Yemi Alade: The real truth about her brand of music
Yemi Alade's music is a product of her environment and the criticism she gets is deluded from reality.
The female pop star, Yemi Alade is buzzing right now on Twitter.
No, she hasn’t dropped a new Afrocentric music video and she hasn’t released new sexy photos. Why Yemi Alade is a trending topic is because of the quality of her lyrics.
When she released the video for the oddly titled ‘Tumbum‘, Nigerians had enough or so they said. Yes, the title of the song is very pedestrian and the lyrics are very poor, so the outrage and criticisms are fair.
Yemi Alade has been dragged for her style of music that seems to be very light on lyrics and have unimaginative titles. While it is understandable that stones are thrown at her now, you have to know that she is only adapting to her environment. Let’s go back in time.
Yemi Alade did not start off as a younger Mama Africa. Early on in her career, she was packaged as the hip, urban chick with a high dose of sex appeal.
Watch one of her earliest videos ‘Ghen Ghen‘ (my best Yemi Alade song) video released in 2012, Yemi Alade was singing the kind of pop music that is her comfort zone, urban, bouncy and with a lot of melodies that we love to dance to.
What was the outcome of that single? The song did not go far. As usual, a lot of posh Twitter music critics liked the song but it did not blow. In 2012, Wizkid and Davido dominated radio with their wishy-washy lyrics and Yemi’s sound could not crack the madness that was Nigerian pop music at this time- fast beats, sweet hooks but totally rubbish lyrics.
Check out her other singles during this period, such as ‘Uche Face‘ featuring L.O.S, and ‘Bamboo‘. Yemi Alade was clearing positioning herself to be an R&B/pop diva in the urban realm.
Her features on DIPP’s steamy ‘Rock Your Body‘ and Yung 6ix‘s ‘Lights‘ shouldn’t go unnoticed too.
Then in 2013 Yemi Alade stumbled upon a song that would change her life forever. I said stumbled because I don’t think she and Selebobo who produced the beat would have thought that the song would be that huge.
‘Johnny‘ started off like a minor hit but by 2014, it had reached other African countries and European countries as well. Yemi Alade had stumbled upon a sound and lyrical style that made her blow as we say in Naija.
While the song which is a tale about a two-timing boyfriend composed with a lot of Nigerian cultural elements, the video for the single would give Yemi Alade her image. The leather pants and the Mad Max pants were gone.
With the Johnny video, Yemi Alade transformed herself into a modern day African belle. The image worked and she has been riding on it ever since. No wonder her sophomore album was titled, Mama Africa.
With this sound and imagery, Yemi Alade has gone from an obscure singer who won a talent show in Lagos to one of the biggest (if not the biggest) African female contemporary act.
As of July 2016, Yemi Alade was commanding $40,000-$50,000 for international shows. If you are privy to her itinerary you will know that there is hardly a month that Yemi Alade is in the country. She is performing either in an African country or in Europe.
With those close to her saying she made over N100m in 2015, guess how much she would have raked in 2016? Do not forget she signed a deal with Shell this year. I won’t be surprised if Yemi Alade is not only the richest female act in Nigeria but one of the richest in the country.
Now with all this success, you people on Twitter are telling her to change her style. Is that a practical advice? Yemi Alade is towing this path because she is making serious money from it and it is opening doors for her.
You do not change a winning formula. That’s career suicide. If the Mama Africa thing wasn’t working, Yemi Alade would have changed a long time ago.
Yes, you do not like her lyrics but hey guess what she is a superstar in Africa because of the songs you hate. At the end of the day, the music business is a business.
The criticism of Yemi Alade’s music is, however, fair but if all you do is bash her and do not support an act that has deep lyrics then you are a hypocrite.
As a matter of fact, a lot of the people who complain on Twitter are. They act woke and diss mainstream acts but ignore the ones with depth. If Boogey got N10 for all the hype he got on Twitter he would be richer than Ice Prince.
For now, the music community on Twitter is all noise and no action. Artistes would pander to what can sell quickly because people refuse to reward the ones who add a bit of depth to their music. It’s all mouth.
Pop artistes with wishy-washy lyrics should be criticised. Don’t get me wrong and I don’t like the fact that Yemi Alade once pandered to feminism sentiments on why she gets picked on.
From 2011-2013, no one got it worse than Ice Prince, Davido and Wizkid. Their lyrics were horrible during this period. Now they have gotten a little bit better. Ice Prince’s new album ‘Jos To The World‘ is his best lyrical effort.
It will be interesting to see how far Tekno goes with his horrendous lyrics. For now he is riding on the wave of melody and the fact that he is the new star on the scene. Yemi Alade was like this a few years ago. People overlooked the quality of her lyrics because she was new at the time. Every artiste gets bashed by the public, it’s not a male or female thing.
And Nigerian acts are changing. Simi, Adekunle Gold, Kiss Daniel have shown that you can sell with good songwriting.
I think Yemi Alade has invested so much in her brand of music to make a sudden u-turn now. Maybe along the line, she would go back to the ghen ghen era but now she is too successful to change the style that has been working for her.
The criticisms are fair but for a second realise that she has adapted to the demands of her consumers that are mostly non-Nigerian these days. Until we get a pop female act with Beyonce lyrics, the criticism Yemi Alade is getting is borderline hypocritic.