Praiz… In Whom R&B Finds Soul
Since his participation in the MTN Project Fame West Africa, the Kogi State native has made noticeable impact with his unique soulful voice and couple of awards to show for it.
As the son of a Gospel minister, Praiz has a musical background singing in his church choir.
Today, the Computer Science graduate of the Kaduna Polytechnic, he has gone on to wow music critics and a multitude of fans with his style – a perfect blend of R&B and Soul music.
With solid backing from X3M Music, the lovable artiste continues to stun his audience at different shows with his electrifying performances.
However, his expansive range, falsetto and ability to hit high notes close to the dreaded whistle register remain his weapon of mass appeal.
Little wonder he has shared the same stage with heavyweights like Johnny Gill, Joe, Dru Hill, Billy Ocean, Maxi Priest and Tevin Campbell.
During the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, Praiz, a conscious artiste, showed his support for Africans by dedicating Superhero to them.
The single was well received and had over 1million downloads in three days.
And with his current exploits, it’s safe to say that the only way for the Rich&Famous crooner is up!
Just recently, the Kogi State native won the award for Best Male Vocal at the 2018 Headies, beating the likes of Johnny Drill, Banky W and Faze.
“These are people, who have put a lot of work both musically and vocally; I’m really excited that I won.
To be honest, I wasn’t surprised that I won because, I know how much work I put into my music.
It doesn’t mean that I’m over confident; I’m just only confident of my abilities.
I was excited, grateful to God, grateful to the fans, grateful to the Headies Academy for awarding me,” he said in a chat with Guardian Music.
When advertising expert and music promoter Steve Babaeko established X3M Music years ago, Etcetera and Praiz were among the first set of artistes on the record label that has become home of great artistes.
“First of all, I’m grateful to God and also grateful to Steve Babaeko, who saw what nobody saw. After Project Fame, I heard people say, ‘oh, Praiz is a John Legend wanna be; he would never win any award, he would never amount to anything in the industry.’
Right now, the same person, who said that to me, is actually my fan; he’s someone, who actually respects my art.
It’s a great feeling when you know that you are part of a movement that started years ago and is still waxing strong,” he enthused.
Aside being a great singer, Praiz is in the league of people one could call complete artistes; they are good in singing, as well as production.
“One thing that has worked for me is that I’m fortunate to be a complete musician because I play the drums, I play the piano; I sing, I write, I do almost everything. So, I understand basic rudiments in music, basic rhythms and melodies.
It has helped me as a musician in composing my songs.
I produced Folashade and I’m really happy that the song I produced won an award; it’s an application of practical music to what I do,” he said.
While urging fellow artistes to pay attention to the production side of their craft, Praiz noted, “It’s very good for a musician to know his music because; it will be good for the artiste to guide the producer.
Sometimes, the producers feel music should go a certain way, but you as an artiste want a balance.
If you don’t know what you want, you would always go with the flow. So, it’s always good for a musician to always know the basic.”
When it comes to making music, Praiz is almost a perfectionist; he want’s everything done professionally.
For him, there’s no shortcut to making lasting sound.
“The truth is that those of us like that, we tend to be perfectionists to a certain level.
But over time, I learnt not to be too perfect because, some of the best things are not perfect things.
When you try to overdo, you actually lose the real feel; I try to create that balance of not being too perfect,” he noted.
Though he’s of the opinion that R&B genre is gradually gaining prominence in the country, Praiz is seeking a level playing ground for all music genres.
“Some years ago, I would say R&B was dying, but I think it’s way better today.
However, I think R&B should be promoted even more and given the chance like they do for club songs; the media need to also help in promoting the genre R&B.
We have great artistes, who are singing between country, alternative and R&B.
Trust me, if the media supports such acts, people would love the genre.”
To the artiste, the media has a strong influence in setting agenda.
“People listen to the media; the media is a powerful tool for setting agenda. The media can say, ‘let’s promote this genre of music, let’s give them peak time the same way they play club music in the afternoon when they know there’s top traffic.’
They can play a certain R&B artiste and say, ‘this is our own.’ Trust me, the genre of music would grow; the fan base would increase.”
Meanwhile, the CEO of X3M Music once said his organization is not interested in making plastic music and Praiz seems to entirely agree with that.
“The thing is we are not auto-tune artistes; we are musicians; we can replicate what we give to you on CD.
It makes you stand out knowing that when you call me to perform the song you love, you get something better. We are happy to represent good music.
It’s really exciting to see people deciding to do stuffs that a lot of us have been doing a long time.
I mean, a lot of acts are playing live music lately, regardless of the kind of songs they sing. I’m so glad to see that the revolution is actually happening; it would only get better,” he said.
After eight years on X3M Music, Praiz is grateful for the opportunity and experiences that come with it.
“I think everyone has his or her destiny planned out by God; it’s either you use you hand to change your own or follow what is predestined.
I’ve been here for eight years and I’m sure God has already seen it; He knows when I will be here.
He knows how long I will be here and he knows when I would take my own step to start my own stuff. It’s been eight loyal and amazing years.
X3M Music signed me when no one believed that R&B would be anything in Nigeria; they took the risk and I’m forever grateful,” he said.
Meanwhile, nothing excites Praiz like making a second journey on MTN Project Fame platform.
“The highlight was two years ago when I became a judge on the same show where I was discovered.
It might not be all about hype, but my story is a very successful story; I’m very grateful to God.
When I look back to where I was coming from, I owe it to God and my fans for always loving and supporting me.
For me, it’s not a dream come true; it’s beyond my dream because, I didn’t think I would be a judge on the same show that brought me to limelight,” he enthused.
Of all his recordings, If I Fall stands out any day; Praiz too is in agreement.
“If I fall is one of my favourite songs ever written. So, far, it’s one of the best I’ve ever done; it’s the song that gave me the AFRIMA Best R&B award.
It’s so funny because it’s a song I wrote out of experience; it talks about being vulnerable.
You see someone, who you like, but you are telling yourself, ‘if I fall in love with this babe, would she fall in love me?’ you are already vulnerable, but you are afraid to make that move.”
The inspiration to write If I Fall came to Praiz in South Africa during his visit to Madiba’s country.
“I was having a shower when the song just came. I had soap all over my body, so, I ran out, picked up my phone and started recording it. When I was done, I just saved it.
When returned, I went to Abuja to meet with Gospel On The Beat and said, ‘bro, there’s this song I want to do.’
Producing the song, it took us like three hours to pick the right kits that we would use; that’s how detailed I wanted the song to be,” he recalled.
As for the beat, “It’s very unique; you just know this is music. I used live horns and live guitar; it just has the element of live recording,” he enthused.
Right now, Praiz is working on a ne EP, Two Minutes.
“It talks about our fears basically; I’m singing about things that we go through that we are afraid of talking about.
Personally, I’m not an advocate of divorce on a natural, but there are cases and situations that people find themselves.
You are in a marriage and you are going through abuses. You keep giving him/her a chance to change, but it’s not happening.
You go through counseling and other process that should help the situation change, but it doesn’t change.
So, what do you do? You have to separate; you just have to end it.
But that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t believe in divorce, but there are some things that happen to you that you need to take drastic action.
So, I’m using this music to talk about those issues people don’t like to talk about,” he said.
Asked if he’s afraid of marriage, Praiz explained, “To me, marriage is not how it used to be.
I’m fortunate to come from a family that is a happy family; I see what family should be like.
But these days, it’s no longer that way; people focus on the wedding and forget about the marriage.
Marriage is not easy; you know you are going to spend your life with just that one person.
I’m just trying to educate people on the way I see marriage. I’m a sucker for love; I preach and believe in love.”