Victor AD’s brand of ‘Ethical’ motivation is thriving
When an artist’s first introduction to the general public is a hit song, there’s usually an invisible shot clock that goes up and runs out if they are unable to follow it up. It’s in that window that one-hit wonders are born. But once a new artist is able to escape this phase, they have every chance to go on and build a remarkable career.
Victor AD can no longer be called a one-hit wonder. With the recent success of “Tire You”, the singer has begun the transition from music greenhorn to one of the brightest new artists in the land.
While “Tire You” hasn’t been anywhere near as successful as “Wetin We Gain” — the singer’s breakout song — it has been a strong follow-up, strong enough to prove that Victor’s initial success was anything but a fluke. Topping “Wetin We Gain” was always going to be a big ask for any artist, let alone one without a reputable record label or a big industry cosign or the kind of marketing budget that keeps a buzz going.
Prior to “Wetin We Gain”, Victor AD was not only a struggling artist; he was also struggling in life. Victor’s life started off in the ghettos of Kirikiri and Ajangbadi. He would eventually move to Warri, complete his tertiary education in Auchi, and return to Warri where he became the lead singer of a local band. By Victor’s own admission, he had applied for countless talent contests, all of which had turned him down, and had released a number of songs, all of which had fallen flat.
Victor was growing frustrated by this stagnation. The singer claims that “Wetin We Gain” was actually a conversation between him and God about his music career, and that the first time he performed the song, the lyrics moved him to tears. The lines: “I no wan take the same step wey I take last year wey no work for me… Lord you know wetin me and you don talk / Make e manifest oh Baba”, depict a singer who’s desperately pleading with God to reorder his steps and cause his career to flourish — God answered.
Regrettably, some of the socially redeeming quality of the song was lost in its super-materialistic chorus: “If we no make money / Wetin we gain? … If we no buy the Benz / Wetin we gain?” Victor seemed to be pushing the dangerous money-by-any-means narrative that has corrupted Nigerian youth culture, and continuing the glorification of internet fraud that has pervaded our pop music. But the singer, who prides himself on being intentional about his lyrics, strongly denies those allegations. Victor claims that his music provides motivation, and his target audience is only those who need the motivation to do positive things.
Victor AD seems to have a calling. The multitalented singer insists he doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into the type of artist who only makes one type of music, but it’s undeniable that he has found a lane. It’s not as if Victor hasn’t put out other types of songs either – he’s made love songs, political songs, wedding songs etc., but there’s something special about the way Victor uses his painful life experiences as a source of encouragement that people are beginning to gravitate to.
Interestingly, Victor’s identity as a motivator had actually been launched prior to “Wetin We Gain”. In May last year, fellow Waffarian, Erigga, featured him on “Motivation”, and the song went on to become the underground MC’s biggest, so far. What’s more, it managed to cross over without either artist compromising the principle of message-driven music that they both hold dear.
With a hit song and a notable guest feature under his belt, Victor AD continued to build. He released “Tire You” (featuring Davido) at the start of the year and the success of that song kept Victor’s momentum going. To put things in perspective, “Tire You” joined the charts in the same week as Burna Boy’s “Dangote” (#8) and Slimcase’s “Azaman” (#56). And as big as those songs currently are, “Tire You” has been watched and streamed even more times.
One other challenge that new artists are often faced with is finding an identity for themselves, and finding it early. Victor AD is fortunate in that he found one effortlessly, and it would be a mistake to try and fight it. It would also be a mistake for Victor to make his struggle story the only thing that defines him. How the singer is able to balance these 2 contradictory things might determine how far his career will go.