Undisputed King of Queens

Yemmi Alade‘s Temperature is the 5th song off her “King of Queens” album. Produced by Effyyzzie Music Group’s Dil, a producer and an RnB singer who also features in the song, this is definitely in my list one of the most amazing African tunes of 2015.

Yemmi Alade Temperature Video Poster (Image courtesy of notjustok.com)
Yemmi Alade Temperature Video Poster (Image courtesy of notjustok.com)

With a mix of English and Igbo languages, the song proves Yemmi Alade’s versatility as an artist. Compared to Johnny and Tangerine where the singer came off as tough and strong, Temperature reveals a different side to her, which is warm and vulnerable. The strong vocals by both Yemmi Alade and Dil add quality to the audio bit of the song, making the listening experience pleasurable. While the visuals for the song were done in London, the African in it has not been lost as Yemmi Alade embraces the beauty of African print and chunky jewellery. Her make- up is well done, skin glowing and the hair still very African like in her other videos. The use of color for the video is perfect and this combined with all other mentioned aspects, this is a video that you would be drawn to watch to the very end.

Yemmi Alade (Image courtesy of olorisupergal.com)
Yemmi Alade (Image courtesy of olorisupergal.com)

The four minute song has Yemmi Alade starting us off and then later joined by Dil who makes it conversational, which is what love and relationships are all about. Each of the artists is in a different place yet still connected by what they feel for their lovers. The fact that the video has been built on a story and with such expression of emotion especially by Yemmi Alade as she talks to her lover on phone makes the audience connect with the song and its message, which is very important. The video is simple and yet still very elegant.

Notably, Yemmi Alade has been very consistent in ensuring that her videos are relate-able making her the “girl next door with amazing talent that everyone has no choice but to love”. This incredible laid back song certainly proves that she is indeed a King of Queens and a force to be reckoned with.

Rating: 4/5

Beyond the title.

The much awaited 2015 BET Awards finally took place, with Ghana’s Stonebwoy winning the Best International Act Africa Category and Uganda’s Eddy Kenzo walking away with the Viewers choice Best New International Artist Award.

Uganda's Eddy Kenzo - Viewer's Choice Best New International Artist BET 2015 awards (Image courtesy of citizentv.co.ke)
Uganda’s Eddy Kenzo – Viewer’s Choice Best New International Artist BET 2015 awards (Image courtesy of citizentv.co.ke)

While both awards signify an appreciation for the artists’ contribution to the music industry, this is what it actually means beyond the earned titles:

Stonebwoy and Eddy Kenzo are now not only stars in Africa but the world all over, thanks to these awards. The platform provides great exposure and the world will certainly be looking out to see what is next from these two artists.

Stonebwoy and Eddy Kenzo have paved the way for other Ghanian and Ugandan artists as people will now want to explore more of the music from the two countries that these BET winners represent. Hence, the win is not just limited to the two but to the entire music industry of the countries that they each represent.

Everyone wants to be associated with a well- known and winning brand. The same principle applies to Stonebwoy and Kenzo. Individual artists and corporates would want to be identified with these two brands in an effort to push their own brands.

Both titles come with more responsibility. Hence, much more will be expected not just from Stonebwoy and Kenzo but other nominees for the same category and African artists at large. While everyone will be working to up their game, we are set for more quality music from the African continent.

Stonebwoy & Sauti Sol BET 2015 (Image courtesy of nydjlive.com)
Stonebwoy & Sauti Sol BET 2015 (Image courtesy of nydjlive.com)

Stonebwoy and Kenzo would certainly be able to negotiate for higher rates, being the international stars that they now both are.

With the win, both artists are an encouragement and a challenge to other African artists to do better and ensure good quality music.

On the Flip Side:

While the win for both artists signify great mileage for Africa’s music industry as a whole, there is still a lot more that needs to be done to ensure that indeed the winners get the needed exposure.

Dare to be different

African artists at Coke Studio Africa (Image courtesy of www.coca-colacompany.com)
African artists at Coke Studio Africa (Image courtesy of http://www.coca-colacompany.com)

African music is diverse with each country in the continent having its own distinct sound. While most artists would opt to do conventional music for the particular country that they represent, a few have veered off and ventured into different styles that make them stand out. I will however focus on Nigeria’s Patoranking for this article.

Nigerian dance hall artist Patoranking (Image courtesy of www.nigerianeye.com)
Nigerian dance hall artist Patoranking (Image courtesy of http://www.nigerianeye.com)

Patrick Nnaemeka Okorie popularly known as Patoranking is a 25-year-old Nigerian- Dancehall artist who got his first recording deal in 2010, but gained much recognition in 2014 after a remix to his hit single “Girlie O” featuring Tiwa Savage. Considering top Nigerian artists WizKid, Davido, Tiwa Savage and Yemmi Alade, I would describe Nigerian music as pop with an African feel to it. On the other hand, Dancehall, which is what Patoranking has embraced as his style of music is a genre of Jamaican music with a sparse version of reggae that entails the use of Patois language.

Watching this video, unless you know where he is from, Patoranking seems more of Jamaican than Nigerian. What stands out is that he not only embraces the Jamaican beats, but owns the language and culture expressed in the music video, making him believable. So good is he that he is now amongst the most sought after African artists for music collaborations, having worked with among others Nigeria’s Skales, Zambia’s Roberto, Ghana’s Stonebwoy and Uganda’s Jose Chameleon.

A lesson to learn from Patoranking:
I first I heard of Patoranking in 2014 with the “Girlie O remix”. A good first impression was made and I could not wait to listen to other Patoranking songs. Despite not knowing that he was in fact Nigerian and not Jamaican,I was drawn to his energy. Such is the kind of fan- base that every artist should strive to have. Fans who will support you irrespective of who you are and the style of music that you do as long as you manifest talent. Patoranking through consistency has pulled back his audience and ensured that they maintain their loyalty to him this far. That is how you survive as an artist with a non- conventional style.

On the Flip Side:

The longevity of Patoranking’s career will depend largely on consistency, his ability to constantly re- invent himself and persistence that will not allow Africa (and the world in general) at any point to forget about him. Patoranking would have to work twice as hard compared to other artists doing music that has already penetrated the African market, with the need to keep proving himself with every new song that he does in order to remain relevant.

That said, it takes a lot of brevity to venture into the unfamiliar knowing that humans are more receptive to what they know. Patoranking is indeed proof that being authentic is not going with the crowd but standing out in a crowd.

Opportunity comes knocking once

Coke-Studio-Africa

Coke Studio Africa has played a major role in promoting African music, by providing a platform that goes beyond physical and language barriers.By bringing together artists from different parts of the continent that would have otherwise not have met, a larger audience is provided for the participating artists, making it possible to spread their wings and to go beyond the imaginable.

It is because of Coke Studio Africa that I share Tanzania’s Diamond Platinumz’ story of success. Diamond ventured into the music industry in 2007 and did Bongo Flavour, which is what Tanzania’s local music that resonates with the local audience is referred to. Bongo Flavour is done in Kiswahili, a language that is only used in Eastern Africa. However, Coca- Cola’s Coke Studio Africa initiative made it possible to reach a wider audience that is far and beyond Eastern Africa.

Through Coke Studio, Diamond was able to work with South Africa’s HHP for Season One and Yemmi Alade of Nigeria for Season Two. It is with such exposure that Diamond was introduced to the South African and Nigerian audience. Also, with such a platform, Diamond was able to meet and have collaborations with Nigerian star Davido for the Number One Remix, Nigeria’s Iyanya for Nakupenda and the recent “Nana” featuring Flavor.

That said, Diamond is no longer a Tanzanian star but a continental icon of success with world- wide recognition.

MY CHILD- HOOD EXPERIENCES WITH COCA- COLA PRODUCTS.

Coca- Cola is a brand that I have grown with, having seen me through different stages in my life. My child- hood experiences with Coca- Cola Products stand out, always making me smile and wish I would turn back the hands of time. This is why;

My friends and I would collect bottle tops from Coca Cola products, either from home or from nearby shops which we would then later use to play a game called “Turner”. As the name suggests, “Turner” involved turning inverted bottle tops and having them (about two- hundred) all face up within the shortest time possible. In order to win the game, one had to have the most number of inverted bottle tops facing up within the shortest time.It was always frustrating to have to share some of my collected bottle tops with my brother who rarely invested as much time and effort in collecting his own. I would however gladly assist to fix the bottle tops which were the “wheels” for his make- shift metallic car.

My friends and I spent every Saturday afternoon waiting for the “Coca- Cola ice cream man” who sold ice- cream from his Coca- Cola branded coolers for as low as Ksh. 5. Each one of us had to be alert and strategically positioned in the estate entrances to ensure that we do not miss out on our weekly dose of ice- cream. Upon his arrival, everyone had a role to shout as loud as possible, informing those who were unaware of the presence of the “Coca- Cola ice cream man” .

A coke cooler (Image courtesy of www.flickr.com)
A coke cooler (Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com)

The Coca- Cola bottle crates that were often stacked together outside shops were a great hiding spot while playing hide and seek. In most cases, one would forget that they were hiding, only to later realize that it was getting dark, start crying and find a reason that would be good enough to spare them from a spanking for getting home late.

Its funny how my brother and I would be sent by my parents but refuse to go. However, when a Coke was offered as a reward, it became a battle over who was going to get to where we were sent first. That was the only incentive we both needed to get things done.

My mother made it a ritual for my family and I to visit children’s homes during festivities such as Easter and Christmas, where we would always bring along food stuffs and Coca- Cola products. It was always fascinating to see how excited these children would get at receiving a soda and learning that unlike them, I was privileged to have a soda whenever a wanted to.

Growing up, every social gathering with family and friends was marked by the presence of Coca- Cola brands; Fanta, Sprite and Coca- Cola. It was also at such gatherings that those around me would engage in small talk and share hearty laughs, while enjoying their Coca- Cola.

It is with all the mentioned experiences that I have come to appreciate the Coca- Cola brand which formed a major part of my childhood experiences and has been a part of my journey in being the person that I am today.

Get up, dust off and keep walking

The most important thing is to keep trying (Image courtesy of www.athleteatheart.com)
The most important thing is to keep trying (Image courtesy of http://www.athleteatheart.com)

Life is full of challenges and sometimes even the strongest of us are pushed to the wall making us want to give up. I however stumbled upon this video recently and was reminded of the strength that there is in being African.

We all experience different challenges as Africans, yet we all keep pushing and hoping for a better tomorrow. Coca- Cola through its “A Billion Reasons to Believe Campaign” seeks to give hope to Africans, reminding us that our struggles have been key in defining us yet still being a part of the journey that we take pride in. Hence, through this Campaign, the company facilitates telling of the African story by Africans. We are reminded that we are strong as Africans because in spite of the challenges, we are still eager to keep discovering, which has played a major role in our being happy as a people.

https://www.youtube.com/

As Kristin Armstong would put it, I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful – for all of it.
That said, keep trying.
Forget the past, get up, dust off and keep walking to discover the good that lies ahead.

My African Tale

Africa has for a long time been referred to as the “dark continent”, characterized by stories of despair. The recent past has however challenged this description, with many now realizing that the continent is in fact an inspiration hub. The Coca- Cola Company because of its believe in the continent launched the “A Billion Reasons to Believe in Africa” campaign in 2012, in an effort to be a part of the process of Africa discovering its potential, by having Africans tell their own stories. With its inclusive approach, the brand has managed to engage and inspire Africa’s youth to believe in themselves and work on realizing their dreams. In spite of the adversities that Africans face among them poverty, disease and conflict, the African culture is one that encourages sharing, cohesion and living in the moment in order to be happy. Africans through their rich heritage are reminded of what defines them and makes them unique. Through the “A Billion Reasons to Believe Campaign” by The Coca- Cola Company, Coke Studio which is a concept aimed at bringing together different African countries through music was initiated.

Coke-Studio-Africa

Coke Studio Africa provides a platform that enables various African artists to work together, diverting from their individual conventional style of expression, to create a new style that integrates different personalities.  During Season 2, Kenya’s  Jay A was paired with Nigeria’s Seyi Shay while Jackie Chandiru of Uganda worked with Tanzania’s Shaa, Coke clearly opening up our minds to the possibilities that are existent in Africa. It is also with such a platform that the universality of music is portrayed and once again, The Coca- Cola Company reminds us of its role in ensuring happiness by bringing us together as Africans.

Through the A Billion Reasons To Believe in Africa campaign, Coca- Cola Company advocates  for a spirit of adventure among the youth, in an effort to their understanding of who they are, the opportunities that surround them and how to use these opportunities to tell the African story in a unique yet amazing way. Eddy Kenzo through his song “Sitya Loss” introduced the world to a group of dancers comprising of children from the slums, with the song’s video going viral,  attracting over 12 million plus views. This just goes to show that Africa has so much to offer the world. However, for that to take place, we all have to take part in the Billion Reasons to Believe Campaign.