“There’s a cabal in the Nigerian music industry. If you don’t belong to a particular set of people, there’s no way for you to come out," Erigga says.
We hear the stories of how the music industry is extremely different from the glamour that’s on display in the videos, the clubs, and the concerts.
Deep down, under all these razzmatazz and the endless appearance of fun, there’s the sad reality of the music business being a jungle in Nigeria, with little or no laws guiding major aspects of it. This has created an uber-competitive and devious world, where everyone fends for himself, and the hustle to generate value becomes desperate, in some cases, dangerous.
Rapper Erigga has been in this mix for a long time, and at different levels. The rapper defines street music, with his entire discography which contains local lyrical gems. His work has elevated him to cult hero status, in the South-South region of Nigeria. Over there, he is recognized as one of their brightest music luminaries. In his hometown Warri, he is celebrated as a local star, representing the grit and defiance of the people.
In 2016, he signed a record deal with new group, Emirates Empire, earning a structure and funding to begin his onslaught of the pop music space. He’s relocated to Lagos, the hub of the Nigerian music industry, and his new album – “A Trip To The South” – is his first major body of work under a record label.
Contained in that project is ‘Industry Nite Refix’, one of the ‘realest’ songs you would ever hear about the industry and how it works. He tells the story of an up-and-coming artist who is frustrated by the game, and left with nothing. To make ends meet, he goes into the world of crime, where the law stops him, and he is executed.
“The song has always been a state of mind,” Erigga says via a telephone conversation. “When you have done a whole lot, and you have been with friends, go through that changes, and seen how the industry has really affected and killed a lot of artists.
“No one is really talking about this, but someone has to speak. My fans will tell you that I was always seen as the 2pac of our time. This is something that he will always talk about. Part of what I said in that song, I have gone through it, the rest, and many artists have gone through it too. Every upcoming artist can relate to it.”
Between the success of his breakout in 2008 and his attempts at capturing a mainstream audience in 2017; Erigga man has seen the good, bad and deadly sides of being a musician in Nigeria, enough to share with those who have no idea what they’re up against. Backed by production from Ray X, the rapper goes into classic story-telling mode, where he documents the sad journey of many industry talents.
“I’m speaking from an upcoming point of view, challenges that I saw while coming up in the industry. Funny enough, I’m still facing some now.
“There’s a cabal in the Nigerian music industry. If you don’t belong to a particular set of people, there’s no way for you to come out. There’s also this fake circle of the industry, whereby people don’t say it as it is, people just paint this picture to make you feel like it’s all glamour and glitter. Until you get inside and see that this is trash.”
In June 2017, rapper Falz spoke against the glorification of criminals in Nigerian music, stating that it is morally wrong. He was met huge opposition from struggling musicians, who say the industry is too capital-intensive to be funded by clean wealth. Crime, they said, pays the huge cost of recording and promoting music, placed on them by the music industry.
Erigga sees the industry as one huge corruption racket, where talent is trampled on and the love of money rules the game. There are parallels to draw from the story of Nigeria, a country which has been in and out of the world’s top ten corrupt countries in the world.
“People don’t care about talent anymore. People only care about money. They don’t care if you can rap or you can sing. They only care about you if your money can circulate in the industry. The sad thing about it is that there’s nothing artists can do about it.” Erriga says.
“In the past, people blew with talents. See acts like Klever Jay, Danny Young, and all those men from the mainland. The industry was very easy for you to get in because when you are tight, everybody acknowledges that and puts you on.”
But right now, everything is on the Island, and the place is fake. Everyone wants to live that fake life, which is “bring your money, and you will blow. You don’t need to have talent. It has affected us the way corruption has affected Nigeria.”
Erigga’s album “Trip to the South” is currently available across all digital distribution and streaming platforms. A 15-song project, ‘Industry Nite Refix’ is the anchor point of the LP. While it highlights the bad, and paints a true picture of events, the rapper believes that there’s hope, only if the media restructures itself.
“What we can do is restructuring. It boils down to the media.” He says. “At least they should give real talents a chance. I don’t really care what they think about the music, all I care about is the truth, and people always shy away from it. A lot of big artists can relate to that ‘Industry Nite Refix’.”