Fuse ODG Speaks On The Future Of Africa's Music Industry

Fuse ODG and his manager, Andre Hackett, discuss the future of Africa's music industry at Georgetown University's Africa Business Conference

Fuse ODG and Andre Hackett speak on the music panel at Georgetown University's Africa Business Conference. Photo courtesy of GTABC.

Georgetown University held its first Africa Business Conference this month, where students, professionals and businesspeople came to discuss and exchange ideas about the growth of the private sector across the African continent.

The music industry on the continent continues to experience rapid growth while its consumers are hungry for more. Despite the challenges of physical and digital piracy, the Nigerian music industry, for example, produces 550 albums a year. And by the end of 2016, stakeholders project the industry could reach $1 billion.

Abiola Oke, CEO of Okayafrica, sat down as moderator with British-Ghanaian 'Afrobeats' star Fuse ODG and his manager and co-founder of ODG RecordsAndre Hackett, to discuss the future of the industry. When asked how artists can turn their millions of YouTube views and Spotify streams into tangible revenue and other lucrative opportunities, the T.I.N.A. ["This Is New Africa"] duo both agreed that artists who have the privilege to do so outside of the continent have a duty to return and share the knowledge.

“My mission is to invest in Africa with the knowledge that I’ve gained musically,” Fuse ODG said. “I’ve already been in touch with musicians and talking to them about how we can change the music system in Ghana and the music system in Nigeria so we can benefit the artist.”

He also noted how much respect he has for the artists who continue to make music purely for the love of music.

“But they deserve to be in a great position where they’ll be comfortable enough to keep making good music,” he added. “I think it’s a process that starts with us.”

Hackett shared with attendees that during their last trip to Ghana, the time spent with up and coming artists and managers was time well spent.

“Once you’re there, we learn from them and they learn from us in terms of marketing and building things out,” Hackett said. “We ended up distributing a lot of the artists’ music for them. Just by that, we actually helped them to make money.”

Efforts such as Akon bringing Nigerian superstars 2face Idibia, Wizkid and P-Square to Konvict Music and Jay Z moving his cousin to Nigeria in search of new talent last year show that Fuse ODG and Hackett may be onto something.

Photo: Shawn Theodore via Schure Media Group/Roc Nation

Interview: Buju Banton Is a Lyrical Purveyor of African Truth

A candid conversation with the Jamaican icon about his new album, Upside Down 2020, his influence on afrobeats, and the new generation of dancehall.

Devout fans of reggae music have been longing for new musical offerings from Mark Anthony Myrie, widely-known as the iconic reggae superstar Buju Banton. A shining son of Jamaican soil, with humble beginnings as one of 15 siblings in the close-knit community of Salt Lane, Kingston, the 46-year-old musician is now a legend in his own right.

Buju Banton has 12 albums under his belt, one Grammy Award win for Best Reggae Album, numerous classic hits and a 30-year domination of the industry. His larger-than-life persona, however, is more than just the string of accolades that follow in the shadows of his career. It is his dutiful, authentic style of Caribbean storytelling that has captured the minds and hearts of those who have joined him on this long career ride.

The current socio-economic climate of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted onto the world, coupled with the intensified fight against racism throughout the diaspora, have taken centre stage within the last few months. Indubitably, this makes Buju—and by extension, his new album—a timely and familiar voice of reason in a revolution that has called for creative evolution.

With his highly-anticipated album, Upside Down 2020, the stage is set for Gargamel. The title of this latest discography feels nothing short of serendipitous, and with tracks such as "Memories" featuring John Legend and the follow-up dancehall single "Blessed," it's clear that this latest body of work is a rare gem that speaks truth to vision and celebrates our polylithic African heritage in its rich fullness and complexities.

Having had an exclusive listen to some other tracks on the album back in April, our candid one-on-one conversation with Buju Banton journeys through his inspiration, collaboration and direction for Upside Down 2020, African cultural linkages and the next generational wave of dancehall and reggae.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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