It has been said that the Nigeria Music Industry has just a few proper functioning record labels and Chocolate City is being regarded as one of the very few that has been able to handle the music business properly as a company. Say this to me 2/3 years back and we probably might end up having a couple of drinks together and discussing why other record labels can’t emulate the Chocolate City module or at least develop a suitable working structure. Industry players respected and acknowledged the Audu-backed record label for what they stood for.
In its early years, Chocolate City successfully launched four artistes into the Nigeria market starting up with MI down to Jesse Jagz to Ice Prince and finally to Brymo; with all these happening within a four-year margin. MI in one of his verses asked “who made CC account grew” and while many may think MI did, I beg to differ to say Audu Maikori actually did. Jeremiah Gyang was a national success before the coming on board of MI and I trust Audu in his realest person to have maximized or should I say “exploited” the potentials of Jeremiah Gyang to the fullest.
Audu was able to pull together a team and working structure for ten years which all Chocolate City artistes benefited from! From packaging to selling them out, Audu was a champ. Audu had a Chocolate City that could conveniently sell us ice during winter and we all would buy. In all these years, MI had his Loopy imprint running and had a couple of artistes signed on which the industry did care less about.
Passing the CEO position onto MI in a very exciting process with MI engineering the return of his brother –Jesse, we all had that great feeling of expecting more greatness to come from the Chocolate City camp and sadly I would admit that excitement is gone. In a build up process, Chocolate City took up Loopy along with the newly signed artistes and the total number of signed artistes came to 13!
In the later part of 2015 after the announcement of MI as CEO, the real job began and Chocolate City artistes started dropping materials in an attempt to go against the preceding process which worked excellently well for MI, Jesse, Ice Prince, Brymo and even Nosa. Back then, a timeline was being allocated to each artiste and other artistes supported with the push and buzz and the cycle went all over for each of the acts.
Defending the choice of artistes dropping their songs during the same period, MI said in an interview that: “These artistes stay far away from each other, unlike when we had Ice, Jesse and Brymo all staying together. It was easier to push”. Judging from that statement, can one say MI doesn’t understand the way music is being pushed in Nigeria? In a year of MI’s tenure, Chocolate City artistes have all released materials from singles to EP and none of them can be termed commercially successful save for MI’s Illegal Music 3 which was a free download project.
Less than a year of signing, rumours started flying about Milli leaving Chocolate City which MI categorically rebuffed saying all is good with Milli and Chocolate City. I remember calling Chocolate City to confirm the rumour and they said their CEO had already commented on it from faraway South Africa.
Unexpectedly, Ice Prince dropped the bombshell in a live radio interview where he said he is no longer contract-bound to Chocolate City and he is setting up his own movement. A day just before the interview, MI posted a black picture with a heartbroken emoji which got many people scared thinking he had lost someone. The interview became an entry and questions started flying and there were no answers to them. I particularly asked if Ice’s contract was expired three years ago as he claimed, why appoint him as Chocolate City Vice-President? MI who was in that capacity before his new appointment can’t be said to have performed exceedingly well because Audu was still in the picture.
In a damage-controlling move, Chocolate City called for a press conference to officially announce Ice Prince’s new imprint alongside Jesse’s Jagz Nation and I wondered why all these moves? Jesse in the press conference claimed Chocolate City isn’t allowing him utilize his creative abilities. That’s quite heavy if you ask and for MI, the ever eloquent and smooth talker tried painting a picture of what I still don’t get till now.
If you tell us Ice and Jesse wants out and they want to move on independently but of course they are still family, I pretty much would understand that but telling us they are independent labels but subsidiaries of Chocolate City Music after it Vice President went on air to announce he no longer has a contract with is way off on a professional scale. Notwithstanding, I look forward to the working module that would be employed to solve the issues Ice and Jesse has with Chocolate City.
Prior to MI becoming CEO, labels were merged to come under one Chocolate City umbrella; so why a division again less than a year after the merger. A few weeks later and Milli is also announcing his departure from Chocolate City with him giving reasons and you could read in between the lines that he is terribly angry with the working module Chocolate City currently has which was set up by MI.
The big question now is: “Can MI handle the affairs of Chocolate City while doubling as an artiste?”