By Joy Bewaji
The entertainment crowd aren’t always prepared to hear about a break-up. There’s the continuous bickering about the situation that allows it to grow into a grotesque creature in the minds of the fans because of the many sides and twists to such stories. The most unfortunate so far has been, of course, the Mohits crew. The fact that we may never get to enjoy that indescribable element that comes from a Donjazzy/Dbanj collabo ever again is just heart-breaking. Another split that is regretful is the Psquare/MayD split.
When the news broke, it was easy to imagine that the sharks had eaten the poor-little-fish, but then there are multiple sides to every story. The issue of an agreement gone wrong is definitely the crux of the matter but what are the underlying factors behind it? As the story goes, Psquare’s management did not meet MayD’s request; how cruel, yes? But really, what was MayD’s request? It is easy to predict what goes through the mind of a young Nigerian with good talent who has witnessed, first hand, the good rewards of entertainment. MayD was on stage all through last year with one of Africa’s biggest acts, Psquare. He travelled overseas, collaborated with international stars like Akon, met with Rick Ross; dined with the biggest brands in Nigeria and Africa.
MayD was enjoying the kind of luxury and privileges (some) others who are just as talented have not and can only dream of even though they’ve been in the music scene longer. He was chilling in VIP sections at clubs, featuring alongside bigger acts in concerts and events.
His music was played on radio every other minute- and if you attribute that to, “oh he makes good music so he deserves it”, then you know nothing about how the music industry works in Nigeria. Everything is monetised – from studio sessions, to printing of CDs, distributing to Deejays, getting constant and repeated airplays, business talks and deals, publicity, interviews and features in magazines and newspapers, constant appearance on blogs, radio and TV appearances, twitter followers, an exciting wardrobe, endorsement possibilities, ecstatic fans, building a desirable music brand – all have astonishing financial commitment attached to them. Nothing in Nigerian music industry is free. I even hear that some artistes pay event promoters to have them perform on big stages just to give that illusion of success that might strengthen their brands. There are no royalties here and not many endorsement opportunities.
Music is tough business, we only see the prize of those who succeed, but know this: for every Timaya out there, there are 50 others just as talented whose music will not see the light of day or be able to put food on the table. So whoever is doling out cash to promote any artiste is taking a huge risk. MayD makes good music and yes he deserved the fame that came with 2012, but do you know how many people could easily fill his place? His strength is not in his talent, his strength is the force behind him. Who was paying for all his appearances in the media, trips abroad, branding etc? The biggest worry for any artiste is getting a structure that can bear the financial burden necessary to create that in-your-face effect for his/her work. MayD got that from being part of Square Records.
Just two singles down the line and a few collaborations then we hear there is a breakup – someone is demanding something that, in my opinion, is not necessary at this point. And as Jude, Psquare’s brother and manager, addressed in an interview recently, MayD was insisting on getting what it took the group seven years to get – he wanted it just after two songs! This is a very familiar scenario, in a “fast-food” society immediate gratification is the order of the day. We want the big house now! We want the car, the endorsements, the fame, the millions of dollars in the bank account now! We justify our greed with professed hard work and talent. And because we cannot wait any minute longer, we gnaw at the foundation our house is built on. MayD was a tad too hasty in his lust for the “good life”. He is obviously chilling with the likes of Davido and is thirsty to live just as big!
If any new artiste gets that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a structure like that of Psquare, you stay, you grow, you learn, you give your best, you enjoy the fact that you are a piece of the big apple. And then when it is time, you leave after you have studied and observed how two young men with just enough flair for music, nothing exceptional, have been able to take over their world.
Until then, you remain and be realistic about your progress. What is the hurry? So he (MayD) is out of the clique, has the heavens opened and poured down his requests – whatever it is he wanted that was denied him, does he have it still? Is there any label that will give it to him? It is now, as he stands alone, that he will understand the true hustle of the typical Nigerian music artiste. At the moment he may still be enjoying the small accolades especially from the female fans ready to flash a boob at him, or a few friends off the relationship from the Psquare family. But soon he will find himself in a cold world, then he’ll realise how much energy, money and experience he would need to push his music regardless of how good it sounds. It is the same demon that plagues us all at some point in our lives: “don’t you see how good you are? See how much you have contributed to their music in such a short time? See how the fans love you! Why shouldn’t they meet your demands? Don’t you deserve it? Aren’t they being selfish?” There are comments online that stand for and against this issue; but personally, I do not think MayD deserves certain privileges or percentage he must have demanded that might have infuriated the group.
For the next year or so with a group like Psquare, May D deserves nothing except the opportunity given to him. It is better to have 5% off a partnership with certain structures than to have 90% of some others. It all comes down to his influences, who are the people he spends time talking to? They obviously don’t have his best interest at heart. Soon he will recognise his staggering mistake, when he finds himself at the end of a long queue. I hope then he’d understand how much wisdom he lacked whilst he was part of a star team.
• Bewaji writes from Lagos.