On Thursday the 14th of April 2022, Lagos hosted MMG mogul Rick Ross for an eventful evening.
On Thursday the 14th of April 2022, Lagos hosted MMG mogul Rick Ross for an evening. Organised by Immensum and Stellar Live, the concert featured a host of Nigerian acts. Alongside Rick Ross, two of Nigeria’s biggest musical exports in Davido and Tiwa Savage performed either side of the Florida rapper. Some of the smaller opening acts included; Lojay, Fave, Wurld, BNXN, Mayorkun and The Cavemen.
Coordinated by DJ Obi and Soul Yin, a lot of the opening acts left a lot to be desired as far as their “performances”. While it is largely acceptable for artists to either lip sync or use the actual record as a backing track in Nigeria, it is often the expectation of fans that when the stage is shared with other artists likely to perform their records with live vocals, the same can be expected from our homegrown acts. Like many things in/from Nigeria, this turned out to be another disappointment.
Short of the Cavemen (who deserve special credit for not only performing with live vocals and instrumentation but actually giving The Alternate Sound a reason to be there), none of the other acts on the bill felt compelled enough to grace the audience with any alternate renditions of their records. Even the odd vocal riff might have been appreciated. Unfortunately, such quality was sorely lacking on the night.
As far as reviews go, BNXN’s ascent to the top of Nigeria’s teenage Afropop heartthrob billing could be confirmed the second he was brought out. The timing of his set coincided perfectly with the crowd’s waning energy and renditions of all of his latest hits did a great deal for morale. Mayorkun’s following set, unfortunately, did nothing to build on the momentum and until Tiwa Savage’s entrance, proceedings remained largely the same. Tiwa Savage’s expert use of the stage even in a slightly inebriated state was the perfect prep for another true master crowd controller, Ricky Rozay.
The negatives should be gotten out of the way when reviewing a foreign artist on your shores. For Rick Ross, the biggest sticking point is a question Nigerian audiences are beginning to ask more and more. Why don’t these artists perform more of their catalogue? Sticking with the rap genre, the most recent example was Future’s appearance in the same hall a couple of years ago. A similar setlist was the result, one largely made up of records from the early to mid-2010s. The focus groups were consulted to help in curating a setlist.
Surprise performances from Tion Wayne and Rema could not save Davido’s extremely lacklustre set from ignominy, however. Plagued by predictability and perhaps a cockiness that comes with being regarded as the foremost creative authority in Afrobeats, Davido coming on to the stage backed by Dami Duro for the billionth time in recorded history spoke more to his lack of performance/stage prowess than his lack of a broad catalogue.
Concerts such as this mark the beginning of the summer and carry the promise of an entertaining next few months. It is important however to make sure the performers in question are aware of what the stakes involved are and what the expected/required levels must be in order to maintain their audiences. If foreign acts sharing the same stage are unable to force the local talent to bring their A-game, then it might end up being more of the same.
Featured image credit: Mesoshots