Mr. Eazi is in the news recently, and you may wonder why. Not because he has released his promised acoustic version of fans-favorite songs off Accra to Lagos EP as he once told Julie Adenuga on Beat 1, he has no new single out, and certainly not because of his success as a host with his Detty Radio Show on Beat 1. He is in the news for some controversial reasons.
In an interview with on UK’s CapitalXtra, he claims that most Nigerian musicians are copying his self-invented Banku sound. In a recent article I wrote where I commended Mr. Eazi’s quick rise in the world of music here
I pointed out that though he is having it good at the moment, his longevity and relevance depends hugely on how he manages controversies.
In this CapitalXtra interview, Mr. Eazi claims 60% of Nigerian musicians are taking advantage of his sound to make quick hits. ‘it was like, yo, everybody just realized that, what formular is Mr. Eazi using? ok, we are gonna end up doing it…’ were his words. He however did not say he has not been given due credit. What he did was to subtly slight his fellow musicians. And how did Eazi come about this figure?
Eazi can claim to have popularised Banku music, but what he cannot claim is that his works had been outrightly plagiarized as the case between Pia Mia and Phyno as to who the original copyrights owner of the song ‘I’ m a Fan’ was. In this context, it is a case where an artistes discovers a trend and explores it.
What Eazi is trying to create is a toxic atmosphere between him and his industry colleagues at this tender stage of his career. Plus, no artistic culture grows in such condition, that is what experience has shown. The same reason many artistes never make a comeback after beef tracks.
Funny thing is, similar argument is taking place in America as the rapper T I is also claiming to be the originator of the speedily growing Trap Music. But music critics have since contested that claim, stating that, though TI certainly helped popularized Trap Music by coining the term, the genre started way back even before TI titled one of his albums ‘Trap Musik’.
A music culture grows when other musicians explores that culture in order to advance it. And this is exactly what Runtown, illbliss etc tried to do with this sound Eazi claims to be his. Research still has to be conducted to ascertain the veracity of this grand claim.
The question the Detty Learner should be asking himself is this: What would have happened to Igbo highlife culture of Osadebe and co. if Flavor did not explore that genre for contemporary audience? What would happen to Yoruba indigenous rap after Dagrin had Olamide, Reminisce and co. kept mute? What about Igbo rap after Mr.Raw? Raggae after Bob Marley and Lucky Dube? Afrobeat after Fela? I can go on and on.
Mr. Eazi should not be insinuating that other artistes leave the sound to him, rather, he should encourage many who are able and willing to, not just work with the sound, but surpass what he has been able to do. That is how genres survive and thrive. Not by trying to shame his colleagues for creating sound that has his influence. Because at the end of the day, his name will still be remembered when the discussion of Banku music and the influence it had comes up.
I love Mr. Eazi and wish him well in his career, but he should please avoid blowing his own trumpet especially when it is not necessary, like he just done.
If care is not taken, Banku sound might just end up as one of those trends in the music industry that artistes did to remain relevant while its lasted. Hence, Mr.Eazi should sit down, obey the law of Kendrick Lamar, and be humble! That is the only way to build a lasting artistic legacy. Slips like this may be perceived as arrogance and vaunting pride, and this is bad PR which may not be edifying to his career.