This week, one of the biggest stories that hit mainstream was the news that Keshinro Ololade popularly known as Lil’ Kesh had left Olamide’s record label YBNL. Lil’ Kesh, while with the artist owned YBNL Records, gave the world the hit single ‘Shoki,’ along with dance steps emulated by American rapper Missy Elliot. The American rapper explicitly recognized Lil’ Kesh for the dance steps.
Kesh had a two year record deal with YBNL and upon its expiration, decided not to renew his contract. He has now launched his own record company YAGI Records, an acronym for “Young And Getting It”.
No surprise here and no big deal. Nigeria’s music industry is deeply fragmented and while there is incredible growth with many hopefuls entering the industry, there is still a long way to go on creating the right business, legal and regulatory framework for it to thrive. Indeed most labels, including Olamide’s YBNL, operate more like management companies. The artists do the heavy lifting from music production, release to many times marketing and promoting their records. So, Lil’ Kesh venturing on his own is not a big deal and in fact makes sense. Further, I really don’t see a change in the business relationship, except that Lil Kesh will no longer be contractually bound through a record contract with the label. He still maintains the management relationship he has always had with YBNL which I believe is more of the practical reality of how they’ve been operating, in the first place.
I do however think it is exemplary that Olamide is not “all caught in his feelings” and is not wasting time on the “I made you” or “if not me you would not be successful” rhetoric that is commonplace. That is true leadership. He is okay with Lil Kesh being his own man, and in fact welcomes and encourages it. It is a lesson many in the industry can and should learn. Until Nigerian record companies have control over distribution channels, getting upset everytime an artist leaves to create the same one man show you are doing makes no sense.
Read the social media tweets by Lil Kesh and Olamide explaining their “new” relationship.
Also watch a recent panel discussion where industry stakeholders discuss using the entertainment industry to build Nigeria. It further underscores my points above.
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