Mode 9 is your favorite rappers favorite Nigerian rapper, he is somewhat a god of Nigerian hiphop and his name is mentioned with esteem and reverence. He himself is a standard, a title that represents rap royalty. As you get more exposure, listeners will always compare you to mode 9 especially if you’re the intellectual type.
But why isn’t modo as rich as you’d expect? Some believed he was too polarized and his music wasn’t getting to the common people so he wasn’t making enough money from shows. Some say he was too rigid to bend into more lucrative ventures. Others believe he knew he had done enough and felt entitled to the reward.
Modo was “lyricist on the roll” for too long he became bored of it, he famously asked while receiving the headies “Is there no one else?”. But this arrogance is what hiphop is all about.
With his skill and history in the industry, You’d expect him to rank among the top 10 richest Nigerian artistes but Nada. His influence in the mainstream has waned but we can all agree that he remains relevant, his name will always come in any Nigerian hiphop gist.
I believe Modo had a poor marketing model for his brand, maybe he was too focused on the art. Underground rappers must learn from modo.
There are Artistes who did relatively very little and know much less, but are considerably much richer. Take yung six for example, a rapper who blew up off a cover of Ice prince’s commercial hit “Oleku”.
Young six is just one of many who are now more financially buoyant than modo. We must realize that in Nigeria, our entertainment industry does not remember your deeds, the fans here are fickle and will not hesitate to fling you. Here are 4 reasons why Nigerian rappers are broke
1. Most acts have no strategy and invoke No emotion
Find a strategy to sell. The keyword here is “strategy”. One mistake young underground rappers make is to head into the industry with out a road map for making money. Simply being artistic is not a plan, it’s your responsibility.
You can be famous, respected and loved and still be broke. You need a strategy for selling your stuff. Whether you’re a rapper, producer or a video editor, you cannot undervalue your work. Have a promotion plan for every song, and a budget for it no matter how small.
One tool you can employ is to create a gimmick for yourself early enough, something that can add a story your music. Something that can make people want to pay to watch you. An example is the use of controversy. It sells because it invokes emotion, so present whatever skill you have and make it dramatic. This is why young rappers look for beef with more established artistes.
Modo came to Makurdi in 2012 for a show. Overdose and A1 (swagger man dope) were also billed to perform. Everybody knew modo was in town, in fact we gisted about how the he was going to tear down the roof and bust the microphone.
But people didn’t turn up, even the hiphop heads. The show had more empty seats than people. It wasn’t enough that he was a famous and respected mode 9, he wasn’t just interesting. He was unable to invoke enough emotion to make people get tickets.
2. Nigerian rappers become obsolete because they don’t evolve quickly
Hiphop must evolve within you if you’re looking to make a good living off it. This is a culture where an album from 5 years ago is considered to be very old.
There is no crime sticking to one style, but try to make your new work sound more different and interesting than the last one. You do not want your listeners to place you in a category you can’t get out of. Banky tried to rap and Erigga tried to speak English but that was never going to work.
Mode 9 is widely believed to be the best, he cant do anything wrong and anything he touches becomes a classic. This is the problem precisely. People don’t want to buy the classic because it’s already a classic and everybody knows it so there is hardly any need.
He’s been classic-zoned and the element of surprise is gone. Majority of Nigerian listeners would have the container rather than the content. So sell yourself as both a container, and the content.
3. Nigerian rappers hardly develop other skills
You have to spend time developing other skills, your music might not appeal anymore but your other skills will keep you in demand. To be rich you must think like a mogul.
Modo isn’t on TV, we don’t see him at celebrity events or mega concerts so we can’t find him. He isn’t the CEO of any popular brand and he isn’t getting endorsements because brands don’t think he can sell their product.
What if he developed a movie making career back when he was hot, what if he had put money in launching a label, and signed commercially viable afropop artistes that could make money for him. What if? We will never know.
When Dbanj discovered his music had began to suck, he started putting a lot of effort on his new line of DB head phones, it is now really popular in eastern African countries like Tanzania and Kenya. Dont forget he hosts koko mansion and owns the koko energy powder.
4. Nigerian rappers do not pay attention to their fan base
Build a fan base and find a way to make them spend on you, this is how oldies like Redman and Reakwon are getting by these days. Nigerian artistes are finding it hard to exploit the potentials of their fan bases. When you drop a great project and start getting that attention, the next thing to do is to build a loyal community for yourself.
Social media stats are misleading, one fan can follow 100 other competing artistes, they’re only following because you’re hot now and you don’t need those kind of fans. You need people who are really into you, but first you’ve got to be unique to achieve this. There are too many Nigerian artistes doing the same things.
Refer to my first point, you need to do your own thing, your own persona. If people can relate to what they think you are, then they will want to rep and buy you. In the long run no one will want to spend on a lookalike despite the fact that you came in riding on a hit, this is the branding problem May D and Chuddy K is having.
One way to build a base is to get your own website early on, make fans register with email addresses or phone numbers so that you can mail them to give a personalized experience. Let them feel close to you, this relationship will pay off later when you start asking them to pay N5,000 for your T-shirt or N10,000 for your show.
Dare isn’t making music for everyone but his live shows are expensive and always sold out. He knows his audience and he reaches them accordingly. When you think of RnB in Nigeria, you think of Dare, its easy for him to get an endorsement deal.
One big mistake you can make is to think that you can continue appealing to Everyone forever, you might not be able to make a hit on every project.
If you’re not you’re Psquare, kindly identify your people on time and sell yourself to them. A thousand loyal fans is better than a million random ones provided you keep your end of the deal.
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