but I think what we have represents where the industry is today.

How do you address some of the complaints that arise from the awards every year, like artists' complaints?
We don't bother about artists complaining. If you don't win, you will always have a story to tell. Most of our artists have not gotten used to the culture of awards. There's no awards that people do not complain. There are four or five nominees in every category and all of them are potential winners. One will win at the end of the day and some of the others will complain. But the most important thing is to remain credible; to do what is credible rather than what is popular and that is what we have done over the years. Our responsibility is to be credible in whatever we do.
Year in year out, people complain. Now that the list of nominees is out I expect artists to complain. When the awards would have held and winners have emerged, some will still complain. And that is not news. It's not a Nigerian thing, it's a global thing. Any music awards that is worth its salt anywhere in the world would definitely attract complaints from people.

How challenging was taking the awards to Abuja last year?
Because we were leaving Lagos for the very first tie, it was very tough. The logistics were three times more. We also had to get used to the Abuja audience. They are totally different from the Lagos audience and we had to do a lot to make sure that we had a good outing in Abuja. It was simply more demanding, but thank God we pulled it through.

Are you planning to take it outside Lagos again soon?
We are not ruling it out. If we have to, we will. We will just continue to improve on what we have done so far and do better every year.

Tell us some of the unique differences of the Hip Hop World Awards this year?
We have a lot of things in stock this year and by the time I begin to talk about them, they won't make sense again when people see them. I will just like people to keep up with us and come out on that day to see what we have in stock for them. It's going to be refreshing and different and you are going to feel proud that you are part of the Hip Hop World Awards and that it is happening in Nigeria.

MTN has been the headline sponsor of the awards for three years now, how tasking was it getting them on board and are you planning to get more brands on board?
MTN has been our long time partners because they don't want to let down Nigerian music lovers who always expect a grand event. But we have always had other sponsors like Lipton, Gordon Spark, Harp, Close Up. Kia donated a car last year, but MTN remains the number one brand behind the Hip Hop World Awards.

Is Kia still donating a car this year?
That has not been confirmed yet, but there's still a car attached to the Next Rated category. Other brands are also coming on board, but that would be revealed in due course.

Last year's pre-awards party was in a village outside Lagos, are we having something similar this year?
We have not revealed plans for the party yet, but this year, we are having more parties. We will have a nominees party in Abuja, Lagos and Ilorin. There will be three official pre-awards parties before this year's Hip Hop World Awards.

Talking about Nigerian music generally, how much do you think we have grown?
The Nigerian music industry is not doing badly. We can do better and there's so much yet to be done. A lot of artists are not making money. People still buy plastic CDs for N150 and that's sad. The number of artists making money in Nigeria is not more than ten while the others are not getting anything. We cannot make money from selling CDs, we have to depend on concerts and the people who sponsor concerts are the corporate bodies. You will be shocked to see some artists who have big songs and how poor they are.

Are you planning to help address some of these issues?
What we are doing for the industry is to service it in the reward area. When we need to join hands with other people to achieve greater rewards for the industry, we would be willing. It's not something we can do alone. It's for us to come together in order to stop the scourge and people are doing that already. We support them when we can because it's a collective thing.

You were 40 earlier this year, how do you feel about that and your achievements so far?
God has been good to me and I think I have been lucky even though I have worked so hard. All we have achieved just makes us want to do more and achieve more. I am glad with how far we have come.

Do you have intentions of helping other people with similar ideas?
When people come to discuss with me about what they want to do and I see a lot of energy and excitement, I see what I saw in myself 15 years ago. I always try to support because whether you support them or not, they will get to wherever they are going anyway. So, it's always better to support.

Any more words about the awards?
This year's award is going to be very hot. This year, people are also going to be able to attend the awards by just buying the tickets and not just strictly by invitation.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


It Takes You (A Book of Inspiration) is a 130-page book of 30 inspirational, motivating and life changing articles, written by Imo State born ex-model, entrepreneur and blogger, Linda Ifeoma Ikeji.

“All the articles in the book are inspirational but I also share my life experiences with readers. I hope more than anything else that everyone who reads this book learns something from it. I hope it changes their perception of some things and more than anything else I hope it inspires them to go out there and make something of themselves. ” Linda said.

An official book launch/presentation has been scheduled for -
Date: Wednesday May 5th 2010
Venue: Theatre 5, Genesis Deluxe Cinema, The Palms, Lekki. Time: 5pm
Book signing session – Saturday May 8th, 2010
Venue: The Hub Media Store, The Palms, Lekki
Time: 2pm

Friday, April 9, 2010


Chi and Steph ‘Soul’ Ugbana are a husband and wife choreography team. Steph is a white German lady and Chi, short for Chidiebere, is from Delta State. Since their move to Nigeria last year, they have been involved in a number of music projects like the Maltina Dance All competition, where they were judges.
They met in New York in 2006 on the set of Banky W’s ‘Capable,’ video and have a young daughter, Amaka, who turned two this month. They have been dancing and choreographing together since then and are in Nigeria to establish a company that will take care of some of the deficiencies they have noticed in the entertainment industry.
Chi was a dancer in the UK and US and featured in videos of the late Aaliyah, Lil Kim, Tom Jones, Wyclef and Mel B of the Spice Girls.
He has also played short roles in TV productions like Sex and the City, The Sopranos, Law and Order, Third Watch and the movie Elf with Will Ferrell. On the whole, he has been on the sets of about 13 films. He has spent most of his life overseas.
Steph studied Theatre and Film and taught dance classes before going to the US to further her dance studies. She started dancing when she was four years old and was registered in a ballet school at six by her mother. Then she practiced for around 15 years. She was also interested in different kinds of dance styles.
When she decided to take up dancing as a career, her parents were not really excited. They wanted her to study Medicine, which she did for two years. While at it, she took part in a lot of competitions and won a number of them, leading friends to encourage her to take it up professionally.
She dropped out of Medical School and moved to Vienna, Austria where she made a lot more progress in her career in one year, participating in more competitions, featuring on TV, choreographing for theatre and teaching dance classes. “I just followed my passion,” she says. “I then wanted another challenge, so I went to New York, studied more dance and continued my journey.”
Steph has also created a unique dance style which she calls the “Afro Ballet.” It is a combination of Ballet, Jazz and various African dance styles.
They are in Nigeria primarily to establish an entertainment company. The first business proposal we got was from Obi Asika, the CEO of Storm 360, who is our very good friend. “We are partnering with him on a dance reality show, but we can’t really go into much detail about it at the moment,” he says.
Steph plans to help put more choreography into music videos by working with artists on their shows, tours and stage appearance. “We are just going to take it to the next level and establish more professionalism in the industry. We are going to add more quality to what is presently available in both the music and movies of Nigeria.”
To do this, they have formed a company SoChi Dreams Extratainment, a coinage of ‘Soul’ from Steph and ‘Chi’, and the dreams they have for the industry. “We are trying to form a new type of entertainment company where we get to every type of artist from all parts of the globe especially now that it is very hot in Nigeria,” Chi explains. “We intend to connect these artists together and use the Nigerian factor to put it out. It’s not a Nigerian, American, UK or European thing, but it’s going to be international.”
They have a very unique arrangement; Steph takes care of the Nigerian end of the business while Chi is in charge of the German end. “I prefer to be here,” Steph says, while Chi adds: “Believe me, it is better that way. Steph is very passionate about choreography and creative directing in music videos, we feel it is better she mans that here while I take care of films, magazines and other things we are running in Germany.”

How interesting is marriage to a fellow dancer?
Chi: It has been very convenient. I couldn’t be with anybody that is not in the same business with me; it wouldn’t work. The relationship worked because of our personalities and because we love doing the same thing.
Steph: It actually made me fall more in love because we share the same passion. If you have a passion for something and somebody that is close to you shares it, it actually makes the love grow. And it is always something that keeps us together because we work a lot together.

Any particular artists you would like to work with?
Chi: We would like to work with everyone of them. We worked on ‘Maga No Need Pay,’ Steph choreographed the whole thing. We wrote the whole concept and Steph was creative director. That is how we started 2010 and by the end of the year we want to have worked with most of the people in the music industry and Nollywood.

Did you do a background study before coming home?
Chi: Yes, we did. Nigeria is the next big thing in entertainment. We have the music, we have found a winning formula and if we put as much effort into our videos and choreography like our songs, in the next five years, this place is going to blow. America is asleep right now; they are just repeating all they have done before.
Steph: I fell in love with Nigerian music that I hardly listen to anything else. I see a lot of potential; the music is very powerful, but when it comes to stage performance and management, there is so much more you can do. The culture is so rich, there are beautiful fabrics that could be incorporated into the costumes and there are various dance styles that can all be part of it.

Have you seen these artists perform?
Chi: We’ve been to a couple of shows and have studied a lot of tapes from different artists. They need choreographers and stage directors who would pay attention to every part of their performances. If you have a proper package of stage performance and music videos, you can blow outside of Nigeria easily. We coordinate the whole of an artist’s performance. We will give every artist an edge and help them project their acts. We would help them practice. Perfect practice makes perfect execution. We can guarantee that in the next five years, we can make Nigerian music one of the biggest on the globe.

How does Nigeria compare with Germany?
Steph: There is a lot of life outside, a lot of interaction between people; Nigerians are very passionate about life; they are very emotional people; very spicy. They just love life and that’s what I love about Nigerians. In Germany, people are generally laid back and inhibited.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


The nominees for this year’s HIP HOP WORLD AWARDS have emerged. There are 19 categories in total and they include only music materials released into the Nigerian market between December 2008 and November 2009. Please look at the list and leave your comments. Voting procedures would come your way soon. HIP HOP WORLD AWARDS 2010 would hold at the new EKO HOTELS EXHIBITION CENTRE on May 29, 2010. Here are the contenders:

For the Best album (solo or group) in year under review, that meets judges’ requirements of excellence (in every realms: songwriting, production, rendition and promotion) and acceptability (sales, popularity)
C.E.O Artist: DAGRIN

For the most critically and commercially adjudged artist in the year under review; Overall most successful artist for the year under review.

For the most popular song from an album in year under review. Decided by voting
“YOU BAD” Artiste: Wande Coal
“FREE MADNESS Pt. 2” Artiste: Terry G
“ALANTA” Artiste: Art Quake

For the best single recording (on-air only or released) by artist or group in year under review.
“STRONG TING” Artist – Banky W
“I LOVE U” Artist – P-Square
“HEAVEN PLEASE” Artist – Timi Dakolo
“KEEPER OF MY DREAMS” Artist – Lara George

For the individual responsible for producing the most acclaimed songs/album in the year under review. His CV for the year includes top notch tracks and production credits no one can fault.
Album/Song Title – “More”, “Love Truly

Album/Song Title – “Strong Ting”, “No Stars”
Artiste(s) – Banky W, Dare Art-Alade

Album/Song Title – “Banana,” “U Bad”
Artist – Wande Coal

Album/Song Title – “Everyday,” “Igboro”
Artiste – Dagrin

Album/Song Title – “Thank God”, “Ako Mi Ti Poju”
Artiste – Dagrin, Naeto C

For the best conceptualised, best edited, best picture, best directed and most exciting video in year under review as voted by fans and decided by the jury.

Music Video Title – “DANGER”
Artist – P Square

Music Video Title – “Kokoroko”
Artist – Kefee

Music Video Title – “Finest”
Artist – Knight House Ft. Sauce Kid & Teeto

Music Video Title – Ako Mi Ti Poju
Artist – Naeto C

Music Video Title – “Safe”
Artist – M.I

For the best R&B single in year under review (by single individual or group)
“STRONG TING” Artist – Banky W
“NEVER FELT A LOVE” Artist – Femi
“I LOVE YOU” Artist – P-Square
“NO STARS” Artist – Darey
“OVERKILLIN” Artist – Djinee

For the best pop single in year under review (by single individual or group)
“YORI YORI” Artist– Bracket
“U BAD” Artist– Wande Coal
“KOKOROKO” Artist– Kefee
“DANGER” Artist – P-Square
“HOTTER THAN FIRE” Artist– Dr. Pat and Sheyman

For the best R&B or pop album in year under review (by single individual or group)
MUSHIN 2 MO’HITS Artist- Wande Coal
DANGER Artist- P-Square
LEAST EXPECTED Artist- Bracket
UN.DAREY.TED Artist – Darey Art Alade

For the best single released on-air recording of a rap song
“AKO MI TI POJU” Artist – Naeto C
“OWO ATI SWAGGER” Artist – Catiair
“FINEST” Artist – Knight House ft. Sauce Kid & Teeto
“SAMPLE Remix” Artist – Terry Tha Rapman Ft. Stereo Man & Pherowshuz

For the best album by a rap artist or group in year under review
CEOArtist – Dagrin
DAT IBO BOY Artist – Ill Bliss
MORE THAN RAP MUSIC Artist – Cartiair

For the Rap Artist with best lyrical depth and performance on a single song or album
M.I : Song - Somebody’s Gat To Die
MODENINE Song – Bad Man
OD Song – Got To Love Me
PHEROWSHUZ Song – Sample Remix (Featured by Terry Tha Rapman)

For the Best R&B, Pop or hip hop collaborative track (including cameos) in year under review
“KOKOROKO” Artists –Kefee Ft. Timaya
“FINEST” Artists– Knight House Ft. Sauce Kid & Teeto
“AYE PO GAN” Artists – Ill Bliss Ft. Terry G
“SAMPLE Remix” Artists – Terry Tha Rapman Ft. Stereo Man & Pherowshuz

For the Single male artiste with most outstanding vocal performance on a single song or album

For the Single female act with most outstanding vocal performance on a single song or album
WAJE – “Kolo”

For the most popular street-hop single in year under review
“FREE MADNESS Pt. 2” Artist – Terry G
“IGBORO TI DARU” Artist – Klever J Ft. Eedris Abdul Kareem
“FILE BE” Artiste– Jaywon
“ALANTA” Artiste – Art Quake
“ONE BY ONE” Artiste– Side One

For the most promising upcoming officially unreleased act in the year under review

For the  Best New artiste in the year under review

Non competitive category, to be announced soon.

1. Only music materials released in the Nigerian market between December 2008 and November 2009 are eligible for nomination.
2. Artistes cannot submit music materials created by other people except for materials to which they have copyright.
3. All music materials must fall into Pop, HipHop, Urban Contemporary, R&B, Reggae, Dance Hall and Soul.
4. Songs and albums in the popular categories are screened for popularity around the country and not in particular centers or states.
5. Nigerian born artistes are not qualified for the African artiste of the year category.
6. No music materials that endorse/encourage fraud, alcohol abuse, narcotics and wanton sex are eligible for nomination, except if said songs have radio-edited versions.
7. The screening committee/panel of judges can nullify any category that is not competitive in the year under review.
8. Best Music Video of the year goes to the video director.
9. Non Nigerian creators (including artistes, producers and music video directors) are not eligible for nomination except in African artiste of the year category.
10. The board of judges shall decide on the recipients of the HipHop World Awards Hall Of Fame.
11. All eligible music materials are considered fairly regardless of who submitted or not.
12. Only creators credited on music works shall be considered as right owners.
13. The ‘Headie Plaque’ remains the property of HipHop World Awards. It is not transferable at any point. The judges have a right to withdraw an award at any time.
 14. Each participant on every collaboration shall be awarded.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"THESE ARE MY LAST SET OF UPCOMING ACTS" - Kevin Lucciano, CEO Questionmark Records

Questionmark Records is one of the major record labels in Nigeria. They launched Asa, Modenine, Silver Sadih, Streetmonks, Nnenna, The Cats and D’Accord’s careers before leaving the scene for a while. They are back with three new acts who are set to fully hit the music scene this year.
The label has also had a lot of issues with their artists and around the personal life of their boss, Kevin Luciano Gabriel. He reluctantly granted us audience at the Questionmark office and studio located on the second floor of Dream Plaza on Bishop Aboyade Cole Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Here he talked about most of the issues and his experiences with his artists. He also outlines his plans for his new artists and also states that the present ones are going to be his last set of upcoming artists.

Tell us about the new artists on the Questionmark label?
The new artists on Questionmark are Harrisong, a producer and singer who has done songs like “Yekelem” and done songs for Omotola, KC Presh, D’Supremes, a duo of ……….who have song like “Sepe Dey My System” and “Oya” on radio at the moment. Then there is Ego who has the song “Omolicha Nwa” which is also doing very well on radio. They are the three major artists on the Questionmark label at the moment.

What happened to your old artists?
That’s not a question you should be asking me. If you ask me that, then you should ask Kennis Music, Storm Records and the other labels that have lost artists at one time or the other what happened to their old artists. Having an artist on my label doesn’t mean that the artist would remain with me for the rest of their lives. Good business or bad business, artists would continue their journey somewhere else. Artists do not stay on one label forever. If they are not selling records, they either continue their journey elsewhere as artists or seek other careers. If they are selling records, they might decide to form their own label, as you are aware 96 percent of Nigerian artists own their “so called” record labels. Questionmark has been there and would continue to be there in many more years to come. It is platform and artists cannot stay under our label forever.

What particularly attracts you to artists and make you sign them?
What attracts me to artists is their talents first, their vocal quality and if they have production skills as well songwriting skills then they become bonus to us. Most of the artists that have been signed under Questionmark are talented in their various areas.

Are there particular types of music that you try to put out there?
No, I am a company. I follow the trend of the moment. If the trend is reggae today, I’ll sell reggae. My own personal taste of music might be different from what is en vogue but that is my person. The kind of music I want to sell is the kind of music people want to buy. They have all kinds of genres in Nigeria but the trend today is our own sound; our own local lingual in our sons. We are doing that but we are trying to keep it quality as much as we can because there are a lot of hits in Nigeria today that are good records but quality wise are nothing. And that is what I don’t indulge in. we try to make hits but we don’t sacrifice quality for it.

What is your own view of the goings on in the Nigeria music industry?
Nigerian music industry is doing well in terms of response. All over the world, Nigerian music is doing fantastic. Artists are being paid proper money for shows but record sales are still not doing as well as they should because there is no structure in place. Some people are trying to address that but we still depend on whatever the marketers tell us. We don’t know for sure how much we are making through the sales of our music but Nigerian music has put itself on the map internationally. Artists still don’t understand the business of music. Why would an artist just because of one hit single try to open a record label when even a Beyonce doesn’t have a record label? Artists need to learn the business of music.

Having been a music entrepreneur for this number of years, what is your advice to anybody going into the music business?
Music business is one of the most difficult businesses in Nigeria. Because a local man from Alaba is in the entertainment industry as well but what do we talk about intellectually or contract wise? There are also some talented artists who have not attended anything more than the primary school and you toss a contract to him and he also doesn’t understand it.
Anybody coming into this business should be prepared to face the situation where they would invest money in an artist and the artist would one day walk away from their contracts and they would be left with nothing. So, it is not an easy business. The legal section that deals with the issues of intellectual properties and record labels and artists is not effective. The legal system is new to some of these issues. Corporate bodies give shows to the same artist for five years. They don’t give any chance to other upcoming ones to climb their stage. But as we grow, we would get to understand these things more.

Questionmark has been around for right years now, would you say that you have achieved most of your objectives when you set out?
No, but the most important objective, we have achieved is that Questionmark is a household name in Nigeria and Africa. We are a big brand in terms of what we do musically. That is one of the most important objectives of any company when they set out, with the right products, we are back on top. We are working on products at the moment.

You made a name with the quality of your former artists, what should people expect from these new ones?
If people have been listening to radio, they would know that in terms of products, we are ready to make a statement. People should expect much from us this year and in the years to come because we are releasing the albums of our three artists this year.

Are there any other artists out there that you have your eye on and might be interested in signing?
I would sign any artist who sells records. I am not signing any new artist again. These are the last set of upcoming artists I would sign. To develop an upcoming artist is the most expensive venture you can ever enter. Most people don’t realize how much it could cost to develop an upcoming artist. If I sign an upcoming artist, it could take two to three years before they know him.
Nigerian artists don’t have that patience. Before three years, they start a fight disregarding that a lot of investment has been made on them, then they walk away. But if you sign a relatively established artist, he makes you more money fast and recoup your investment faster.

Is that not conflicting with your earlier statement that companies should give new artists a chance to perform on their stages?
That is different. You can put an artist on a show without even paying him or her. Just give them a chance to showcase themselves. It is different to allow an artist perform on your stage to pushing and developing an artist. You might have to shoot up to four videos for the artist before they even start knowing him or her and each video costs more than a million. To finish an album costs more than two to three million. And there is no guarantee that you will make a hit on the first album. So, when artists come out to claim that their record label owes them more, people should investigate it. If an artist become a star today, he did it by himself, if he fails, it’s the fault of the record label.

You are one of the music entrepreneurs whose label have had issues with artists, could you shed some light on some of them?
Most of the times they don’t get shows. I have also endured a lot of bad press because of them. For example, when J.T Tom West died, a tabloid carried a banner headline that read, “Kevin Luciano in Trouble over J.T Tom West’s Death” and then inside it was a different story. My father got a heart attack from that headline and I don’t even know anything about his death. There was also the story of me chasing Dejo Richards with a gun in this building and I was not even here at that time. About Asa, we are still in court over her issue and at the right time, the Nigerian public would get to know the real story behind our dealings with her.

But you released her album again in Nigeria after it had been released by her new record label?
Because the work was done with Questionmark! All the songs on the album except “Bibanke” were recorded in the Questionmark studio. So, why didn’t they sue us when we did if the work belonged to them?

In spite of all this, why do still persist in the music industry?
It is about the brand. We are the first to successfully take Nigerian music internationally but we never got any support from home. But I am a lion and nobody can kill my dream. I don’t die easily and I will continue going where I am going.
Coming back to our artists, we have over seven albums from seven different artists, which of them have blown? Most times it’s not the fault of the label but that of the artists. Since Asa left, she has never mentioned Questionmark in any of her interviews. She will only say that she used to be with one person before. She spent over three years with us and she never mentions our name anywhere, that’s not fair. I am not really the one to tell you Asa’s story because I am part of the story. Most people, especially the entertainment reporters in this country know the story but they will ever tell it as it is.
For Streetmonks, we had shot four videos for them, got them two nominations at the Channel O Awards, finished a fantastic album, spent almost N8 million on them and then they came and said they wanted a house. From where? They haven’t told sold any records yet at that time and they are making more requests. An artist can only make that request when they start making money for the label.
How can artists keep making requests when they haven’t sold any records yet or made any money for the label, because we couldn’t accede to their requests, they went back to the streets. They went to shows and refused to remit any money to the label. When artists claim that their labels are cheating them, it calls for investigation. Many record labels are fed up with antics of their artists and most of them have given up.
For D’Accord, they were given to by Nigerian Breweries to manage for some time and I fulfilled all my agreements with them. If they were very good, Questionmark would have continued with them. I could go on and on but these artist but let’s leave that for another day.