Emerging musical talent in Kenya and six other African countries now have an exciting opportunity to launch their careers on an international platform that has been set up by one of the continent’s most influential young artistes.
Nigerian Afropop star Mr Eazi was in Nairobi last week to launch a new initiative called ‘Empawa’ to uncover up-and-coming artistes, provide them with resources and exposure to launch their careers.
The self-described music entrepreneur knows all about rising to the very top of the music business. He is among a generation of Nigerian artists including Wizkid, Davido and Tekno, who in the last five years have turned the spotlight on contemporary African music also referred to as Afrobeats.
Eazi has partnered with top artistes, producers and other music industry professionals, to equip the most promising talent with industry knowledge, contacts and funds to enable them achieve their full potential.
‘Empawa’ is open to artistes from Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, and Zimbabwe. Artistes have until December 15 to post their videos singing either cover versions or original songs via Instagram using the hashtag ‘Empawa’. These videos will be evaluated and assessed by Eazi and a team of music industry experts, producers, and artistes, DJs and promoters that he has selected from his network in the specific countries. About 100 artistes will then be picked to receive a grant of Sh300,000 (about Rwf 2,610,000) to produce 100 music videos with a production crew across Africa.
“All it took for me to start my career was a video that cost me $1,000 (about Rwf870),” says Eazi.
“It is a career that has allowed me to tour the world, own a business and employ over 100 people,” he adds.
“There is no reason why artists on the streets of Nairobi should not get involved in the programme because all they require is to shoot a video on a mobile phone showcasing their talent and post it on Instagram.”
Out of the 100 finalists, 10 will be selected to fly to South Africa for a three-week incubator programme led by Mr Eazi with English pop star Raye and renowned producer Diplo of Major Lazer. The 10 finalists will also record their music and shoot their videos with a professional film crew.
“Besides the producers working on the music, I will have lawyers teaching the artists about legal aspects of the music business and financial managers showing them how to turn the talent into a business,” says Eazi.
The very final list of two artistes will be selected from the 10 to perform at the 2019 edition of the annual ‘Ghana Party in the Park’ in the UK.
Eazi says his success in turning his love for music into a thriving enterprise should be an inspiration to any artiste who is enrolling for the programme.
“Just imagine if we have 20 Kenyan artistes who employ 100 people directly or indirectly and the additional value of transporting Kenyan music to the world,” says Mr Eazi.
In the last two years, he has funded videos for four artistes.
Eazi, whose real name is Oluwatosin Oluwole Ajibade, has gained global attention with his Banku music (named after a popular Ghanaian dish), a fusion that combines high-life from Ghana with Nigerian chord patterns and dance-hall.