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In this extremely competitive business of making music, it is pertinent that an artiste is consistent, hardworking, talented, and most importantly, for me, “shrewd”. A shrewd artiste is very calculating, astucious and judicious. This is highly important because one wrong song, one wrong video, one wrong dress, one wrong performance, or even one wrong tweet can severely hamper your blossoming musical career. This is a clear indication that every move for an artiste in the “music business” as implied by Emmy Gee in his songRands N Nairas is CALCULATED.
Yemi Alade had a very successful 2014, becoming one of Africa’s leading female entertainers, and as she pointed out in her tweet a few weeks ago, “From overlooked to Overbooked“. This success is firmly rooted on a bedrock of years of hard work as she was guilty of overdoing at times; doing interviews on the same radio station on two consecutive days, with the same or different presenters. You could call that persistence, well yea… but remember, too much of everything is not good. That said, without a diggity without a doubt, she was hardworking.
Signed to “Jus Kiddin’“, her first single “Fi Mi Sile” which dropped some few months after she won the maiden edition of the Peak Talent Show was a 60% success as it got massive airplay on the radio, video was good and the talent was obvious. “She has an amazing voice, she is a star… this one” I said to myself the first time I heard it but she went missing after that. That dreaded, very important second single never came. She was a 300level student of Geography at the University of Lagos at the time and for reasons unknown to me, the wait for the second single expired.
On a sunny afternoon in the first quarter of 2012, I got a message from Taiye Aliyu who I used to call “Oga Taiye” CEO Effyzzie Music Group. He told me he wanted me to interviewYemi Alade on my show on Unilag FM which I did, with the main highlight of the show being that a new single was coming. I was excited much about this new project because I was a fan; it sparked another anxious wait. On the 25th of June 2012 at 12 noon, she released her second official single titled “Ghen Ghen Love” produced by the highly celebrated OJB JEZREEL. It obviously wasn’t as good as the first but I said to myself “maybe, just maybe”. This is what NotJustOk posted when the song was released:”Yemi Alade who is not new to the music scene, utilizes her strong voice by impressing us with her delivery on this up tempo OJB jezreel produced track. If she stays consistent and has more time to do more quality music. She can do damage.” She followed up “Ghen Ghen Love” with “Uche Face” featuring the boy band L.O.S produced by El Emcee. When I heard this, I was shocked and asked myself “Bloody Hell!!! what’s she doing?” I had the face of someone stoned by a child and, in my pain, he keeps on laughing.
In December that year, Yemi dropped two more singles Bamboo and Show Me. And with “Bamboo“, she apologised for throwing stones at me; my favourite Yemi Alade song till date. The lyrics were clear, she sang her heart out and the beat was amazing. By the end of 2012, two things were clear, 1) she was getting consistent with putting out music; 2) she was looking for that Hit song.
Two weeks on and I got a message from Yemi saying she got a new single she would be pushing and I said to myself “What is wrong with this young lady?” She was done with the tour, but she was going to start another. Apparently during her tour, she had met up withSelebobo and made a song titled “Johnny” and she was back again for another interview. When I heardJohnny, it was clear, this was the song! And I said to her right away, this song needs a video. Johnny was released on the 14th of October 2013 almost a month after she released the previous single. I mean WHO DOES THAT? It was beginning to look like a struggle but that move paid off and from that point, she never looked back. She made the shrewd decision of dropping Johnny though it could have backfired. She realized the potential of the song and she judiciously opted to shoot the video with Clarence Peters instead of Paul Gambit who shot her previous videos. This paid off as he directed one of the best videos of 2014… and the rest is history . *Not undermining the work of Paul Gambit but having your video shot by Clarence Peters portrays an “I mean business” outlook for an artiste and would therefore be taken more seriously. As much as you might want to argue this, you know deep down that it is true.
Yemi Alade didn’t sleep on the proverbial bicycle. She dropped Tangerine and few weeks later, she followed it up with the visuals. She kept herself in our faces, we had no choice. Both were getting heavy rotations on TV and on the radio, and then she did something no one in the industry had ever done at that time. I bet you already know. She made theFrench Version of Johnny and BOOM! She was performing in Stadiums and big shows across Africa. Throw in the fact that she’s got unrivaled energy on stage, and suddenly, we had a real star on our hands.
Yemi Alade has become one of the most sought after entertainers in Africa. Only few female entertainers can match her success in Africa. In October 2014, she released her debut album “King Of Queens” which got loads of great reviews. Even though I feel the song with Chidinma “Selense” is an absolute mess, there are reasons for profound joy with other songs on the album. With the Video for Kissing being an absolute beauty, and the video for Taking Over soon to drop, amid countless number of local and international shows, collaborations, endorsements, and with astonishingly, NO major controversy, the signs are evident that this very talented, hardworking, consistent and shrewd musician will continue to soar higher and higher. The Yemi Alade story – From Overlooked to Overbooked– is indeed a fine example for up & coming musicians across Africa.
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