This week, Nigerians have attacked Mr Eazi for being unfairly critical to Nigerian artists who have embedded Ghanaian sounds and elements into their music. Across social media comment sections, timelines and fora, the Banku Music propagator have been roundly dragged for his comments about the culture of sharing between creatives from both countries.
His actions have generated thousands of Blogspot ‘hot takes’, drowned out many conversations on social media, and invented some of the most hilarious insults ever witnessed in the history of Twitter trolling. For one who is a Nigerian by birth, Mr Eazi has had several clashes while interacting with both cultures, with the narrative being that he sees himself as a Ghanaian, but enjoys support from the ubiquitous citizens of Nigeria.
So we ask: Does Mr Eazi really need Nigerians? We might act like his life and career depends on us, but does he really need us to have a successful and enduring career?
To trace this you need to look at Mr Eazi and the role that Nigeria has played to accelerate his movement to this stage.
A graduate of Mechanical Engineering from Kwame Nkrumah’ University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, he also holds an MSc degree in Engr/Management from Coventry University.
Eazi started recording as a hobby in 2010 with a group called Code Red. The reception of their songs especially towards him made him dedicate more time recording and learning his craft while still in university.
From singles to features, he became a major force in the underground/upcoming game getting co-signs from EL, Fuse ODG and featuring on Sarkodie’s song – ‘Thank God‘, X.O Senavoe‘s ‘Fever‘ and Stay Jay’s ‘Baby Lace‘; adding the Naija flavour they needed to each song.
In 2013, he released his mixtape ‘About to Blow‘ which had the songs ‘Pipi Dance’, ‘Orobo’ and ‘Bankulize’ as breakout singles. ‘Pipi Dance’ went on to be played on radio massively in Ghana.
In 2014 November, a new version of ‘Bankulize’ produced by DJ Juls (who produced the hit single ‘Feel Alright’ by Show Dem Camp) feat Pappy Kojo was released.
By February, it was the number one song in Ghana according to iTunes.
Mr Eazi’s music got into Nigeria in 2015, where he began to receive some coverage. By mid-2016, his single ‘Skintight’ has begun to climb into Nigeria’s recognition. It was organic, passing through social media and peer-to-peer sharing to circulate through the market.
Eazi would not relent. He set to work aggressively, dropping more singles, and appearing in numerous collaborations which at the end of December, pushed his output to over 30 songs. That beastly run consolidated his position within the country. At the end of the year, he successfully held a concert in Lagos and picked up two prestigious awards at the Soundcity MVP Awards and The Headies.
In 2017, Mr Eazi has gravitated towards more global audiences. His partnership with Apple, which ensured that he his international push has been powered right. His EP “Life is Eazi Vol. 1: Accra to Lagos,” has ensured that he has a project to tour and promote.
And while his movement has borne fruits, Nigeria remains his ground zero, where according to sources he has the best shows. And the ubiquity of Nigerians around the globe who are connected to the artistic scene in Lagos have promoted the singer and actively increased his penetration in the African communities.
“Nigerians are everywhere, and they have spread Mr Eazi’s music faster than you can imagine,” says Tomisin Akinwumi, a student in Huddersfield England and founder of the Lucid Lemons platform who spoke to Pulse. “Once Nigerians love you back home, it’s only a matter of time before your music goes global.”
According to sources who spoke to Pulse, much of Mr Eazi’s performance fees come from Nigeria. The singer is in high demand for private shows, and he makes a cleaning most weekends from engagements.
Mr Eazi needs Nigeria for the numbers and the penetration. And although a released image which has neither been confirmed nor denied by Apple Music officials shows Mr Eazi’s streaming numbers between July 26 and August 27. According to the data, Eazi has had 3.8 million streams on the platform. With his top streams coming from USA, UK, Canada, Germany, France, and Japan.
“What if these streams are from Nigerians in these countries?”asks Tomisin. “These places have large Nigerian communities who can spread the music organically.”
Nigeria has played and continue to play a pivotal role in Mr Eazi’s career, and as long as he continues to market his music in this country, and push his music through promotional channels, then he needs Nigeria. Nothing else makes sense.