On March 30, 2020, Nigerian music producers, Sarz and Shizzi got on their respective Instagram accounts to serve up the maiden edition of the Instagram Live sessions in Nigeria.
Sarz and Shizzi had been pitched against each other by the internet following viral Instagram Live battles between totems of American music like The Dream vs. Sean Garrett and Johnta Austin vs. Neyo.
At the end of their battle which amassed 22.2k viewers, Sarz and Shizzi who showed love to each other nominated four producers to face off in two battles; Pheelz vs Masterkraft and Rexxie vs. Kel P. A day later on March 31, 2020, Pheelz and Masterkraft announced that they would host their Battle of The Hits at 10 pm on March 2, 2020.
However, after seeing the success and impact of Sarz vs Shizzi, attention-hungry Nigerian artists decided to jump on the Instagram Live content format. They ended up fumbling it by ranting to themselves in a borefest that had little to no impact. But at 10 pm on April 2, 2020, Pheelz and Masterkraft served up a tantalizing nigh dramatic battle that requires nuance to decipher.
While to those like music commentator Excel Joab now refers as "Children of Sensima," Masterkraft was the underdog and Pheelz was the top dog, that was not that case. Masterkraft is the OG multi-instrumentalist and music producer with a range that only a few Nigerian producers in history can even dream to match while Pheelz is the hitmaker with recency bias on his side.
Unlike Masterkraft, Pheelz also lacks a certain level of musicianship and a wide array of clients that come from different genres and countries. However, what Pheelz has is a recognizable drum-heavy sound and resonant hits that a generation will immediately sway towards.
Pheelz had started the night on his page 12 minutes before 10 pm. He warmed up while drinking and chatting with the public figures who commented on his page. At exactly 10 pm, Masterkraft hosted and Pheelz joined. After pleasantries, they got down to the event. Masterkraft went first and Pheelz followed.
By the end of the night, they had played 71 songs in total and amassed a peak viewership of 28.5k - that's 6.3k viewers more than Sarz and Shizzi amassed. It shows that people who are stuck at home from the lockdown coronavirus imposed were in the mood to learn new things and watch two great producers slug it out.
Known music industry figures who viewed the live session were, MI Abaga, Ozedikus, Ovie O, Peruzzi, Sarkodie, Adekunle Gold, Tuzibeatz, Tunex, Krizbeatz, Rexxie Vector, Oxlade, Broda Shaggi and more.
While a lot of people might think it was wholly a competition - which it was, this event was bigger than that. This was the celebration of an under-celebrated demographic - the guys who make the beats for artists to say nonsense on. It was also a moment for people to get familiar with producers and their work while getting educated by these producers and celebrating them.
This event fulfilled that and more. Asides that, it sold the personality of Masterkraft as a laidback person. The man literally brought a horsetail to his Instagram Live. Asides that, we see artists brag about their achievement all the time. This was a good time to see producers brag about the stripes they've earned.
Some of the highlights of the event came when Masterkraft and Pheelz matched each other, hit for hit. An example was when Timaya's 'Ukwu' came on from Masterkraft and Pheelz replied with 'Turn Up' by Olamide. Another time was when Masterkraft dropped 'Nowo Soke' by CDQ and Wizkid while nobody saw it coming.
The event and the drama
The event lasted a non-concurrent two hours and 13 minutes. It withstood the crash of Instagram Live and survived three breaks to achieve what it did. Asides that, it also had to survive Pheelz's hot-blooded and slightly insecure nature that came with underhanded statements and blatant disrespect towards Masterkraft.
At the start, Pheelz was dropping the hits like he did throughout the event. However, based on this writer's opinion; a lot of people didn't realize the OG Masterkraft was before 10 pm on April 2, 2020. So, when he started playing songs and didn't stop, they got shocked by his discography and his range.
Then, the surprise birthed shock value and the viewers elevated Masterkraft. Pheelz was still playing bangers at the time, but they judged Pheelz for mostly playing Olamide's songs. Mind you while Masterkraft was showcasing the density of his range, his versatility and experience as regards working with different artists, Pheelz was still playing hits - sometimes bigger hits than Masterkraft's.
However, the comments on the Instagram Live feed changed - people started hailing Masterkraft. Presumably, because Pheelz could read the comments, his countenance changed. He grew aloff to everything Masterkraft was doing and used a cold shoulder to shrug off Masterkraft's attempts at camaraderie.
He did not just become rude, he became passively disrespectful. He failed to see what was afoot - an event that was bigger than both of the producers slugging it out in a sonic mud fight. Nonetheless, Masterkraft doused the situation with his experience and naturally calm demeanour. He became a troll and made fun of the situation till Pheelz finally calmed down.
Then, something dramatic happened; Masterkraft played Phyno's 2016 smash hit, 'Fada Fada.' When he stopped, Pheelz intimated that he was robbed of a co-production credit for the song. That was when Masterkraft got dismissive and revealed that Pheelz only offered backing vocals for Olamide - nothing more. Something tells this writer that the drama isn't over yet.
The drama went on, but Masterkraft played it cool and even played the piano to one of Pheelz's songs.
The short answer is Pheelz. I would have said it was a not a competition, but to both men, it clearly was. When one party was doing well, he got lively while the other was down.
Contrary to Twitter beliefs, it was a Battle of The Hits, not a Battle of Range. In that argument, the argument that Pheelz mostly played songs from Olamide makes absolutely no sense. It could be tiring and tempt one to side with Masterkraft who showed his sonic range and a wider array of clients, but a hit is a hit.
At some point, Twitter said Masterkraft was flogging Pheelz, but that never happened. Twitter just conflated Masterkraft's range, Masterkraft's opportunity to generate shock value for his music to a largely ignorant people and its disapproval of Pheelz's very one-directional discography (Olamide) for Masterkraft winning.
Throughout the time that Masterkraft was supposedly 'winning,' Pheelz was still dishing out bangers. He might have lost to Masterkraft on occasion, but he largely matched and even eclipsed Masterkraft sometimes. But towards the end, Pheelz was killing Masterkraft almost back-to-back.
Nonetheless, Masterkraft showed that he was arguably the better producer and musician. However, Pheelz is also a musician and instrumentalist who had single-handedly produced a classic album. The biggest victory on the night is that two Nigerian produces got a spotlight before a peak 28.5k viewers for over two hours.
It was more a cultural victory for Nigerian music and a professional victory for producers - to show the depth of their influence. We need to do more of that. Nonetheless, Masterkraft shut it down abruptly before even playing 'Indomie' by CDQ and Olamide.
We have now seen two interesting battles. What will most likely happen is that things might go downhill from here in quality. A lot of producers and artists will want their 'shine' in the spotlight that Battle of The Hits will lose its value and become cliche. But while it's still relevant, the next set of Nigerian producers should come to entertain and celebrate their hardwork.
If you will lose, you will lose. You are not making a new beat, it is based on your existent work - nobody can change that. I mean you might present yourself better with planning and strategy, but if you will lose, if you will lose. Thus, Battle of The Hits is not a platform to showboat and get angry when your 'opponent' is shining with his hits.
Tonight, Masterkraft probably ended his session with Pheelz abruptly because he felt he was losing. Honestly, it wouldn't have mattered - Pheelz had those hits before hand. All we needed was to celebrated Masterkraft's hits. Whatever the case is, both producers will trend. More importantly, artists should please leave the battle to producers.
Artists will ruin it with their personality issues, pettiness and fragile egos - we don't need that. Artists already have sufficient platform, please leave this for producers. The funniest moment of the evening was when MI Abaga jokingly 'exited' the video after Vector's 'Alaye Jor Jor Jor,' a refix of 'Judas The Rat,' his diss to MI Abaga was played.
Finally, drama is also on the horizon. Jaywon has replied Masterkraft and blasted the producer for saying he got a Kennis Music dea because of him.