If Audu Maikori, President of Chocolate City succeeds in reining in, fast rising pop artiste, Ashimi Ibrahim Olawale, better known as, Brymo, it may post a resounding victory for long-suffering label owners who are sometimes traumatized by the pranks of their artistes.
The unfolding battle between Chocolate City and Brymo is not totally new in the entertainment industry. For as long as the industry has existed, for so long have artistes had issues with their record company/label owners.
However, the trend in Nigeria as exemplified by the face-off between Wizkid and his record company, EME posits a different dimension where in a moment of indiscretion, an artiste announces on the social media the severance of the working relationship with his label. This was the case with Wizkid and after a round robin of trading blames, it emerged that what Wizkid actually wanted was a re-negotiated contract, which now allows him to own a label while still signed on to EME.
What remains to be seen is whether Brymo is playing Wizkid’s card or has a tougher proposal for Chocolate City. To be sure, Brymo is not the first artiste to part ways with Chocolate City. The record label’s first wave-making act, Jeremiah Gyang did not exactly leave on a good note. Although, at a meeting with journalists in his office midweek, Maikori said he had mails in which Gyang apologized for every misdemeanor. Recently, Jesse Jaggz also left the label. Jesse is a sibling to Jude Abaga, better known as, MI who is not only signed on to Chocolate City, but runs his own outfit while retaining a prime place as Vice President on the Chocolate City board.
With the emerging tantrums being bandied around, it does not look like Brymo is going to apologize anytime soon. According to Maikori before the tweet in which Brymo announced his exit from Chocolate City to the world, the artiste who lifted label mate, Ice Prince’s hit, Óleku’ into reckoning with his chant had exhibited certain unbecoming behaviours which was a cause of worry to the company. These include an open advertisement of marijuana, which cost the company a gig at a 10 year-old boy’s birthday party. The father called in to cancel his request for Brymo following the artiste’s indiscrete use of the weed. He said he did not want his son to come under such an influence.
Though, he has so far rejected every call for a meeting, Maikori is confident that Brymo has no option than to meet with his team at an arbitration table. His three-album deal with Chocolate City ends in 2016. Brymo has only delivered one album, ‘Son of A Carpenter’.
From the tone of Maikori’s speech, Chocolate City may be open to a negotiated severance of its relationship with Brymo. MI who was at the meeting with journalists claimed to be the ‘’least favoured’’ artiste on the label. He retorted, Ï did not get to where I am today overnight. I used to carry the guitar for Gyang as his PA that is how I entered Chocolate City. I have been patient, hard working and loyal. Many times, I have sacrificed what would have been my personal gain in favour of the company. I am an artiste. I am also a record label executive. I can tell you that label owners are not hiding any money from artistes. Many of these transactions are verifiable and in Chocolate City, you are allowed to bring in your own auditors.”
Maikori was visibly worried about the fate of his investment of over 10 years if Brymo is allowed to set a bad example. Chocolate City is the first Nigerian record company in recent times to attract an esteemed boardroom guru like Hakeem Bello-Osagie as its chairman. The company has also spread its corporate presence to Kenya. Its leading artistes like Ice Prince and MI are doing well and have become brand ambassadors even as Maikori’s personal corporate profile is on the rise with a torrent of upscale speaking engagements.