Over the past few weeks, storied artiste manager, Godwin Tom, who is known for managing acts like MI Abaga, Dammy Krane, Naeto C, Wande Coal, and Wizkid commenced a program to mark his 10th year in the game as an artist manager.
He names the program, 10 Years A Learner, to underline the milestone of his 10th year as an artist manager and his continuing process of learning and relearning despite his experience.
On October 22, 2018, around 6 pm, Godwin Tom hosted the first episode of #10YearsALearner, featuring veteran rapper, MI Abaga at Silverbird Galleria, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos, where they told back stories of their relationship.
October 22 also marks the 10th year of his working relationship with MI Abaga, whom he started managing alongside Obinna Agwu a.k.a The Angry Mob. They started on October 22, 2008. Godwin Tom was 21.
Earlier today, he put out a 20 plus Tweet threat via his Twitter account, telling his story. Here are some highlights;
M.I. took the mic and discussed his journey from Coolidge College back to Jos, he dropped out despite being close to graduation. He spoke about how his parents were moving around at the time.
He continues that when he got back to Jos, he had a job that soon became non-existent after the company went under — the only thing he had was the music.
The journey, Godwin bumped into right at the time his acumen was needed. As part of that journey like Tom had tweeted earlier, MI has an album called ONE.
The songs on that album are centred around the concept of number ten to number one.
The Key Moments
M.I. chronicled his journey from when he finally made it and took his Dad shopping at SPAR for new electronics and appliances.
He also discusses the moments like when himself, Jesse Jagz and Ice Prince bought their first car, a Honda Accord saloon car and how they were amped up, celebrating.
He recalls the time Ice Prince bought his house, spending time with Jesse’s daughter and being able to actually enjoy the moments of silence while they all remember it was all a dream.
‘I took the big money job’
In 2009, right before MI won his first two MTV Africa Music Awards, Godwin Tom received a huge job offer that blew his mind at age 22.
He spoke with then Chocolate City Chief Officer, Audi Maikori and he told him to take the offer. So he left, but only spent a day at the job and left.
When he left, he felt, “it ruined my relationship with MI,” and he asked MI how he felt their relationship went downhill from there.
MIreplies that he didn’t really feel slighted, but a lack of communication between them heightened the friction to an unrealistic level.
He says, “Loyalty is a big thing for me,” subtly admitting his disappointment at being left at the time he kind of called, “breakdown of trust.”
How do you deal with having problems with your label?
Godwin based his argument off MI renegotiating his contract with Chocolate City twice.
MI says, "Only one reason to be under a label is; no style, no capital. When you have that, you need someone to deal with overhead costs."
MI believes that artists don’t need to always form record labels even if there is a problem. He believes that sometimes you can be the person to rectify that problem within the label and recreate a new reality.
He proposes the Chocolate City Model where labels also don’t represent the artists, to avoid a conflict of interest to safeguard the best interests of the artist.
MI feels what’s at the root of the matter is distrust and the hate for working with each other, that almost represents a fundamental paranoia.
He believes we only work with each other when we can tolerate each other. In truth, we need to work with each other.
What is the solution?
M.I. believes we have a systemic problem. He believes the solution is about teaching the positive knowledge we've earned and, “teaching our children.”
He also says “we have to create value,” and establish a value chain.
After listening to MI’s album, Yxng Dxnzl: A Study On Self Worth, Godwin Tom asked if M.I. was okay and it got him in touch with the pressures to succeed and conform to a stereotype as a man.
“At 19, I became a millionaire and I lost it at 19. I tried to take my own life,” he says. But recently, after he’s lived his life setting targets and living a certain way, he quit.
“I was done.” He embraced the truth and license of freedom. What caused the switch? He contacted a therapist who required N1m per month to work.
On said album, M.I. says he has not really been depressed, but he has felt pressured that he almost tipped over the edge.
He, however, then borrowed off the experiences of friends.
MI just wants everyone to live without the pressures of societal constraints. He thinks everyone should be emotionally expressive.
Feminism as a tool for equity, fairness and equal opportunity
Upon being asked to clarify what the attitude towards feminism should be, he said, the attitude of feminists don't matter.
He believes that men need to take up that responsibility to help women achieve that goal. Sometimes, feminists say they don’t identify with the word, but practice the idea — and that’s enough.
Based on the question of taxation started by an attendee lady, Christiana who works for a private taxation company, Godwin Tom has promised to have an episode dedicated to taxation and calculating taxes.
One day, we’d revisit the back story of how popular singer, Asa was initially signed to Chocolate City.
As this event closes, you should try to be at the next one.