Waje remains one of the biggest and most talented artists to have come out from the part of the world.
In her over one-year decade career in creating and performing flawless music, she has not only stood out but has become a force to reckon with in the Nigeria entertainment circle. We share the sentiment that when Waje sings, you can't miss it. From winning awards to hosting music shows, she has indeed built an overflowing and intimidating CV for herself.
However, in recent times, Waje has struggled with keeping up with ever-changing and evolving Nigeria music industry. A few months ago, she broke the Internet when a video of her having a meltdown because of the low approval ratings she has been getting from her music career and new album sales.
When she walked into our studio on Tuesday, August 6, 2019, with her team, her aura and ever bubbling energy could be felt from afar. After settling in, we chatted about her forthcoming concert 'Red Velvet,' not before asking her about the decision to come back after the social media meltdown.
"Shout out to everyone who reached out to me and all of that I appreciate your kindness, love, and patience with me. So my team and I kind of thought that one of the problems rather one of the things I haven't been doing for a while was that, Waje was somewhere and the fans were sort of like disconnected. So I have been doing stuff but people were not aware of what I was doing...you know what I mean. So now we thought let's take it back and invite them again and sort of remind them of things they love me for; the music, the voice, the intricacies of the sound and all of that.
"So we decided that we wanted to do a concert and since the 'Red Velvet' album was the album that I recently released and people were not necessarily buying it the way I wanted them to, so we decided that that would be the front runner of the music that is going to be played. So its sort of an awareness of the album so people get to listen to the album, get to know the songs and know the songs...just get intimate with me," she said.
Waje's style and genre of music isn't the easiest to sell in Nigeria being that its a country filled with lovers of commercial music. She has been able to break even with several other artists to create amazing music over a decade now despite the challenges that comes with it. We asked her if she would have done things differently if we were to go back to the beginning of her career.
"I don't think there would have been anything I would have done differently from when I started singing. I just know that in the last two, three years I sort of got busy with other things like 'The Voice' and a lot of things that took my time, so it was a bit difficult trying to multitask especially because, for most of those things, I wasn't necessarily in the country...you know what I mean. So I think that is what I would have done differently, pre-plan and be consistent more and know that the music can't suffer even if other things are excelling, the music is why people love you so that can't suffer," she said.
For Waje, the idea of making commercial music or sticking to RnB is open to her and anyone who wants to try it out. It allows people to get out of the box and explore other genres of music.
"Well, music is music, whether it is commercial or Ballard and RnB. Music has different people it reaches, it has a different audience. I respect all genres and once in a while I try to do things differently, I have 'Omniknowiest' and other songs that have shown the other side of me outside of the RnB side. I'm working with a producer called Lerix and we have a joint album together and the album is titled 'Replay' which is me actually exploring other sounds. So its fun to be able to play in the trends now and see what happens, its a creative space and I feel like people should not always box themselves, there are opportunities for people to explore and grow so let's keep our fingers crossed," she promised.
One question that has always come up in every discussion is the idea that women aren't favoured in the music industry. A situation where it has been come stereotyped to suit just the male folks. Waje thinks it doesn't just affect the music industry but other industries
"I think it is not just the music industry, other industries. I don't think everything is sort of laid in a platter for everyone to enjoy but I know that it is way better than it used to be ten years ago and there are some many women now that are excelling. You have Simi, you have Tiwa, you have Yemi Alade, there are quite a number of them. The new ones that are even coming up are quite interesting to listen to. I just recently discovered a new girl 'Good Girl LA,' i love her, she is actually performing at my concert. I'm not one of those that would use misogyny as an excuse. I just feel like doing what needs to be done, work hard and eventually the universe would eventually work for you," she said.
One person who has had her fair share of record label drama is Waje but she thinks the drama that follows between artists and their labels goes both ways.
"I think its both ways because nobody invests money not to get interest, not to make money back. So especially when I'm not your mother, your father, your brother, your sister, e nor get how i go invest 10M and nor go like make 15 to 20M and unfortunately, we don't have the kind of structure especially when you are only known in this territory where you don't even have the advantage of data just so people can stream your music and that money is coming in because the structure we have does not even allow that. So I think it's both ways, I'm one artist who will definitely advise people in the artist. This is a generation where you don't have to be a 360 signed artist, there are so many ways you can leverage record labels without being solely signed to a record label and still solely own your content. I feel like we should research more as what works for A might not work for B, so find what for you. There are some people that are fine being in a record label.
"I had a bad experience with a record label so I'm a bit wary of it but that doesn't mean that if the opportunity comes tomorrow that I won't smile at it, just that my demands may be different. Sometimes when young people get into record labels, the first thing they are thinking of is a house, a car and all of that but they don't understand that it is borrowed money. So it is not necessarily the money that they paid you..it pays for the studio session and all of that. They still have to recoup from all the money that they spent on your lifestyle and how much really are they going to get back because by the time 70% per show, how much are you paid? Are you paid 7M are you paid 10M per show> So it goes both ways, we just have to find a way that works for all of us as individuals and be fair to one and other," she said.
Waje also thinks desperation for that big break has made artists go into record label deals especially with international record labels. But she thinks artists these days have become smarter with ways they accept and take part in record label deals. She also thinks the culture of free downloading of music is till hindering artists from making music on streaming platforms.
Waje plans to hold a concert in September 2019 called the 'Red Velvet' which she plans to take her fans not just down memory lane but bring give them a feel of her new album. Its all about bringing sexiness, passion, and flair for the music game.
She plans to bring different artists and friends in the industry who will be performing at the concert. It's going to be sleek, sensual and soulful kind of music...its going to be different, that's what Waje says. One thing fans of Waje should know is that they are going to have a swell time on the day of her concert which doubles as her birthday! What more can they ask for?