A Case Study of Mr Eazi’s Career: How to approach music as an African artiste
14th November, 2018
14th November, 2018
Anyone who knows me can testify to the fact that I’m very concerned about the business part of music. Actually, what I’m mostly concerned about is an artist's approach towards music as a career choice. Honestly, as an artiste, it is resoundingly important that you take your career very seriously. It’s one of the reasons why I’m such a huge fanboy for Drake and Davido. They hardly ever leave stones unturned.
If anyone had told me a few years back that Mr Eazi would be one of the few African flagship acts on the international level, I would burst out into a hysterical laughter. This does not mean that I do not believe in his talent, rather I just never imagined that Eazi could build his career to be as noteworthy as it has become. I remember discovering Eazi one of those nights where I’m busy surfing through YouTube instead of reading for my exams. Skin Tight was, in fact, a tight jam. Mr Eazi stormed the Nigerian industry and quickly garnered a massive audience who became so obsessed with his music. His second mixtape, Life Is Eazi, Vol. 1 – Accra To Lagos recorded a commercial success. He had so much influence on the Nigerian sound that most Nigerian songs within that period including Runtown’s Mad Over You, Davido’s If were heavily influenced by Ghanaian pon pon sound. He also held a concert in Nigeria around December which was sold out.
Oluwatosin Ajibade’s story, however, did not start from the release of Skin Tight. Before venturing fully into music, Mr Eazi was already a popular show promoter in Ghana. He was a student of KNUST in Ghana and had already organized several shows. He later began to record music while in Ghana, and contributed vocals to ‘My life’, a song that gained popularity in KNUST. He also dropped a mixtape (his very first) in 2013 which had ‘Bankulize’ on it. A 23 year old Eazi returned returned to Nigeria in 2014 to start an ecommerce business. He quit being a show promoter because an artiste did not show up at a big party he threw. He released ‘Skin Tight’ in 2015 and went ahead to working closely with Juls and Eugy Official. In 2017, Wizkid announced that Mr Eazi had been signed to Starboy - this was later regarded by Eazi as fake news, saying that he was not signed to the imprint and that it was more like a movement/association. He has since then been a major influence on Afrobeats and has contributed immensely to its gradual international acceptance.
Major things to learn from Mr Eazi’s career
Factually speaking, talent is only one of the many things that determine the success of an artiste. It is much more important as an artiste (except you have a manager with extensive knowledge of music business) to have an understanding of the dynamics of music - both as a craft and a career. There are lots of things to consider and I have decided to use Mr Eazi’s career as a case study.
Understanding your audience
Eazi understands his audience on a personal level. He knows what they want to hear and the kind of music they want to listen to, and he gives them exactly that. By adapting sounds, Eazi has been able to tailor his music to appeal to his audience. When you listen to Eazi, he gives you that bad boy that is helplessly in love vibe while sticking to his dancehall flow, bridging cultures from Ghana and Nigeria.
Mr Eazi has worked with so many artistes that have helped shaped his music to appeal to a broader audience. From Mayorkun to Lil Kesh to Medikal to Giggs to Maleek Berry to Lady Donli and many others, Eazi totally knows the importance of collaborating with artistes from different genres to produce new and contemporary Afropop sounds.
Publicity and Promotion
If there’s anything that Mr Eazi does well it’s publicity. Making vital appearances at media houses, remarkable events (Vanity Fair Oscar Party), going for interviews, organizing tours and concerts. Considering that he used to be a show promoter, he has a comprehensive knowledge of promoting his music through various outlets.
Artiste branding is not optional and is one of the most effective ways to sell yourself as an artiste. From his name (Mr Eazi) to his signature (It’s your boy, Eazi) to his appearance to his sound, there is no mistaking Mr Eazi for any other artiste. His brand as an artiste is outstanding; his style of dressing and his type of music, Banku (a sound "characterized by percolating rhythms and laid-back vocal delivered in Ghanaian Pidgin English").
Apparently, Mr Eazi is one of the African artistes with some of the best record deals. He is signed under Universal Music Africa (for licensing and distribution) and Diplo’s label, Mad Decent.
There are obviously many other things to be put into consideration as an African act looking to break into the industry on a global scale, but these are the ones I have been able to compile. As a musician, it is imperative to be aware that talent is simply not enough to make commercial success in the music industry (most especially in this part of the world).