‘See the paper I’m stacking and they say I’m very young/I would agree with you but we would both be very wrong’ – Wizkid (Reppin Emeazzayy – EME ft Wizkid, Skales, Banky W, 2012).
For weeks now, fans have been troubled and worried about Wizkid and his ‘shaky’ relationship with his record label Empire Mates Entertainment (EME).
While some are still hoping the situation is an April Fool’s joke that has come too early, other fans-critics have already seen the writing on the wall and some, in a manner similar to the Mo’hits saga, are already taking sides.
This article will however not be giving an analysis on which party is right or wrong. Let’s highlight some of the possible mistakes that led to the unfortunate situation.
We’ve witnessed this sort of story play out too many times – US R&B Pop singer Mariah Carey leaving Sony Music boss Tommy Mottola in 1997, Mo’Cheddah leaving KnightHouse in 2012 and if we dare say 2face Idibia leaving Kennis Music in 2008.
There are other similar scenarios like D’banj breaking ties with his partner Don Jazzy and the Mo’Hits crew in 2012, Soul E suddenly leaving Colossal Records just when his career was about to take off, and Jay Z breaking up with partners Damon Dash and Kareem ‘Biggs’ Burke at Roc-a-fella Records in 2004 but we’d focus on the first set because it relates to our subject matter better.
All scenarios revolve around one strong point – these artistes sort of became too big for their labels-management to handle – creatively, financially or just in projecting and making future decisions about their careers and brand. This is very similar to the Wizkid-EME story.
Banky W who acts as Chairman of EME (the label is co-owned by Segun Demuren) learnt of Wizkid after talent manager Osagie Osanrenkhoe introduced them (along with upcoming rapper Skales) in 2009. The two were subsequently signed to the label and that started a journey they all probably didn’t envisage would lead them to millions of Naira, mouth-watering endorsement deals, tours in the US and UK, property acquisition and of course controversy.
We all know how Banky and EME practically threw Wizzy in our faces – on radio, TV, magazine covers, Banky’s ‘The W Experience’ album and with the potency of his hit singles like ‘Holla at ur boy’, ‘Don’t dull’ ‘Tease me’ and a debut album ‘Superstar’, his name spread like wild fire, selling out concerts, winning international awards and scoring collaborations with top US artistes.
So just like Mariah, Mo’Cheddah and 2face – Wizkid became a household name, recording success and adding fame to his portfolio. And just like what happened to the trio, his brand began growing ‘geometrically’, to a state where it tested the solidity of his label. (Mariah left Mottola because she wanted to be creatively different, friends close to Mo’Cheddah and KH will tell you they split because the former thought they couldn’t offer anything new and as for 2face, let’s face the fact – dude wasn’t going to take it to the next level with Kennis).
I’m sure EME foresaw this; signing a deal with Akon’s Konvict Music must have been one of the label’s fail-safes but it didn’t seem enough. Why didn’t EME hire international management for Wizkid early enough? WCould they have possibly opened shop in the UK and US (or even SA!), sign artistes to stabilize the label in the western market? These are a few questions that need to be answered?
Wizkid became an elephant in the room, too big to move at the pace of his other label mates, the youngin’ decided to break ties and seek better counsel somewhere else, sacking his start-up manager Osarenkhoe (who remains with EME, building other talents like Niyola while working with non EME acts like DammyKrane) hiring Godwin Tom to handle his business on the local front and signing with rapper Tinie Tempah’s Disturbing London management in the UK. He recently debut his Star Boy music label.
Will Wizkid succeed with his solo venture? It’s too soon to say. While the likes of Mariah Carey and 2face clearly toppled their previous endeavours, Mo’Cheddah seems to have lost her footing.
Wizzy will be missing a lot of things he has enjoyed with EME – a firewall from the media, Banky’s charm and luck which has rubbed off him, bargaining deals and much more but like we said, it’s too soon to say…
Written By Osagie Alonge. The piece first appeared on ThenetNg