Folks I am taking a little time to say my thanks. Thank you to Chosan Kef, New York based Sierra Leone rapper, who dropped this beautiful comment on one of my syndicated posts on my Facebook page. “Hey Uduak a lot of people are fans behind closed doors which helps no one. So this is just to let you know your posts rock so much I’m a fan and getting my law learn on. Keep Shining.” – Chosan Kef
Thank you Chosan. Thank you also to all of you who subscribe to my posts, my bold commenters (‘SUP! I SEE Y’ALL 🙂 *Winks*) and all closeted and openly out Uduak Oduok fans. I appreciate you all. Special shout out and thank you to Segun Ake of Nigeria’s Canbit Music. I said thank you to him a while back but for the benefit of you all who do not know him, I am making it official here on AML. Ake disclosed both to me and later in an interview with Fab Magazine that my articles where instrumental in helping him start his record label. Wuuuuuuuuuuuuuut?! It doesn’t get any better than that. I’m on a high! An excerpt below:
“Leyizzle FAB: How did you start Canbit music?
Segun: In the university back then, I had so much love for Nigerian music, downloading and guessing which ones would be successfull in the industry. In my final year in school (early 2010), I was contemplating how I can contribute to the growing music industry; Foliano ( a rapper & Dj zeez’s close friend) told me to start up an independent record label because he saw me as someone who could be successful in the venture. Meanwhile I already met Tony totch, but I just used to criticize his songs and all, nothing special. Before my final exams, I was able to read a lot about the music business, interviews of popular record label owners and learn from them, Ms. Uduak articles on notjustok were very instrumental as well. So I told Fresh child who is like a brother to me, and he asked me ”Do you really want to do this? You are brilliant and you can do anything, if you want to do it, I’m with you, but we have a long way to go and we will drink garri for a while”, I replied “YES! let’s do this.”
I called my elder ones and friends as well about my decision, most were skeptical but I had made up my mind already, I just had a feeling that it would be fun and I would learn a lot starting that early. So I called Tony, he told me he had a producer called D-tunes, I had a meeting with both of them and told them what I wanted, my dreams and asked if they were ready to work with me with my little budget, they both agreed. Tony signed the necessary papers afterwards, then Boom! The birth of Canbit music.” – Read his full interview on Fab Magazine.
Back to Chosan. Industry people if you do not know, Chosan collaborated with Kanye West and sang the opening hook to his song “Diamonds are Forever.” The only problem is that Kanye West took Chosan’s work, made a hit song and did not pay Chosan, neither did he give credit. Chosan began speaking openly about it to the press, including Ladybrille. That same year, I believe, Kanye West finally did right by Chosan.
I fished out an interview I did with Chosan in April 2008 for Ladybrille. It is still relevant and inspiring so y’all check on it and be inspired to#shutitdown with your music hustles or whatever hustle you have going for you.
Sierra Leone’s Chosan Shows the Beautiful Side of Misery
by Uduak Oduok
“From this history: born in Sierra Leone, ranked as one of the poorest country in the world, raised in London in a single parent home, lost his father to sudden death, hit by an SUV truck in New York which had him going through physical therapy for a year to THIS! Collaborated with Grammy Award Winning Artist Kanye West on the “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” video, recently joined forces with other stellar African artists like Angelique Kidjo, Les Nubians and Vusi Mahlasela for the album, “In the Name of Love, Africa Celebrates U2,” which is released today [go get your copy!], dropped an album “The Beautiful Side of Misery,” which is making waves across the African continent and in Europe, especially with his song “Ride” and launched a clothing line, Paintsoul. Not bad? Mademoiselles, Madame et Monsieurs we present to you, CHOSAN! By the way, watch this space to see how to win some of the goodies Chosan has for you.
LADYBRILLE.com: Chosan, mennnh you are so real! I listen to your lyrics and I am just bopping my head and feeling every lyric, every word. You are so refreshing and very uplifting. What inspires you to spit [rap] with such realness?Chosan: I think that for as long as I can remember, I have always written about what I see and what my experiences in my life have been. My music is a reflection of what I see around me and what I feel.
LADYBRILLE.com: Do you write your own lyrics?
Chosan: Yes I most definitely do. No one can ever express how I feel but me. People should know that I am also a songwriter. Every song that has a hook or melody on any of my work, I created. I actually at some point want to do a project like Quincy Jones were I am writing songs for a collective group of artists.
LADYBRILLE.com: What’s a typical day for Chosan?
Chosan: Well a typical day these days, the first thing I do is get up and pray and give thanks because I really believe you ain’t promised tomorrow and one should be grateful for the now. I try not to take my days and time for granted. As soon as I turn on my cell phone, I get crazy amount of messages and emails from London, Africa and so forth. Because of the time zones, their day has already started when New York wakes up. So, I spend a good deal of time responding to all that stuff, a good period of time. [Laughs] These days are really crazy because I have three big projects running at the same time! I’m working on my album, so I’m constantly talking to producers from around the world. And if I aint doing that, I am writing rehearsing or recording.
When it comes to music, I can sit down for hours listening to the same beat making sure I get the best performance I can. Secondly, I have a custom design company called “Paintsoul.” We for the most part specialize in creating one of a kind designer pieces for clients.
So I’m on the phone politicking and usually chasing down money. [Laughs]. Speaking to printers, models and a lot of the time marketing for new business. I’m also working on a documentary called “The Big Show.” It’s about the after school program I fell in love with in Brooklyn. We are at the final stages, so that takes up a big chunk of my time: watching footage, consulting editors and trying to make sure it comes out as hot as possible.
This is usually my whole morning and the afternoon. I dedicate my time to an after school program in Brooklyn where I instruct music, performance and drama. This is a big part of my life and I love giving back to the kids and the community. I even teach these kids some African dialects and traditions. It’s the funniest thing in the world hearing a bunch of kids from a rough neighborhood in Brooklyn now speaking “Krio”. This has become a big part of my life and I really love my work with what I call my “lil family.” By the time I get back home it is REAL late. I make something to eat, spend a couple of hours answering emails again, make a couple calls and then sleep which is usually about two or three in the morning.
LADYBRILLE.com: That’s an intense day . . . how did you get into the rap game? Tell us a bit about that hustle.
Chosan: I got in the game actually in London. I had always been known as the boy who rapped and was nice. I was also known as the boy who would go and paint the trains and walls with his street name. A cousin of mine had a publishing deal and I had to beg him for some studio time. After me bugging him for ever, he finally gave in. With the finished cd, I entered it into a talent competion. I actually won the competition. I was supposed to have a distribution deal put that fell through. So, I ended up taking up all the cds and going to stores and approaching djs and magazines guerrilla style. I’m thankful now because that’s where I learnt the hustle.
LADYBRILLE.com: You talk about being a product of a broken home in your album the “Beautiful Side of Misery.” How did that affect you? Chosan: I think coming from a broken home, growing up, left me with a feeling that I wasn’t like the other kids. Something was wrong with me. I actually went into my own shell. I was real quiet growing up and hung around no one. I took my pain, anger and hurt and put it on paper or expressed it through art.
LADYBRILLE.com: Did you have any male role models, growing up, to look up to?Chosan: For me, my mother was my role model. She could study the whole night then sleep for an hour and go work two jobs. She always made sure we ate and that we had food in the house. I saw the strength in her and that she never gave up on herself or me. Other than that, we had some older folks in our community like “A,” who had a barber shop. He was a young black man with his own business. We used to hang out there and learn about business and professionalism. He was like our big brother in the hood.
LADYBRILLE.com: Your music speaks to the heart but is also controversial. Take for example “Blood Diamond.” What made you comfortable to just say it as it is?Chosan: Well, first, for those who do not know, I was the voice narrating on the beginning of Kanye West’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” video. I feel it was the first time the world got to hear my country’s language worldwide. So I was called in by Kanye himself to consult and to perform regarding that piece. The crazy thing is that exactly around that time, me and a good friend of mine Kofi Annan had started a campaign to raise awareness about the whole Blood Diamond issue [the Bling is Dead Campaign]. So what I did was I waited till Kanye’s song had come and gone, and then put mine out. I felt that I had a deeper understanding as a child that grew out of Sierra Leone, and had family affected by it all. So I felt that I had to put my version out there so the world could hear the situation from an African perspective.
LADYBRILLE.com: So you had this campaign you did saying bling is dead. Is bling truly dead?
Chosan: The campaign “Bling is dead” was started by Kofi and I. I was saying that the concept or ideology of the excessive use of bling was played and dead. You got thousands of people dying and being turned into slaves for what’s around your neck or in your mouth, that’s wack! It did not mean never wear gold or diamonds, but instead was saying, “look at what is happening to your people. Look at the war and killings for your shine.” Sometimes you have to have a shock statement to get people’s attention.
LADYBRILLE.com: Ain’t that the truth!
LADYBRILLE.com: What is your impression of Africa’s hip-hop scene right now?
Chosan:I think the African hip hop scene is in a good state. Over the last couple of years, it has shown growth. You got groups from Africa that are touring the US like every other day. That helps cultivate a sense of pride. So now you got a whole bunch of young kids saying, “Wow! if they’ve done that, I can do it.”
LADYBRILLE.com: What about your impressions of Africa’s music industry from a business angle?
Chosan: I think from a business angle, it still needs what most businesses need in Africa, “structure.” People are bootlegging tapes there like its second nature. Plus, how do you work out publishing when songs are aired on radio or videos are being played? So, it’s an interesting one. There has to be a strong structure and model of operation in the there.
LADYBRILLE.com: How can Africa’s fashion industry hold hands with its music industry? I feel like the music videos coming out of Africa are not really embracing the urban yet cosmopolitan African fashions coming out of Africa. There is a need to make something fit that does not.
Chosan: I think that music and fashion should be hand in hand instantly. Like for instance, every picture you are going to see me in this year I’m wearing my company “Paintsoul.” Why should I promote anybody else’s brand? I got this idea from Damon Dash. All he would push at anytime was Rocawear, Rocafella and Jay-Z all day! Same with Diddy and his Sean John [brand]. Fashion and music go hand in hand. I think where it goes wrong is that people are so caught up in America that they want to wear New York style sneakers, fitted caps jeans and tees etc. So they actually end up wanting to dress like what they see in American hip-hop videos rather than what’s in their own back yard.
LADYBRILE.com: Don’t get me started on that! You just wrapped up a project with “In the Name of Love, Africa Celebrates U2” in honor of Bono. What song did you lend your voice to and how did you become a part of the project?
Chosan:I did a verse on the U2 song “Desire.” I’m actually really proud of myself for this one. Because when I first heard the beat, I thought it was too tribal sounding for what I usually do. But, I thought about it and then sat on the drums and the high hats and just went in. It was all live so that really threw me off. But, I really do love that verse and I am proud to be a part of it. I feel like I’m really speaking to the people in any ghetto in Africa. The first line is “My desire burns like hot coals in the ‘Goose’.” If you were born in Africa or lived there then you would know that a “Goose” is a hot iron. So, I feel like I’m really talking to the ghetto communities on that one telling them it’s going to be alright.
LADYBRILLE.com: Tell the people how they can support your tours, projects, CDs?
Chosan: You can keep a track of Chosan through my MySpace or
Silverstreetz . You can support my custom designs at Paintsoul. My last album “The Beautiful Side of Misery” is out on Itunes. Go support and spread the word! And my new album is going to be available this year by June/ July. I think this is the one that is going to push me over the edge. I have worked really hard on this one recording music in Miami and London so I’m real happy about that.
LADYBRILLE.com: Thank you so much Chosan and keep up the great work.
Chosan: Thank you. I think what you guys are doing is incredible! It’s stylish, it’s sexy, it’s now and it’s African influenced. You gotta love that!
LADYBRILLE.com: Thank you Chosan and keep us updated on your progress.
Chosan: For sure!
- Why Davido’s Termination of Lil’ Frosh’s Contract for Domestic Violence is a Powerful and Positive Change for Nigerian Society
- #EndSARS Protests and Your Legal Rights if Arrested While Protesting in Nigeria
- AML142: The Business of Music in North Africa
- AML 141: Meet Camille Storm, Founder of C&C Distro, a Kenyan Music Distribution Company
- AML 140: Abiola Oke & Richelieu Dennis Sexual Harassment Claims: Lessons for Employers & Executives