Monday, August 30, 2010

Kanye West “Power” Video [Full Version]

 The new Kanye video, hw would one describe it, creative or bizarre?
 ...maybe, creatively bizarre?

Kanye West “Power” Video [Full Version]

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review: The Karate Kid

Genre: Action/Drama/Family/Sport
Directed by: Harald Swart
Staring: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson
Released: 11 June 2010

Dre Parker (Jaden Smith)  could have been the most popular kid in Detroit but this was not going to happen cos of his mother's career move to China. While schooling in China, he got attracted to Mei Ying a fellow classmate but cultural differences made it hard for both to get along. His attraction with this girl made him a target of the class bully, Cheng. As a foreigner, he has nowhere to run until Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) the maintenance man came to his aid.

Skeptical at first about this remake because anyone who has seen the 1984 original would know it is a classic that shouldn't be touched.But at the end of the day, i was surprised they really pulled this off nicely. from the very wonderful cinematography which revealed  a lot about the beauty of China, to the change of scenery which enhances the storyline and gets the viewer fully immersed in it.
Credit should be given to Jackie Chan who was a delight to watch in this unsual gentle and serious role given to him. And also Jaden Smith who was so charming.

As good as the movie is there were some overdone stuff such as the violence displayed by the other kids and their coach which i would consider as excessive. The whole love one tin tin stuff i feel was a bit over the top most especially when one consider the kid's age and all ...  Even some martial arts hardknocks would argue what the film displayed was kung-fu and not karate blah blah blah! but eh! who cares......

This is a must-watch if you were a fan of the original version and am sure Jaden will make a lot of new fans with this one. That boy is surely growing to become a superstar like his father cos i really enjoyed it! Am sure it will get a sequel just like the original which would be worth watching out for.

So in my scoresheet the Karate Kid gets 7/10!!!

Death of the RECORD LABEL & rise of the MUSIC FAMILY

Once upon a time before an artiste can set out to have a successful musical career, s/he must first have to secure a recording contract with a corporate or influential recording label which most times do not come easily. Since it is only through such process an artiste can adequately be rewarded for his/her talent. Corporate recording companies have always enjoyed that exclusive arrangement and network required to properly manage and market an artiste through established relationship they have with standard recording studio outfits, major distribution companies, a  network of other corporate organizations, media outfits coupled with their strong legal connections and many other advantages.

With such leverage in the industry, any artiste on their bill is sure to be highly compensated but this has not always been the case because a lot of these record labels have a reputation for manipulating contractual agreement thus shortchanging artistes. This has led to series of conflicts and court cases with notable examples including, the pop sensation George Michael and Sony records dispute, Mase and Bad boy records company saga, the rap trio the Lox versus the same Bad Boy records and many others.

A case in point in Nigeria is the Question Mark record label dispute with a host of its artistes and the recently publicized feud between Kennis Music and its one time protégé Kelly handsome just to name a few. But recently, ever since the improvement of production technology which has made it cheaper and easier for any individual to set up a studio in the comfort of their rooms and the ease in making such studio work available to a wide audience via online social media networks, a new form of label/artiste management has evolved with a mode of operation quite different from that which existed before.

There now seem to be a gradual shift away from the slave/master relationship which hitherto existed between CEOs and artistes into a modified form which can be likened to some sort of partnership/bonding between parties and this can be characteristically regarded as a ‘Music Family. Unlike the high level of unfairness which characterized contractual relationship between artistes and CEOs  in most corporate record companies, benefits in this case are satisfactorily shared in line with the mutual agreement reached between both parties and they extend beyond proceeds from music sales alone to cover other areas such as performance fees, endorsements deals, merchandizing revenue and so on.

This new artiste management model has been found to contribute positively to the overall creativity and development of artistes due to the re-assuring atmosphere it creates which reduces the possibility of conflicts in the same vein, creating room for more successful projects. A good example of this is the young money/cash money label, Aftermath/ shady/G-unit, Roc Nation and of course in Nigeria we have Don Jazzy’s Mo- Hits records, Jude Okoye’s Square records. These two have been the Nigerian pioneers of this new ‘Music Family’ business venture. The strong bond that exist between artistes and their CEOs where the latter more often than not doubles as the producer and executive producers has been the reason for the continuous success of the “Music family’ as its the case with the two. 

The fact that the boss & employee on both labels respectively share an informal relationship amongst each other and also spend most of their time together gives room for a very high level of creativity. This togetherness enables them to look out for each other helping each other to avoid scandals which might negatively affect their public image, which potentially could discourage endorsements from corporate organizations that place high premium on an artiste’s public perception. On the heels of the success of these two labels similar music families are now fast on the rise, examples of such are Rogba’s  Knight House Family,  Audu Maikori’s Chocolate City, Clarence Peter’s Capital Hill, Banky W’s Empire Mates Entertainment, Terry G’s House of Ginjah just to mention a few. Already a lot of these music families have started making great strides in the industry establishing the effectiveness of this new model of artiste management. Entry cost for these management labels is usually low in monetary terms but high in technical and managerial know-how, because in spite of the informal outlook these labels possess, a considerable level of skill is required to successfully harness the music production and artiste management sections of the family.

This necessitates the importance of a skilled ‘leader’ … the CEO as obtained in the ‘slave/master’ record company model.  But the major difference with the “music family” model is that the leader unlike the former do not take decisions without consulting duly with other associates involved  hence, the reason for the continuous success of the music family.  So, if an artiste can be treated with respect and regarded as an important business partner, such understanding without a doubt can only help to serve the best interest of parties involved and of the record label as a unit.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The ‘classic’ limitation of Naija Female Emcees

Ever since the emergence of the hip-hop genre in the United States, female emcees cannot be said to have had much of a fair share, but at least to a reasonable extent they have contributed to the mainstream appeal of the art. Starting from the late 70s during the reign of rap pioneers such as Afrikan bambaata, The Sugarhill gang, Grandmaster flash and the likes, one of the true first ladies of hip-hop ‘Lady B’ in 1979 released her debut single “to the beat y’all” she was, as described by Bene Viera of the koalition, “the spark that women would be allowed into this pool of testosterone.” She amongst a few other women in her time laid the foundation for the emergence of other female emcees.

‘Femcees’ as female emcees are otherwise known, are relatively few when compared with the number of their male counterpart. This notwithstanding, they have managed to make an impact on the art form with their talent at both the underground and mainstream levels. In the underground scene, there have been classic cuts like Kollage by Bahamadia,  who is said to have been the first substantial lady to have benefitted from the revolutionary rhyme skills of Rakim, “necessary roughness” by Lady of Rage, Jean Grae’sAttack of the Attacking things” and “ The Bootleg of the Bootleg EP” and so many other underground notables. On the mainstream, hip-hop history is never complete without mentioning classic contributions of LPs such as “Black reign” and ‘Nature of a sistah’ by Queen latifah, who popularized feminism among not just black females but females in general. Other ones are MC Lyte’sLyte as a rock,’ ‘the mis-education of Lauryn Hill’ by Lauryn Hill, ‘Very necessary’ by the sexy group Salt ‘n’ Pepa and so on. 

Even in this modern era where over-sexualization of the female emcee has become the norm, we can still mention a few number of classic albums from females such as ‘Ill na na’ and ‘broken silence’ by Foxy Brown, Missy Elliot’s ‘supa-dupa fly’ and some other highly rated albums from notables like Lil Kim, Eve amongst the few. 

In spite of all this great antecedence of the womenfolk in the history of hip-hop, Nigeria is yet to produce a female emcee capable of emulating and making such impact on the game as the aforementioned. Well, some may argue the Nigerian hip-hop scene is just growing; it will only take some time. But not everyone would agree with that, because the Nigerian hip-hop scene has come a long way that we can now talk about those who have come and long gone, male as well as female emcees who have been in the game for long enough time now. For this reason, the time is long overdue to probe if we ‘do’ or ‘do not’ have female rappers with such clout on the mic. 

Presently, we can only name three ‘prominent’ female rappers in the local industry which are, Weird MC, Sasha and BOUQUI (‘Prominent’ here means femcees with at least one released studio effort to their name). Without a doubt, they all have their respective fan base both home and abroad, but has anyone of them offered us that timeless material worthy of the exclusive archive that will define naija’s hip-hop history in years to come? 

It is common knowledge that for an album to attain ‘classic’ status it must have sufficiently satisfied either conditions of ‘impact’ and ‘mass appeal’. Naija male rappers relatively have been able to prove their worth in this regard even though we can only name a few such as, Mode 9’s ‘E pluribus unum’, MI’s talk about it , Naeto-C’s U know my P, the Late Da Grin’s CEO amongst a few others. But how come the men folk keep getting the upper-hand in this regard?

 Well, since both sexes obviously can easily secure the expertise of a good beat maker on an album project therefore, the x-factor in producing a classic goes well beyond just the beat quality but more in the areas of ‘content’ and ‘delivery’ which has a lot more to do with the individual skill of the artiste. ‘Content’ here reflects lyricism how deep and imaginative the thought of an emcee is, which lends a lot of weight to the entire song. While ‘delivery’ is the narrating skill or the manner in which the speech is delivered. Some emcees are just naturally gifted with that uncanny ability to play with words even when telling a story without drifting from the subject matter. This nonetheless does not mean this skill cannot be learned or acquired. So judging from these two qualities, male emcees stand out more frequently than the females and by means of that, they tend to get a higher replay value on their full length album.

Without bias, I think it is time the female emcees rose up to the challenge to claim their stake to relevance in this growing industry. While it is good to know new talented femcees such as Eva, Naira, Pryse all have some good stuff in the underground scene, the onus is now on them to not just make up the numbers, but turn things around by giving us that premium album that will earn them the respect of critics in the industry.