My Chosen Music Leaders
This task is about my chosen leaders in Music related fields and explaining how they became successful in their careers. I will be talking about the journey in the context of the time they made their music in, where they grew up and the culture and time in which they started their careers.
My Chosen Leader 1
The first chosen leader I picked is Fuse ODG. The reason why I picked Fuse as a leader is because he was destined to build a platform for the people of London to see a different side of Africa while showcasing the movement he leads called TINA (This Is New Africa).
Fuse explained the movement was to remove wrong images that were portrayed by the rest of the world in regards to Africa, that he doesn’t believe not all of the rest of the world portrays negative is true. He and others amongst African musicians believed there are more positive sides of Africa than those “showing pictures of kids with flies all over their mouth.” He showcases TINA to the the world through his music as his ambition of representing the new chapter of Africa.
Fuse was born in Tooting and spent few years living in Peckham before travelling back and forth from London to Ghana. He was at ease with travelling back and forth when he was in his 20s. Fuse then spent his childhood in Kumasi, Ghana where he grew up until he came back to London just in time for secondary school. Fuse had trouble with people cussing him and picking up fights just because he was African with an accent, he accepted that secondary school “wasn’t the easiest journey.”
Fuse began making his music in his childhood bedroom and explained “That’s literally how I managed to connect with my peers at school, was to become cool through music, because I had a studio set up in my bedroom, skinny mic on the wall, and that’s how people started coming to my house.” At the same time, Fuse was into American rap with a hip-hop tempo but he still had the African accent that he had an African twang.
Even though, his parents were playing Hilife songs in his house so he had it in his genes. Fuse was in between two worlds of British culture and modern Ghanaian culture. While he was adapting to his life in London, his memories of Ghanaian rap music stayed with him in the form of Obrafour, Reggie Rockstone and Lord Kenya. He was also influenced by British Grime music where he listened to So Solid Crew and practiced their lyrics on tape.
Fuse was in his school rap group called ‘2 Gully’ where he remembered his rap crew performed an open mic competiton at Fairfield Halls in Croydon. He commented of the night that “we didn’t even win, but I was just buzzing off that performance.”
Fuse then started producing his own songs and one of them was his very own ‘Rwanda’ (Really Wise And Never Doubts At All). At that time, he was really confident in being himself, knowing he was singing with his original African accent. He said “there was no-one I could really relate to here, but by then I was happy with it. Happy with being different.” Fuse’s songs aren’t as rhythmic as some Afrobeats hard songs, but are heart meltingly gleeful.
After his underground success with ‘Rwanda’, he was getting more opportunities in performing gigs at student clubs around the UK while he was listening to more African music for new inspiration. He said that “my music was kind of in-between too. Same as feeling like you don’t belong in this country or that country – wherever you go, you’re a stranger. I just wanted to make African music, but coming from me. So I messaged Killbeatz on Twitter, we started talking on BBM, and I said I’m coming over to Tema. He was shocked, I called him like ‘I’m here’.”
He and Killbeatz found experimental sounds the fusion of Afrobeats and Western pop that Fuse was looking for. In between time of studio recording, he discovered that dance that would promote the dance move called ‘Azonto.’ He brought the dance move to London and thought an idea to create an video of showing everyone how to do ‘Azonto’. That dance later became a viral smash when two British dancers introduced the dance craze to the UK.
Fuse met Reggie Rockstone who he looked up to and treated him like he’s a London person. Reggie reminded Fuse that Africa is where he’s from and that got him thinking after Reggie reminded him, he questioned himself of his lost identity “Where do I belong?” He commented “wherever you are is home, but it’s never quite home enough. Now I’ve got an accent in Ghana and an accent in English – somewhere has to be my home!” He appreciated the fact that he grew up in Ghana and London but he is proud of representing best of both worlds. He admitted London made him who is but Ghana made his mentality. Fuse said “when I came here, I knew my parents weren’t trying to play with me – like, I had to excel. It made me want to work hard, knowing my brothers and sisters are at home in Ghana, and I’m the only one here – plus I got their parents! All those thoughts in my head motivated me to be successful in everything I did.”
In conclusion, Fuse has worked and collaborated with top end artists like Wyclef Jean (on ‘Atenna’ Remix), Sean Paul (on ‘Dangerous Love’) and Major Lazer (on ‘Light It Up’). He also worked and colloborated with lesser known artists like Tiffany (on ‘Azonto’) and Killbeatz whom he produced Fuse’s songs and featured his vocals on ‘Thinking About U’. The range of collaboration that Fuse is working with shows his leadership and bringing diversity forward into the Afrobeats genre.
I would say Fuse’s Afrobeats has influenced my track ‘Fall in Love’ as I liked his songs ever since 2013 and his movement TINA has made me realised to create a purpose of the dance music video I wanted to bring cultures together in harmony and peace without bringing or making war in my Final Major Project.
My Chosen Leader 2
The second leader I picked is Tinie Tempah. The reason I chose Tinie as a leader is because of his enthusiasm for his music and his leadership in giving the youth chance of a life time opportunities in LifeSkills with Barclays.
Born in London as Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu to his Nigerian parents on 7th November 1988. His middle name translates in Nigerian Igblo language as “God has done it”. He originally lived in Aylesbury Estate in South East London until at the age of 12 years old, his family along with his three siblings moved to Plumstead where he settled down for a while and there after he joined St. Paul’s Catholic School. Tinie later joined St. Francis Xavier Sixth Form College where he studied Media, Psychology and Religion A-Levels.
When he was 12 years old during his time in school and at home, he dreamed of becoming a rapper since he was a child and took inspiration from So Solid Crew and Dizzee Rascal. His stage name came about when after watching So Solid Crew’s ’21 Seconds’ music video, he used a thesaurus in class, juxtaposing “tempah” (temper), which saw under “angry” with “tinie” (tiny) to amend the antagonistic sound of “tempah”. Tinie commented that he didn’t took music seriously until he was nearly in his mid-teens. “Making a living from music was one of those things that everyone else thought was crazy and far-fetched,” he said further on: “My mum would tell me that she always wanted to be a singer but then she grew up. I guess I never wanted to grow up if it meant that something I dreamt about so frequently, something I really believed in, may never actually happen. At first it was a hobby but I started taking it seriously from the age of 14.”
In 2004, Tinie signed his first ever record deal with the rap group Aftershock Hooligans called Aftershock Records where he recorded a hundred songs with the rap group for the next three years. He released his debut mixtape Chapter 1: Verse 22 through Aftershock in 2005 as a free mixtape. During his time with Aftershock Records, he released a notable underground hit “Wifey”. His early underground success with this song led to a No.1 spot in Channel AKA’s Urban Chart for ten weeks in 2006 when he gained a great deal of airplay with the channel for his song ‘Tears’ and his latter underground hit. Tinie departed Aftershock Records in 2007 as they didn’t respect him as an artist and he knew it was time to move on. During his early age in music, D.Dark who used to be Tinie’s label mate mentioned the difficulties he like other rappers encountered in promoting their music that led to exploitation at young ages in the underground scene. In other words, Aftershock for instance used young rappers like Tinie in order to achieve their own selfish needs and portray themselves as good samaritans. He used Grime as a platform to get connected to his peers in the underground scene, to feel more confident and continue to perform more in live shows like BBC Radio 1XRA etc.
I tried to find out more information on Aftershock Records of exploitation of young rappers but there is no further information available online.
After the departure of Aftershock Records, Tinie and his manager and cousin Dumi Oburota set up an independent record label called Disturbing London where they wanted to build a platform where there’s no Def Jam or Roc-A-Fella label equivalent in England to get his music out to the open and also to recruit young artists to create their own music. Dumi said he “wanted to create a major independent label with quality artists – cool music that young Britain and the rest of the world will enjoy. I felt like the major labels had lost the passion for music.” In D.L., they have an office and a studio, a clothing line called Disturbing London Apparel and Disturbing Sounds Publishing based in East London where they have two assistants and a sound engineer.
Tinie got his big break as an artist when Sony launched their PlayStation Porable or PSP for short and used his track titled ‘Listen To The Vibe’ featuring Yasmine and DJ Ironic and with Alantic Warner for their futuristic game called ‘Wipeout Pure’. Tinie then signed to Parlophone Records after Jade Richards, who is an A&R for Parlophone, saw the rapper performing at Wireless Festivial in 2009 and called Parlophone president Miles Leonards and said in a conversation “you’ve got to check this guy Tinie Tempah.” Later in 2009, Leonard and his A&R Nathan Thompson visited Tempah and his manager Dumi in a studio and they were impressed to hear Tinie’s work that he already done in his developement of his career and his ambitions for his future.
After he signed with Parlophone in late 2009, Tinie released his debut lead single ‘Pass Out’ through Parlophone and Disturbing London on 28th February 2010, where later his song made it to a No.1 spot in the UK Singles Charts and stayed at the top for two weeks. He performed his song at the 2010 Glastonbury on a pyramid stage with Snoop Dogg. He later performed lots of gigs in various Universities and notable shows such as Wireless Festival 2010, BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend, Capital’s Summertime Ball 2010, T in the Park and the V Festival.
After his second single ‘Frisky’ released on June 6th, he released his third single ‘Written in the Stars’ on September 19th and later this became his second No.1 in the UK Singles Chart selling over 115,000 copies in its first week, making his biggest selling single to date. Finally his long awaited debut album ‘Disc-Overy’ was release, which included his three previous big singles and debuted No.1 in the UK Album Charts and later certified Platinum the following year.
In late 2010, he won his first two MOBO awards for ‘Best Newcomer’ and ‘Best Video’ for ‘Frisky’. Later he released his fourth single featuring Kelly Rowland on ‘Invincible’ that charted at No.11 on the UK Singles Chart. Then in 2011, he released his fifth single featuring Ellie Goulding on ‘Wonderman’ that charted at No.12 on the UK Singles Chart. In February 2011, he was nominated for four BRIT Awards making him the most nominated artist of the awards but he won two for ‘Best British Breakthrough Act’ and ‘Best British Single’ for ‘Pass Out’.
After releasing his second album ‘Demonstration’ at the end of 2013 with singles ‘Trampoline’ featuring 2 Chainz and ‘Children of the Sun’ featuring John Martin, his album charted at No.3 on the UK Albums Chart and later was certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry. Soon not long in 2015 where he released his lead single from his third album ‘Youth’ called ‘Not Letting Go’ featuring Jess Glynne that later charted at No.1 on the UK Singles Chart, leaving him having the most No.1s by any rap artist.
In late 2015, Tinie Tempah joined forces with LifeSkills sponsored by Barclays that provides special opportunities for young people between 18 to 24 years of age, a real life “work experience of a lifetime”. Young people can have a long placements at sixteen different Premier League football clubs and entertainment venues like The O2, Shazam and the Barclaycard Arena. Tinie encouraged young people to follow their passions and embark on Barclay’s LifeSkills in order to make an impact on their life by saying:
“The dedication, determination, and hard work it’s taken to go from making music in my bedroom to where I am today has been worthwhile. I have been very lucky to have the advice and support of so many people throughout my career – and I wouldn’t be where I am without that.
“I see it as my responsibility to pass on what I have learned and help young people realise it’s possible to work in the fields they are truly passionate about. They just need the discipline and, most importantly, the drive to take that first step.”
According to Verge Magazine, the research on Barclay’s LifeSkills stated that 28% of respondents said that love for their career is a relevant factor, 15% said they prefer money and 11% said they prefer top jobs. However, 80% of British young people prefer a secure job that they enjoy based on their passion.
In conclusion, Tinie Tempah is considered as one of the most influential artist based on his experience, which he wants to use to inspire young people to follow their dreams and passions. Despite going through the obstacles during the early years of his career, that didn’t stop him from achieving his dream as a rapper and getting opportunities from Parolphone to promote his music into the mainstream market and receiving a No.1 Album and awards for his music.
I would say Tinie’s leadership skills are what I would take from him to my Final Major Project, meaning I want to inspire young people from different cultures that despite facing obstacles in the way of achieving their dreams, and that everyone should be treated the same no matter what is stopping them from achieving their goals and passions. They should always believe in themselves, staying focused and working hard to go through the challenges they may encounter.
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The Voice, Fuse ODG: Representing New Africa. Available at: http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/fuse-odg-representing-new-africa (Accessed on 15/03/17)
Billboard, Fuse ODG bio. Available at: http://www.billboard.com/artist/5879065/fuse-odg/biography (Accessed on 15/03/17)
FACT, Million Pound sound: Fuse ODG, and the remarkable rise of Afrobeats. Available at: http://www.factmag.com/2014/02/11/million-pound-sound-fuse-odg-and-the-remarkable-rise-of-afrobeats/ (Accessed on 15/03/17)
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