It is no longer news Chocolate City is unarguably one of the most well-structured record labels in Nigeria; However the latest news from them aside the recent appointment of MI as the CEO is the announcement of their first ever press conference for selected media platforms. Tush Magazine represented by Oghomwen Toni-Osagie who attended shares her experience in the well-organized gathering which according to information made available would be holding every month.
In attendance from the Chocolate City’s camp were: CEO – MI, Jesse Jagz, Loose Kaynon, Ruby Gyang, Nosa, Koker, Dice Ailes, Milli, Pryse and Victoria Kimani. With no restrictions, each media personnel had a one-on-one interview session with each of these artistes talking about everything including but not limited to their music, pay checks, record deals, trending issues to their love life and the challenges they are facing presently. Read below excerpts of the interview with some artistes as they talk on different topics.
JESSE JAGZ – REAL REASON FOR LEAVING CHOCOLATE CITY
Every time Jesse Jagz makes hint at new works or future projects his fans get in a frenzy, predicting if it’s the ‘old Jesse’ this time or the Jesse that went into reclusion and put out some deep and in depth works, with lyrics that left us in a trance for about 5minutes after the record plays or just leaves us sitting still and reflecting. Fast forward to this present time, he is back home, in Chocolate City… And we are all shaking in our boots, wondering; “What are the Choc Boys up to?” As we wait for some sort of response, Jesse drops the bomb!
“I left because, I was done recording Thy Nation Come at the time and I played it for the label but they weren’t… I don’t know if it was for business reasons and I guess you must understand if you listened to the album it is very controversial, so I guess they weren’t sure if they want to put it out… So I just went ahead and put it out myself.”
A couple years later he is back to his former label, void of his dreads, all clean shaved and fresh like nothing changed.
“You must understand, that everything we do is for the sake of art, I was already moulding into the type of music I want to put out. 2years later, I am obviously not the same person, I am wiser much more mature and regardless of what I was. This next album is a point of evolution for me.”
2 years is a very long time, a lot has changed, for the music and the label, coming back his brother is the CEO and his friend he came with is almost like the MD.
“I am happy for them both; I feel that MI has always been our president, right from time even when we were in Jos. It’s not like now we have to report here by 8am or anything, it’s just everybody getting titles and more confident.”
RUBY GYANG – Breaking Ground in a Male dominated World
“Women need to work extremely hard, they need to consistently put out music and visuals and they need to be active on Instagram. The women folk need to take charge of their business, they need to understand more what works for them in pushing their brand. I don’t believe there is a glass ceiling; I don’t believe that it is impossible.” – Those exactly were the words when the first question was popped to her.
For women trying to breakthrough in the Nigeria music industry which is predominantly run by males, our good guess is them not finding it easy at all and the best advice for the females is to find a niche to creatively explore. Attesting to this Ruby says “My personal struggle would be, just the struggle to empower myself and to stand on my own feet as a business woman to live the life that I want to live, powered by myself.”
Interestingly this single mother of one had to leave her daughter with her own mum and moved to Lagos following advices from friends and her daughter’s father’s brother – MI, “When MI called me to move to LAGOS, my first thought was, OMG can I leave my daughter? It took me a year to make that decision, but someone gave me advice, he said; the worst kind of parent is the type that cannot provide for their children, go and work and make money, provide for your child; so I’m here, that’s why I came.”
MI – NBC BAN AND HIP-HOP IN AFRICA
Recently, the hammer of the NBC once again visited the Nigeria Music scene forcing a long list of audios and videos be taken off the airwaves. Although no Chocolate City artiste was affected, it would be interesting to know your take seeing your assumed role as the new CEO.
“NBC, I think that you know with their job, that’s the only thing we hear and that’s my fear, what we hear is that they ban music. Their role is supposed to be much more than that, they are supposed to lead a conversation in terms of royalty collection, we only hear them say don’t play this and that video. They really need to be careful with that, they are ways you censor videos and give guidelines. Music is so powerful; music always finds a way to burst out. They should be part of the conversation for helping NIGERIAN music grow apart from just being a gate keeper and there is no clarity on what is bad.”
Coming from the statement by South African rapper Cassper Nyovest when he threw a jab on Nigeria hip-hop, would you say he is right in any element?
“That’s terrible for him to have said… I think when it comes to the greats; South Africa has few, like 2 or 3. I don’t think there is anybody that is in the class of ModeNine, talk of the undisputed heavy weights. Then you talk of the rap kings, you talk about Khuli Chana, AKA, Cassper you know… Few of them, but NIGERIA, where do I start from… You have Vector, MI, Ice Prince we dey go their own country sef go do something. It’s good, the numbers say NIGERIA should be dominant and it is dominant. Because we are more and we are also the leader of Africa, I believe; especially art and I believe it is the way it is supposed to be, South Africa are making music as they should be. But I can’t agree that they are better.”
LOOSE KAYNON – Lyrical Prowess and Longevity
You don’t need a sit-down with Loose Kaynon to know how intelligent he is. Staying relevant in the industry for a long period shows this and with his intriguing love for rap music, you cannot but say kudos to this dude. He compared the local rap scene to the international scene
“Rap music abroad is yet to be like rock music there; Rap music there started in early late eighties. So the Lil Waynes, the Drakes and the Jay Zs still get to stay relevant for a longer period because their audience is wider. Here in Nigeria the greatest challenge right now is that rap has never aged well, the moment you turn 35, you are washed off because kids want to listen to 18 year olds, me and my generation were listening to core rappers, which means that core rappers are aging with me. You can’t tell an 18 year old what he wants to hear. Rap music in Nigeria is not where Rap music ought to be in Nigeria, and that is largely because of our first bunch of rappers, Junior and Pretty. We have an industry that has a life span of 20 years while they have an industry that is over 40 years. They have 20 years on us… We will get there. We keep pushing the boundary, but we need to not be in a hurry, trying to do what pop music is doing. It is a process, that’s why the moment Wizkid makes a record that is so Afro beat, just off what Fela did for the genre. That record is going to go anywhere because it is Afro beat, but when we talk hip hop in Nigeria, it can only go so far right now. Maybe the kids who would be rapping in 2025 might be the ones to benefit off what is on ground now. Then the art form would have matured, to when it has a definite life span. People like Sunny Ade are still playing shows right now, that’s because their genre has been around for a long time.”
Other artistes present there include: Pryse, Milli, Koker, Nosa, DJ Lambo, and Dice Ailes.