A Message to the Younger Generation of African Artists
Youssour Ndours show last weekend confirms what I have been saying for the past few months. These young African Artist need to sit down and take lessons from their elder musicians on how to be real professionals in the entertainment industry. Day of the show the hall opened on time 7pm, Youssour Ndour was on stage on time at 7:30pm on the dot.
We all can agree that being on time is very unusual for African Artists. So how does Youssour Ndour manage to be so time conscious and professional? Well it has a lot to do with the fact that he has an organized structure and great management team. The man came to DC equipped with a full band ready to do their job at Lisner auditorium. Every single one of his band members stayed laser focused on the job they came to do with no distractions.
Now, compare that to what I have to deal with. In the last few years as a promoter, from a certain Congolese artist showing up for a Sunday night show at 1am after I paid for him to be accommodated in a luxury suite so as to ensure he was well rested for his performance, he still showed up late. Why? Because he was too busy entertaining local bloggers & local Congolese reporters.
Not too long ago we organized a show with Davido as the main artist/performer. Davido and his “crew” started off by missing several flights causing them to arrive at midnight, two separate airports on the day of the show. He ended up putting on a mediocre performance because of disorderly priorities and trivial distractions like groupies and friends.To make things worse, after paying him $25,000.00 for a 30 minute performance, he ends up at another after party or club knowing very well that his after party was taking place at Station1.
Then there was Dj Arafat who was no where to be found because he was busy running the streets with friends. Not even his own manager knew where he was at some point. He also ended up at another club instead of the official after party at Station 1. Mind you he arrived at an Award show 2days after the event, missing the whole thing – This is an event for which he was booked for months in advance.
MC Galaxys management team had no idea where he was until about 12 Midnight after running around all day with groupies and making music video shoots with some other individuals who were not even involved in the show. After checking him into his hotel room, at about Midnight you would think he would use the time to change or get some rest but instead he decided to do some more interviews and hang out with friends, only to end up at Station 1 at 2:30am when the club closes at 3am. A lot of people came and left and I personally had to refund people at the end of the night.
Ladies and gentlemen that is the young generation of African Artists for you. Compare that to the professionalism displayed by Youssou Ndour this past weekend. Some of these Artists do not only come late to shows, but they put on mediocre performances climbing on stage with 5 to 10 of their friends or crew members, with pants sagging and to top it off half the time they are either high or drunk as hell trying to be Hip Hop wannabes.
Only in the African community will you pay for an artist’s flight just for you to get to the airport and find out someone else is there waiting to pick them up.
Only in the African community will you put together a show and someone else is planning your after party somewhere else.
It is only in the African community where you fly an artist in early enough to ensure that they are on time for their performance but they still get to the show 2hrs late just because they are being delayed at their hotel by their friends, family, groupies and every local media possible from which ever country they are from.
Let’s be real, the artists are not the only ones to blame in the sorry state of African Shows in the USA, especially in the DMV. Promoters also share the blame. Promoting is a very serious business that requires professionalism and skills. You have to know not only the history of African Music, but the DMV African Entertainment History and nuances to get a good grasp of this business. Unfortunately some fly by night promoters think it’s a joke or use this business to impress young African girls in the city and sleep with them, or make quick cash. By not understanding what it truly takes to be a good promoter they are ruining it for everybody else. Instead of taking their promoting seriously they spend their time gossiping on subject and people they know nothing about, sabotaging other promoter’s events or simply wishing bad will on some people. They are narrow minded for thinking this is the way to ascend to the top, by dragging someone else down.
It takes hard work and a significant amount of money to put together these shows especially with no Major sponsors, so I find it very frustrating when these artists get in town and I see all these young girls running in and out of their hotel rooms literally competing to sleep with them and distracting the Artists from what they were contracted here to do in the first place. I really don’t care if you are related, fucking or married to an artist, once they get here they need to respect their contract and do what they came here to do. I also do not care what any family member, friend, or girlfriend does with any artist. Fly them in here yourself and do whatever you want, at your own time.
You have all these middle men ruining shows and events for those who take time off from their jobs and pay their hard earned money to come enjoy a show. Middle men who are not contributing anything both financially or otherwise, but yet they are the ones busy telling everybody else how to run their business. Fact is that, unless you invest your hard earned money to produce a show, you need to keep your mouth shut for you truly can’t understand what it takes and the stress it brings dealing with some African Artists.
Above I mentioned some few Artists we had issues with, it won’t be fair to close without mentioning those doing it right, the professional way. Artists such as Stanley Enow, Serge Beynaud, Flavour, Iyanya, Toofan, Eddy Kenzo and others. Note that they all have one thing in common; they are humble and have a disciplined and professional management team.
To crown it, all these younger generation of African artists need to stop taking their US client base for granted. They need to value those who work hard to promote them and bring them to perform in high end venues. The fact that fans complain in the background and some promoters give them a pass does not make it right. I personally and a lot of promoters have lost a significant amount of money dealing with these unprofessional African artists. This is not fair to the promoters and the fans who pay to see them. People go out of their way to attend these events and by these artists not showing up or giving mediocre performances shows an extreme lack of respect for their fans. We do understand that some of them get better pay when they perform in African countries than in the USA. If that’s their excuse , they should stay in Africa then rather than bother their time conscious fans in the USA. This is not Africa. Here clubs have closing times that are enforced by set laws. They should also not forget that the pay cut they get to perform here helps generously in boosting their image back in Africa. These artists need to do better!
Until then I refuse to recommend or waste my time or money on any African Artist that is not professional or has a good management team and structure behind them. “It’s simple, act right, get paid. Act a fool stay broke”
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-Republished with permission
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