This is a story of three kings with three microphones, each ruling over their own people in three different domains. Cassper Nyovest sold out the +60, 000 capacity FnB stadium in South Africa. Phyno took up the challenge and sold out the +50, 000 capacity Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium in his hometown. Olamide also picked up the baton but ultimately slipped on his attempt at the 40, 000+ Teslim Balogun stadium.
Nevertheless this is Africa’s rap elite doing what they should have been doing. These three guys are blazing the trail for rap music promotion. You see, you don’t plan to headline a concert at a large capacity event place when you’re not sure the fans would turn out.
These series of events that took in December 2017 has got me thinking. If African rappers can headline shows and fill up seats in large capacity stadiums, then rap music can do a lot in this continent. And it shows that there is still a market for rappers if the art is manufactured and sold correctly.
But this is about the new trend among Africa’s rap elite. In my honest opinion, this feat put them in history among the greats. That’s thousands of tickets sold to fans paying to watch an African rapper.
This is Jigga-esque, its the sort of audacity that hip hop loves. Cassper, Olamide and Phyno are way ahead of all of us. Pulling that amount of crowd is indicative of a strong local fan base. This is something that all great artistes have in common.
They are solidly followed at home. A home base is a pivot for rap artistes, it is especially important. Across the continent, only pop acts like Davido and WizKid have sold out stadiums effortlessly.
To become the greatest, one has a lot more to offer than just skill. Cassper, Olamide and Phyno are not so great lyrically. They are not the most deep and dexterous. But can the other more skillful ones pull so much body count?. Mode 9 can’t and neither can M.anifest. Not so sure MI and AKA can either. However Nasty C and Sarkodie could given the right circumstances.
He is doing very well in marketing and management. Almost every average music listener in Africa knows “Mama I made it”. He’s using local themed content to break through as a continental rapper. Cassper Nyovest is growing bigger than South Africa. His music can slip into the airwaves in neighborhood countries because he is proficient in both English and whatever language he mixes it with.
He’s quite the fashionista. He brings a new western feel to the old Mzanzi ghetto narrative. The trap generation love him because he makes music for them.
You see why it wasn’t difficult for him to fill up a 2010 world cup stadium.
So far, he has sold 10 Million copies of his work. That makes him Africa’s first multi platinum rapper.
Is he Africa’s most marketed rapper? You tell me.
The just concluded Phynofest was a huge success. Apart from selling, he solidified his monopoly of Igbo rap. Any breakthrough artiste from that sub genre now certainly has huge boots to fill. Phyno is an embodiment of the Igbo hustler and his music is reflective of what the listeners want.
Although he’s very much still a local stronghold, Phyno could rise to dominate Africa in 2018 if he puts out a solid and well distributed project. He also needs features with Africa’s kings and Queens in the coming year. It is important to note that the lanky rapper is perceived in the same view as Sarkodie; tribal, unapologetic and original.
It’s time for Phyno to try out new styles in order to win a bigger fan base. We don’t want him to become too polarized because sooner or later it’ll become stale. An artiste of his skill set and devotion deserves more than just being an Igbo Lord. There’s nothing wrong with collaborations with Diamond Platnumz, DJ Maphorisa, Mafizikolo, Vanessa Mdee and the likes.
The fourth edition of Olamide’s Olamide live in Concert (OLIC4) wasn’t as successful as the stadium acrobats of the other two. One would think that OLIC4 would have shut down the city of Lagos. But that wasn’t the case. From poor organization to low turnout to security fears, the show was dead on arrival. As at 7:00 pm, the stadium was still almost empty.
Although he sold out at a 6, 000 capacity 02 Arena in the UK, filling up a 40, 000 + arena in a third world is a lot more difficult. Its recession, and fans still have to pay N1, 000 so the show better be tight or no one’s coming.
This also proves my assertion that Olamide’s “badoo” persona does more harm to his brand than good. I spoke to my friend and he told me his girlfriend wasn’t having OLIC4. No one wants to get mugged by thugs who are also Olamide’s fans. When push comes to shove, you wouldn’t want to be at a Teslim Balogun stadium at night surrounded by igbo smoking touts. But these are the guys that Olamide so openly represents.
While it may be all fun and games to hear him do his “Agbero” rap on TV and radio, if Olamide can’t rap for other kinds of people, then he really is never going international. Its 7 albums now from him, a serious feat. What’s more important for him now is brand management. Olamide not only needs to needs to grow up, but he also needs to grow out. Even Jay Z modified the theme of his music as he grew older.
Rappers are selling out stadiums now. Hip hop is finally getting the marketing it deserves. The right way to market the culture is the pop-way.
Pop and dance-hall has overtaken the lyrical genre in terms of following. Pop took over via a series of calculated marketing strategies and media collaborations. These plans have been executed over the last decade. Now hip hop must be humble and learn from them. This is the way to go.