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Covid-19 lockdown… Naija artistes explore online options

2Baba                                                                                                              Asa                                                                                                             Sarz

When Life hands you lemons, make lemonade out of it. This has been the game plan of global entertainers, who have started thrilling bored audiences with streaming song writing/beat-making battles, parties and concerts online, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 induced isolations and city lockdowns.

Last weekend, American singer Timbaland and Swizz Beats pioneered the online beat-making battles by live-streaming their biggest self-produced classics to over 20,000 viewers on Instagram Live.

With that, Nigerian Twitter audience clamoured for their own local version, and after touting their desired celebrities, renowned record-makers, Osabuohien Osaretin, popularly known as Sarz and Oluwaseyi Akerele, popular called as Pheelz, hosted their own Battle of the Hits on Monday night.

Both sensational hit makers thrilled over 22,000 viewers for more than two hours to some of their biggest self-produced hit songs. Celebrities such as Swizz Beats, Timbaland, Don Jazzy, Adekunle Gold and Ebuka Uchendu also tuned in.

It was thrilling, as Sarz’s wide hit-based discography, with song plays such as Wizkid’s One Dance (with Drake), Bad Energy (With Skepta), Jaiye Jaiye (With Femi Kuti), Beat of Life, Sound it;Wande Coal’s Ashimapeyin; and Beyonce’s Find Your Way Back, seemed quite intimidating.

However, Pheelz duelled bravely and levelled up to him with hits such as Davido’s Blow My Mind (With Meek Mill and Chris Brown), Skelewu, Like Dat, Sweet in the Middle, and Risky (Co-produced with Speroach Beats); Wizkid’s Everytime (With Future), Body, Love My Baby; and Wurld’s Contagious and Show You Off, among others.

It was a tough battle of the hits that had their fans as the un-official judges. Sarz was hyped as winner, though a very narrow win. Notwithstanding, both producers showed good sportsmanship spirits as they appreciated each other at the end of the session and even nominated producers for the next sessions.

The highlight of the night was actually the nostalgia it brought as Sarz rewound memories to cherished oldies he self-produced, such as Dagrin’s Kondo, Jahbless’ Joor Oh,Reminisce’s Kako Bi Chicken and Lord of Ajasa’s See Drama, while Shizzi responded gallantly withSasha P’s (Ikon co-produced) Making Money, Davido’s Gobe, among others.

The thrill re-surfaced on Wednesday night, as co-industry veterans, Sunny Nweke, acclaimed as Masterkraft, and Phillip Moses, renowned as Pheelz, responded to Sarz and Shizzy’s call to headline the next hits duel.

They battled for over two hours, as well, playing a combined total of 68 songs. Despite, an Instagram Live’s crash that delayed them for over an hour, they kept over 28,500 entertainment-craving fans, including celebrities such as M.I. Abaga, Adekunle Gold and Oxlade, spellbound till the end of the session – a figure 6,300 larger than Monday night’s Sarz vs Shizzi.

Interestingly, Masterkraft displayed a wider discography than Pheelz which showcased his versatility, with song plays such as: Sound Sultan’s Very Good Bad Guy (With Banky W), Jaywon’sFilebe, Timaya’s Stoopid, Wizkid’s No Lele and CDQ’s Nowo Soke (With Wizkid), among others.

However, the duel was a ‘hit-songs’ battle and Pheelz fired only his biggest guns – a largely YBNL arsenal – and song played hits such as Olamide’s Yemi My Lover, Turn Up, Anifowose, Lagos Boy, Poverty Die; Fireboy’s Gbas Gbos, Scatter, Energy; Adekunle Gold’s Sade; and Lil Kesh’s Ibile, Cause Trouble and Is It Because I love You (With Patoranking), among others.

The verdict was strongly biased, with fans hailing Masterkraft as winner, but objectively observing Pheelz played more hits than Masterkraft. However, the winners would always be relative as the adjudging criteria remains purely sentimental; and the main purpose of the sessions is largely entertainment than competition.

As entertainment thrives in our current physically disconnected communities via the social global village – the Internet – opportunities are emerging for commonly under-spotlighted entertainers, such as music producers, songwriters and disc jockeys to have a taste of the limelight and increase their recognition.

While Nigerian songwriters and disc jockeys are yet to join their global contemporaries, such as American songwriters, T. Pain vs Scott Scorch; The Dream vs Sean Garett, and DJ D-Nice; to host songwriter duels and E-parties, musicians such as TuBaba and Asa are already attempting E-concerts, with Asa pioneering with her concert on Youtube, last Sunday, and Tubaba to host his gig on Easter, across his social media handles @official2baba.

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