“Of course Rome wasn’t built in day”, Kesh acknowledges. “We start from somewhere.”
2016 will go down in Nigerian music industry as the year when the existing record label business structure was introduced to another business model. The powers at YBNL, which have led from the studio, now lead from the business end after releasing Lil Kesh to create his personal record label.
Lil Kesh was officially signed in 2014, and took to the waters of the industry with ease, meteorically rising through the ranks to become one of Nigeria’s pop stars. His hit singles take the chief responsibility for that rise in fortunes, but you cannot exclude the powers of indigenous rap king, Olamide, who put him on, and gave him the backing to run.
Lil Kesh is now his boss, boasting of an album in his discography, and now a record label designed to fit his work and give him an imprint from where he can spread forth his tentacles and reach farther ends of the earth. The uproar from the announcement was palpable, with one section of fans applauding, others criticizing, and the third, looking for new ways to sensationalize the entire affair.
But reason has prevailed, and Kesh is in charge of his business. How does that make him feel? How has the weight of being responsible for his career.
“I’ve always been in charge you know. Olamide brought all his brothers up as soldiers. When he brought me into the industry…he was pulling a lot of stunts for us, but we knew what we were supposed to know. Because if it happens that he is not there for us in like a month from then, or a year or two years from then, then we’ll know how to handle things.
“I won’t say I’m having a tough time, and I won’t say that I just started controlling my career. He makes all his artistes decide what they want. He made us call our shots, he made us bosses right from time. He is not the kind of boss that builds artistes. Instead, he builds bosses.”
If these words are to be believed and if they hold true, representing the entirety of affairs at YBNL for the past two years, then YAGI is in good hands, one shaped by Olamide, the self-taught leader of Nigerian music.
Olamide has helmed his career since 2012, when he left ID Cabasa, the CEO of Coded Tunes Entertainment. He struck forward on his own, releasing four solo studio albums, and one joint LP. Lil Kesh would have imbibed from such a figure and the epitome of hard work, discipline and sacrifice.
Lil Kesh is not alone in new waters. He is still managed by YBNL, with Olamide still offering peripheral guidance on his label strategy and execution.
“You guys know YBNL is family. To us, it’s more than the music and the business. The fact that my 2-year contract ended didn’t change nothing. Besides Olamide already shared the dream with me like a long time ago…I’m being managed by YBNL still, I own YAGI Records, and it is automatically being managed by YBNL. It is still YBNL-YAGI altogether.”
One of Lil Kesh’s first task as a boss is to promote his album, and his first decision was to release the video of his next single ‘Cause Trouble’, a dark urban visual which featured Ycee. Every day brings forth a new challenge for the boy, who just a little over two years ago, was a studio rat from Bariga, with just his talent, hope and a prayer on his lips. Everything had worked out nicely for him, and he has also worked had for all that he has acquired so far. The focus now is on keeping the good work up and building on what has already being laid.
Watch the video of Lil Kesh’s interview below.
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