Lanre “Eldee The Don” Dabiri needs absolutely no introduction. The ill named genre “Afrobeats” was garnished, cooked and served by The Don and his peers. They showed everyone else that it was possible to have a music career, with hits after hits. Recently, he has been linked with investments in technology ventures (think Washist, PlayData etc)…oh, did you also know that Eldee used to design/develop web applications?
Read his inspiring growth story below, as shared on his blog.
The last few years of my life have been very interesting, a lot has changed. I don’t have an album coming out, I’m not touring, I haven’t even been in a recording studio in months. I have two houses full of pro audio recording equipment that are probably going to be listed on eBay soon, hard drives of music I like to consider ‘dated’, and fewer and fewer music business related phone calls with each passing month. The only thing that has remained constant and may actually be growing in number is the barrage of emails from up and coming talent. They’re either looking to get signed, get connected to a colleague, or just seeking advice. I have had the privilege of meeting some amazing young professionals, and I enjoy engaging younger artists. I am eager to share my experience, teach a trick or two or just give guidance in any way I can. I don’t think we do enough of that as a society. A lot of people go to the grave with information that can add value, give perspective or even change lives. That’s a topic for another post. If you’re reading this and you have ever sent me an email that I didn’t respond to, please forgive me, I get hundreds of emails weekly. I have resisted hiring someone to sort out my inbox because I don’t want to lose the personal touch, sadly I may have to do so soon, if I’m going to be able to keep up.
Like I said earlier, It is really interesting how different my life is now. I used to live in a house with at least four or five other adults and now it’s just me and my girls. I used to get out of bed when I felt like it, now if I don’t get up at 8am, my kids will be late for school. I used to be out club hopping all night, every weekend, and now I can’t stand loud music for more than an hour or two. Since I started having kids, my routine has adjusted to accommodate a lot more family time. I’m much more domesticated now and I’m loving every minute of it. When I had my first daughter in 2009 I was still very active as a musician and record label exec. I remember being in and out of studio while my wife was pregnant. I also remember constantly being on the road touring, from nationwide radio and club tours, to the US, and the UK tour of late 2010. Touring took me away from home for extended periods. I remember being home with my family for no more than two weeks at a time for almost the entire year. While I enjoyed meeting fans, performing and collaborating with artists from all over the world, I missed spending quality time with my girls. I’m blessed to have the most amazing wife anyone could ask for. She was there from the very beginning of my professional journey as a musician in 1998, and she never complained because she believed in me, a young man living his dream and following his passion. She never once complained about the late nights, the constant trips, the ever-ringing phones, the constant dinner meetings at the house where she had to cook and host my sometimes annoying guests. Some of the people I was constantly surrounded with were creative jerks but she never once complained, I appreciate her for that.
Over time, I began to feel the need to spend more and more time with my family, so I chose to re-evaluate my commitment to my passion of being an active musician. An opportunity came in 2012 to expand the record label and sign new artists which I did, hoping to step away from active performance and spend more of my newly acquired free time developing new talent. My undeniablealbum was scheduled to be my last studio album and I figured it would be easier for me to be the label boss in order to spend more time doing the more domestic things that are now top priority. Long story short, the partnership to expand the label didn’t work out as planned because partner/investor commitments never quite came through as promised. It put a strain on me emotionally and financially, and eventually I started thinking to myself “…maybe the universe is speaking to me, could this could be a cue to step back and re-evaluate my goals? Am I doing this solely out of passion? Have I lost the plot? Does this make sense as a business? Is this what I want to spend the next ten years of my life doing? Is there maybe something else I ought to be doing right now that I’m not doing? Is there a greater purpose for me out there that I have yet to explore?”.
I decided to take a break from it all by the end of 2012. We were pregnant with the second baby and I realized how much my wife needed me, nothing was more important to me at that time than my family. I spent a lot more time with my wife and my first daughter, I gotta tell you, watching her grow is the most beautiful thing in the world. With Toke my second daughter on the way, I had to re-channel my creative energy and focus on finding a new and meaningful purpose. I couldn’t afford to be away from them, so whatever my new challenge had in store, it had to fit within my new schedule. That is when I began exploring some of my side projects and I zoomed in on a solution I had been working on for a few years on the side, Playdata.
As a musician and label exec doing business in Nigeria, I had to deal with challenges that are specific to the entertainment industry regarding the return on investment of broadcast promotion campaigns. In simple english, you spend a lot of money but you are unable to match the results with your expenses in a scientific manner. It was always a gamble with each release, and I was pretty sure I could figure out a way to minimize that risk. I have always been a technology enthusiast, the architect in me believes that up to 80% of man’s problems today can be solved with technology, we must focus on innovation, and what better time to take a dive into providing that solution. Today I am proud to say that we have not only built an optimal solution for that problem, but we have raised necessary capital to provide it to anyone in the world who is seeking improved efficiency of their broadcast campaigns. Look up playdata when you have a moment.
Through it all, I have had more time with my family, I have grown in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. I have learned to enjoy the serenity I once knew as a young boy growing up in Kaduna. My relationship with close and extended family has never been better. I have lost a lot of the fluff and discovered who my real friends are, but above all I have connected with my inner self and found true happiness. A lot of people believe happiness is directly related to financial independence but while I can confidently say I have never been more excited about my financial situation and it’s prospects, I understand that the happiness I’m experiencing is more as a result of my constant journey towards the discovery of my personal legend and how to inevitably fulfill it.
I enjoyed starting from scratch,…young boy from Kaduna with extraordinary passion that arguably changed the game. I enjoyed the hustle that created eLDee the don, I enjoy influencing younger creatives, I enjoy innovation and what it means to the human race and our beautiful planet. I enjoy acquiring knowledge, I enjoy sharing knowledge, and I hope to continue doing things to inspire generations to come. I may not be on your TV or radio like I used to, I may now be referred to as “that guy wey sing Bosi gbangba“. I may not receive preferential treatment at public functions, but I have taken the first step towards an enriched human experience, and a truly fulfilling life, I have found happiness.
“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist