African music today has grown to become an important part of the global music industry. It is being exported to Western markets. We are witnessing in all four corners of the world the resumption of our dances in choreographies for international stars, challenges in Asia, children dancing in the streets of African capitals.
But for African music, the most obvious success is none other than that of Afrobeats, which by its meteoric rise has allowed Africa to have a place in the sun and has highlighted the whole continent.
This dazzling rise is the result of more than 10 years of work, whose pioneers were already at the time 2 babas: P Square, then Davido. Wizkid and Mr Eazi came after.
Afrobeats find its inspiration in Afrobeat (a bit of it), a genre created by the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and even though there is a sharp contrast in the sound, the elements of heavy instrumentals, jazz and highlife still find their way in what is being offered today.
“Oliver Twist” from D’banj opened the doors to Afrobeats on London radio stations and in turn to the movement. It was also the first Afrobeats record that charted in the Top 10.
This was the first sound that was promoted correctly by a label that was not “world music”.
Kanye West then signed D’banj and Don Jazzy… It was the beginning. Since that moment, Afrobeats has evolved a lot in terms of sound, especially when we compare the typology of beats we used to have with P Square to those we have today with stars like Mr Eazi, Tiwa Savage or even Yemi Alade.
To end this monologue on Afrobeats and introduce our point on Mr Eazi, 2016 was an important year for Afrobeats, with the collaboration of Wizkid & Drake (One Dance), with contributions from Wizkid and South African producer DJ Maphorisa, a true global success, which dominated charts and opened the doors to Afrobeats! Today Nigerian artists are exploring other segments such as Afrojazz, Afrofusion, Afro alternative sounds, etc.
All that to say that good music has no barriers. Mr. Eazi’s success is a true example of success that can inspire any upcoming artist from Africa, to scatter the world. Here are 5 lessons we can all learn from Mr Eazi’s success, Zagadat!
- Mr EAZI IS A BRAND.
Since the beginning of his career, in all his interviews and speeches, Mr Eazi has been clear, concise and precise about who he is. In one of his interviews, he even stated: “Me and my team consider Mr Eazi as a product”. Mr Eazi has tried different alternatives with his music, his marketing, and his management to define his market, to know his audience. Today, he is an International act, singer and songwriter, creator of banku music, a fusion sound he describes as a mixture of Ghanaian highlife and Nigerian chord progressions and patterns.
Mr Eazi is an entrepreneur and businessman. He launched Empawa, which is a platform to help upcoming artists in Africa by giving them tailored management and marketing skills adapted to African realities, and work with big companies, like YouTube. It is not a coincidence when you know the beginning of Mr Eazi studying engineering at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana with big dreams and his aim to be independent.
He became a campus party promoter, but Tosin Ajibade (his real name) had no vision of doing music fulltime, as he spent most times in the studio only because he accompanied artistes there to record, he was also selling phones. He had no idea that he will be that big, from his music talking about shitor and plantain to the Mr Eazi we know today. Finally, when you think about him, you think about DETTY RAVE in Ghana, his festival, which encounters a great success!
- THE BRILLIANT USE OF TECHNOLOGY AND ITS WELL THOUGHT-OUT DIGITAL MARKETING
With the Internet today, as an artist, “the SKY is the limit“. You can be listened to, be seen and appear everywhere if you do it right. The correct use of his data, from the Google interview of Mr Eazi where he explained as an example that he proceeds to a correct and adapted utilization of his data.
With all the free analytics engines we have, you can see where your music is being played the most, how old is your audience, what people say about your music on social networks and this is crucial information for an artist to properly implement marketing campaigns. In Mr Eazi’s case, he saw that the people who supported his music the most were the people of the diaspora, so he concentrated his tours for Africans in the diaspora. He did a great digital marketing campaign for the launch of Lagos to London with London city buses in London and Lagos, merch, big ads across Ghana and Nigeria.
Regarding social media networks, data has proved that Mr Eazi is big on Twitter. He interacts with his fans very often, made cool and funny tweets, pick an artist for Empawa on social media, and so on. He is a well-marketed online product.
Mr Eazi also uses social network tools such as ads very wisely, very precisely. In addition, we all know that dance is a natural reaction to music. In Africa, dance is part of us, part of the different cultures, one of the aspects that contributes to Afrobeat’s success via the dance challenges by afro choreographers in the diaspora and in Africa. Mr Eazi uses video illustrations to launch challenges, show dance steps and become viral.
As an upcoming artist, it is really essential to be well surrounded by a team of creatives, marketing team, great management and A/R because it is the core element to take your music to the next level and become worldwide. A great understanding of the digital words since the Music business is not well developed in African countries, the Internet is somehow the way to achieve it.
- MR EAZI’S BUSINESS MIND
Mr Eazi is one of those who disrupt the way African music is selling today, he relied on technology to propose music in a cheap way.
In 2018, he called for online demo music submissions from artists across Africa using the hashtag #Empawa100. Out of 10,000 entries received from 14 countries, 100 were handpicked and their videos funded at $3,000 each. Today, Empawa has an artist like Joeboy topping the charts in Nigeria or Uganda; also J Derobie topping the charts in Ghana. This is so big that YouTube now collaborates with Empawa to help African artists becoming global. This support will go towards enabling artists to use YouTube to identify their audience. Mr Eazi, via Empawa, is changing the game because the majors have long ignored the potential of African markets.
“Ten years from now, we’ll be listening to music that’ll be different,” Mr Eazi says. “I want to be in that conversation.”
As an upcoming artist we are not asking you to create Empawa too, but to always put yourself in a position to ask yourself how your music can change the deal for you and for future generations, how you can generate money, how to conquer the African and worldwide market always taking into account the environment from which you come and its realities!
- MR EAZI UNDERSTANDING OF MUSIC BUSINESS
Mr Eazi understood the music business. When you take all his projects out, you see the will in his musical choices, his strategy concerning his features to connect the world to Africa. You can see that there are no musical barriers and no stick to one genre.
You can listen to an album of Mr Eazi and find dancehall sounds, electro, hip hop, but still have that African touch. It is a real musical journey, where everyone recognizes themselves. Based on his last mixtape, “Lagos to London“, he has for example feats with Diplo, who is one of the mentors of Empawa, but also Burna Boy and Maleek Berry, major acts on Afrobeat in London scene.
The walk of Lagos to London is beautiful and soft. We start gently with the track 1, Lagos gyration, organic generated beat with highlife influence featuring alternative rising Nigerian star Lady Donli ; then we switch to song as Property or Key to the city, heavy bass and drum where you can easily vibe.
In addition, he features big Nigerian artists as 2baba, monument of Nigerian music, King Promise new scene of Ghana music and also Empawa artists, the long ride ending with a song with Diplo on a more electro vibe. As in everybody around the globe is concerned and can connect. Everything makes sense!
As an upcoming artist, at your own level, it is important to think carefully about your featuring. Featuring is testing and entering a new market, and you should not put any barriers in language, culture or musical genre, great music has no barriers. just explore, enjoy the process, and take it eazi… ZAGADAT!
MR EAZI’S KNOWLEDGE SHARING
In Africa, influential people have difficulties expressing themselves on issues of money, especially in the French-speaking parts of Africa. Mr Eazi talks about his experiences, what he earns, what he invests. Empawa is a project, a start-up that he practically set up in the eyes of everyone, via his tweets, his interviews, we were all part of the journey. He makes documentaries as “Lagos to London the documentary“, to leave traces, inspire, and perpetuate his prowesses over time. Finally, he also wants to train African populations, he recently opened a hiring campaign, open to everyone.
As upcoming African artists, we all have a duty to our continent to make it better, to build. The artists are not in rest, music is sharing, share your successes and failures since failure is not the opposite of success but a part of it!
Mr Eazi consistency branding and great content made him the international act he is today, we are happy to announce that he got nominated for The Grammy Awards alongside with Burna boy, for his contribution to The Gift Album by Beyonce.
He also has a nomination on “Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album“, since he collaborates with his friend and beatmaker legendurybeatz on Bad Bunny and J Balvin’s project “Oasis”.
Watch the latest music video on YouTube of Don Eazi featuring american rapper, Tyga !
Written by Andrea Akouaho