2019 has seen a number of new and exciting names rise from private corners to become popular industry references. Rema, for instance, became a music sensation following the viral spread of his freestyle video that coincided with him signing to Jonzing World – a subsidiary of Mavin Records. Like many prospects before him, the wonder kid almost instantaneously scored his first hit. The hit came in the form of ‘Dumebi’ – one of the four constituent songs of his eponymous extended playlist.
The dance-stimulating pop tune has an infectious ring to it, which has helped it to achieve an ubiquitous reach. Dumebi is without doubt one of the year’s anthems; the young love it, the young at heart play it. It was therefore shocking to hear the producer of the record, Ozedikus, refer to it as ‘one of my beats that people don’t like’ – apparently, he was talking about the acceptance of the beat before it was morphed into the chart-topping and border-crossing Dumebi.
Before this sudden breakthrough, Ozedikus had racked up 3 progressive years of music production experience, starting with a 180-degree switch from graphic designing to earning his first doe as a producer – a sum of N3000 which he was glad to earn and gleeful in sharing with his tutors. He cracked a smile as he said, ‘graphic designing…the money there was really small. I would get N500 for one artwork, some people managed to pay N1000.’ ‘The highest I got was from a guy from Sierra Leone. I met him on Instagram. He paid me N30,000 for two or three artworks.’
It is a thing in the industry: practitioners tracing their formative music experiences to religious roots, particularly, the Church. For instance, Simi grew singing as a choir member, Terry G also started in the choir of his local church, Masterkraft served as an instrumentalist in a place of worship. Ozedikus’ story is in line with this custom. His adeptness with the piano, from playing the instrument in Church, contributed to a smooth career transition for OZ. He held up the life of Masterkraft as the model he studied and is emulating. ‘Masterkraft is like the person that inspired me to enter this production business.’
Now, with a number of hits to his name and credit for producing one of the continent’s leading songs, Ozedikus has attracted the attention of the leading figures in African music including role models like Masterkraft and Don Jazzy, whose record label OZ is affiliated with today. ‘Do you have a relationship with Masterkraft?’, I asked. Ozedikus took me through the origin of their few months old relationship. He said, ‘I was surprised when I got a DM from Masterkraft.’
The relationship between both producers appears to be blooming – from text exchanges, to calls trades and home visits. The highlight of their relationship which Ozedikus shared, includes his visit to the studio of the veteran, during which he got to listen to some of Kraft’s unreleased works. The experience, as Ozedikus narrated, left him in awe. ‘After I left his house that day I couldn’t do anything for like a week because the sounds I heard that day ehn…’, he couldn’t find words to nail the description. I assume he meant to say, ‘the things I heard that day was mind-blowing.’
Don Jazzy belongs to the generation of creatives who advanced the position of African music on the global front. The iconic producer anchored the successes of two of the most productive label formations around – Mo Hits and Mavin Records – creating some classics in the process. It is expected that new school producers like Ozedikus idolize him and would jump on any opportunity to work with the icon. ‘I never knew I would meet Don Jazzy at this stage of my career’, he said. ‘He is someone I have always looked up to.’
The meeting with the Don started like an obvious prank. The doubting Thomas in OZ kept him from believing that a song he produced for his ‘day-one’, Crayon – one of the new Mavin signees – had earned them an invite from Babyfresh to the Mavin Headquarters. ‘I didn’t believe it’, he said and added, ‘I kept telling Cray to check the address to be sure it wasn’t a prank.’ The meeting with the mastermind happened at the second visit of the duo to the nerve center. ‘He had always been a beacon to me but my mentee experience increased after that meeting.’
With the new affiliation and the buzzing attention coming in his direction, Ozedikus has his aspiration reaching continental and global heights. ‘I am hoping to work with artists from within and outside the border’, he said. He later mentioned that his ‘major goal is to carry this sound outside, to US, UK and across.’ The publicized Mavin Global report is another thing Ozedikus mentioned in his plan for global impact. He said, ‘I am involved (in the movement). It is really something you should watch out for.’
This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets