What is Afropolitan Vibes?
Afropolitan Vibes is a monthly live music concert which exists as a platform for alternative music: a place where music lovers congregate to watch contemporary singer-songwriters and musicians perform mostly original works that are firmly rooted in African musical origins of Afro-beat, Afrofunk, Afro-hip-hop, Afro-pop and Highlife music. A host of talented artists gather each month to rehearse and then perform with Bantucrew on stage at Freedom Park’s Amphitheatre. The show is held every third Friday of each month. Show starts promptly from 8.00pm-10.30/11.00pm.
Bantu aka Brotherhood Alliance Navigating Towards Unity is a 12-piece Afro-funk-Afro-hip-hop-Afro-beat musical collective founded by NigerianGerman brothers Adé Bantu and Abiodun. The band features multiinstrumentalists and singers who perform as a collective.
Palm Wine Tradition
Palm wine is now available at all our shows. As our palm wine is always freshly tapped in Badagry in the early hours of the morning of each show, this luscious white liquid is guaranteed to be sweet and only mildly intoxicating as it is yet unfermented. Our palm wine is served the traditional way: the wine is available to buy per gourd (to share with friends/family) or in individual calabashes. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are also available for purchase at the Freedom Park bar area where we encourage you all to come join us after the show for a drink, chat and photographs.
Official After Party
After each show, we have an after party gig at the Freedom Park bar area. Your DJ for the night will be Raymond Bola Browne aka DJraybeeBrowne of Igroove Radio. Join us at the Freedom Park bar for past, present and future dance music all in the mix.
Spread the Word
If you love Afropolitan Vibes, spread the word - tweet about us, join our Facebook page at facebook.com/Afropolitanvibes, and invite your friends and family next time.
Next Afropolitan Vibes show will be on April 18th 2014. See you then!
Afropolitan Vibes Magazine credits: Editor: Abby Ogunsanya Copy Editor: Kolade Arogundade
Cover art photographs: Aderemi Adegbite
Guest artists Interviews: Adebola Rayo
Past artists’ pictures: Aderemi Adegbite, Akin Kongi and Demola Tade
Graphic Design: Graeme Arendse
Guest artists’ pictures: Courtesy of subjects
Printing: John Bola
Contact and advertising enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: + 234-816740-1016
Issue 6 // March 2014
Afropolitan Vibes celebrates its 12th edition this month! Afropolitan Vibes Magazine has some way to catch up, as this is only our 6th edition. Still, we are happy to be celebrating this milestone and the fact that we have plenty more great things planned to make the Afropolitan Vibes experience a unique one.
In this issue
The cover art for the magazine this month’s issue is a photograph taken in front of the preserved old wall and original doors of the old Broad Street Prison, now Freedom Park, where we hold the Afropolitan Vibes shows every third Friday of each month. We have our amazing photographer Aderemi Adegbite and our stunning model Jenevieve Aken to thank for helping us execute our idea so brilliantly. Ade Bantu and I say a few words about our journey on the Afropolitan Vibes express so far. Enjoy reading Adebola Rayo’s interviews with our guest artists this month – Sound Sultan, Fokn Bois and Aramide. We compile a photo spread of the incredible THIRTY-SIX people who have so far performed on the Amphitheatre stage with Bantu. We say a special thank to each and every one of the artists for agreeing to come perform on the show.
You can email us with your thoughts at email@example.com. We also read all comments and respond to questions on Facebook and Twitter. We have a limited number of back issues of Afropolitan Vibes magazine. If you would like a copy, please contact us via email or on +234-816740-1016.
The Gospel According to Fokn M
ensa and Wanlov are the artistes that make up ‘Fokn Bois’, a group that is probably the most controversial music group in Africa right now and, unsurprisingly, it is a badge they wear with honour.
The two musicians, who have been friends since 1997, started recording their rap music professionally in 2000. Their music is rap, but it’s also something else – something edgy, crazy, deep and different; something I can’t quite put a name to. “Our music is gospel porn... gospel pornography,” says Wanlov. “The gospel part is just good news as in weird gospel music. Then porn refers to the kind of society we live in now where everything from religion to consumerism is very rampant in a pornographic manner, it is very explicit.” Through their satirical lyrics, they probe into things most are afraid to do, asking questions, raising issues and making assertions that most refuse to. But does that make them anti-establishment? The duo doesn’t think so. “When we were children, we weren’t allowed to question things, but right now, if religion is the fruit on a tree, will you eat the fruit? Yes, but you question it. If it’s got taste that you don’t like, you won’t eat it. We’ve come to an age of questioning these things that, before, we were just so scared to ask about,” Wanlov says. Making the Fokn Music Mensa, who seems to be the quieter of the two, is more involved in the production of the music, while they both write songs together. Their music is unusual; you either love it or hate it like the Nigerians did when the group released their hit ‘Thank God We Are Not A Nigerians’. I ask what inspires their writing and Mensa says morning sex but I’m not sure I heard correctly, so I ask: “Did you say morning sex or money and sex?” “Both,” he says. “Both things you heard as one thing. Everything is our influence. Even things we don’t like influence us. The things we like, many things: the dust on the road, whatever.” The thing about satire is, it often washes over a lot of people because they take it literally. I wonder if fans and critics have that problem with the Fokn Bois music, if their message gets lost in the satire.
Issue 6 // March 2014
“If the message gets lost then you also gain something else, satire. The thing is that we are not here to preach so if somebody says the message is lost then that’s them losing it. We are just venting in a humorous or satirical manner,” Wanlov says. “We feel like if we went the aggressive, you know, complaint, angry, ‘this is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong...’ it’s not therapeutic for us. Making it satirical makes it easy for us to get it off our chest and enjoy the process of venting as well. Fine if they get the message, if they don’t, hopefully they’ll get something else out of it.” On Not Being ‘A’ Nigerians When Fokn Bois released ‘Thank God We Are Not A Nigerians’, it got Nigerians pretty riled up. I have always been curious about what inspired the song, but Fokn Bois say they are shocked that the song got Nigerians angry. “To be honest, if you’re wondering why we wrote that song, we can’t remember. Because right now, we don’t have light just like Nigeria, the corruption level has reached Nigeria’s level. We’ve forgotten totally,” Wanlov says, referring to their country, Ghana. “We’re thinking of doing our next project in Nigeria. We’re staying there for at least three months,” Mensa chips in. “We don’t know what it is yet but we’ll come and see what happens. Next week, we’re coming. That’s our small project. Next week, we’re coming there to test the waters again,” Wanlov says. On Being Unique “So tell me, why are you guys such crazy, unique motherfuckers? Why? How?” I ask. “Because everybody else in the world is sane. We’re bored by that... or else, we’d have lost our minds,” Mensa says. “There are so many people on the main road that we have to use the bush road. It’s more fun” It does look like fun but does it pay the bills? “The money side is going well, and we’re just trying to build things, so let’s say in three years, there’ll be no denying our impact,” Mensa says. Wanlov is famous for the piece of cloth he ties around his waist and he tells me it when he was in school. “I went to do my laundry and I had no clothes to wear and it was comfortable. It just stuck and now, here I am,” he says. He won’t tell me if he wears boxers or briefs underneath, he says he’ll answer the question when he comes to Nigeria but I’m no longer curious. When they’re not making music, the duo, who have seven children between them, are full-time fathers. 5
A Deep Love for Music 6
Issue 6 // March 2014
lot of people claim to be passionate about their art but never really give up their safety and comfort to pursue it fully. Aramide is one of the few who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their art. Four years ago, the young musician relocated from Jos, a city she had lived in all her life, to Lagos, a city famed for its vibrant entertainment scene. She had one mission: to give music her all. “I grew up listening to a lot of alternative music like jazz and soul music,” Aramide says. “My dad used to listen to a lot of that kind of music. Somehow, I think it influenced my style. And the fact that other people have been able to succeed in that kind of music, I think there’s hope for alternative music in Nigeria.” The singer has been making music since she was a teenager, and as a professional for the last four years. Not many do alternative music in Nigeria, a place known for its pop culture leanings. It has not been easy breaking into the Lagos entertainment scene, but as she says, “Whatever you do in life, there’ll always be challenges. It’s just for you to get through them, somehow.” Today, despite being an indie alternative artiste, she is well on the path to making a name for herself on the Nigerian music scene. The Indie Life Most Nigerian record labels never know how to promote their alternative music arts properly, so it is no surprise that Aramide, who used to be signed to Trybe Records, has chosen to be an independent artiste. “I guess it takes time for people to believe that this type of music that we do, alternative music, can sell,” she says about the attitude of the labels. “So that’s why most times when you see an alternative artiste that is successful, you find out that they’re actually successful on their own because they do their thing the way they want it done. Because you’re passionate about it, that’s why you’re doing that kind of music, so nobody understands the music except you and the people that listen to it.” She is a full-time musician, and she says she has only been able to come so far with the support of family and friends. “It’s been a big challenge. Naturally, it’s been crazy but from time to time, I get support from my friends, my family especially,” she says. In a country where most families are not supportive of musical careers, she is lucky to have one that is.
“My dad bought me the guitar I’m using now. And my first saxophone, my dad got it for me as well. And if I call, they’re always there for me. I think I have the best support system in my family and my friends.” Sound and Inspiration For someone so young, she seems to have found her sound already, and though she says that overtime her music has changed in subtle ways, it is still within her style. “For me, the kind of music I’m creating, and I’m really working hard at it, is evergreen music. I’m trying to create the kind of music that you will still listen to 20 years from now. And I want people to be able to make reference to my music, and say, ‘Oh, I want to sound like Aramide’, she says. The artiste says inspiration for her music comes from everything, including her own life. “A lot of what I write is inspired by my life, the people around me, my friends... for instance, if someone tells me a story, I’ll write about it if it sounds really interesting. It’s like, okay, some people are actually going through this kind of stuff now; let me write about it. So that when they hear it, they’ll be like, oh, you know what, I heard your song and it sounded like what I was going through. That’s the purpose of songs and appealing to people,” Aramide says. That leads me to ask if my favourite of her songs, a break-up song titled ‘Bolaji’, was inspired by a personal experience. She confirms that it was. What’s in the Water in Jos? The city of Jos is undoubtedly good for art – it has produced a number of highly talented artistes currently ruling the entertainment scene, including M.I Ice Prince, Ruby Gyang and, of course, Aramide. I ask her what it is about the city and she says: “We’re very talented in Jos. I can proudly say that, but I don’t know what it is myself.” The Jos community on the art scene is still tight and Aramide tells me they have stayed friends, supporting each other’s careers. Nigeria should watch out for this young woman who plays the guitar and the saxophone, and writes her own songs! She’s got it all, the voice, writing skills and musical talent.
Sound Sultan The True King of Sound
Issue 6 // March 2014
remember being in second year in university and having Sound Sultan’s ‘The (Compulsory) Textbook’ album on repeat so much that the CD scratched and I had to buy it 3 times – that was how much I loved it. The songs were witty yet with very deep lyrics that were politically and socially conscious in tracks like ‘Jagbajantis’, or satirical outlooks on relationships in ‘Back in D Days’ and ‘She Dey Go’.
affiliations. Now, we have to do it all on our own. We thank God that we’re broadening every day,” Sound Sultan says. “We are shooting our first movie this month, a fulllength movie that’ll come out this year. It’s a big budget movie – it’s a comedy, that’s all I can say about it for now. We’ve opened our own video and audio studio.” He’s involved in more than the creative aspect of the business though, and he says he feels it is a cliché that artists can’t handle the business part of things.
Sound Sultan, real name Olanrewaju Fasasi, was, and still is, miles ahead of the pack in terms of versatility, lyricism and delivery. He has, over the years, consistently delivered great music. When he released his first and second albums, not a lot of Nigerian musicians were making conscious music, and I ask him what it was like making music that stood out in those early days.
“It’s a cliché that artistes are not cerebral. I believe that if you have the brain to handle the business side of things, why not go for it?” Recently, Sound Sultan had a really big hit in ‘Natural Something’, a funny song about being a mugu for a girl. His bigger hits in the past have been the politically and socially conscious songs, and I wonder if it means his message his changing.
“For me, I was not stepping into new shoes, I was just learning from the best, greats like Fela AnikulapoKuti,” he says. “I felt like, even though he is gone, he left a message. I love what he was doing musically and what he stood for. The message was very strong but the humour was also there.”
“It’s not changing,” he tells me. “If you listen to my old albums you’ll hear songs like ‘Campus Queen’, ‘Oko Won Lode’ and others. I believe in talking about different things because I believe that music is organic. You don’t just go in one direction because then you get too predictable – even Fela sang Lady. I think I’ll be pretending if I say all I want to do is government bashing.”
Sound Sultan says he found that it was good to say the truth but in a humourous manner. “I wanted to make organic music. I wasn’t looking at competition. I was very comfortable; it was a good cause and I was just feeling good with it.”
The Activist These days, a number of artists have no qualms in performing at government organised functions, even when fans believe that because of government failings they should either turn down such invitations or use them as an opportunity to speak truth to power.
On Becoming The Sultan “Why the name ‘Sound Sultan’?” I ask him and he tells me he had been going by another name that he won’t mention because it didn’t do justice to his personality. His brother and sister gave him the inspiration for his new name.
I ask Sound Sultan what his opinion is about that, especially as he is someone who has used his music as a form of activism. He says: “I would sing ‘Bush Meat’. I sang that at the ‘Nigeria at 50’ event. I feel like if you’re given the opportunity to use a platform, use it to your own advantage. The people in power may or may not be listening but your people, your fans are listening. At the end of the day, you have to be in the power to fight the power.”
“They told me they see me like a jack of all trades and master of all musically – that’s how I picked Sound Sultan, also because I love alliteration and rhymes,” he says. His brother, Baba Dee, is also a musician, and his partner in running the Naija Ninjas record label. “He is one of the most talented people I know,” Sound Sultan says about his brother. “Growing up, I was more of an introvert back then and he taught me how to come out of my shell and hone my talent.”
“You must be creatively mad. You have to be constructively mad. At the end of the day, everything is everything,” he adds. “That’s the new single coming out soon, ‘Everything is Everything’.”
The Naija Ninjas label is not only a music label, they also focus on apparels, and they are constantly expanding.
Well, I look forward to seeing what Sound Sultan and Naija Ninjas come out with because I know that it will continue in the pattern of greatness that the artiste and the brand have stood for over the years.
“We’ve been around for a long while. There are no big record labels in Nigeria or we might have considered
Issue 6 // March 2014
A Message from THE PRODUCERS It is amazing how time flies! March 21st will mark the 12th edition of Afropolitan Vibes and will be our one-year anniversary for the show. We can’t say it’s all been plain sailing but it has been an exhilarating experience so far and we are very proud of all that we have managed to achieve in that time. We would like to thank several people for helping us make Afropolitan Vibes what is undoubtedly now THE best live music concert series in Lagos. Top of our list of who to thank is the management of Freedom Park. The former Broad Street Prison, which has been transformed by the Architect Theo Lawson, has been our base since our very first show. We thank our hosts for providing us with the space to gather, to express ourselves freely and establish a music platform that is now a fixture at the park every third Friday of the month. We love the cozy feel of the Amphitheatre space where the band and guest artists perform each month and we are happy that over time, we have been able to introduce Freedom Park to thousands of people who now visit the park even on days when they are not there to be a part of Afropolitan Vibes. We wanted to do something special with the magazine cover this month as a dedication to Freedom Park so we decided to ‘rebrand’ the section of the preserved old prison wall with our logo. We thank several other organizations that have sponsored us at various times during the course of the year: MTN and the Goethe Institut who have both played significant roles in helping to move our project along. We hope that our partnership will continue on this year. We thank our original technical partners MSL 360 and Madestics Entertainment who took over the role late last year. We would also like to acknowledge the contribution of the very talented writers who at various times have helped to interview our guest
artists each month for the magazine - they are Tehr Agbedeh, Sam Umukoro and Adebola Rayo. The very talented Graeme Arendse has been designing Afropolitan Magazine since its second issue (Bibi Ukpo designed the first). We thank them for helping to raise Afropolitan Vibes Magazine to the status of now being something of a collector’s item. We strive to create many more collectable covers in the future. There is a lot of work that goes into producing a live music series such as Afropolitan Vibes – production meetings; negotiations with artists; rehearsals and many hours spent approaching and negotiating with corporate sponsors. We are yet to secure a permanent sponsor but we are confident it won’t be long now before people cotton on to the enormous value of partnering with us. There is huge value in helping to develop a platform, which is at the forefront of reviving the live music scene in Lagos. We want to see a return of the times in Lagos where you didn’t have to search far to find a professional band playing great live music in a club or hotel. We want a return to the old days when the live music culture was an integral part of our great city. We have big plans and we are using this medium to appeal to like-minded people to come on board and join the movement. Our plans extend beyond just a live music show and an accompanying magazine. We have plans to create regular music workshops to encourage young to play musical instruments and to create and perform original material. We also want to tour with the band and collaborate with musicians from all over Africa and beyond. These are very exciting times and we look forward to what 2014 will bring for Afropolitan Vibes. Enjoy our anniversary show! Sending you great vibes.
Ade Bantu and Abby Ogunsanya 11
Issue 6 // March 2014
TWELVE MONTHS THIRTY SIX ARTISTS
TWELVE MONTHS THIRTY SIX ARTISTS
Issue 6 // March 2014
Pictures from the February show