More Branches speak with UK based Nigerian rapper Fasina

Richard Ogundiya talks to UK based Nigerian rapper Fasina about his music, style and his hopes for the African youth for More Branches

For you Fasina, has music always been your thing? Or did you just jump on it along the way?

I’ve always been into music for as long as I can remember. I was always making bars from young days, the culture in south east (all parts of London tbh) was that guys kinda just spat bars all the time. My friends and I would form a circle and spit quick 8 or 16 bars. It was sick.

Oh, wow. What was the influence? Who did you listen to to while growing up?

That’s hella general. I listen/listened to a lot while growing up, I’d say the artists that have a major influence on me are Fela, Coldplay, Biggie, Eminem, Tyler, The Creator, Giggs, Sinatra, Sade Adu to mention a few. Growing up I listened to a lot of like Eminem, Biggie, Giggs. I probably shouldn’t have been listening to them during my young age but I was drawn to their persona.

Timing is everything, everyone is being recognised, all just for different reasons. If you’re average in your works, you’d receive average reception. 

Truth is, there’s still a fight for Africa’s new generation creatives as regards awareness, what are your hopes for the future ?

I don’t know, I feel like there’s a lot of mediocrity out there that’s being tolerated and promoted so I just kinda stick to my own people and make GOOD music. The current artists at the moment that I support and hold dear are legit visionaries who inspire me daily. Not even just the music but the creativity-the time put in for their cover arts/ pictures. Some guys I’ve met on twitter I legit hold in such high regard not just from their work, anyone can make good music, anyone can take great pictures. It’s just the drive and story behind it. The way in which they strike their differences makes them as good as they are now. If I mention names, I’d be here all day. Timing is everything. Everyone is being recognized, all for different reasons. If you’re average in your works, you’d receive avergae reception. But as for me, the plan is just to keep doing what I’m doing now,  progress from it. I’m in this for the long run.

Yesssss, I’m so happy to hear this! You’d agree with me that there’s this synergy between creatives here in Nigeria or Africa at large and those over in the U.K. Can you explain it?

Yeah of course. In the UK, especially London where I’m from, there’s a HUGE Afro-Brit community here as well as Caribbean, hence why you have the Nottinghill Carnival etc. So like in music, fashion, art in general, there’s a connection between us and the homeland. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience both worlds and it’s sick to see whats happening presently.

Being from the UK and obviously very much from Nigeria, I feel like with music I kinda have a duty to draw that connection from the homeland over here. It’s evident with my sound. Africa means the world to me and I’m just letting the world know.

I’ve to agree, there’s so much good stuff happening at the same time and it’s pretty awesome for us as a people, it’s a path to a whole new Africa that we should all be excited about. Now let’s talk about more music; Adara, 5 star (my anthem for days!). What inspires you to do this kind of music? You’re unique, I must add.

A lot of things inspire the music-experiences majorly. I kinda explained 5 star on Femi’s Reprezent interview (it’s on her SoundCloud page if anyone wants to like find out what drove it). But yeah, like most artists I guess my experiences drive the music. And thank you so much bro!

I’m definitely going to look for it! Where do you see your creative space/power in the next few years?

No idea but I’m looking to be one of the legends. Like GREAT. Still don’t know how it’s gonna happen but it’s gonna happen.

Definitely going to happen man! I must say, it’s been really nice vibing with you. I mean, I’ve seen another side of Fasina and it’s great. Lastly, what’s your advice to Africa’s youth?

My advice for the youth? Just keep positive, stay happy and be radical. The industry is changing a lot and it’s for the better, things are handled differently than before & you can kinda do things yourself without having to give into the powers that be. Stay true to yourself and  just remain cool man. I’m really digging Waffles & Cream by the way . Those guys are amazing. I can’t wait to get to lagos and tell them that personally.

This indeed, is the truth for the African boy and girl. I’m so glad you’ve been watching, they had a skate jam few weeks ago and it was amazing!! We really can’t wait to have you in Lagos 5 star guy. 

Yeah I know I’ve been on social media observing the whole thing. Love it. And I also can’t wait to there!

Interview Conducted by Richard Ogundiya.

More Branches interview with Dolapo Alade [Beat FM 97.9]

Dolapo Alade is an On -Air Personality (AOP) for Ibadan based Beat FM in Nigeria. She talks to Adedayo Lekatu (More Branches).

How has music grown over the years to you being a personality on radio?
Dolapo Alade : Music has grown immensely; to the point the international market has seen the uniqueness and beauty of it, to want to get with the vibe or associate with it.

The afro-pop music has become so dynamic that you can’t get just one “Naija sound”. The ability to have more than one category in one genre shows how evolved it has become.

What’s Afro-Pop to you and what impact do you feel it’s had on our culture both good and bad in relation to the new culture ‘new age’ music is bringing into Africa?

Dolapo Alade : The Afropolitan pop culture.. that’s the clear definition for me, nothing to personify. I won’t say afro-pop made an impact on our culture, It’s the other way round. The artists are able to use what’s happening around to project their art using the melody that suits the story. Granted we have our misgivings about some artists glorifying crime and whatnot but that’s what’s happening. You can only get good art when you can relate to what you’re creating.

The new generation’s music from Africa’s young minds is still fighting to gain awareness, how do you think their sound can be pushed out into the world more being an OAP?

Dolapo Alade : The manipulation of social media is very underrated for the unsigned. A great example is Chance the Rapper; he was able grow his fan base through Soundcloud and other social media platforms. Make use of any kind of exposure, there’s never too much exposure. The speed of information passed on social media is very fast. This depends on the content and the way it is designed. Here’s one example; Have an Instagram Live concert, collaborate with your fellow indie musicians and have a monthly concert. If they are able to use these tools to their advantage they would surpass the barriers keeping them from peaking. 

I’ve had friends who want to go into music and they always talk about how expensive it is to be an artist in Africa; how they have to pay to get their songs on radio and tv. What do you think about that narrative and how can it be changed?

Dolapo Alade : In my honest opinion, you really don’t have to pay for anything if the song is really good. DJs, radio presenters, media personalities and so on want to be associated with the next big thing. Payola is a problem when it’s not voluntary and can dissuade artists but if your material is good, you have nothing to worry about.

They have to know that every generation has its time, and what gets them the spotlight is to collaborate with the older ones to get their first spotlight and then eventually the older generation will want to emulate the trend as well – Dolapo Alade

Why do you think many of these artist have problems of getting their content then? Cause the sounds are good but I hear issues of how they still get billed. Is this from the system and is it a thinking we need to change?

Dolapo Alade : That’s where the power of record labels come in. They have the funds to handle the publicity and media interviews that push their new content, Yes it’s the system. It’s just how things work.

People often feel the need to come down to Lagos to make it. I’ve been to Ibadan and they have a growing culture for the arts and tech. From the music angle, what do you think about Ibadan’s scene?

Dolapo Alade : Ibadan is growing in terms of the arts and tech scene. There’s content here in Ibadan, but  evasive of the existent structure in Lagos, there’s more attention in Lagos. We can’t in anyway compare the culture in Ibadan to Lagos when it comes to arts and tech. Regardless of this; there are individuals seriously pushing out their content aggressively, a number of talents in Lagos started their craft in Ibadan. There’s room for growth and development a lot still has to be done in providing certain platforms for budding talents here.

How important is it for the music culture to allow the younger generation come into the scene fully? 

Dolapo Alade : The thing is there’s really nothing stopping the younger generation, every generation of music has its time and would eventually take over mainstream. It starts slowly, It’s only a matter of time and I truly believe that. 

In the entertainment scene the younger generation feel that the older ones have set a barrier or standard that makes it problematic for them to penetrate the industry. They have to know that every generation has its time, and what gets them the spotlight is to collaborate with the older ones to get their first spotlight and then eventually the older generation will want to emulate the trend as well.

Interview by Adedayo Lekatu for More Branches

Social Media as a Tool

What does social media mean to you? Do you ever think about it?The amount of times I have had to explain to my mom that I wasn’t just ‘pressing phone’ but was actually working or learning, she often looks at me with the wariness one might give a ‘mad’ man when one catches him soliloquising and he insists that he is very much sane.  

But really, what does social media mean to you?  For some, it’s a way to unwind and laugh after a long and stressful day; while for others, it is a cause of their depression as they begin to measure their happiness against the amount of followers or likes they have. For some it is a way of communication with family and friends, while others see social media as a way to advertise their brand or business, raise awareness on a particular social issue or create a name for themselves. 
It’s pretty obvious how tectonic social media is to our generation. Even in the work place- social media experts to public relations officers, it has definitely created employment opportunities in areas that were non-existent for previous generations. Methods of employment have changed with advent of online interviews and business meeting conference calls.  Some employers now require that you are an active user of social media.

My major concern for the new age is: are we really using social media as a tool to create new waves for ourselves or do we just spend time fawning over slay queens and arguing over football or even waiting on retweets and likes which happens to be the new currency. It is important for us to realise that conversational media shouldn’t just be a place for bants and mundane conversations. I texted a friend in London yesterday. WOW some twenty years ago, this was impossible. This pulls me quickly to different spheres, just imagine how far your music, writing, painting and other creations could go if you decided to wobble community marketing and reach a global audience. Do you know how many writers owe their fame and literary careers to the blogs they own?

And what about learning? Learning has evolved, full fact. I have watched two psychology classes taught in a lecture hall in Yale from the comfort of my house in Lagos, thanks to YouTube. I recently met an amazing make up artist and she told me how she took all her makeup tutorials on YouTube and linked up with other professionals via social media platforms, kept on practicing till she became the expert she is today. This Is The New Age! 

Attaining consciousness, social media shouldn’t be an ignored medium or classified as a distraction.  Of course I am not oblivious to how toxic it can be and how sometimes, one does need to take a step back for a while.  But let us use social media the same way our fathers used postal letters and stamps as a way of moving information.

Days ago, I read a report that stated the different age groups and their sources of newstheir news, crazy how the internet is taking the lead, even over TVs and radios.

So hey! wake up, smell the morning coffee and get conscious. 

Dear superstar, you could sell your entire album online without belonging to a record label, you know? 

Entrepreneur, you’re aware that you could advertise your business without printing any flyers? 

Writers, realized that you could publish your books without the name of any publishing house? 

I think it succinct to end this piece by saying use social media platforms as well as a device to reach friends and family,  a medium for laughter and banter, but learn from it, see the world clearer and see it as a way of ‘selling your market’(in Chigul’s voice).

Written By Titi Odeyinka.

Will the beasts rise?: Banks and the Finetech Startups

The truth is, oil is still king. I understand that you’re in haste to coronate innovation but until you disrupt, the holy book commands that you must be honest in all your doings.

It’s amazing how we skip process in Africa, we just jump on revolution. That’s the truth, you’re angry? the narrative is wrong? bruh, I kid you not, it’s our attitude. My parents told me stories about how during the good old days, you had to go pick a numbered tag very early in the morning at Union Bank Marina (Nigeria) then come back later for your money (patience really is a virtue honestly).

 But then we’ve moved on, just like the vision of a global church, there are now banks in every 5 minute working distance. 20th century automated transaction machines have littered everywhere and Africans are now open to the idea. The banks are even doing more, partnering and creating conscious social initiatives as ways of giving back even if I think they’ve done more harm than good (thoughts are mine).

Lately, there’s been a shift in the way we do things. We’ve become a tech savvy continent (or we’re headed there), the big decline in oil prices has already had a severe impact on the continent. Even countries less dependent on the export of raw materials are enduring the headwinds of the commodities price decline.

So we’ve buckled up and are doing new things: integrating tech with culture and it’s working. We can’t ignore how the revolution is tackling money, Fintech – short for Financial Technology is on the rise. Over the past two years, startups focusing on payments technology have been springing up, right and down. I mean, we now buy bitcoins and also do online pyramid scams, schemes I meant. Fintech is certainly upending many different niches in finance, kids are now raising millions of dollars in venture capital to disrupt the sector and its amazing. 

Look at how Paga, MPesa, Flutterwave, Paystack, BitPesa, Branch, Snapscan and the likes are bringing the new light. Sending money is now as easy as sending WhatsApp broadcasts. Like never before, online merchants are flourishing because some people have taken it upon themselves to fix what has always been broken- payments and it’s exciting!

Certainly, the banks are getting pressured, even though these startups are still tiny, they respect the audacity. There’s sentiment in some corners of the market that Fintech can and will sound the death knell for traditional banks. However when considered in greater context, we see that these very same banks, through strategic acquisitions and partnerships, may put a stop to even the more cutting-edge technology solutions playing a major disruptive role.

I’m a tech enthusiast, I love to jump on ‘new’ but I love the truth too. Are banks likely to disappear? I think the fuck not. They get the plight, they aren’t sleeping too, look well and you’ll observe how ‘old drunken big belly uncles’ are pulling forces together with tech collectives to also play the cards even if I feel they don’t get it (a case study on WEMABANK’s ALAT) and I also gauged what Zenith Bank did with Cregital recently.

Many banks have failed miserably in technology offerings for their customers, either being extremely slow to release new platforms, or producing solutions that are clumsy, clunky and in some cases simply unworkable for the user. What does this mean? Innovators and disrupters have a damn good platform to enter the fray and take a slice of the pie. The banks are vulnerable and they know it. I had a discussion with one of the founders of a Nigerian bank and he expressed his fears, he doesn’t even understand what the uproar is about. ‘Who are the best developers around?’, he asked. Man thinks it’s about getting them to clone these apps and dump it on customers.

This is what differentiates the fin-tech startups, they have a thorough understanding of the market, they’re entrenched in the demographics. They know big brothers’ mistakes and are leveraging on it, they didn’t play chess for nothing. And this is where we are starting to see genuine incremental innovation and disruption and I must admit (again) just how exciting this is.

Banks are big! talmbout bullion vans and high rise offices. The sector is well established and protected that challenging it as a whole from the outside is an unwinnable battle. We know well enough to never say never, but it’s reasonable to assume that the likelihood of a startup posing a serious, life changing threat to our largest banks is low. They can acquire these startups at any time or at least dub them (exactly what they are doing), that’s why ALAT will spend millions to call themselves ‘Nigeria’s first digital bank’ but I mean; they gave us one of the continent’s biggest artiste and free food in one night so who are we to take an action (?). 

Even Central banks are making the process of handling transactions hard for the new guns. I remember when I was invited for a creative session that was meant to develop ideas for a new payments company but after reading the regulations in place and other requirements, I left Lekki that day reassuring myself that I’m young so therefore I don’t need any stress. The tenacity and patience to navigate prehistoric and often frustrating internal politics of the banking world is the tallest wall for startups that want to infiltrate.

Plot twist, let’s say that if fin-tech doesn’t kill banks, it might instead sap the sector’s profitability. Gauge International transactions, the kids have the edge- many banks have been unable to run foreign payments/subscriptions as a result of economic downturns but the guys at Flutterwave came through with BatterCards and this was possible because of their foreign allegiances, this and many more.

One thing you can’t dispute, banks have ingrained advantages, and they do some things remarkably well, like the current account,l- which allows people to store money in a way that keeps it safe and permanently accessible. Few startups want to take on that heavily regulated bit of finance. Many even admit they depend on it: after all, you need a bank account to use most fintech services 😉

Now, if the banks flock to fin-tech startups for ancillary services or the startups keep riding on the influence of the banks– will there likely be a war? if yes, who wins or maybe we’re even exaggerating scales and things will be normal?  well? Let’s just say that all these are billion dollar questions the future will answer, we’ve only seen the beginning.

Written by Richard Ogundiya

Inteview with Goldkeyz, a Nigerian music producer 

​Interview with Ayo Onaduja for More Branches.                                                ________________________________________

Why did you name yourself Goldkeyz and what do you understand by being a producer ?

Goldkeyz : Actually didn’t name myself ‘Goldkeyz’. It was given to me by Bankyondbeatz. He inspired me to start making music. Big shouts to him. What I understand by being a producer is more than just getting on a DAW and making a beat. You have to be conscious of the artists’ style, know what to do to bring out the best in him/her, even instruct the artists from the recording stage when necessary.

I want to talk about the relationship you have with Bernie And Banky? You all are friends from college and somehow feed off each others’s energy

Goldkeyz : Bernie is my cousin, friends with Banky for years now since high school. Basically brothers to me. Yeah about that, it’s just good vibes. We know where we’re coming from and where we intend on going with our plans. We just keep ourselves in the loop: when new projects are recorded we link up, listen, rub minds, pure vibes.

My sound is dark and spiritual; easy to sink into. I pay attention to the percussions in my music- Goldkey.

Explain the music you create ?

Goldkeyz : I make laid-back music-simple and mellow. During production of instrumentals I make sure all the elements I’m adding counts and I pay attention to every detail; makes it easier for the artists to work with. I can say I make timeless music too- doesn’t age over time, still sounds fresh when you listen even when it was made years back.

Define your sound, the elements and tone of your music.

Goldkeyz : My sound is dark and spiritual; easy to sink into. I pay attention to the percussions in my music. it really gives that drive, then the rest just comes honestly. Grew up listening to African music from the likes of King Sunny Ade, Chief Ebenezer Obey, Fela Kuti and so on. My dad played them a lot when I was younger. Even till date i really love the percussions in the music, the way they swing. I picked that up and tend to fuse it with the new school drums.

Let’s talk about your debut body of work ‘Afrocentric’, the story behind its inception, what inspired it and the direction of your music moving forward ?

Goldkeyz : ‘Afrocentric’ that project is still very dear to me. Then I believed I’ve found my sound. There’s this exotic sound I created with the afro music, you could hear that on Mainland Cruise, Roulette and the rest. Most songs were recorded way back and was lying around on my computer. When I came up with the idea of having a project out for listeners I just compiled them and made some more,; staying true to the culture. Now music is evolving day by day so holding on to bits of afro elements and blending it with different sounds is one way I’m pushing my music forward, plus I’m working on a project and I have some plans lined up for that.

Defining the music of my generation I would say is almost impossible because music on its own is wide and can’t be boxed. 

Define the music of your generation from a perspective of the sounds being infused and created by producers ?

Goldkeyz :  Defining the music of my generation I would say is almost impossible because music on its own is wide and can’t be boxed. Essentially, as a music producer it is very easy to be creative with the beat selection and fusing different sounds for the artiste I’m looking to work with just because this generation is exposed to a whole range of music.

African music is globally recognized, how does that affect your mindset in creating ?

Goldkeyz : To be totally honest with you, when I create music, I don’t put all you’ve mentioned in consideration. I just put sounds that I am comfortable with together and I create, anywhere my sound reaches, the people there would relate and enjoy my music.

The Kids Will Code

This segment is a collaborative effort between More Branches (@MoreBranches), a Nigerian based content curating site and Culartblog.
Written By Richard Ogundiya For More Branches (@MoreBranches)                            ________________________________________

I spent my childhood going for birthday parties and learning how to somersault. I got on a wave one time and I started writing (a big production house bought my script. There was even a time Rockstar Sosa and I started rapping, but those dreams kept on being dreams.

Today, It’s crazy how I see 6, 7 and 8 years old kids hop into their parents’ cars on weekends and tell you they’re going for coding sessions.      Wait? What are you coding?

Oh are you still shadowed? You still don’t know Nigerian kids have started coding? I’m happy I broke the news. I always like to talk about the Role Co Creation hub has played and is still playing in the creation of a vibrant tech ecosystem, its crazy. Some years ago, I was testing an educational app in one of their labs, another time it was geeks club (after school hours for the tech enthusiasts) and then there was the bomb- summer of code.

Co Creation Hub birthed Re:Learn, an organization helping students and schools use technology the right way 

Summer of Code is a full month of interactive programs that introduces kids aged 5-18 years old into computer science and programming, wild! Here, the kids learn to make connections between technology and their interests; they learn how to design computer games and animations using SCRATCH, design web pages using HTML/CSS and build computer applications using python, again, wild!

I really thought we were the internet kids, I was wrong. Imagine what these kids will do at age 13? We might wake up and stumble on a social messaging platform built by one of the kids, for the kids, someday.

Co Creation Hub birthed Re:Learn, an organization helping students and schools use technology the right way (if you can remember a picture of Mark Zuckerberg paying attention to kids while they used the computer during his visit to Nigeria then you definitely know what I’m talking about.) 

Re:Learn currently runs an after school club for students between primary 1 and SS3, two times a week. There’s a weekend club for children who are too busy to spare work days, the sole aim is to prepare the kids for today’s digital world and also allow them learn new skills.

Then there’s gap year, for students who are done with secondary and have time to spare instead of unicribing (an act of sleeping and waking up till the next jamb form is out, common amongst West Africans) this one aims to kickstart a career for you and prepare you for the undergraduate life.

They’re using content curation and capacity development to improve the learning experience in and out of the classroom (emphasis on ‘out’). Few weeks ago, they launched Educators’ Network- a community of educators who are passionate about education and have a strong appreciation of technology, remember I said few weeks ago? Today, they’ve gotten over 1500 applications from across the country, Masters and PhD holders inclusive.

One at a time, these wonderful team from CCHub are engineering ways to ensure that the children of today become internet rockstars. They want to serve over 1,000,000 students in the span of 5 years and at the same time, combat unemployment by training graduates and deploying them to schools nationwide.

If our kids can code, if our kids can code, if our kids can jump on the internet of things, then it’s safe to say that Re:Learn has fixed a major October 1 1960 problem.

The future is being created via the internet and it’s energizing to know we have tech companies in Nigeria and other African nations encouraging the youths to be apart of the global internet revolution, this will allow us create our own applications and lead our own tech companies that can shape and structure solutions to problems that have faced Africans for years.
This new movement of coding within the culture has inspired tech start-ups like Andela, LeadSpace and one I’m currently building with friends called Mushroom Technologies. 
Knowing we’re more empowered by aiding ourselves with the skills to program and construct our own layers of the world using a computer and internet, tech companies, start-ups and hubs like the ones I’ve mentioned will become homes to these pioneers.
We would create our own Google, our own Amazon, leaders of the tech world like Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs will be birthed within them, in Africa to help grow these companies that might seem like start ups now, a change is coming and the kids are coding it.