The Ibejii Live Experience … sophisticated, thoughtful, dynamic and inquisitive
Gone are the days, when the major source of entertainment available to music lovers in Nigeria was concerts headlined by Hip-hop, Afrobeat, Afro-pop, R&B Highlife, Afro Juju, and Fuji acts, as Alternative music in the country is on the rise and is actively taking the music scene by storm.
Although, the style of music with regards to the Nigerian sound has always been a subject of debate for music critics. Some music critics are of the opinion that any style outside the well-known sounds like Afrobeat, hip-hop, and other familiar sounds, are to be considered as alternative, while some other categorised the new genre distinctively in their use of live instruments and bands.
Unlike the mainstream genre, alternative music in this part of the world is regarded as more eclectic, producing artistes that are considered freethinkers, unconventional and radicals.
One of such artiste is Ibejii, a daring and compelling singer, who entered the Nigerian music arena some three and half years ago, with his release of the critically acclaimed single, Ayanfe, a love song that speaks of chivalry and love in its purest form.
The Afro-retro singer will on Wednesday, June 12, release his latest project – fourth album – titled Music Saved My Life (MSML), during his yearly concert tagged ‘The Ibejii Live Experience’ (#TILX).
The event, which coincides with the Democracy Day, will hold at The Backyard, Musa Yar’adua Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. It will avail lovers of alternative music the opportunity to be regaled by the panache of Ibejii.
Born in London, his Nigerian origin influenced his unique blend of African and international motifs in the creation of his music, which is cross-cultural, cross continental and a delight to music lovers from diverse continents of the world.
He explores traditional Yoruba folk, jazz, dance, RnB, juju among other genres to serenade his audience through the art of skilful storytelling embellished with folklore, metaphor and vernacular.
The spotlight shone brighter on Ibejji in August 2017, when he launched two projects simultaneously – GreenWhiteDope 001 and GreenWhiteDope 002 – as his debut albums. The projects reflected Ibejii’s roots as a twin, a fact that is believed to carry mystery and exceptionalism in the Yoruba culture of his heritage.
According to the retro-contemporary Afro musician, every single art form is a means to tell a story. He added that music for him is about good message and sweet melody.
Commenting on his choice of alternative music against the more popularly known genres, the mysterious singer who is renowned for his tunics (navy-blue and black), afro and sometimes fedora hat, an ensemble that speaks style, timeless, daring and openness said, “Alternative music is a reflection music that allows a growing band of listeners think about where they are, their position within the world, their family and their love relationships among things.
“Ibejii is a storyteller and he writes, but he also writes music. Every single art form is a means to tell a story. I appreciate when people say I like pop. I prefer pop too, international pop and I like afrobeat.
“I like to think that as alternative artiste, we like to tap into the emotional side of human, which is to say, lets reach you through the mind, not so much as think but as to dwell on issues of love, life, beauty and excellence among others.”
“As you listen to music you are enlightened, brightened, shined unto and opened up and released back into the world from which it comes. Music for us is more than just the sound created. It is also about the reflection, bringing and making you comfortable with yourself. Don’t run away from your box, reality, instead embrace it and work with it for your day and the future. That is what music has been for us,” Ibejii also enthused.
Like many, who appreciate and purvey great music, Ibejii was born into a home that enjoyed a rich mix of tunes from the 60s, 70s and 80s, which helped fan the embers of interest in good music and creativity.
Speaking on his emergence in the music industry and albums three and half years after, Ibejii says, “It’s been utterly amazing since we came into the market unknown, untested and unsure of what the market responds with. The message out there is that there isn’t a market for alternative music. If you are going to do music, do pop, hip-hop or afrobeat.”
He noted that it’s been a bit of struggle getting the music out but one good experience he has enjoyed is that every time “we recruit a single fan, they end up becoming a family. So, there has been some sort of organic growth. Few years later, we have our own people and they have been growing us, which we are very proud and they are grateful,” he stated.
There are lots of issues in the Nigerian music industry, especially the issue of artistes engaging in Internet fraud (yahoo yahoo) as a means to supplementing their music career. An artiste was recently arrested and being remanded in the prison for related offence. What is your view of the industry, looking at the past, the present and the future?
“First and foremost, I cannot comment on the Naira Marley issue because I don’t know anything about it beyond what has been published in the papers. I’m going to trust the judicial system (court) to tell us in the end what they really find.
“What I do think to music is similar what most artiste, creatives take to into writing, painting and music as a means to express. Music is a platform though which I express my views on issues of love, life and others things.
“I think the real gem in the question is how and when will creatives at our end of the world get to a point where their craft is sufficient to pay them. It is a true conundrum. For instance, if you are in the music space, whether you are an artiste, a producer, or distributor, whatever the end of your leg is, were few people are making real money it is business.
“People look for alternative ways to make a living. They want to explore their creative craft, creative dimension to their personality but they have to make a living. If in music you want to do it, you have to look for others ways but certainly not criminal way. That is my recommendation.”
Ibejii continues: “People can do extraordinary things to be in a position to continue to push their craft. The truth is, we will get to a point where crafts men, creatives make enough money to do what they do when the market starts supporting them.
“I spend my time always asking people to support our creatives. Don’t buy pirated works; when you buy them you are definitely stealing from somebody. We need to collect revenues due to artistes and creative, and someone needs to hand it to them. It takes money to produce records, write books. If you get those things for free, you are stealing from the producers of those works.
“When we begin to support creatives they will start to earn something, which hopefully will become sufficient for them to live on, and in the long run, we will create a real industry that will earn revenue for the nation. Hollywood is a big supporter of the American economy and the American music industry is big contributor the United States GDP. So it is for the Indian entertainment industry – Bollywood – and other creative industry of the world.
“Yes, our film and music industry is growing at an accelerated speed but the number of participants who live on their crafts in the industry are not many yet. The Nigerian entertainment market needs to support creatives.”
Talking about supporting the creatives, you said we, it is pertinent to explain who the ‘we’ are and what structures should be put in place to support the industry?
“It starts with you and me; yes government has a big role to play but I tend to ignore them because we don’t have any better government here. There are too many loopholes in all sectors, which is no different from the entertainment industry.
“The inefficiencies of our systems are per minute. I prefer to target my discussion to the marketers, which is you and me; we are the consumers of creatives. We buy fashion, music CDs, watch movies; all I asked is that every single person at the point of purchase should not buy pirated music, books, movies and other creatives.
“The cost of original music CD is N700. This amount takes care of a lot people in the value chain – the artiste, the producer, the marketer, the logistics company among others. So you can see that the N700 is not going into the artiste pocket; he only gets a fraction of the amount.”
Ibejii notes that there are whole lots of people being supported when we make that right decision of not buying pirates. He added that the other reason is that apart from the value we place on the producer, we also place value on our own mind by saying “I bought this thing because it means something to me.”
“When you support creatives, whether is in music, fashion, visual art, movie, they will have more money to do what they are doing, and all of us will benefit form in a long way.
“You don’t need the government to tell you not to buy pirated art works, be self-disciplined. I don’t buy pirates; I invest the little that I have into supporting the creative,” he stated.
Ibejii’s diversity of genre is hinged on his belief that human moods vary, even as his music, which is transcendent, speaks to diverse topical issues, from love to hope, migration politics to leadership. His sophistication, thoughtfulness, inquisitives, idealistic, and dynamism endeared him to his core fans.
In December 2017, he held a huge audience spellbound with his sterling performance as guest artiste at the Brymo Concert at Terra Kulture Arena, Lagos. And as a prequel to the launch of his third album, Tribal Marks, an 11-track jazz inspired project packed with sweet melody, traditional folk sounds and rich stories, he hosted his maiden headline concert, ‘The Ibejii Live Experience’, at the African Arts Foundation (AAF), Victoria Island, Lagos, on May 29. 2018.
The album was officially launched on Thursday, September 20, 2018 through a media listening event at Jazzhole, Ikoyi, Lagos. With theme that ranges from love, happiness to human nature, Tribal Marks reaffirmed Ibejii as a leading purveyor of alternative West African music.
As part of his commitment to celebrate the uniqueness and celebrity of twins, the avant-garde artiste recently, on March 23, 2019, feted twins from diverse generations in Lagos.
Tagged ‘Ibejii Day’, the evening of fun, live music, food and story chatter, which held at Ethnic Heritage Centre, Lagos, provided an opportunity to share unique experience with others twin colleagues.
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