I have read the news on a couple of media outlets, today, that Nigeria’s Boyz II Men like Styl Plus have finally pulled the plug as a group and are going their separate ways. Truthfully, from my end, it is a big sigh of relief. I really liked these men and their songs. There was a time I could not go a day without listening to these very talented artists. I recall sharing their album with my girlfriends. They were and are still very talented. However, even on a personal note, I’ve moved on where they insist on giving me only “Olufunmi” type music.
Professionally, every time I received their songs soliciting a feature on my platforms, I lacked the incentive to share because there was just something missing. Since my platforms tend to curate content to be sure only the best is served, it meant I went on to the next artist. I recently finally figured out why I have passed up on the group for so long when I received the work of an artist featuring one of the Styl Plus artists. INNOVATION. Innovation and diversity of sound has been lacking for a long time with Styl Plus. They refuse to innovate. They refuse to experiment with new sounds, not the sound everyone is doing BUT new sound. Indeed, even D’Banj, in recent times, has shown us he can innovate and offer a diversity of sound, not Styl plus.
I hope as the trio pursue their individual careers, they can push past the routine/formula that was perfect back then but needs an overhaul in an ever evolving music industry.
Tunde, one of the group members, has already rebranded under the new name ‘Native Boy’ and is signed to his own self managed record label. I’ll wait to hear more from him in terms of a truly unique and diverse sound.
There is an interesting article on Styl Plus that I recently found on the NETng.com that I think is worth reading. Check on it below.
“The Problem With STYL Plus
By Chiagoziem Onyekwena
the once-upon-a-time R&B giants have fallen out of favour with fans
In the Beginning…
They sounded like nothing Nigeria had ever heard before! With polished lyrics that masterfully married English language with our native tongues, finely textured voices seamlessly layered over sparkling instrumentals and powerful emotions that resonated through their sultry music, Tunde, Shifi & Zeal were a breath of air much fresher than a cold peppermint. If Olufunmi was a drug, then STYL Plus were the dealers and Nigerians were the helpless fiends; we were all hooked! And just when we were weaning off that medicine, they made us relapse with Runaway and then Call My Name and we suddenly found ourselves requiring Rehab to stay away from the rest of their intensely addictive music.
When the going was good…
Oh, it was very good! The trio immediately satisfied their growing followership by releasing an EP in 2003. It contained their hit ballads Olufunmi and Runaway amongst other singles and the crew followed the success of that release with their full length debut Expression (February 2006). Their hit streak continued with Imagine That, Iya Basira, Drives Me Crazy and Hadiza. The boys could do no wrong! Back then, a major concert was incomplete if STYL Plus was not on the bill. They shared stages with superstars like Boyz II Men, Wyclef Jean and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.
Okay so in the looks department, they weren’t exactly Africa’s answer to Brad Pitt, and their music videos looked like they were directed by Stevie Wonder. But Nigerians fell in love with STYL Plus’ music first and foremost- everything else was secondary. Their fan base extended well beyond these borders, they had hoards of loyal fans in Ghana, South Africa, Liberia, Gambia, Sierra Leone and the group were the darling of Nigerians in the Diaspora. The African kingmakers soon took notice; the group took home a Kora Award and in 2005; they also won the coveted Channel O award.
And then it’s all gone…
More of gradual decline than a sudden degradation; as 2007 came along, STYL Plus was visibly struggling to maintain her momentum. First, chinks in their armour began to appear when reports in the media suggested that the gross earnings from Expressions audio and video compilation CDs didn’t quite match the expectations of Astro Media Limited, the media marketing company that supported the project. Then over a period of roughly 18 months, nationwide tours and shows overseas gradually reduced in frequency and the African giants shrunk to become mere Abuja legends, slowly transitioning from headlining major nationwide concerts, to performing as add-ons at low profile gigs and then to basically nothing at all. In a bid to stem the malaise, the group released a follow up to their debut album titled Back and Better (May 2008) but by that time, people were already switching off. Promoters were switching off, marketers were switching off, show sponsors were switching off, mass media were switching off and saddest of all, the fans were switching off. The album had minimal publicity and amassed the group’s worst sales total yet. The album was also panned by critics and rather than heralding the return of the kings of African R&B, it only further distanced them away from their own throne.
But where did they go wrong?
Unconfirmed internal dissatisfaction within the (seemingly) tightly-knit clan; change of priorities by the group members; reduction in the quality of music output, following music trends as opposed to the time when they were setting them; an inept artiste management team that struggled to cope with the challenges of the group’s sudden rise; inability of the crew to parlay their popularity into a formidable brand; their preference for residing in (Federal capital Territory) Abuja rather than the entertainment hub of Africa; Lagos, inability to build allegiances and establish strong friendships within the industry and ultimately poor vision. The trio seemed to be suffering, but somehow suffering in silence. It’s hard to believe that just three years ago, 2face Idibia, P Square and STYL Plus belonged to the same league . It is really hard to believe. . .”
Full story on TheNetng.com
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