Its another session of the Muzik Street talk; where we get to have our music discussions and acknowledge other elements and happenings going up in the music industry.
Basically, we’re going to be paying massive attention to Neo Soul Music. Surprisingly, a lot of us have enjoyed and still enjoy this type of music without recognizing what particular genre or section of music it is being classified under.
Neo soul was initially coined by Kedar Massenburg, an entrepreneur in the music industry and former CEO of Motown in the early 1990’s to market an emerging type of music which was a fusion and selective blend of Soul music and the contemporary R&B but with a distinguished and less conventional sound from the normal Soul music and R&B. It also has some relative fusion of other genres such as Jazz, African and Hip-hop music.
Some of the prominent international artistes of this genre are: Erykah Badhu, Lauryn Hill, Terrence Trent D’Arby, D’Angelo, Tony Toni Tone and a couple of others. John Legend, Alicia Keys and rapper C’mmon are also beneficiaries of Neo Soul music internationally.
Soul music might have existed a long time ago in Nigeria, but was brought to the fore with the release of “Asha” the debut album of the talented female singer and guitarist; Asa in the year 2007.
Bukola Elemide staged named Asa was born in 1982 to Nigerian parents in Paris, France. She was taken back to Nigeria at the age of two and grew up in commercial and entertainment part of nation; Lagos. Asa took particular interest in music after listening to artistes like Fela Kuti, Aretha Franklin, Lagbaja, Mavin Gaye and others through her father’s record collection.
In the year 2004, Asa met Cobhams Asuquo, the exceptionally blind gifted producer who gave Asa’s lyrics a better appeal by creating a different kind of unique sound that wasn’t common in the country’s musical scene back then. After her singles “Jailer” and “Eye Adaba” became hits, she was signed on to Naive Records in France where her first debut album was released and subsequently won the prestigious French Constantin Award in 2008.
Not forgetting her sophomore album ‘Beautiful Imperfection’ which was released in 2010 and also attracted positive acclaim making her to be nominated as female artiste of the year in 2011 in France. Asa’s influence around the world hasn’t stopped her from commanding a huge fan base in her home country, Nigeria. With the release of “Bibanke”, “Be My Man”, “Dead Again” a couple of other tracks, Asa seems to be taking the Neo soul music to another level.
Following Asa on the Neo Soul scene is ‘BEZ’ Emmanuel Bezhiwa Idakula, born on the 10th of November, 1983 in Jos, Nigeria which happens to be the birth town of other notable artistes such as Psquare, MI, Iceprince and Jesse Jags.
Bez is a multi instrumentalist, singer and gifted song writer who prefers to style his music “Alternative Soul”. His debut album “Super Sun” which was released in 2011 brought up a new different type of vibe in the music scene. The album includes the hit single, “Stupid Song” which was made a video premiere on BET network.
Interestingly, Bez also partnered with Cobhams in the production of this exceptional album which has led him to far and high places with several performances in South Africa, America, United kingdom, Kenya and Nigeria as well. Bez has also received so many notable award nominations in Nigeria.
Ego Ihenacho who is a well known singer and former back up singer with Lagbaja; the masked afro beat musician. Ego experimented with Pop and R&B before settling down with Neo Soul in her latest release titled “First steps” (production credit to Cobhams Asuquo) with tracks like “I Believe” and a remake of Fela’s “Water”. In a radio interview in Nigeria, Ego says that changing her music style was basically going back to what was natural for her.
Other Nigerian artistes with this Neo Soul feel in their music style include: Djinne, First West African Idol winner(2007) Timi Dakolo, runner up; Omawunmi, runner up in MTN Project Fame 2007, Praiz, Former Psquare back up singer Waje and Kween. One spectacular thing about almost all these artistes is the production skills of Cobhams Asuquo who obviously seems to be the engine house powering the rise of Neo soul music in Nigeria.
Cobhams is an award winning Nigerian music song writer and producer who initially came into lime light as the head of productions at Nigerian label Question mark records.
At Question Mark records, he had his talent imprinted in the works of artistes such as Silver Saddin, Mode Nine, Street Monk, Asa and other artistes on the record label. After leaving the record label, Cobhams set up his own production house called Cobhams Asuquo Music Productions(CAMP), where his exceptional production skills has modified and blessed the works of many Nigerian artistes. Cobhams’ song writing skill was also noticed by Sony Music who signed him on the Sony ATV, London stable in 2005.
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Neo Soul Music is majorly performed by artistes who are very real and passionate about what they feel, sing and their expressions both instrumentally and vocally. These artistes have equally refused to sacrifice good songwriting and well composed music on the premise of churning out what is immediately acceptable commercially but may not have any enduring impacts .
Recognizing Neo Soul music would be a useful step in building up a solid foundation and well structured music industry in the nation. And also help our musicians in leaving notable footprints on the sands of time.