Thursday, October 27, 2011

Freezy, the Happening Berom Boy

It started like a joke but the dream of Freezy, the Happening Berom Boy, is growing steadily. It has taken him from Jos where he comes from to as far as Ghana, a few weeks after releasing his debut album titled, Veimot which means “my arrival” in Berom dialect. The album was released in collaboration with Black Diamond Entertainment in Jos.
In 1998, when the tide of Hip Hop became strongest, taking with it everybody, Freezy was also blown by the Music of Bone, Tugs-n-Harmony and also the New York rapper, Nas. He got additional inspiration from his late father who loved music so much and wanted to start a music label by the name of “Galilee.”  He started by miming the music of Bone, Tugs-n-Harmony, taking part in inter-school music competitions in J-Town and eventually releasing his opening album early this year.
Having been inspired by Hip Hop Music, it naturally followed that his music cannot be anything else. The music is Afro-Hip Hop basically. Nigerian Afro-Hip Hop is a mix of local vernacular and Nigerian street English also known as Pidgin English.  In his case, the local vernacular is Berom, a tribe from Northern Plateau State, Nigeria.
The versatile Freezy was the first Jos-based artist to grant an interview to Rhythm FM in Jos with L-D Extra-Large as his host. During the lunch of his album, Terry the Rapman honored his invitation by not just coming but performing as well. It appeared that Terry was impressed and subsequently included Freezy in his tour of Ghana.
The Mecca of music business in Nigeria is Lagos but most Jos-based artists usually drag their feet when it comes to moving to Lagos until it becomes too late. His journey to Ghana meant a lot as it emboldened him to move to Lagos to begin to work towards pushing his dream ahead.
The trip to Ghana and the subsequent relocation from Jos to Lagos also worked to give him the relevant exposure. In Ghana he met a number of artists including, Kingbling of R2B and started learning how the music business works. At Lagos, he started working hard to promote his album by performing at clubs and meeting music promoters. One of the clubs in Lagos where he performed was D-Jakes at Lekki. His collaboration with Durella the King of Zanga in track titled “Teach Me Yoruba” was also a milestone. The single was produced by a notable producer in Lagos that goes by the name G-Ballo.
Back home in Jos his music has found him recognition. His insistence of singing in Berom has led him to meet with the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Gyang Buba. Another traditional ruler in his Zawan ward in Jos South bestowed him with a traditional titled of Davwel Berom Zawan, meaning The Father of Berom in Zawan.
From what Freezy has seen of the industry so far, the greatest challenge is the ability to work towards meeting high standards. He says that when you make your music and think it is good enough there is the need to wait until you find out what the market wants. That you can only know it from music promoters in Lagos who listen to the music and tell you the fans want. The music must reflect the Nigerian feel from all its ramifications and should be danceable mostly.
The Happening Berom Boy says he has heard about the fact that music is a universal language that can be understood by everybody. He however felt it the most while in Lagos. After performing, the track, the “Happening Berom Boy” that has a lot of lines in Berom language at D-Jakes in Lagos, the electric respond of the fans took away any iota of the misgivings he had regarding the universality of the music language.
The artist from J-Town says he loves one of Naeto-C’s line that says Naeto-C is “the only MC with a M.Sc.” He says he loves that line because it encourages young and aspiring artists to get good education as he himself has seen, one must go to school to be a good MC.
Currently, he is doing alliance with number of artists. There are General Pipe and Mallam Spicy in Lagos and Spartan MC in Jos.
Freezy’s birth name is Humphrey Pam and is the first child of a family of four male children in Zawan in Jos South. He went to College of Mary Immaculate, CMI, Zawan in Jos South and subsequently attended the University of Jos where he bagged a Diploma in Theatre Arts.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Waconzy Keeps Industry High

The cumulative success of the Nigerian music industry in the last ten years is that it was able to establish itself as the envy of the contemporary African popular music industry. This has translated to a towering pride in the minds of the Nigerian music fans. This leading status can be sustained only by a steady emergence of new stars. When this is not happening, the Nigerian fan becomes concerned. After a period of drought, the apprehension in the minds of the fans ended with the emergence of Waconzy.
Had I taken time to review Waconzy’s music immediately he came out, I would have subsequently regretted my action. This is because it took me time to fully come to comprehend and appreciate his music. I thank Heavens for this delay.
 It is occasionally sensible to judge a thing by the general opinion of the people. Waconzy’s song I celebrate lingered on the top of the Nigerian music chats for an unusually longer period than most big stars in the country ever did. A veteran DJ of Peace FM Jos, Jeffery Isaac, it sometimes compelled by popular demand to play I celebrate more than once in a single show, usually the Friday Pop Trucking. On Friday 17th June the MTN music chat again ended with I celebrate at the top of the chat.
From I celebrate, the sound pattern of the bass guitar classifies Waconzy’s song between Highlife and Reggae. This is typical of artists from the south-eastern part of the country. Waconzy appears to allow his life experiences to write his song which is the easiest way to write intelligent and successful songs as music fans will be able to relate well with one’s works.  The lyrical pattern is complex in the sense that it is difficult to differentiate between the chorus and the stanzas.  In the song, the artist adds an exotic feel with a saxophone that gets one wondering who mentored him.
If I have to change anything in the song however, I would replace the vernacular in the chorus of the song with either plain English or at least the Nigerian cultural English better known as Pidgin English. The vernacular is too heavy and appears to repel anyone who don’t understand what is been said.
Whether Waconzy will stand the test of time like the Tufaces and the P-Squares remains to be seen

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

MI Rules African Hip Hop

Anybody that has discovered and fallen in love with my blog will learn to be patient and tolerant with me. This is because I may not always review every song, album or artist. It is partly because we are not funded in any way. We just find resources elsewhere and use them to buy the records when they are released and then listen and review them. If an album is released at a time when we have other pressing issues, then the review of the album becomes something of tertiary significance. It is due to this reason that I could not review MI’s current album, The Movie, immediately it came out. It is however better to be late than never.” At all at all na im bad pass.”

Having bought the album early in July, I played it too times to discover that the so called Hip Hop DJs have underplayed the album and should bury their heads in shame for underplaying what is about the best Hip Hop Album in the history of Nigerian Hip Hop . Rather, the album has enjoyed greater airplay from all-purpose DJs. It is the reason why the most known songs are one naira and Number One that features Waje and Flavour respectively. Considering the dominance of the featured artists in those songs, which tend to be less of Hip Hop and more of R&B and Highlife, the genres of the featured artists, those songs cannot be said to be the mainstream Hip Hop songs of the album. If Hip Hop DJs don’t play the mainstream Hip Hop songs of the album, then who would?

Listening to the album, it is clear that album has consolidated the extraordinary rhyming kills of MI such that he could now add “The Rhyme Beast” among his pseudonyms. With that lyrical strength of his, MI could challenge any rapper from any part of the world.

In an era when parents are having it difficult to get their children to read their books, MI by his rhyming skills, has thought a lesson to children with music ambitions but who have failed to see it that you must be properly educated to be a good artist. The depth of poetry in MI’s songs shows he was a good boy in class, a boy who respected his teachers and did his homework all the time. It shouldn’t be just English and poetry. It should be all subjects, as a good artist must have broad knowledge. As LD Extra-Large use to say it on his shows on Peace FM Jos, go to school and learn how to rap. MI must have been at one corner, silently listening.

The album has worked to accentuate the strong influence of Lagos on the Nigerian music industry. Usually Jos rappers are strictly Western in their style in the sense that their songs don’t usually have a place for Nigerian vernacular. It is easy to see this from the series of big Hip Hop names to have risen from J-Town or who had J-Town influence such as the Mode-9, Terry the Rapman. Others include Baron, Black Chief, and X-Ray who were among some early rappers from Jos to become popular across the country when their songs were featured in the movie, Out of Bounds that starred Richard Mofe Damijo. One could also see it in LD Extra-Large who has influenced every rapper from Jos either directly or indirectly. When they come to Lagos however, they are compelled to add a Nigerian feel which is the reason why one often hears Juju flair in the music. I think it is fabulous as what is Nigerian cannot really be Nigerian without a Nigerian character. Whoever wants to listen to Nigerian Hip Hop must learn to tolerate who we are. With this, the Lagos influence is helping to bring a balance to global Hip Hop. MI’s album has given its own contribution along this line.

MI by this album has also succeeded in creating an acceptable Hip Hop version of Nigerian pidgin or cultural English as you may want to call it. Nigerian Pidgin English has always sounded dumb when used in Hip Hop music. It is merely due to the fact that we have not found somebody who is conscious of the need to panel beat the language or has the consciousness but lacks the capacity to actualize it. Listen to the track my head my belle to see what I mean.

Every artist has his reigning days after which he ceases to make any meaningful impression.. Just like Tuface, MI in this album has also proven that he is a motivator with a spirit of reawakening. He just compels you to rejuvenate yourself or you are made to look like a dwarf. This is evident in the song anybody where Timaya reinvents the endowment that saw him ascended to that height where we all saw and knew him.

The album also made obvious the liberal mind of the MI. Somebody who is liberal is one who believes that we cannot continue to dwell in the past. He believes that there must be new ways of doing things. He believes that though millions of songs have been made there are millions yet to be discovered. Discovering them is the only way we can get the people to live life to the fullest. The instrumentation for instance isn’t ambiguous at all. It represents something completely new in Hip Hop I never thought that some rappers in Nigeria can be that creative.

In the end I will like to say that though I noticed that there was a minus in the mastering of the album leading to a little noise in the background and that MI often loves to keep people in suspense when the beat starts and continue for an usually long period before the lyrics begin to flow, I score the album above 90%.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Recognizing Originality in Music

It is possible that you have read about the topic “music originality” in this blog or other writings of mine, perhaps on Ezinearticles and you are wondering why I continue to write about a particular issue more than once. Well, the reason is that the issue of originality is so fundamental to the success of a music project that writing about it so many times should only amount to righteousness.

When it is said that originality is so fundamental to the success of a music project, the pertinent question that often follow is: “does that mean that all successful musicians where original?” May be a certain fraction of successful artists may not have been very original but that fraction must be abysmally low. This is due to a number of factors. One such factor could be that the artist may have been part of a group that was very original. He broke up and started a solo project that turned out sour. He succeeds nonetheless because of the reputation he built for himself while singing with his former group. Sometimes an artist could be closely related to an influential person in the industry and succeeds as a result of his relationship with that powerful individual. Also for certain reasons, radio DJs may decide to give an artist adequate airplay thereby compelling people to begin to think that the music is the reigning thing, leading to the success of an artist that would have been a failure.

I am, primarily, a Reggae fan and coincidentally this genre of music happened to be one in which the issue of originality is taken so seriously. Another genre of music in which originality is a sin qua non is underground rap music as it was from the cradle until T-pain and Bow Wow came up with their kind of stuff and changed the bearing. That is not to say that what Bow Wow and T-Pain have given the world lacks originality. There is however, a compromised emphasis on originality in the style they have steered. The detail about recognizing originality and other factors that determine the outcome of music project such as the steps towards making a song, etc, have been fully addressed in my book, “How to Become a Music Maestro.” Search for the book title and the name, Yiro Abari and the right link will popup.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bob Marley Lives On

Bob Marley
On May 11, 2011, Bob Marley’s Day was again celebrated around the world. On that day in 1981, the Jamaican Reggae song writer and singer passed on to Zion after a battle with caner.

This year, 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of his death. Despite the long period, the hysteria surrounding his name has never shown any sign of diminishing thus underscoring his legendary position on our planet and justifying his royal regal place as the King of Reggae.

The eulogy surrounding the personality of Bob Marley weren’t illogical. They are comments that were stirred by the influence of his music on all who love and listen to the music. Marley made his music with forethought. He wanted music that will be relevant in generations to come but as it turned out, the music will eternally remain luminous. When one plays the music of his contemporaries, he hears certain elements that remind him that the music belongs to the past. As far as this is concerned, Bob’s music stood in contrast. This is in addition to the political, racial and spiritual messages he sang about. The political, racial and spiritual challenges of his time are still with us today and explain why children of centuries to come will continue to communicate with his music.

The folks of the world belong to different social groups such that while pastors belong to one end, rude boys like Bob Marley, by virtue of their lifestyles, belonged to the other extreme of the spectrum. Music played any individual is reflective of the social range he belongs to. In his music, Bob Marley was able to create a crossbred of a pastor and a rude boy in his music. When one listens to the song, “We and Them,” he understands that the instrumentation is typically that of a ruthless and conscious-minded person. In the song, Marley finds common place with the clergy in the lyrics.

We no know how we and them are go work it out

Someone will have to pay for the innocent blood

That they shade everyday

Oh children mark my word

Is what they Bible say


In the beginning Jah (God) created everything

He gave man dominion over all things

But now is too late

You see men have lost their faith

Eating up all the flesh from off the earth

The exotic feel in Marley’s music is one that accentuated his towering ingenuity, creativity and originality. Bob Marley’s music will eternally continue to have a strong influence on our lives and that of our great grant children. Thus Bob Marley will continue to live on. Yes, Rastas never die.