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25.6.14

DL: The One About Tonto Dikeh and D'Banj | #SugarRush

Tonto Dikeh X D'Banj - Sugar Rush | Ses Rêveries

The world has heavied my heart and weakened me.

Don't get me wrong, in comparison to everything else I've heard from Tonto Dikeh (I was introduced to this young woman's acting and music all too abruptly last April; I still get awful flashbacks when I hear the words "hi/high"), this is bloody fantastic.

You don't believe me? Here are some samples of the "duchess" of DB Records' work. Mind you, Ses Rêveries cannot be held responsible for any effects you may or may not suffer in the course of viewing these videos. I may have brought them to your attention, but if you click play, I am not liable for whatever mental scars you may incur #GottaCoverMyAss #TheseStreetsAintLoyal.









OK, they're not that bad by the average person's standards. But some of us have raised the bar a little higher and, as such, often weep in the face of such unnecessary productions. Things like this that really make me sad. In fact, it calls for a pause. Shall we?

...

You see, Tonto Dikeh has a record deal. With the above antics, this woman landed a record deal - with D'Banj of all people. Don't get me wrong, there is something about her I've likened to the vague allure of Ke$ha's meaningless crooning. But as hardworking as I'm assuming she is, you would have a hard time convincing me in this life or the next, in heaven on Earth - whatever your belief is - that this woman is a talented singer. This is just not what she was meant to do as far as I'm concerned. I shan't comment on her acting because we'd here all day, but in all honesty, I don't think music is for her either. Being pretty is not enough. Being "commercial" is not enough. People with that mentality are the anchors of mass intellectual progress.

See, music might be a passion of hers, which is fair enough. I feel the same way, clearly, or I wouldn't blog about it - at least not with as much fervour. I have a bit of an issue with some "blogs" actually; the ones that just post things with no insight or purpose, just raking in views the rest of us would've really appreciated thanks to their SEO but imparting next to nothing to their poor readers (it is really isn't by force; I'm not amazing at it but at least I try - if you can't do it, let it go) - or worse, borrowing other people's RSS feeds (really, b? Plagiarism? Really?) but that is a completely different story.

The same way you won't find me in a studio, belting out all sorts into a microphone for public consumption, Tonto Dikeh should not be chasing someone else's dream, someone who is more deserving of it. At the very least she shouldn't be encouraged to do so by people like D'Banj who could easily pick up a better act on the streets of Lagos.

I mean, why is this the world we live in? If you ain't got it, you ain't got it. Isn't it that simple?

I'm not saying this to discourage people from going after volatile dreams like being in the entertainment industry. By all means, give it a go (by putting in the necessary work, please, not paying your way to the top). But if you're not good at it, if you just were not blessed with that particularly skill or if you aren't prepared to put in the work/get the necessary training until you are as good as those who were born with it (if it's something you can pick up with time and effort, that is), please stay out of the way of the people who are.

Call me naive, but taking up unnecessary space like that is just unfair. Just because the people you look up to were lucky enough to get where they are does not mean you will be too - or that you will deserve any of it if you do - when you don't have the "it" factor (i.e. a natural gift or focus, patience and determination). Be sensible. Sure, you might be able to afford to fake it. Or perhaps you're just lucky enough to have the contacts. But there are people out there who can actually do it and do it well. So go find what it is you're good at and be amazing at that.

And if you see a street busker with a stunning voice on your way to work, you give them the e-mail addresses of those contacts you may have. You see a dancer busting some serious moves on the sidewalk, invite them to perform at an event. You see a cashier who's crazy-good with numbers, refer them to MIT's open course ware and tell them that with free learning material like that and competitions like the Bell Labs Prize as incentive, they've got no excuse. Or simply tell these people they're amazing and move along.

Everyone dreams of being famous. Nigerians are in fact famed for their "rich-in-waiting" mentality. If it'll make the guilty parties out there feel better, I'll even throw myself under the bus: I am your on-again/off-again stereotypical wannabe "actress." I want more than anything to be able to act on the silver screen; and if only once, I'd like it to be under Christopher Nolan's direction - and I'd work my ass off, buy my own plane ticket and do it for free, that's how much I want it. I wish I was lying as I've got a pretty darn good head for business, but when it comes to things I'm passionate about, money is always the last thing on my mind unfortunately. So without a manager, brilliant or not, I'd be the lowest-paid actress because I'd get given an amazing script and agree to be paid minimum wage or at least get subsidized accommodation and transport just to help bring that project to life. I'm that happy kind of stupid and I'm good with that lol. It's so deep that I don't particularly like going to the cinema because it is just a disappointing reminder of something that will never be. I've never done any acting before so I can't honestly say if I'm any good, but I don't think I'm Oscar/BAFTA material so I stay well out of the way of the future Lupita Nyong'os out there because they are.

Another case study: screen writers in Nollywood. For those of you who don't know what Nollywood is, no, it is not a typo. It's the Nigerian Hollywood, derived along the same vein as India's Bollywood. Now, Nollywood movies... they aren't the best. They're fun to watch (see: mock) but I don't know many of our top actors who would be able to hold a candle to some B- or C-list actors in the US of A, for instance.

And those of you who are familiar simply cannot not agree that most of our screenwriters are just not it at all. I haven't seen a lot but from I have and from what I've heard, it's just baseless plots, moronic lines and nary even the faintest hint of creativity, talent or training; as if they're purposefully trying to make a colossal joke out of the global film industry quite a few of us revere. Is it unfair of me to compare our films to those of Quentin Tarrantino or Francis Coppola, for instance?

Nooope.

Why? Because we should be striving for excellence, that's why. We should be growing and moving forward and improving the industry not wallowing in poorly thought-out stories and primary school-grade actors, that's why. We shouldn't be making absolute garbage just for the sake of putting something "homegrown" in cinemas, that's why. There are so many amazing writers in Nigeria right now, you have to wonder where the hell they're sourcing the horrific ones from. Is there a "talent" agency that specializes in this? And who signs off on them? In fact, I'll do my good deed of the day and share with you a blog I discovered not too long ago called the Lagos Project. Why is he not being headhunted to script a movie, but some people are getting paid to put crap on paper? And if you happen to be one of these people and you are offended by this, good. Learn your craft or change professions.

But I'm digressing.

I just think it's important to understand that singing and acting (and modelling - pleeeaaase, being five-foot-nine or above does not automatically mean you have what it takes to be a human coat hanger; contrary to popular belief, it is not an easy job or a fast-track to "the good life") are not the only ways you can get to "the top." Neither is buying yourself likes and followers on Twitter and Instagram, or posting nude photos of yourself and so on so you can be part of the InstaFamous crew.

There are lots of "the tops" to choose from. Hell, if working in cement is where your talents lie, CEMEX is one of the largest cement producers in the world with a net income of about nine-hundred million dollars as of 2012. There is hope for you yet. And if that doesn't seem like enough for you, brilliant. Go out and be that girl or guy people make reference to in situations such as this. Stop waiting for someone to make it "big" big in a certain field before you view it as a viable alternative; be that someone. Of course, anyone can apply these rules to their profession but I've limited the scope to music and entertainment for brevity's sake.

It's also worth asking yourself that if you must be in the industry, must you sing or act? Surely, if being the 'face' of something is all your after, that is a sign you're in it for all the wrong reasons. Surely, the money and the fame should simply be an added bonus for you with the ability to be able to cook up amazing things in a studio or blow people away on-screen being the main attraction. If not, fear not. There are other options for you to consider before you give up and get a proper 9-to-5: a producer, a director, a songwriter, a gaffer, a presenter, an investor, a booking agent, a publicist, a stylist, a make-up artist, a film editor, an on-set construction manager, a blogger (hey-hey-hey), A&R (stop "stealing" deals and set up your own label and dish them out; you're still in the game, you're just not making a joke out of it) and so on and so forth. The opportunities for you to contribute to music/entertainment's growth rather than weigh down its progress with your inadequacies are endless!

You might want to be the next Wizkid and have everyone know your name and sing your songs, good or bad, by fire, by force. But although we might not all be able to pick them out of a line-up as easily as Wizkid because we don't know what they look like, so remember Clarence Peters and Sesan Ogunro are just as famous in our little corner of the planet.

Please, let the people who were brought into this world to do what you want but just cannot do (properly), do their thing. It is not by force. If you keep riding in someone else's pick-up truck, you'll have even more of a struggle getting back to the Parking Lot of Life (have mercy, I'm crap with metaphors) to find your own car and get to your own destination "on time."

But that's just my two cents...

Tonto Dikeh's still got her record deal and the unfortunate-but-insanely-gifted people I see on my Twitter timeline everyday still have diddly-squat.

To you guys who have managed to get through to the end of my gullible and ultimately futile "make the world a better place, one entertainment act at a time" rambling, the one thing you should take away from it all is this:

You can have "haters" but do not be that obstacle people pray against. Sometimes you've just gotta "move, b*tch, get out the way."






Photo credit: DB Records
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