FALZ IN A LEAGUE OF HIS OWN
His entry into the highly competitive Nigerian music scene a while back was anything but a joke. At best he was just another act to swell the miserable ranks of wannabe artistes that clutter the whole place, taking up the little spaces that would have done a great deal of good to the few tight acts around. But the man continued in his hustle to gain our attention and he actually did a commendable job of it until something caught our attention. He is the son of one of the most outspoken human rights lawyers in the country, Femi Falana, SAN.
Ordinarily that recognition would have worked for him as an advantage but sorry for me and I guess not a few others, it became a burden, an Achilles’ heel for Falz. At least with a name like Femi Falana, he was able to get our fickle attention faster than usual. And with that, his music was thrown into the open for public scrutiny; straight into the laps of no-nonsense, blood sucking wolves by the name of armchair critics who quickly reminded the artiste that the industry has no place for mediocre charlatans who think that just dangling the silver spoon factor around can win them shine time.
At every point in time in the music business, someone has to take the top dog spot and with that comes all the attention and love, leaving next to nothing for the underdogs. This has always been and will probably continue to characterise the music business not only in Nigeria but globally. When it comes to Music, much like other big brands like Coca Cola and the rest that rule the market today, the competition has became breakneck and it is a fight for the bravest and wittiest. A no-holds-barred war that brazenly suggests and amplifies the saying that ‘’all’s fair in war’’. Most times all an artiste needs is just a little attention and the rest as they say would certainly be history whether good or bad. Back in the day when multiple Grammy Award singer, Anita Baker was looking for a break, quite a few company execs and indeed those that prided themselves as scouts and A&R people had her demo tape but none thought of her as a singer much less one who might eventually be regarded as the queen of soul in years to come.
The truth is no one is ever listening because everyone is tuned in to the reigning artiste and that goes for the listening public, brands, promoters, record company execs and even the scouts; they have all gone to sleep in their core area of specialization. In this way many artistes suffer rot and subsequent extinction. This is the fate of many an act that possesses great talent and until the listening public and others tires out of the trending sound, there is little or no attention for upcoming ones. Perhaps that is why the onus falls on us watchers of the industry to keep the fans abreast of what is trending and what is likely to in the nearest future so we can have a balanced and entertaining scene where all are rewarded according to their talent and ability and no one is stepped on.
As stated above, many including yours truly was never a fan when Falz made his entry into the scene a few years back, Most became even less so or likely when they found out that he is the son of renowned human right lawyer, Femi Falana. My reason was that the music was fast loosing its essence and yours truly comes from the school where the music is sacrosanct and its quality uncompromising. In spite of the fact that there is so much fortune in today’s commercial music, that is no justification to water down the music or think you can get anywhere with less than average talent and despite the fact that many had gotten away with it and earned a measure of our respect to the bargain, there it is still no dice when it comes to purity of the art to most folks. Suffice it to say that something obviously worked for Falz in his quest to get attention and admittedly his background had, as far as I am concerned, little or nothing to do with that. Consistency worked for him when the attention was minimal or totally nonexistent; it a was time to strengthen his resolve when it comes to achieving his dreams. Beyond that too, those early days proved the fact that the artiste was not a fluke but one who is sure of what he’s got. And in due time we were compelled to pay just a little attention and true to type we began to see something in the artiste as he steadily won our love. The truth is that Falz may not be the typical rap star, but we can all agree that he has a way with words and his mastery in weaving punch lines with mind blowing wit and comedy is something that is fast becoming a trademark which has become a niche for him to gracefully ease into. He is fast warming his way into hearts and there is no telling how far he can get.
In a relatively short period, Falz has beyond his music, revealed himself as a multifaceted artiste with an organic quality and finesse. He has carved a niche for himself by his brilliant and rich blend of music and comedy. He is perhaps the most successful in this unique hybrid genre. A couple others before him like Basket Mouth, Julius Agwu, AY, Yaw, Ush Bebe and others had attempted to combine comedy with either acting or singing but none has been half as successful as what Falz is currently recording as an upcoming artiste. A while back Julius Agwu called a bit of attention with his music-comedy titled ‘’Okombo’’ styled after the successful Awilo Longomba in mid 2000. All of Basket Mouth, AY, Yaw and Ush Bebe among others had tried their hands in acting but did not make appreciable impact. Besides their reputation as successful comedians going for them, they were as exciting as any rookie in the game.
Besides, it is important to mention here that Basket is a somewhat respected MC who confessed way back in an interview that he actually set out to be a rapper until comedy took centre stage. How he does it beats anyone who has been following his fast growing career in the last couple months, the mere sight of Falz these days just easily elicits laughter not for any other reason but for what you are sure would follow, flawless comedy! Falz is fast becoming an icon in the field of comedy and to think that he is able to achieve this feat with his music intact is impressive. Somehow he finds an interesting way to balance out everything without an identity crisis and this has contributed in no small measure to his fast rising profile in recent times.
However, there is no telling what the artiste would eventually evolve into in the next couple of years as there is hardly any artiste or at best a paltry few who can boast of holding down different talents and be successful in all. The most probable result most often than not is that they always end up finding themselves in one field. The most unsettling thing about Falz is that he has an uncanny way of blending all of this into his materials and get away with it. As a keen observer of his rise in the industry, the part that has perhaps had the overriding impact on the fans could possibly be comedy. Hip-hop artistes, actors come ten a dime, but a good comedian is a treasure that comes once in a long time if not a lifetime.
In a way never before seen, Falz has simply taken the commonplace H-factor phenomenon of the Yorubas to unimaginable heights, making it about the most hilarious mode of presenting comedy in the last couple of years. And the truth is that the catch of his comedy is certainly not as much in the H-factor way of speaking as it is in the brilliant and witty concoctions that it is presented. In other words, he now has his own unique variant and the theme and direction that it comes in is something that is spellbinding. Little wonder his skits have become instant hits on YouTube and his cameo spots on other people’s musical video and indeed his own, has suddenly become points of reference in recent times. His most recent portrayal in the hit comedy sitcom JENIFA has become another success story on the big screen. It is incredible that what his contemporaries in the comedy sector have tried but failed to achieve in the past on the big screen, Falz has been able to in just one appearance. The show has however taken a whole new dimension, winning even more followership for a hit comedy show.
Interestingly these days, the popular H-factor is now synonymous with Falz and it all calls to a degree an identity crisis and with it comes apprehension among his burgeoning fans who may be worried and rightly so, that the crisis might end up destroying a rather promising career. Identity crisis for the growing brand is never a friend. It is reputed to be the quickest way to extinguish or kill a product because the target cannot perceive you in proper light, so they can not receive you even if such products comes in whatever razzmatazz or packaging. But all that aside, it surely would be interesting to find out what Falz turns out to be say in the next ten years. A lot of folks would definitely wish to see a more matured Falz ruling the comedy circuit because he possesses just a bit more than most to pull it off. And perhaps maybe a Nollywood prospect would also present a veritable option with all his hit skits and music video portrayals and most especially making an instant hit with JENIFA.
Being his first love, music should not be thrown aside because he has somehow made music the springboard for a successful career with which he has steadily been breaking borders and annexing new frontiers in his pursuit of artistic excellence. May be we should not get it mixed up as music has been a mainstay for him and he has been able to find a space in the industry by virtue of his talent as a musician who knows his onions. Besides getting the nod from hip-hop heavyweights like Eldee Da Don and M.I is certainly not ‘’Beans’’. If these people can vouch for Falz as a consummate artiste and hip-hop head, then there is no doubt that Falz is here to stay now that we have sufficient reasons to rule out the possibility of a fluke. Meanwhile we might have to avail ourselves of the part of him that appeals more to us fan and incidentally also that makes him a much more viable artiste than his contemporaries as a multifaceted artiste who has become successful in each of the his diverse areas of proficiency. This has also made him one of the most versatile and viable artiste of his time, sought after in a wide range of product endorsements. Falz has in a short period become one of the busiest artistes for an upcoming and we must agree that earning the cover of your favourite soar away magazine, Mystreetz is definitely a major part of that success story.
It would seem like he had it all figured out since dropping his first single in 2013 titled ‘’Wazup Guy’’ which quickly gave an insight into the artiste that we know today as FALZ. Perhaps we can safely conjecture that the inclusion of ‘’Z’’ to the first three letter of FALANA is deliberate and an integral part of a grand plan to take over the industry. After his first single which was followed by ‘’High Class’’ in 2013, Falz has never looked back, holding his fans spellbound with everything in his arsenal to get him to the top. By the time he eventually released the mildly successful debut in 2014, he had done a commendable job in cornering a sizable chunk of the fans to his camp. His organic artistry has never ceased to amaze the fans as his profile continues on a steady rise. Today Falz is in the thick of the game, calling the shots as a bona fide trendsetter whose artistic possibilities are endless.
Born Folarin ‘Falz’ Falana in Lagos, Nigeria, on October 27th 1990, Falz attended St Leos Catholic Primary School in Lagos, Nigeria, and later went to Olashore International Secondary School, Osun state, Nigeria, before obtaining an LLB degree from the University of Reading in the UK. He went to the Nigerian Law School and officially became a barrister in February 2012.
Falz journey into music started from his secondary school days. He took it to another level in 2007, when he strung together a mix tape titled ‘Shakara’. He has been identified as a great talent by music veterans like Eldee, Don Jazzy and M.I. He is known for his trademark witty punch lines, infusion of local dialects, and comedic lines which seem to stand him out.
With the release of his single ‘High Class’ produced by Studio Magic, Falz left no one in doubt that he was gearing up for rap domination. Falz took up rap as a hobby towards the end of his secondary school education. He grew up listening to the likes of Nigerian legends Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and hip-hop big wigs like Trybesmen and Plantashun Boiz all of whom contributed to his choice of music.
He continued to release encouraging singles like ‘Wazup Guy’ (2011), ‘High Class'(2013) and ‘Currency’ (2013) before officially releasing his debut studio album titled ‘Wazup Guy’ in May 2014. The album features the likes of Olamide, Yemi Alade, Dr Sid and many more.
Falz’ trademark style has been described as a fusion of witty lines and comedic tones on indigenous Nigerian sounds thus setting him in a lane of his own. He has garnered a number of award and nominations already including Scream Awards 2014 (Best New Act). Also he was nominated for the 10th edition in the Best New Act Category for the Nigeria Entertainment Awards 2015.
Falz The Bahd Guy signed an endorsement Car sales site Cheki, he went ahead to pen yet another deal with WebMAllNG as official brand ambassador of the online shopping store for clothes, footwears, electronics, mobile phones, laptops, books, toys. On February 2015 he signed a deal with online Fashion retailer, Jay Osibe.
With the release of his sophomore set ‘’Stories That Touch’’, Falz is ready to take his place in the annals of Nigerian music as a tried and tested artiste who is deserving of every single accolade that been coming his way since 2011 when he introduced himself as the ‘’Wazup guy’’. Up till this point, it has no doubt been one hell of a ride but a rewarding one too. Although some would quickly say it is early days for flexing but then every positive accomplishment is worth celebrating; besides we have always been in the forefront of unmasking next-rated materials who went on to validate themselves in the past and this here is no different. We did it with Olamide and M.I and the records are there for checks. Only time will tell just how large Falz has the capacity to grow in the near future. But then one thing is certain, unlike most others before him, if by any chance the music fails, comedy might fly not to mention Nollywood where he has proved himself a natural. There is perhaps no better way to create a league of your own!
Words by Felix Smuv Abattam
(Culled from Mystreetz Magazine)