With the demise of the group Psquare, the strongest source of pain for most Nigerians was the loss of the blood brotherhood. Worse, among twin brothers. But for any keen informed observer of the impact of this separation, the greatest loss was Nigeria’s chance of getting a clear shot at the Grammys based on a non-Hollywood affiliation.
Permit my close following of the romance between Nigerian artists and recent Hollywood acceptance, ranging from American celebrity endorsement to radio rotation and features on late night shows/magazine coverage.
Like in the old days with Sunny Ade of Virgin Records, Majek and Femi Kuti of Motown Records, it is clear that Burna Boy and Wizkid had their best chance of global recognition via a pre-selection process by Hollywood, making them international stars theoretically before they practically moved towards stardom. In essence, their global exposure was a forgone conclusion even before they attempted it.
On the contrary, the Psquare fame was undoubtedly purely organic. Clearly a byproduct of hardwork and consistency. There was no missing link on its progress. As we all watched their fame rise, slowly taking over Northern Nigeria, West and East Africa, then the entire continent. We also saw them gravitate towards international collaborations which they paid for from their own earnings.
Speaking of earnings, Psquare, long before any other act in Africa, were commanding hundreds of thousands of dollars as performance fees for a few minutes of performance. They sold out stadia across Africa for the very best of African acts, and it become tradition for the Okoye’s. On good authority, Federal Character has it that upon the demise of the group, Psquare refunded over two million naira as commitment fees earlier recieved for shows yet to hold.
There were also no PR gimmicks connected to the popularity of their songs. International celebrities who identified with their songs simply caught unto what the streets was feeling. Little wonder they had made the Guinness book of world records as being on the top 5 most popular sets of twins in the world. All of these achievements impressively untraceable to a godfather/mother factor.
For the likes of Burna, Wizkid and Davido, we saw a leap that we did not understand. They suddenly occupied front runner positions which belonged to a Tuface Idibia whose African queen is the most covered song out of Africa, Timaya who is massive in the Caribbean, Flavour whose traditional sound had displaced Awilo Logomba from continental popularity, and Asa with her solo enviable french connection.
The aforementioned are no trust funds babies. Their grind right before our eyes moved them from logical step to step.
The aforementioned too, are no “has beens” and so this is not a case of paving the way for the younger, but a case of being overtaken while still in active service, explainable only by what Nigerians would call man-know-man (connections).
The break up of Psquare meant the split in potential to achieve, and was a loss beyond that of the family and fans, beyond the music, beyond Africa’s hopes of an organically accepted ambassadors of her music.
Psquare carried the dreams of millions of African youths who had nothing but pure talent and a willingness to work hard with it on their shoulders as proof that they could go anywhere in the world with their talent.
Quite a hope to anchor, quite a responsibility to carry, and quite a number of dreams to dash. So now, all of Africas music talent, both budding and established are in desperate search for a Hollywood agent. As hard work has been jettisoned as the way forward. Thanks to the rewards of heavy connections they watch unfold daily, courtesy Burna and co.