All Eyes Are On MZ KISS
All Eyes Are On MZ KISS
Words by Sesan Adeniji ( @sesanadeniji ) - Photography By August Udoh ( @augustudoh )
In my several years in the music industry, the one nagging question every artiste at different stages of their careers are in search of answers for is “How do I go about this music project to make it a success”?
To avoid sugarcoating the truth, I will say things the way they are. Success in the mainstream music industry is a battle for the listening and viewership attention. In a saturated market, outside the music itself, every artiste must constantly find a way to deploy tactical managerial and PR strategies to significantly help position their brand to standout parallel alongside their unique music content. This can only be achieved with hard work and the desire to evolve within their creative prism, with considerations of the evolving changes in sound in the world. This fact will separate the household names that will continue to top the charts from those one hit wonders that will fall along the way.
Considering the Nigerian music industry terrain, the road to becoming a successful artiste that can stand the test of time is even more complicated. In a sector were success is viewed through a single lens of pop music, artistes must find a way to produce songs that instantly resonate with grassroots audiences as well as content that can stand the test of time. The need for a collaborative material to expand their fan base is paramount despite the shenanigans they will confront from established artistes they look forward to collaborate with. If success is the goal, artistes must have an unwavering desire to keep on with work and become objective listeners to advice. To be blind by immediate achievement is to become blind to future successes. One artiste that seems to have found a way around all of this is Mz Kiss.
It might be hard to comprehend the reasons why fans are going bonkers over her music and brand until you watch her bring the roof down on stage. In a rising crescendo, her domination is becoming increasingly unavoidable. Bookies that once penned her down as one of the next female music properties to explode into extraterrestrial stardom, are also finding the rate of her ascendancy incredible but understandable.
This femcee is arguably gathering more audiences across board than most of her colleagues in the industry. Her hunger for success, the professionalism and work ethic she brings to the table are some of the reasons why things are working out. With the rate at which she continues to gain ground courtesy of not just her songs but on those she’s featured on, it’s understandable why all eyes are on Mz Kiss.
In the early working hours of a Monday morning in the year 2012, she walked into my office, bristling with confidence to talk about her music.
Listening to her, I was amused, as I had seldom met anyone so sure of their abilities and what the future holds like the way she put her augment on my desk. Another obvious thing I noticed was not just the tenacity with which she argued her case with insistent reasons why she must have an editorial inside Mystreetz magazine but also why she’s of the opinion that her music producer also deserved a spot. This lady is a team player. Her notion of having a better industry where every creative talent is given an equal opportunity to succeed is a credible point till date. Either you know Mz Kiss by name or via her songs on your mix tapes, the fact remains that this lady is a bundle of talent; a sort of an enigma. In a good way, she bullies anyone into seeing the greatness in her brand. Justifiably so, she’s unique in her own way.
Looking back six years down the lane from the first time we met for her debut editorial, within those years, I have lost count of times I have done other pieces on this lady’s growth. With the evolving music market that results to constant changes in sound and the dynamics of how the industry works, I can’t think of a time that Mz Kiss has had a pause from mainstream. She’s climbed up the ladder from the days when her name did not resonate with fans to moments when her sounds became the high point at shows. Brick by brick, Mz Kiss has hustled her way up; she’s becoming a force to be reckoned with and gradually becoming the go-to female rapper for bars that connect with the largest number of grassroots urban music audiences. These days, it’s hard for anyone to take away her shine.
The MZ KISS Interview
In detail, talk about yourself and how music started. The entire projects you have recorded and the story behind each song and video?
My name is Omowunmi Akindele, y’all know me as Mz Kiss, and I’m from Ondo State, Okitipupa precisely.
I was born and brought up in Lagos, I had an amazing childhood and my late dad was a lover of God and music. So also was my mum. Music runs in the family. I started recording in 2010, when I met my first producer “Soplain” who I was introduced to through my cousin as a singer and a songwriter, but my first recording was a song I was featured on.
I overheard an artiste in the studio complaining he couldn’t get a certain female rapper on his song, so I suggested if I could try some rap on it, and boom it worked, everyone loved it. Then it was rap lines delivered in English. It was right there I got my stage name, KISS; we even had a full meaning for it because we wanted it to make sense. K – Knowledge, I-Inspires, S-Special, S-Souls Lol.
I started writing rap since then and later switched to Indigenous rap after I heard Dagrin’s ‘Pom Pom‘ which inspired me greatly.
We recorded my first song in the studio then in Bariga in December 2010. Recorded the 2nd and 3rd in January 2011. One of those songs titled “Yoruba In Patua” was released in March 2011, but my first official single titled Hola At Me” was put out in November 2013. It was a freestyle rap song. I also shot a viral video for it directed By Director Frames. Then after, I released ‘Figure 8’ in 2013 produced by Mic Daviz, which got the attention of Ace video Director, Paul Gambit. He shot and directed the video in 2014 and I later signed a record deal the same year under his Label, BadDog Entertainment.
Moving Forward I got signed to Capital Hill Music in 2015. My first appearance under Capital Hill Records was on “Faleela”, a song by Dammy Krane ft Mz kiss. The video was shot by Clarence Peters, and released In March 2015.
The song earn me a lot of recognition. In July same year, we released “Finally”, a song by Capital Hill Records Allstars – Tha Suspekt, Illbliss, Chidinma, Mz kiss and Fefe. After that, in August of that year, I released my debut single under the label titled “Owo Meta” produced by Tunex. The idea around ‘Owo Meta’ was just to mimic guys on how they talk to themselves when they see a particular girl they like. Lol it was a very masculine song/Rap which I never intend to release. This was a song I recorded while I was ill, but then, the song turned out great and we decided to release the audio to the see people’s reactions. The response was good and encouraging that we had to shoot a video for it.
September 2015, I dropped ‘Stoopid’ ft Falz. It was produced by Young D; you can tell it was back-to-back work that Year. It was a great year as I got nominated for some awards, among which was ‘Best New Act’- SCREAM AWARDS; and ‘Best Female Act’- NIGERIAN OSCAR AWARDS. In April 2016 I release my first Body of Work “EP” Titled ‘Street On The Loose’ (SOTL). It had 6tracks of which I shot 3 viral videos for 3 of the songs. I shot video for ‘Last Year’, ‘Enemy Of Progress’ and ‘Iyalaya Anybody’. I later released 2 singles ‘Ikilo’ ft Illbliss and ‘Fuji’. I also released the video for ‘Fuji’ in January 2017. Fuji was a song I recorded when I wanted versatility in my sound after all the rap songs and the EP I released. Fuji video was shot by Clarence Peters and in the video I had the Fuji Icon Pasuma, Small Doctor, Eniola Badmus, Afeez Owo, VJ Adams, Tiwezi and Baddyosha all appeared in the video.
I was Nominated ‘Best New Act‘- NIGERIA ENTERTAINMENT AWARD (NEA) in New York, USA, and nominated for “The Rookie Of the Year”- THE HEADIES.
Nominated for Youth Favorite Artist- SCREAM AWARDS,
Nominated for ‘Best Indigenous’ – Music Act ACIA AWARDS Atlanta Georgia, nominated for ‘Best New Act‘ – CITY PEOPLE AWARDS. Won ‘Industry Cynosure Of The Year‘ – MAYA AWARDS 2016. In March 2017 I released ‘Wawu’. Wawu is an Afrobeats kind of sound produced by Tiwezi, The video was directed by Clarence Peters and released July 2017. Wawu had a Colorful feel and people liked a Lot.
In November 2017, I released ‘Ijo’. Ijo had a South African kind of vibe. 2018! Big year, I started on the high with a song I was featured on. It was Dj Xclusive Ft Mz kiss and Slimcase ‘Shempe’. My verse on that song got a lot of buzz. The chemistry between myself and Slimcase was so energetic that the audience requested for more, so we decided to do another collaboration together based on popular demand and we had “Merule” which means “Release the energy” in my own terms. Merule was release in April and the video was directed by WG Films and Alien; Under Capital Dreams. My latest song is “Gbewa”.
Talk about how your brand has evolved over the years?
The brand started with a particular look, which was a dyed low cut with the
middle gold. The essence was to portray a message as a female rapper who
can stand tall at any level even in the male circle but every time I shoot
my video I had wigs on. Thank God for social media, it would have been a
little difficult for people to recognize me but with time they got used to the
low cut, a lot of people loved it, but it gave me a tomboy boy look. In 2018
we decided to switch things up and look more girlie. I get a lot of “You
look more beautiful than you sound “ lol.
In September I traveled to UK for a tour with Small Doctor. The response I got from the first day I landed was unbelievable, especially during my performance at the 02 Academy in London. The audience sang my songs word for word, that’s something you don’t get everyday; I don’t take the love for granted. My sound also got better. There’s so much more to me than meets the eye. The singing, fashion and acting side of me; there’s more to come. I haven’t even started exploring them yet. So many new project that I couldn’t have thought of are now in the pipeline.
As an artiste that is now on the up, what are the things that are working
for you now? Also talk about the challenging times you have had?
It’s quite challenging being a Female in male dominated industry, you
always have to work 10times harder and sometimes it looks like they are
boundaries because females are not well celebrated for their hard work and
successes. There’s this believe that everything ends in your marriage; being
married maybe happy or not is more celebrated than being successful. But
I believe we are getting wiser now.
Talk about your experience performing in UK?
I was in UK for the first time to support Small Doctor’s UK concert, it was one of the best experiences I ever had as an artiste. I had no idea people listened to and love my music so much; the love from the airport to the hotel room down to the venue was amazing, I could hear the audience screaming out in joy! I am super excited about it. That was encouragement for my brand and all the hard work. The dream of most artistes is to connect beyond boundaries; for me, it’s a good thing, a sign that my music is going places.
What are your views of the industry today, and things you hope need to change for good?
The Nigerian music industry is growing at a fast pace which is a good encouragement for every artiste both upcoming and made, we are already global. But Nigerians need to develop the culture of buying music; attending shows both small and big gigs. These are some of the important things that keep us going.
VIEWS ON MZ KISS
K-Show da Maestro – Senior OAP – City FM, (award winning hip-hop veteran)
I’m particularly heavily sentimentally attached to Mz Kiss as a brand and as a person due to the fact that I’ve known her from the very beginning and when I say from the very beginning I mean “from the very beginning” as her very first time on a radio show was her guesting on my Friday night show called ‘Club Express‘ during my days at Radio Continental (now Max FM).
She had this brilliant freestyle she was trying to push then, this must have been 2010/11, I’m not so sure (I just called her to confirm but she didn’t pick up so we’ll make do) and apart from her being undoubtedly talented what struck me the most about her was her inner strength and belief because you had to be brave and bear a certain level of fortitude to venture into a genre of music that seems stereo-typically reserved for the male gender. I mean her pretty face and humble soft spoken nature just didn’t seem made for rapping in the Yoruba language as by then Olamide was already making that field his own and it seemed you had to look and sound a certain way to progress and most importantly you had to be male.
I remember introducing her to I.D Cabassa when he was the rave in the hopes of him taking her under his wings. “She can be your female Olamide“, I told him then and he also happened to hook her up with Illbliss whom they still have a working relationship till today. I honestly think that Mz Kiss has not hit A-list status yet because it’s what stands her out that also seems to limit her to an extent and that’s because she’s a female in a male dominated field and I also think she hasn’t gotten as much attention from her record label/management as she should be getting as she’s always had to share the spotlight with more established artistes e.g Illbliss and for a
period, Chidinma. She’s never made a bad song in my books and lots of them have always had the potential to go all the way but suddenly the buzz is gone. You get the feeling that with that little extra push those songs would have gotten across the finish line.
What I love most about her is her versatility, she can rap to any type of beat and can adapt to any sound, trend or genre music wise. She can also really sing when she wants to. Personally, I think she’s undeservingly underrated and with her humility and talent still getting to where she is right now despite all the odds stacked against her is quite a feat. However, I think she’s only just starting and will eventually get that level of credit she merits because the Mz Kiss I know, that starry eyed quasi shy young girl armed with a bottle of vodka she bought with her last dime that I gave that very first radio interview back in 2010/11 doesn’t know how to stop.