I just went to Lagos with a host of others from the YouTube Music team and I loved absolutely every minute of my time there. I am now in the midst of a huge a-ha moment about Africa after seeing the immense opportunity there.
Afrobeats is Nigeria, and Nigeria is a vibe. You can just feel it. Its population of 191 million people is musical, mobile, and young, and YouTube is the preferred broadcast channel for their global harmonies.
From the moment we stepped off the plane, I was in awe. We were welcomed by Tunde Folawiyo, the chairman of Yinka Folawiyo Group, at his beautiful house in Ikoyi. His friends call him T1, and I’m happy to say that I can now call him that too.
At T1’s house, the team, my wife and I got to meet one of my true longtime musical heroes, King Sunny Adé. Such an honor! I’m a firm believer in giving roses to our legends while they are with us. Many roses to you, Mr. Adé.
We were even blessed with a celebration of Fela at Terra Kulture, an arts and culture center that had the best Okro soup I’ve ever had.
It was really all about meeting the artists for me. We had breakfast with two of the most incredible female artists in the country, Tiwa Savage and Yemi Alade, the latter being the first female artist in Africa to have one million subscribers on YouTube. They told us that it’s still hard for women in the scene to get the notice that they so rightfully deserve, but wow, were we happy to hear that YouTube has been a huge part of their growth. Yemi told us she uses our analytics to determine where she goes on tour—if she sees a spike in France, a place she has earned a huge fan base, she heads there. That’s incredibly heartwarming for us.
I had the pleasure of listening to new music from D’banj, an incredible artist who paved the way for exporting the Afrobeats sound globally.
I also spent time with Chocolate City Group and listened to music from M.I Abaga, one of Africa’s top rappers.
We also heard new music from Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records, an indie label, whose 19-year old prodigy Rema says YouTube is a huge part of how he brings his art to the world. We are the platform for these talents to export their work.
That’s why our Emerging Talent Initiative is so, so important. We announced it along with my friend, Mr Eazi, through his EmPawa Africa, an organization with a mission to “empower Africa’s best talent to global success.” Together we will be providing support to ten emerging local artists. This isn’t just us talking a big game—we’re putting our money where our mouth is, providing support for these acts to record and build their craft.
When my wife, Xin, first signed up to come to Nigeria, it was because so many fine creative artists from the country are being recognized worldwide by collectors in the western scene. But by the end, she—like I—was enthralled by the music. Any A&R executive who has not flown here is simply stuck on stupid. And by the way, great artists need great business people creating the opportunity.
Africa reminds me of China: so many entrepreneurs running around with ideas and projects for days. I had this feeling, but being on the ground has crystalized it for me. That is why it was a pleasure to speak with thought leaders and entrepreneurs who are moving the country forward, like Idris Olorunnimbe, CEO of Temple Management, who is laser-focused on growing the country’s creative scene. The power to broadcast that creativity globally is a gift that I am proud to be a part of.
I am going long on Africa! Period!
Thank you Nigeria,
Photographs by: Temple Motion Pictures and Chudy Ogobegwu