In 2015 and 2016, the name Mr. Eazi was inescapable from the mouths and minds of the Nigerian youth, well except for me. I was in Northern Nigeria battling the climatic and intellectual rigors of the Nigerian Law School; my playlists consisted of voice recordings of me repeating sections and cases I would need to reproduce during the question-and-answer sessions of our lectures and eventually in the examination halls.
**Before reading on, like and follow Burbles Media on Facebook so you don’t miss out on timely and interesting lists, articles, and stories that we post daily. Just tap like button below:
As part of curricular requirements, I returned to Lagos for my court and law office attachments and the Centre of Excellence welcomed me with Mr. Eazi music. My first introduction to Mr. Eazi was his playful video for “Hollup”; the content of the smash Afrobeats song was very relatable to the average young Nigerian male who knows more than others that expressing his affections to a fully shaped woman (woman with bumbum) was a sentence to toyed emotions and attention deprivation. In a sense, Mr Eazi’s song was a rant on our behalf. I digress.
Following his early smash offerings came the musical and cultural cosigns. His brand was immediately joined to Afrobeats giant, Wizkid; Twitter discussions devolved to a battle fest between Nigerian and Ghanian tweeps claiming stake to his nationality. To top it all, somewhere in between this or shortly after, his relationship with Temi Otedola, daughter of Nigerian Billionaire, Femi Otedola became public information. Mr Eazi was living the fairytale life.
Oh, and by the way, I passed the bar exams I was reading for.
Mr Eazi: Ghana Versus Nigeria
In early 2017, Mr. Eazi was awoken from his fairytale existence when clips of him circulated online hinting that Nigerian artistes had adopted the Ghanaian Banku sound he imported into the Nigerian afrobeats space. Doubling down on the comments, Mr Eazi tweeted “Ghana’s influence on present day “Naija Sound” cannot be over emphasized. Naija music is & has been a major force affecting the entire African scene. Quality, riddim, business”. As expected, these comments drew the ire of Nigerians who from the beginning of time have refused to play second fiddle to Ghana, and despite his PR and musical attempts to make up for his “faux Pax” Mr. Eazi has not regained the unanimous acclaim he had in the mid-2010s.
On critical examination of his comments, especially with the benefit of hindsight; objectively Mr Eazi’s cannot be adjudged to be false; his sin was that he exhibited “bad table manners” as Joey Akan quipped on twitter. The Nigerian music audience is a proud unit who is averse to being told directly that they are being musically influenced; for context sake this is the same audience that argued that Wizkid was internationally bigger than The Weeknd and that with One dance Wizkid lo help Drake (loosely translated to mean Wizkid more than Drake was the reason One Dance became a global hit), however though it may tarry, the Nigerian musical audience eventually comes around to give flowers to their external influences as they have been documented to do with the likes of Awilo Logoba, VVIP, Cabo Snoop and currently the Amapiano soundscape.
Mr Eazi: Future of Music
On an early Lagos morning in January 2022, I was watching a YouTube video discussing the direction of music business, using a collaboration between Lil Pump, Republic and Opulous; where Lil Pump’s song Mona Lisa featuring Soulja Boy was offered as an NFT for fans to invest in and in return get a percentage of royalties the song will accrue in the future. This campaign resulted in 859 investors paying $500,000 for the song. In theory this seems like a mutually beneficially endeavor for both artiste and fan, although in Lil Pump’s case the fans seem to bear most of the risk, as realistically judging from the performance of Mona Lisa so far, it will take an eternity for the investors to recoup their investment. I digress but not really this time.
The video presented the Lil Pump collaboration as novel and innovative, but I had heard a better iteration of this idea in 2020 from Mr Eazi himself when he tweeted
“Gonna try an experiment on my next release where you guys the fans will be able to buy shares on My song! Meaning you will own an equity % on the song! As u stream & give me $, some goes back to You! I have consistently since 2016 been Top 5 most streamed African Artists & that’s 100% due to my fans!! I love you guys!! And it’s time to get you in on the equity side.
“Imagine you had a % of my last song with Nicki or my new single “LENTO” with Jbalvin!!! As u stream u make it a hit, some of the $ comes to you! But, most importantly you are a true part of the Global Smash Hit you helped create”.
Mr Eazi’s equity plan feels more engaging and viable for his fans and investors than Lil Pump’s. In the case of the latter, his 800+ investors have an outsider view where they just have to sit, watch, hope and pray that the song performs well so they get their returns on investment, while for Eazi’s fans, when his song goes public, to a wider investor base than 800 individuals, these fans cum investors who have a vested interest in the song will be motivated to stream more and share Eazi songs to attract more revenue or Eazi and themselves. The fate of these songs is to a large extent in their hands.
Mr Eazi: Global Superstar
Mr Eazi is a dependable artiste, investment wise, he has been among Africa’s most streamed Artistes since he burst on to the scene. Mr Eazi currently has a Spotify monthly listener count of 4,917,815 (As at January 2022) ranking among the highest streamed Nigerian artistes on the platform, pulling more monthly listeners than Davido, Tiwa Savage and Olamide. One might then be permitted to ask how Mr Eazi’s streaming numbers tower over his peers since as earlier highlighted he does not seem to have the widespread acceptance other musical giants in Nigeria possess. The answer to these questions shows why Mr Eazi is the smartest Nigerian artiste.
The late 2010s and early 2020s has witnessed the exponential growth of Nigerian Afrobeats to the world; a movement in which Mr Eazi should be partly credited for, especially to the United Kingdom and neighboring European audience. While attempts at capturing international recognition is more than before very evident in the musical releases of Nigerian A-list Artistes (cue in Wizkid’s Made in Lagos and Burna Boy’s Twice as Tall), Mr Eazi took the pivot and as an alternative to exporting Afrobeats has taken the road less travelled by choosing to import foreign music.
In a manner different from his peers, Mr Eazi has planted his flag on the international music scene. He has scored collaborations with artistes ranging from Major Lazer to Nicki Minaj, he also bagged for himself a Latin Grammy (for his contribution to J Balvin’s “Arcoiris” off the latter’s 2019 album Colores). This way Mr Eazi has tapped into the very voracious and heavy streaming Latin population. His collaboration with J Balvin and Bad Bunny, COMO UN BEBE has garnered over 130 Million streams on Spotify alone, a number attained and surpassed by only a handful of Nigerian artistes.
Mr Eazi: emPawa
Not to be limited to artistic genius, Mr Eazi through his brain child, emPawa Africa has redefined music business in Nigeria for independent artistes. The initiative has been responsible for bringing to mainstream consciousness artistes like Joeboy and current chart sensation Fave, and hit songs like Nobody, arguably the biggest Afrobeats song of 2020. In the same 2020, Eazi launched the African Music Fund (AMF) with an initial raise of $20 million. This fund provides financial support for African musicians to distribute their music content and increase revenue as well as manage their brands. In an alternative approach to recording labels, AMF recoups its initial investment in instalments.
Currently there are lots of speculations on who is the future of afrobeats; names like Rema, Lojay, Buju and Fireboy are routinely thrown around, but right beside the show is the business (showbusiness, get it?) and as far as music business goes, just like the future, you would not be able to escape Mr Eazi.
To rephrase Mr Eazi’s ill -fated tweet, I posit “Mr Eazi’s influence on present day “Naija Sound” cannot be over emphasized. Mr Eazi is & has been a major force affecting the entire African scene. Quality, riddim, business”.