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Still from "Dangote" video (Youtube)

Dangote Isn't Nigeria's Hero, But Don't Ask Burna Boy

Dangote the man isn't a true hero of the masses, but "Dangote," the song, serves to show them that they can surmount poverty using his wealth as a guiding light.

In Nigerian superstar Burna Boy's new video for his song "Dangote," the desperation of the poor and their oppression is laid out in a winding narrative. There's an unlicensed pharmacist hawking drugs in a public vehicle, a preacher trying to win some souls and pass a plate for donations. There are two car crashes, a case of sexual harassment, a pickpocket scoring a phone, and a young hustler who is crippled by ailing transportation. He continues his journey on foot, finding solace in the music, which leads him to Fela Kuti's symbolic home, the New Afrika Shrine, where Burna Boy awaits at the end of the arc. Once again Afrobeat is used as a peg to symbolise music's close affiliation to the people.

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Mr Eazi. Photo: Emily Nkanga.

The Music Business of Mr Eazi

Mr Eazi has independently built a music career for himself via smart business decisions. Now the Banku Music CEO wants to help others do the same through his new endeavor, emPawa.

Everyone says Mr Eazi is the smartest African musician alive. It's not hard to see why. Barely three years ago, he was in Computer Village, a tech market hub in Lagos, selling phones, and pushing a start-up. Today, he's swapped his products for music which he sells worldwide.

After switching the quiet of Accra for the bustle of Lagos in 2016, Eazi swept through the city with hit records. Introducing his style of 'Banku Music,' he shot up to become the poster boy for the dominant pop sound at the time—Pon pon.' That sound is gone, but Eazi is still here. Moving his business to London and striking deals across the US and other markets, the singer has strategically began to compete in these territories. He's also charted in the UK, a big accomplishment for a non-native without major label backing.

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Runtown. Photo courtesy of the artist.

How Runtown Got His Groove Back

In the past year, Runtown has had to look behind him to shed the ghosts of his former label. Now he's looking forward to more success.

In May of 2018 with two months left on his contract, the Nigerian popstar Runtown woke up one morning to news that his record label, Eric Many Entertainment, was suing him for damages worth N267 million. A potential local court injunction against him meant Runtown might face the possibility of being barred from making music until the suit was resolved. It was the the start in of a string of legal battles between the singer and his label that threatened his very existence as an artist.

As Runtown planned his next steps, his boss, Ukwudili Umenyiora was doing everything he could not to let him go. The suit was a ploy to get him to extend the contract, or reach a settlement that would allow the label to keep a stake in his future business. In the press, Runtown was lambasted daily by suspected paid agents of the record label.

After the record label tried to prevent a performance in Canada, and sent cease and desist letters to radio stations, asking them to pull Runtown off playlists, something cracked in his camp. His legal team mobilised. They launched an offensive, filing cases and petitions on many fronts across Lagos, Abuja and New York. His boss and aggressor, Okwudili Umenyiora, was arrested twice by the local police on petitions by Runtown. To stop the media harassment, Umenyiora signed a legal agreement promising to back off. With the coast clear, he could then focus on the music.

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