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Achieving success as a Nigerian musician: A practical guide on how to blow

Achieving success as a Nigerian musician: A practical guide on how to blow

By: Jehu Etimbuk Sylas

Before we begin, I will like to congratulate you for being a man; be thankful to nature for this blessing. If you aren’t a man, either gear up for constant sidelining or check your dreams for Plan B — unless you don’t mind wearing gold chains, sunshades, do-rags and denim every day. You know, fake it till you make it. Even then, you’d still have a slim chance, because Nigerians made a groundbreaking discovery that having tiny bonus brains lodged within each testicle improves creativity. More brains, more inspiration. Ignore big acts like Simi and Tiwa; luck only finds a few. Once again, you are lucky to be a man.

Now, do you plan to sing highlife, palm-wine music, jùjú, fuji and the like? Please ditch those immediately and get an afrobeats sample, or at least try dance hall. Hell, what were you thinking? That you’d be successful by singing highlife? You should note that diversity isn’t exactly valued in this industry. May we not be the enemies of our own progress. The only way to become a legend is by singing afrobeats or dance hall. Everyone knows Nigerians cherish those genres more than rice, so feed them. Ignore that those other genres may be dying. (You’ll eventually perfect the art of ignoring.) Leave the preservation of highlife to Oliver De Coque and Osadebe. They can still sing from their graves; they just don’t want to. As for jùjú and Fuji, the ever-young King Sunny Adé and Sir Shina Peters are still very much active. They may just be immortal. Who knows? But let’s look at your sample.

Make sure it is a really danceable one because all anyone wants to do is dance. It is the first thing we do when we wake up and the last thing before we sleep, even after a long day. We want to fall asleep while dancing. We want to dance while stuck in traffic, when at work and especially when trying to meditate. We never want anything soothing — just dance.

If you plan to be taken seriously by Nigerians – if you plan to blow – you have to sing about women and their bodies. Especially their bodies. Strategy is everything. Be sure to carefully objectify them with fail-safe phrases like “whine your waist,” “shake your bumbum” and “get down on me.” This is also a good way to mask how intelligent you are. You need privacy. Some bad-belles might criticize you, say that your lyrics send a bad message. Ignore them.

Your music video is crucial. When your song fails to blow, it is your backup plan. For a good intro, get a curvy lady in a bikini to walk seductively away from the camera, her backside will be our confirmation that your video is promising. I mean, if there were women in the lyrics, it’s a no-brainer to have women in the video. Even if you disobeyed that rule and sang about something completely unrelated, there must be women in the video. It will be an implied apology to the public for not singing about women. Ignore that Nigerians are religious purists — they are very adaptable. The trademark at the center of the display that you couldn’t refuse from your producer will fade out and usher in the following scenes. In one of them, another lady (the more women the better) will walk past you and your bros, and the camera should catch you guys shaking your heads, widening your eyes and biting your lips in want. Remember, they are objects for your pleasure. You must dance seductively with even more ladies to make this clear.

You will also need a lot of money, but just fake-note props. They will be stacked in bundles atop a large table alongside assorted spirits and liquor, and all your guys will be seated, each with a lady in hand, smoking and drinking. Tell the producer that you want to exhale the smoke in slow motion to show your skill, with the smoke coming out of your nose, mouth, ears and eyes. If it still doesn’t feel complete, you probably didn’t hire enough ladies or smoke well enough.

Be sure to always dress responsibly. Wear your pants below your waistline at all times, so that the fans can always see your glamorous underwear. Did I mention neck chains? You’ll need them. Never be found in public without wearing at least one. Also, please, get a tattoo or two, and be sure to reveal them in your pictures.

Chase clout! You can attack other celebrities that are more famous, slander and insult them unashamedly on social media. The goal is to stir up controversy. You must blow at all costs, even at the detriment of other people’s reputations. By doing this, you might get loyalty from people who will judge the matter and pick sides. Nigerians are experts at judging matters. If you win, your small number of misguided fans will swear oaths in your name, and even some fans of the celebrity you are dueling with may jump ship. Most importantly, you will keep being discussed. You should also maintain an active social media presence — promote your noisy song by periodically announcing fake giveaways and upload flashy pictures that have you leaning on the bonnets of top-tier cars or lounging in expensively decorated mansions.

Ignore the fact that you can barely afford any of these. Just give the average Uche a glimpse of his dream. If you haven’t already, find a beautiful lady, get her pregnant and flaunt her on social media. Your baby mama is one of your trophies. You need to send the message that you are making serious money. This will make other youths like you abandon whatever they are busy with and start music careers, the same motivation you had.

During election campaigns, promote “good” leadership by collecting huge amounts of money to sing for corrupt candidates who are going for a second term after an awful first term, or for even worse candidates trying to overthrow those currently in power. Sing passionately and convince people to vote for these men.  Public welfare doesn’t matter, national development doesn’t matter, and the future doesn’t matter. Only your pocket does. This is the only acceptable excuse for not making your lyrics about women and their bodies. If you do this well enough to give them a return on their investment, they just might secure you a political post in your local government constituency. This will be your side hustle.

It won’t take long before you finally blow. Some of your songs will be blasted at wedding ceremonies and the couples will dance passionately, even competitively, with enough aggression to make the floor taste the saltiness of their sweat, in accordance with the Nigerian Wedding Ceremony Act. Some will even be remixed in churches, despite how ungodly the lyrics may be, because the beat is just too much of a “banger”. The angels will ignore any profanity and dance along. One very important tip is that if you have managed to create a dance move with one of your hits, the chances of making your way into churches will be greatly incremented.

In your shows and concerts, a great number of people will gather to watch you take off your shirt and perform your songs. They’ll cheer loudly, screaming your lyrics at the top of their lungs in sync with you. Some might even faint in the process. Don’t be scared; this means you have really impacted people’s lives. Some will cry because your songs have been so inspiring, and so enlightening, as they have ceaselessly highlighted the social and political issues that continue to ravage your country. Just be sure to throw mint 200 naira notes at the crowd though, to prevent a stampede and help maintain peace.

And lest we forget, when you finally become a celebrity and are interviewed, remember to emotionally recount how you grew up in street gutters and barely had clothes or shoes to wear to school, food to eat or a bed to sleep in. It is compulsory, whether true or not, that you say it confidently. If by the time you blow, there isn’t a large number of vulnerable Nigerians who worship and admire you, desperately praying to become you someday, then you have to revisit your strategy and figure out where you went wrong.

Blessings to your hustle, bro.

Jehu Sylas is an undergraduate student of Petroleum Engineering. He enjoys writing as much as he enjoys playing football. He loves music and art, and hopes to visit The Louvre someday.

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The only thing you need to know about me is I speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth ―― well, except when writing.

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