Praiz: In A League Of His Own
Across the world, the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc. But also, it has helped humans focus more on the little things that matter the most in life. In these troubled times, in politics, everyone now understands that the character of their elected officials’ matters – Good and responsible government matters. Also, the notion that health is wealth is no longer in dispute. With the society in lockdown, in the music industry, fans are now paying more attention to the musicians. The best vocalist amidst them is now respected and cherished.
Vocal dexterity now counts for something. Could this explain the reasons why the artiste Praiz has become the consensus male candidate described as one of the best vocalists in Nigeria? His rendition of the viral vocal #climaxchallenge on Instagram sends goosebumps all over the industry. Singing on a higher-pitched voice, Praiz is in a league of his own. But are most fans just noticing how good of a singer he is? No. The only new thing is that the whole world is now paying attention to him.
Nigerian music audiences are very fickle. Diehard fans are hard to come by. But Praiz audiences are ride or die. For 12-years to date, from his days as a participant at the 2008 MTN Project Fame, his fans stood by him. From being a cult hero, his ability to collaborate with several musicians of different genres as he did in his most recent album titled KING featuring Olamide, Wizkid, Sarkodie, Stonbwoy, and Burna Boy, has transformed him into a superhero character. He is winning over more audiences all over the globe.
I am a very versatile R&B singer. I’m a complete musician that can play several instruments and work with several artistes.
I’m very selective about my collaborations, and it has worked well for me. I like to work with musicians that fit into my genre. In most of the songs I have collaborated on, if you strip down the sound, the foundation is all R&B. That genre is my truth”. Christened Praise Ugbede Adejo, a native of Kogi state, born in Lagos and a Kaduna Polytechnic alumnus, Praiz has been riding the crest of fame since he came out as a second runner-up at the MTN Project Fame West Africa music competition won by Iyanya.
An undisputed RnB music flag-bearer, the songwriter and music producer has maintained to remain a stellar performer for over a decade. While most of his contemporaries have struggled to maintain consistency, Praiz has remained on top of his game. With several smash hit and captivating visuals, he has remained in the conversation as one of the best performers in Nigeria. “To maintain relevance in this industry, you must be good at your job. One also has to maintain a good relationship with people who support you from your day of struggle. One has to stay versatile with his or her sound. Most importantly, collaborate with artistes with a different fan base.”
For artistes that know their onions, their albums most speak volumes about their creative uniqueness. Praiz is proof of that. He has rolled out three classic projects – Two albums and one EP. “Over the years, I have put out a couple of amazing projects, the body of works that will stand the test of time. The first was the ‘Rich and Famous‘ album (Dec. 2014). It’s a double album that consists of 26 songs – 14 on one side and 12 on the other. This album was a groundbreaker that did well locally and internationally. It took me three years to put together. My second project is called 2 Minutes (Feb. 2018). The album talks about every facet of love topics ranging from separation, friends with benefits, forgiveness, and more.
My recent album is called KING (Dec. 2019). It’s a 16-track album. It featured musicians like Wizkid, Olamide, Timaya, Sarkodie, Stonebwoy, Burnaboy, Ikechukwu, and more. With every album I have released, I grew vocally, and my writing skills became better. All the projects are a collector’s item.” Without trying to sound all rosy, RnB has had a fair share of challenges in the Nigerian music industry. The dominance of pop music has restricted classic RnB songs to a few minutes of airplay on the radio. Now labeled as alternative music, those collections of mid-tempo songs are now getting a fair amount of traction.
The ongoing discrepancy is not solely as a result that the RnB / Alternative music has a fewer audience to those of pop music, to the contrary, but most OAPs can’t think outside the box. Most radio stations often can’t see beyond the end of their nose. That said, Praiz has defied the odds. “My journey has been an amazing and enlightening experience. I have gone through the highs, lows, and the highs. Some people I once stick my neck out for have disappointed me. All those issues have made me better and wiser. I have also learned that humility will take you where your talent won’t take you. Things might take a while to come to fruition, but it will eventually work out well. Hard work always pays off.”
Cultivating a fan base and engaging them in mini-shows and mega concerts are some of the best strategies in the industry. Legendary successful musicians have used this to their full benefit. From rapper Jay-Z and wife Beyoncé’s On The Run Tour, they have used this same tactic for good. Praiz has done the same. “In 2014, I organized my first concert called Intimate With Praiz. I did the same in 2015. I also planned Praiz Live In Concert for the 21st of March 2020. The show was canceled and rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Praiz Live In Concert is an RnB experience. I curated it to provide the best of RnB performances to those that love the genre. Artistes like Waje, Johnny Drille, and Chike was among those billed to perform. There’s a craving for live quality music. I want to deliver that.”
In the international music market, one of the fundamental elements for growth is a support structure. When iconic artistes support younger musicians with a mention and putting them on their shows, that is how the industry maintains prosperity. Praiz is a believer and a willing doer of this principle. “What I enjoy about the industry today is seeing talented musicians beginning to spring up and get the recognition. I love good music. I am happy that talented musicians churning out those kinds of music are winning. Right now, I am enjoying listening to the likes of Fireboy DML, Oxlade, Tems, Blezed, and Chike.” The feeling is also mutual. His colleagues adore him as one of a kind. According to Oxlade, “There are voices, then there’s Praiz.”
Although Praiz is in a league of his own, there’s no doubt that he will use his clout to support several young talents to reach stardom. He may join forces to form a league of extraordinary musicians. An ambassador of telecoms giant, MTN, vocally, Praiz is a monster of a singer. On a lighter note, Praiz has other recreational things he focuses on when he’s not recording music. “I love playing a video game – FIFA. I also play snooker, I swim, and also, I love my sleep.” Praiz is one of the single men in the industry. I ask him what meal he could easily prepare? “It has to be noodles. Indomie noodles to be precise.” Easy on the eyes, Praiz is in a class by himself.
Instagram & Twitter – @officialpraiz
Words By Sesan Adeniji: Follow on Instagram & Twitter – @sesanadeniji