There are a lot of myths about the in the Nigerian music industry, and most of them border on the acceptability, ‘sellability’, and possible success of Hiphop to the Nigerian audience. We’ve heard some of the big names make negative statements about the viability of rap music in this part of the world, yet surprisingly, their sudden interest in Dr Dre’s “Straight Outta Compton” project is evidence that deep down inside, they’re still Hiphop heads.
I’ve seen a couple of Nigeria’s top rappers sell short into the Pop life, and it’s so embarrassing, I can’t look them in the face. Some have made money, and termed it success, others have failed woefully, and can’t find their way back to who they were.
When I heard, from Tosin Adeda, that A-Q was releasing the “Son Of John 2” album, I knew finally, there was something I could point to, and say that is Hiphop. After weeks of deliberation and advice, the artiste decided to drop the album on Spinlet for just N50. Although, I preferred having it on iTunes for $10 (N2,000), but A-Q had his strategy geared towards encouraging more youngsters in Nigeria to try out the album.
After successful sales of the album to the target audience for a few weeks, the rapper put together a “Son Of John Concert” with virtually every Hiphop disciple in Nigeria billed to attend. Honestly, when I first saw the flier, I scoffed. There were no big spending sponsors, no support from any of the top media houses, it wasn’t being held in Eko Hotel, Intercontinental or any of those venues which had a tendency to naturally draw the Lagos party crowd. This concert was being hosted at Elysium Night Club, Piccadilly Suites in Lekki, but that too was a strategy. Make the tickets cheap, get the Hiphop faithfuls in, and keep the uninitiated out.
I got my regular ticket online via Afritickets, which aside from listing it on their website, did little to market the event and sell tickets. The venue was where the real magic was, the crowd outside the hall at Piccadilly Suites was no different from the massive mobs usually seen at Hollywood movie premieres.
DJ Lo, Boogey, A-Q, and Weird MC were early, however, the show didn’t start till late. Eclipse, High-M, Blaqbonez, Fatboi, PayBac, Kursor, Butafly, Pasha, Cyclone, Peter Clarke, Efa Iwara, and other rappers you wouldn’t know unless you were in the Nigerian hiphop circles. Also Godwon, Terry Tha Rapman, Cyrus Tha Virus and Jesse Jagz. As much as I never wish to subjectively give any rapper credit over the other, I’ve got to say the performances Weird Mc and Jesse Jagz were a notch above the others by a stroke of experience.
Realizing what an amazing show the Son Of John Concert was about to become, I decided to cancel my regular ticket, and purchased a VIP ticket at the venue. Switched from ateendee mode to “I cam to paty”. It was quite an impressive event, one of the most entertaining I’ve been to this year, and I hope next year, it’ll be there for more people like me to enjoy.
Now, as with everything else in this world, I noticed some flaws in the #SOJConcert, as it was tagged on Social Media. The first issue started with the marketing of the album. Spinlet, for instance, sold albums online to fans of A-Q who came on their platform looking for it, but did not market it to the wider hiphop community which would have appreciated the album, and looked forward to the concert. Another issue is the lack of adequate funding from sponsors, who considered a hiphop concert of this size too experimental to invest in. I would have thought the artist himself would ensure he had generated adequate sales of albums, then invest that in the concert which the aftermath would’ve been more album sales. Then there was Afritickets, which just like Spinlet played the role of an acquisition platform for the tickets, just like Spinlet played the role of a music acquisition platform rather than mainly a marketing platform. The album and the tickets for Son Of John were merely listed on these platforms rather than being mass marketed the way Jumia or Konga would have handled it.
Soundcheck was not done at the venue prior to the day of the event, and this was the main cause of the delays witnessed on the evening of the event. Sound equipment had to be adjusted for hours before the performances could kick off. Some of the big stars billed to perform at the event made last minute change of mind, most likely because they weren’t being paid milllions of Naira for the night.
The event itself was a success, as tickets were sold by an army of A-Q’s fans, friends, and supporters, who also bought tickets themselves, the venue was packed, and the performances were amazing. This brings me to the final issue I had with the organizers of the concert, being lack of post-event awareness. It’s been 2 weeks since the biggest, and most successful Nigerian hiphop concert this year, and those who weren’t there, or weren’t aware, have no clue what they missed. Sponsors who declined partnering on this event have not been shown why they should be eager to foot the bill next year, and media houses are yet to understand how much entertainment content they lost out on.
Going forward, rappers need to understand that they are rappers, not just entertainers, or cross-over artistes, their art is rap, and everyone owes a duty to keep their art alive. When you’re called to perform a service in sustaining your art, answer, and be there. Organize your concerts professionally, ensure that marketers and promoters market and promote, and where they’re unable, get alternative marketers and promoters. Prepare the venue thoroughly, check equipment and sound at least a day before the event. After a successful event, showcase it to the world, so that your post-event publicity will be the pre-event promotion for the next concert you hold.
I’m still looking forward to the videos, and photos from the Son Of John Concert, I had a great time, and I wish others who weren’t there will at least have a glimpse of how it went down. Thanks to everyone who showed up, and thanks to A-Q not just for putting it together, but for making it about Hiphop, and not himself.