Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A-Q Delivers a Champagne Album Launch Party.

It was indeed a thrashing night was had by music lovers who rock and rolled the night away when A-Q launched his new album into the small hours of the day.
The night of energetic music included performances from DJ Zeez, Skuki, Iceberg slim, Side one, Pope, Eva, Mtrill, Rico white and the host rapper AQ. A black carpet and paparazzi session that lasted two hours was graced by celebrity photographer Kelechi Amadi, South African star model popularly known as Cod Read and Rooftop MCs, to mention a few.
It was a loaded line up with emerging stars Yung Drug, MiekHarry and Lagos kicking off proceedings around 10pm for what would be 6 hours of continuous entertainment, with International DJ Spinall backing up all the performing acts. After the first performance, next up was M Trill who gave a huge hi-energy performance and definitely won over new fans with his fast growing new single ‘Trilla’ and ‘Kolobi’, then Iceberg Slim who ensured that the entire crowd sang along as he performed the 'Better than M.I.' track. Pope was next and held the crowd down for almost 15mins running through all his fairly new catalogue of records. Side-one might seem to be taking to a passive mode but his performance on the night revealed otherwise - fans sang along as he performed 'one by one' and his new song.
With the host, Kris Razor (Beat FM on-air personality) informing the crowd that one half of Skuki was 'in the building', A-Q climbed the stage Just after midnight.
It was an invaluable experience for any A-Q fan and a truly inspiring evening. It’s clear that A-Q is constantly evolving as an artist and creator track by track. His passion and vision for creating art is far bigger than Hip-Hop.
Like a veteran, A-Q ran through tracks from 'The Past, Present and Future' album. The crowd went into euphoria when tracks like Diary, Soldout, Names, Nightmares, Blame it, If I should die - a track inspired by Da Grin and Names remix with Iceberg slim, were performed. One half of the Skuki duo was next performing their hit track ‘Banger’ and new single with Mocheeda, Stamina.
Copies of The 1000 limited jewel cased CD were also on sale at the event for a NGN1000.
 Digital copies of the album can be downloaded from online stores like at $6.99. The album would also be available on,, and iTunes shortly.
All in all it was an incredible event, with champagne for invited guests, amazing performances, a 100,000 watts sound system, anchored by Kris Razor who ran the stage for close to 7 hours.The event was filmed by Hip TV, Soundcity TV, Syndicated TV show, Views and Tunes, TV continental and over the coming weeks it will aired on national and continental platforms.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Complete Story of The Experience 2010

In its five years of existence, THE EXPERIENCE, has remained the best and biggest musical event in the country. It has also been revealed that it is actually the biggest gospel gathering in the world and the joy and pride of Nigeria and Lagos state at that cannot be quantified. Addressing this year’s event at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos on the night of December 3, 2010, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State called it a “Logistics Phenomenon” while President Goodluck Jonathan stated that “We are a blessed people” because of THE EXPERIENCE.
More than 500 000 people were gathered inside the Tafawa Balewa Square, Onikan Lagos and the adjoining spaces like they have done for the previous four years for this year’s THE EXPERIENCE and as has happened in those past years, everything went on smoothly as full-blooded, unadulterated and majestic gospel sounds were dished out by highly classified vessels of God. Here’s how this year’s event went:
Because we omitted this very organic part of the success of THE EXPERIENCE last year, we are starting with it. At the Press Conference held in the morning of date of THE EXPERIENCE, Friday, December 3, Pastor Paul Adefarasin admitted that a large part of the organization of the event has grown beyond the organizers. Among them was the issue of security but he also authoritatively declared that God has never failed them in that area and since the organizers can never boast of being able to cater or safeguard the mammoth crowd which THE EXPERIENCE pulls, they have entrusted it to God.
Well that and some excellent diplomatic efforts on their part would account for the fact that even the “Area Boys” took very active part in the organization of the security of the Tafawa Balewa Square during the event. The Police, K-Square guards and so many other security agencies were involved in the security efforts but that of the normally troublesome “Area Boys” was most notable and who could have tamed them except God?
Last year was the edition of the VUVUZELAS and even though some of them still made a reluctant showing at this year’s show, normal whistles were the order of the day. These highly raised the volume of the noise in the TBS and could be heard a long way before one gets to the venue. So to reduce the noise, the security men were seizing them at the gates but funny enough there were people peddling it immediately behind them and if your whistle was seized and you felt very strongly about it, you could easily purchase another one immediately you crossed the security line. Some people jokingly remarked that the security men could have easily designated someone to sell back the ones they have seized to the same people they were seized from.
The advertised time for the event was 7pm and while many have continued to decry the shabby observance of time in our public sphere, THE EXPERIENCE kicked off at exactly the time it was meant to and went on non-stop for the next 11hours and 30minutes. There was no reason to waste time as the stage has already been set; there was no reason to waste as the sounds had already been tested; there was no reason to waste time as the majority of the audience had arrived many hours before; there was no reason to waste time because they were ready; there was no reason to waste time because there was no time to waste.
The Chosen Treasure, the in-house choir of the House on the Rock church, set the tone for the evening before Lionel Peterson came on and Sammie Okposo followed right after to deliver the first three performances of the night. The National Anthem was also sung within this period.
8:15: Saxophonist, Mike Aremu was announced at this time and together with his band and their “Gan gan” drums rendered a trans-ethnic medley of some favourite gospel tunes before doing a couple of his own original compositions.
Apostle Anselm Madubuko of the Revival Assembly and Pastor Amos Kenneth of the First Estate Baptist Church, Surulere were then invited to come and pray. Apostle Madubuko was asked to pray against denominational barriers in the church and as part of his preparation for this, he took a shouting census of the populations of the different denominations in the arena. The Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians and Pentecostals were asked to shout one after the other to indicate their presence and they obliged. But the volume of the shout of the Pentecostals easily drowned those of the others.
8:47: Panam Percy Paul and his band sing in a variety of languages during their performance. They sing in a variety including Igbo.
*A missing boy, Isaac Louis, is announced.
*Pastor Paul Adefarasin comes on stage. The cheering of the crowd is so loud that he had to hold on for some time for it to die down. He then welcomes everyone and introduced God as the convener of THE EXPERIENCE and not himself as was announced before disclosing, to the delight of the crowd, that Governor Fashola was coming to speak to them.
The governor of Lagos State who was last year “baptized” with the name Isaac by the consortium of pastors present started by paying homage to the “mamas” in the house – Mrs. Aba Folawiyo, Remi Tinubu, his wife, Hilda Adefarasin, Pastor Adefarasin’s wife and so on. He also noted that this was his second “Experience” and prayed that the people “Experience many more EXPERIENCES” in their lives. “THE EXPERIENCE is a logistic phenomenon and if Nigerians can attend THE EXPERIENCE in such orderly manner, the future of the country has just begun.”
He then went on to talk about how everyone is benefitting from the event. From the sellers to the transporters, there’s an economic boom and even though the government agencies would work overtime to put things back in order after the show, it was still a beautiful experience for the state. He then thanked all the leaders of Lagos who stopped the Federal Government from selling the Tafawa Balewa Square and thanked them. “Is there a man who has not offended God?” he asked. “But has God ever gone on strike?” And since God has never gone on strike, people should embrace dialogue and shun strikes. This was in probable reference to the spate of strikes that have affected the state from different corners. In conclusion, he asked everyone to register to vote and wished them a merry Xmas and prosperous New Year. Pastor Adefarasin presented him with a DVD of THE EXPERIENCE 2009 and a copy of his newly released musical album.
9:32: Micah Stampley came on next and took the audience through a very emotional worship session.
Bishop Francis of London came on next to deliver the exhortation. He spoke on the power of Agreement. He took the audience on a shouting spree and short individual dialogues in order to buttress his point.
11:13: Had Chevelle Franklyn on stage. She was followed by Rev. Dr. Felix Omobude of the Covenant Christian Church before Fred Hammond.
Pastor Paul Adefarasin had retaken the stage. He announced that President Goodluck Jonathan was going to deliver a speech to the people and this raised a lot of excitement. Some people actually expected to see the President appear live on the stage but Pastor Adefarasin explained that much as the nation’s number one citizen wanted to be there in person, the security implications of such a venture would be highly complicated. However preparations were made as if the President coming on stage in person. Micah Strampley, Onos Bikawei and Phil Driscoll were commissioned to render the National Anthem which they did before images of the President Goodluck Jonathan wearing a black OUCH specially designed THE EXPERIENCE T. Shirt and his usual black hat took over the massive LCD screens.
The President stated that “We are a blessed people” and that “There’s hope for a greater tomorrow.” He spoke about a variety of other things and the crowd really enjoyed having him endorse the programme.
Specially designed by young and talented designer, Uche Nnaji, these top quality T. Shirts came in a variety of sizes, colours and styles and a large number of the congregation wore theirs with the number “5” boldly inscribed on it to represent the fifth edition of THE EXPERIENCE. The shirts have gone on to become the official uniforms of the show as virtually all the artists, ushers, church workers, security and President Goodluck Jonathan had it on during this year’s event.
12:41: The one man gospel squad in the person multi-talented Grammy Award winner, Phil Driscoll, came on next with his trumpet. He played the trumpet and piano and sang a number of popular worship songs in a highly emotional voice.
1:14: Rev. Dr. Akinboboye of the Voice of Adonai Ministries and Bishop Mike Okonkwo of TREM came on to pray against kidnapping in the Niger-Delta and Blood thirsty demons in the North.
1:33: Judy Jacobs came on to perform before Ron Kenoly who celebrated his 65th birthday in Nigeria last year followed.
Comedians Gordons and MC Abbey come on for a spurt of comedy which was highly effective. They were on stage while Don Moen and his band set up so they took on him just like they did to Kirk Franklyn last year. They looked him over and had him and the audience almost doubling over with laughter when described as “looking like a non-alcoholic white wine.” Don Moen then went on to perform some of his greatest and most loved gospel worship hits.
For a show of such magnitude, many would have expected that there be a period for the very willing congregation to give some kind of offering but there was none. Instead in the VIP area of the arena, light refreshments were offered the worshippers and they thankfully accepted.
3:47: The word of God is delivered by Rev. Tudor Bismark.
4:20: Mary Mary thrills the crowd.
*Israel Houghton came on after and played till 5:46 before MC and Yaw come on stage for some comedic prophecies.
5:54: The Jamaican Reggae Gospel artist, Papa San took the stage for the last artist performance of the event.
Bishop Godwin Elomobor was charged with this task and he duly prayed for all members of the audience, the artists that performed, the country and the organizers of THE EXPERIENCE before blessing and sending everyone on their way at exactly 6:30am. Those that had given their lives to Christ in the course of the programme were invited to stay back for more counseling while others went away with the blessings of the Lord and immediately started counting down to next year’s edition.

Announcing the 2011 Grammy Award Nominees!

Eminem is the man to beat at the 2011 Grammy Awards as he walked away with 10 nominations announced yesterday at the Grammy Nominations Concert Live event. The rap star’s nominations included Album of the Year for Recovery and his song featuring Rihanna ‘Love the Way you Lie’ was nominated for both Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
Bruno Mars was the second highest nominee with seven nominations. Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and Lady Antebellum all walked away with six nominations. Best New Artist nominees include Justin Bieber and Drake.
Michael Jackson is also nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for the song ‘This is It’.
But surprisingly absent from the nominations list was Keisha who wasn’t even nominated for Best New Artist.
The 2011 Grammy nominees were announced a few weeks back during the CBS’ Grammy Nominations Concert Live event hosted by LL Cool J, with performances from Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Miranda Lambert.
The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards will be held on February 13 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The nominees for Best New Artist nominees are Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence & The Machine, Mumford & Sons, and Esperanza Spalding.
Record of the Year nominees include “Nothin’ On You” (B.o.B Featuring Bruno Mars), “Love The Way You Lie” (Eminem Featuring Rihanna), “F*** You” (Cee Lo Green), “Empire State Of Mind” (Jay-Z & Alicia Keys), and “Need You Now” (Lady Antebellum).
Discs nominated for Album of the Year are The Suburbs (Arcade Fire), Recovery (Eminem), Need You Now (Lady Antebellum), The Fame Monster (Lady Gaga) and Teenage Dream (Katy Perry).
For the full list of nominees, click:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Will Marry When I Find the Right Woman - Jude Okoye

The person of Jude “Engees” Okoye may mean different things to different people but to his younger brothers, Peter and Paul “P. Square” Okoye, he means guidance, a manager, director and even protector. During the buildup to their 30th birthday celebration which was held at their new home, SQUAREVILLE, in Omole Phase 1, Ikeja, Lagos on Thursday, November 28, 2010, we sat down with him to talk about him and his brothers.
Tales of him being rude and distant had prepared us for a very cold reception but none of this was evident right from the phone call to fix the appointment to our arrival at the house. We were cheerfully welcomed into the brand new SQUAREVILLE and ushered into the tastefully furnished yet simple living room on the ground floor of the twin duplex. Jude carefully switched off his phones as the tape recorder came out and proceeded to answer to our questions.
Starting from the beginnings in Jos, Plateau State, he told us of how he first noticed and recognized of his brothers’ musical talents. “I used to watch them rehearse around the house but never took anything seriously until when they came to perform in my school, the University of Jos. The kind of reception they go from the students really surprised me and from them I started taking them seriously and giving them attention. But they were still “Imitating Michael Jackson” like they put it in their song and I encouraged them to try out their own lyrics. The first two songs they wrote, “Igbedu” and “Say Your Love” fully convinced me that they could make it as professional musicians and they won my full support.”
Jude who is the third in the family of eight children was also a musician in Jos then; in fact he had two albums of his own, one was entitled, HARD BEING ENGEES while the second was still untitled when he switched over to movie making. The switch was prompted by the movie RATTLESNAKE which was released then. “When I saw RATTLESNAKE, I was impressed,” he says. “The fact that Nigerians could capture the society in such manner impressed me a lot at that time and I immediately went to work on my own story.” The product was his first movie which he named, GREAT OBLIGATIONS. He enlisted the help of an NTA Jos staff who directed it and while watching the man work behind the scenes, the idea that he could also direct his own movie came to him and his second movie, TOBI, which came a year later was directed by him and featured Peter and Paul who were not yet P. Square then. Two more movies, SISTER SISTER and GAZOLA followed, but those were done in Lagos.
Everybody knows about how Bayo “Howie T” Odusami brought P. Square to Lagos and managed them through their first album, LAST NITE before Jude took over. So we asked Jude how that came about and he traced it back to their university days. “When they got into the university, I encouraged them to sing and dance to their own songs because people were beginning to make fun of them for dancing to Michael Jackson and other people’s songs. That came with the need to promote those songs and I went round the major cities of the country trying to push them,” he said. Then came the BENSON & HEDGES competition to Jos and the twins entered for it. They won in Jos and went on to represent the Northern Region in Abuja where they won again to proceed to the Grand Finale in Lagos. They again emerged victorious and that was the turning point in their career. BENSON & HEDGES then helped them launch their first album and according to Jude, “the rest is now history.”
Because Jude was still a student in the university then, Howie T, the renowned DJ and show promoter who was actively involved with the BENSON & HEDGES was saddle with the management of P. Square and he supervised the release of the first album, LAST NITE, under TIMBUK2 MUSIC. When they all graduated, Jude suggested that they all move over to Lagos where he now took over the management of his brothers. This was just before the release of their second album, GET SQUARED. And while earning the reputation of a very hard bargainer on the way, Jude has arguably managed his brothers to becoming the biggest band in the land.
His other reputation lies in the direction of award winning videos for his brothers and we made him also talk about that. That he was into movie making was already a given but how the switch from music to that and eventually the videos of his brothers came about needed more explanation and we got that in this manner: “Whenever I put my mind into something, I have conviction and believe that I can do it. The ‘Senorita’ video was my very first video and for a big company like BENSON & HEDGES to trust me enough to let me do it meant a lot to me. I was able to convince Howie T that I could do it and I just did it. I just know that when I see a good thing, I can identify with it and I know how to follow up and achieve it in a particular manner.” This was done without any formal qualifications whatsoever in video directing or editing.
But was concentrating on his brothers’ career not too large a sacrifice against his own career? “No,” Jude disagrees. “I don’t think it’s a sacrifice so to say, it’s a job; it’s a calling, responsibility and a career. If you say sacrifice, it would be like I’m just doing everything for them. I’m working as well and making a career out of what I’m doing. I run NORTHSIDE ENTERTAINMENT which manages artists. I have a video and movie making studio in the works right now and I have been working for about six years now – from the GET SQUARED album till now. It’s no sacrifice because if I wasn’t doing this I would still be behind the scenes of movies and music just like I am now. It was my choice to just work with my brothers for now.”
This then led us to talk about him not working for other people and he explains that he had tried to work with other people without much success. The fact that he is working for his brothers has been in the way because whoever he works for would ultimately come to compare him or herself with P. Square and if their success levels are not at par, there would naturally be a lot of dissatisfaction and grumbling. “If they don’t do well, the easiest excuse would be that I do the best for my brothers and that I don’t want anybody to be bigger than them. They will not admit the fact that they are not P. Square and that the levels of success can never be the same for everybody. It would either be that they are bigger or they are smaller. They cannot be at par because they are not the same. So for me to avoid such a scenario, I would simply concentrate on working for my brothers for now.” He is contented just working for his brothers for the meantime. “But very soon I will open the doors to other people in management, recording and video directing. And when I do that I will be sure that P. Square has got to such a level that there will be no room for comparison. In fact, once I release another album from P. Square next year, I will open the doors to other people, he says”
There are a lot of complaints about him being a very rude person and we confronted him head-on with it. “It’s simply not true. What happens is that people like misunderstanding others. I’m a very busy person like most other people and because of my schedules, I like being very blunt and strict. I don’t like beating behind the bush or dragging an issue that should have been concluded in minutes. I have six phones and I have to answer all of them and there’s no way I can satisfy everyone that calls on them. Bill Cosby said that he might not know the secret to success but he sure does know that the secret to failure is trying to please everybody. Most people call thinking that one is idle just because he sees them on the TV without know what the person has passed through in the other 23 hours and six days of the week. God knows I’m not rude and I can’t be. God has been very wonderful to us. His blessings are so much and there’s no way we can be rude with it.”
In getting to the top, there are always fights and challenges and Jude and his brothers have had their own fair share. Of note was the last year faceoff with their former landlord which led to them rushing through the building of their house. But Jude sees it as dues everyone has to pay to succeed. He believes that everyone has his own route to the top. The stoicism and determination of the Nigerian youth impresses him but what they have to face pains him so much that he unwittingly digresses into a larger sphere of discourse – the entire Nigerian music industry.
“I don’t know why some of these bodies like the PMAN, COSON, MCSN, PMRS and so on that always come out to say that the government has recognized them to come and collect monies on behalf of the artists only come out to collect things. Nobody has come out to say that the government has recognized him to come and repair, they only come to collect. We have a piracy issue at hand and what they are doing is akin to a patient going to a hospital with a spinal cord injury and the doctor is trying to trim his nails. The major problem facing the industry is piracy so why ask the government to bring money? All we want them to do is to recognize the industry and help us fight piracy. Piracy is corruption and we want the government to help us to fight piracy. Most of these bodies are fake and they misrepresent us to the government and then ask us to join them. I can’t join because they don’t know my problem. That the government should help me to collect my royalties from the radios and TVs is my right, I know, but that is not my problem for now; it is not the bone of contention.”
“P. Square has succeeded in becoming a success and building a worldwide brand but what happens to those coming after? If everybody comes to collect, who is going to come out to give? What are we keeping as a foundation to the next generation? We don’t have any foundation in Nigeria. Imagine if P. Square were not musicians today what would they be doing? If all the artists in Nigeria today were not musicians, what would they be doing? If they had not had the opportunity and the will to fight for themselves to become great, they would have ended up being miscreants and threats to the society. This is what they were able to do for themselves and the government is still yet to recognize them, what will happen if we give them support?
“In every country in the world the government supports entertainment except in Nigeria. Yet it is the same entertainers that would come out to support the government and entertain them. So it’s high time we stop praising who has made it or who has not made it. We need to come together and say after we have made it what next? Can a parent train up his child to grow up in entertainment just like being a doctor? Come one million years today, doctors would still be in vogue but can the same be said about every music? In the 1960s we had the pyramids of groundnut in the north but immediately we discovered oil everything about agriculture went behind. We are now focusing on oil alone and that would finish one day. If we don’t lay a foundation in this music industry, very soon I don’t know what is going to happen.”

So with Jude’s spiritedness on the things of the industry we inquired if he and his brothers were taking any personal measures to see that things are corrected but he explains that the job of safeguarding the nation lies with the state. “It’s not something an individual can do alone. I cannot take the laws into my hands or start walking from one shop in Alaba to the next to stop people from selling pirated CDs. It is what the government should do. P. Square has been recorded to sell at least six million copies of every album they make. But at how much? N70, N60 or N100. Even an empty CD costs more. If they should be able to sell at N1000 like 2face is trying to do, do you know how much the government can make in tax from that? Or how much more employment can be created through that? And this is just one person. What about when others are involved? But if the government doesn’t come in we will still have to selloff our albums at giveaway prices to marketers. There’s nobody implementing the laws and what these pirates are doing is stealing. They are no different from armed robbers!”
Jude could have gone on and on about this issue but we had to round off but before leaving we asked if he had any plans of settling down with a wife soon since he is three steps in front of Peter and Paul who were celebrating their 30th birthday already. But he simply smiled and told us that it won’t happen until he finds the right woman marry. “Or am I to walk down the altar alone?” he asked.