African Entertainment: Nigeria music stars whose parents are influential
It’s no longer news that the Nigerian music industry has created lots of opportunities and threw up many great artistes, dancers and disc jockeys (DJs), who are doing great. Amongst them are children of some influential Nigerians, who ordinarily would not want to be associated with music as genre in arts. Some of them at the initial stage saw it as an embarrassment, but had a change of mind as they now see their ward(s) excel, make fame and fortune from it. A few of them were supportive of their child (ren) decision to go that path of destiny. Daniel Anazia writes.
If former Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Kema Chikwe had her way, she would have stopped her son, Naetochukwu, who is well known as Naeto C from playing music. Nobody would blame her if she had taken such decision because in Africa, children of royalty don’t pursue such a ‘lowly career’, as music in this clime is reserved only for the dregs of society. He is one artiste that has had a quick rise and acceptance from music lovers across the world. He first caught people’s attention on the music scene, when he hooked up with Uzikwendu and rap star, Ikechukwu, who besiege the music industry with his Son of the Soil hit track. The trio formed the World Famous Akademy. He launched himself into the Nigerian music space with the single Sitting on Top, which did not have much impact like the second single You Know My P, which also was the titled of his debut album. The work was a phenomenal piece, especially its delightful video as it maintained a top spot on the charts from Soundcity to MTV Base for weeks.
With commercially successful albums and hit tracks such as 10/10, Owu, Kini Big Deal, You Know My P, Naeto C as one of Nigeria’s frontline rappers and hip-hop artistes, whose significant contributions to the music industry is quite commendable. He proved pundits wrong and eventually got the blessing of his mum to pursue his dream. While growing up, music was a hobby for him, but his parents would not approve of it as they fear it would distract him. Constant practice and sheer determination eventually helped him scale through the hurdles and make a point with music. “My mother never wanted me to get into music. She never made any contribution towards my music career, but at the end of the day, I made her proud. Today, she is my number one fan. I wanted to be independent, empower myself, and at the same time I had my goals and aspirations, this being my motive, I decided to go into music,” he said in an interview.
For Brandiny, whose real name is Iniobong Mbang, music is his life. His love for music is immeasurable. The passion, zeal and love for music did not begin overnight; it has always been part and parcel of him. As the son of no-nonsense former president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), choosing to dance for a living was seen as a letdown for the family, but he earned the respect of his father, Primate Sunday Mbang. For the former Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, having a professional dancer as first son was a bitter secret to share with anybody from the pulpit. For a long time, he was always in a quandary when he had to introduce Iniobong (now one of Nigeria’s foremost dancers) to people not just as his son, but his first. Brandiny recalled that it was not easy for his father introducing him to visitors. “At the beginning, he was really afraid to tell people that he has a dancer son. You know as a public figure, he had been attacking the government and he feared that those who he had attacked would come back to mock him if he announced that his son was a dancer. He would gleefully introduce my younger siblings as working at ‘so so and so’ and be stuck in introducing me. I knew how he felt then, but there was nothing I could do to help the situation,” he said.
Not only has Brandiny become a reference point in the art of dancing in Nigeria, his clergy father has become his greatest fan. “Now when my dad finds me relaxed and eating, he would say, don’t you know you are adding more than enough weight to dance? Unlike before when he found it awkward to introduce me, he would call me and ask his visitor, do you know my son, the artful dancer? We went somewhere together and in introducing me, he said, ‘Ah oga, I need to introduce my son, he is one hell of an entertainer! Have you seen him before on TV? You need to see him.’ I was so happy when he said that.”
Born Sidney Onoriode, but known commonly as Dr. SID, the University of Ibadan-trained Dentist turned singer and songwriter is the son of the late actor, Justus Esiri, who was famous for his role in the Village Headmaster, a popular Nigerian sitcom in the 1980s. The second child of four children, from an early age Dr. SID had his heart set on becoming an entertainer. However, his life took a different course after his secondary education at the Nigerian Air force Secondary School Ikeja; he went on to the University of Ibadan (UI) to study Dental Surgery. During his school years, his flair for entertainment could not be hidden, as he took part in school plays, dance competitions and concerts, winning numerous awards along the way. Upon his qualification as a dentist in 2004, Dr. SID moved to the UK, where he worked with the likes of JJC & 419 squad, Felix Duke, KAS, R70 and D’Banj.
Returning to Nigeria he spent the next year working at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos before going for the one-year National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) in Yola, Adamawa state. Upon the completion of his NYSC, he worked at various dental clinics, combining his dentistry practice and music. In 2005, he started recording a studio album titled Prognosis, which featured the single Raise da Roof. He was nominated in the Best New Act category at the 2005 Amen Awards. He abandoned the album in 2006. Three years after, the Surulere crooner made the tough decision to quit his dentistry practise to concentrate fully on his music career, signing on to the now defunct Mo’Hits Record, featuring in the Mo’Hits Allstars collective album, Curriculum Vitae (CV), which was released in December 2007. On why he left Dentistry for music, the Kabiyesi singer says: “I have always had a flair for music and dancing; I have always been the dancing type and the musical chair at parties. I have been winning dancing contests since I was a boy. It was only natural that one of my dad’s children would get involved in entertainment.
Ifeoluwa Florence Otedola, popularly known as DJ Cuppy, daughter of oil magnate and Nigeria billionaire, Femi Otedola, is one of Nigeria female DJs currently making waves internationally and on home soil. For her music is passion as she made a career path out of her passion, disc jockey (DJ) regardless of her background. She began her career as a DJ at 16 in London, buying second-hand equipment and playing in club. With a degree in Business and Economics from King’s College London and a master’s degree in Music Business form New Your University, DJ Cuppy with her carefully planned career path, has carved a perfect niche for herself – dishing out volumes of her house mix compilation. In 2014, she was the resident DJ at the MTV Africa Music Award in Durban, South Africa. She then played at the Tatler and Christie’s Art Ball in London, and at the Financial Times Luxury Summit in Mexico City. Same year, she released House of Cuppy, her first compilation mix in both London and Lagos, with an official launch in New York City on September 2, 2014. She also had her music management and content production business outfit, Red Velvet Music Group launched the same year.
In March 2015, she was the official DJ for the 2015 Oil Barons Charity in Dubai, and the first African act to have ever performed at the event. She was featured in the 2015 April/May issue of Forbes Woman Africa. Currently an intern at Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, she describes her sound as ‘Neo-Afrobeats’, a fusion of electro house and Afrobeats. Asked what prompted her choice of a career in disc jockey, she says, “I started playing piano and singing when I was younger, then as I got older my love for all types of music got me into DJing.” Cuppy, enjoys the support of her parents, they push and challenge her. Her billionaire father, Femi Otedola is not only a mentor; he is involved in her adventures. He helps her go through the list of her engagements. He loves music a lot and he is very passionate about it. “I remembered listening Fela’s music with him in the car when I was six years old,” she said. According to her, there is always a good and bad side to everything. A lot of times people get distracted by her background information. “People think being a billionaire’s daughter is an advantage, but they must also remember there are disadvantages. I am where I am following my dreams and doing very exciting projects. Yes, maybe it is shadowed by my background, but with time people will come to see that it is passion and talent that has worked for me.”
Falz The Bahd Guy
Folarin Falana is not a name that will cause a great fuss, but when you link it to the legal luminary, Femi Falana, it begins to ring bell. Folarin isn’t anything like his father even though he read law also. He is a singer and an entertainer. Given his father’s reputation, one would have expected Falz followed his footsteps, even though he studied law. That was his intention initially, looking at his father’s life and how much he has achieved and the kind of name he has made for himself. “I sincerely wanted to follow in his footsteps. I admired his monumental achievements, and his lifestyle. In fact that was why I went to study Law; to follow in his footsteps, but along the line I just developed the love for music and music stole my heart,” he said. Many had thought and believed that the Karishika singer would have a row with his father over his decision, but that never happened. Though he found it a bit strange when he got to know, no one in their family has musical background. His infusion of comic lyrics, which people can easily relate with, with a lot of old school and the contemporary hip-hop is what, makes his brand of music very unique. In 2009, he released a mixtape titled Shakara. It was actually the compilation of some songs he had been doing. For his stage name ‘Falz, the Bad Guy’, the Ello Bae crooner said: “First, Falz is a nickname my friends gave me way back in school. It is just a short form of my last name ‘Falana’. For the Bad Guy, it is not bad guy; it is BAHD guy, an acronym for ‘Brilliant And Highly Distinct Guy. It stands for something positive.”
Christened Lionel Chukwuemeka by his parents, Zack and Ngozi Orji, fast rising artiste, Leo’nel fell in love with music at the age of nine, and ever since, has not looked back. The graduate of media studies and television from the University of Bradford did his first studio session and officially released his first single titled, Baby Jo, an afrobeat style of music in 2010. Unlike his contemporaries, his mum sings in church, while his dad plays the guitar and sings too. In 2002, while in secondary school, he decided he want to be a singer and started out with rap. Eminem had a strong influence on him back then. His decision to do music was so strong that he wanted to discontinue education, but for the strong influence of his dad, who stressed on the importance of education. His major break was when he performed at a show organised for Wizkid and Ice Prince. With a lot of students from different universities in attendance, he got more acceptances. People liked my music and that took him to performing in different schools and shows in UK. His father’s name has opened a lot of doors for him. “People tend to listen and associate with me when they know I’m Zack Orji’s son. But I wouldn’t want to rely on that. I want to carve a niche for myself and create my own name, so that people would associate and listen to me because of me, not because of my father.”
There seems to be a new star shining brightly in the Nigerian entertainment firmament with Ozonna Soludo’s entrance into the music industry. You mean Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo, the renowned economist and former governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)? Yes, his son Ozonna is in the game. The Nigerian-born, London raised and New York-based genius in the art and craft of music. The 22-year-old, studied at the Institute of Contemporary Music, London. He has performed all through London, opening for the likes of Chrystal Fighters, Kyla La Grange, We Have Band, and Alice Gold. It wasn’t until he released his free promo single Me & You On Top, which got him on rotation in six U.S. markets and featured on over 400 major blogs, and has received over one million hits on YouTube. According to the renowned economist, when he heard about Ozonna decision of taking to music as a career, it sounded like a joke and didn’t really take it seriously. He noted that Ozonna started writing songs when he was 11 or 12 years old.
He said, “I thought it was one of those children’s fantasies. Many children usually fall in love with all kinds of professions but end up with something totally different. Before long, we started seeing his postings on social media, songs on ‘Myspace’, etc. He literally spent much of his pocket money buying musical instruments and soon his room became a sort of mini studio.” “We generally encourage our children to be free thinkers but honestly I thought music was just his hobby. It was during his A-levels studies in London that we faced the reality that music was his passion. Music was not one of his subjects at A-levels, but he was writing songs and started performing at some events in London,” he added. He continues, “My wife and I came around to the reality but tried to encourage him to proceed to obtain a Ph.D. in music. He asked whether the PhD was just to make us happy or to advance his career, and insisted that he did not need a PhD in music to excel.