“A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.
The subject of today’s A Week In The Life is Blaq Bonez. A fast-rising musician. He explains the challenges that come with promoting his music, the struggle of being an artiste, and the miracle of the internet.
Today, the first thing I do when I wake up is promote my song. I go online, retweet, and ask people to listen to my song. There is no routine as a musician so that means I don’t have a fixed time to wake up or do many things. I may have a show at the beginning of a week and not have another one till the end of the week. It’s just vibes.
What counts as my “9-5” is creating videos on Tik Tok asking people to listen to my latest single. People keep asking me how I make the videos but I don’t have a fixed process. My brain just takes information and processes it in the background. When I’m ready to create a video, it stitches them together and boom. Sometimes, I feel pressured when making videos because people on the internet have come to expect a certain standard from me. No matter what, I make sure to always give it my best.
In these Corona times, social media is everything because there isn’t a lot of offline promotion that can be done right now. The bulk of traffic used to come from people listening to the radio in their car, but that’s not possible right now seeing as everything is on pause. That’s why I am going hard on social media.
I don’t remember doing anything before this music thing. Even when I had doubts; releasing projects and not getting any airplay, I still stuck with it. At some point I asked myself if I was going round in circles. That maybe I needed to relax, watch stuff, and calm down. I even released a project then with a song titled God where I was basically talking about the struggles and everything. Those events made me doubt if I had chosen the right career path.
So, now that my music is getting airplay, I have to double down on promoting it to an even wider audience. That’s why I take this promotion thing as a full time job.
Pre-Corona, after a full day of work, I would relax by playing Fifa or something. Now, I am bored of constantly playing it.
These days, all I want to do is sleep.
In recent times, M.I, Don Jazzy, Mr. Eazi, and Burna Boy are some of the people who have given me cool signs and vibed to my music. It feels good to see people who are up there listening to my music.
Sometimes, the burden of the creative is that no matter how much you love what you are doing or what you create, you still doubt that you’ve created a good product. Self-doubt. So, seeing them vibe to my music is kind of reassuring that I made a good song and that I need to go harder on the promotion.
When people ask me how I handle the backlash from people who think I am doing too much, I tell them that I don’t dwell on negative comments. I never respond to them. I used to be in this rap battle group years ago where the job of your opponent was to make you angry by saying things that would upset you. That was training for me. Going through people constantly trying to bring me down gave me tough skin. Anytime I see something negative, I just zoom off.
I have also realised that no matter what it is, people will talk. Sometimes, I am on the internet and somebody will call the things I rate trash. For example, with everything Messi and Ronaldo have done, some people think that they are terrible footballers just because they are one side or the other of the argument. No matter what, there are always people that feel one kind of way about something. When you realize that, you will not give them any energy.
Today, I am going to spend my time creating more content to push my music. The people that will like it will like it.
As I am promoting my music I am also wary. The more popular you become, the more is expected of you. Sometimes, people don’t realise that you are a normal human being like everyone else. Everybody expects some kind of Iron man composure. They always believe that you are a superior human being. Like you are not allowed to be a normal person, it’s weird. You get criticized for doing stuff any normal person would get away with. For example, if someone insults Davido and he replies, people will criticize him. People expect him to unlook. Everyone forgets that he’s a human being with feelings too.
No one attacks a normal guy when he responds to someone insulting him. But when someone that is big does it, it’s a problem. So, you can’t be like everyone else.
I have built my brand around being myself at all times. So, even with any backlash, I am still myself. Artistes are supposed to have pride and be larger than life but I am not doing any of that. I am just myself all the time. Nobody has moved the way I am moving and I think that’s helping with my song promotion.
I have no plans on what to do for the rest of today. I’ll push the music as usual and go with the flow for the remaining part of the day.
Today, I am thinking about the fact that I have been at home for so long that I no longer remember what I used to do pre-lockdown. I sha know I used to go out. I am sort of an introvert so I used to go for only music-related things; shows and concerts.
My most memorable concert still happens to be in OAU. I was at one event and I forgot my lyrics so I just stood there. There were like 5,000 people and I couldn’t remember my lyrics and in that moment I was just lost. They were looking at me until I was ushered off the stage. That single moment still drives me till today. It makes me constantly rehearse my lyrics before I go for any show.
I still get stage fright.
I am not at the point where I am sure that no matter where I perform the fans will know the music. It’s scary if you go on stage to perform and there’s no response. It’s not something you look forward to. It always helps your confidence on stage when the crowd knows your music. This is why the hustle never stops.
I plan to record new music in my home studio today. At least, something to remind me of good times before this whole thing started.
I have never really cared about money or anything. I mean obviously, we need money for our daily needs. But, I don’t sit down and think about cars and money and houses. My brain is not wired like that. I think of global domination. How can I take my music to Billboard? I just need money to sort out my everyday bills while I figure that part out. So, it’s not because of money I am doing this rap thing.
I earn enough to help the people that I fuck with. My family, my friends, and those around me. It’s important that people who actually know me feel my presence. I am not one of those artistes that give away money to random people on the internet. I only give money to the people I fuck with and that’s why my circle is small.
Money giveaways attract a kind of audience that isn’t real. In my opinion, they will only engage when there is money.
The good thing is that Nigeria is not as bad as abroad. In the hip hop world there, if you don’t have a dope chain you are regarded as a nonsense artist. That’s why you’ll see someone with a good chain and someone will still be attacking them, asking what kind of chain is that.
In Nigeria, if you live a fast life, you are just doing yourself. If you think about it, as much as the media tries everything, no one has seen the cars that Wizkid drives. No one has seen videos of the kind of house Wizkid lives in.
There’s no pressure from Nigerians to look like you have 50 billion. Anyone that is doing it here is doing it because they think it will help them promote their music. The truth is that Nigerians don’t care that much. Which is one thing that I appreciate in this country.
So, if you are doing fast life, you are just doing yourself.
I don’t have a car. It’s not like anyone wakes up trying to attack me. Nobody cares about it. If you have it and you want to show it off, kudos to you.
The only thing I am interested in showing off are my numbers. I am very critical about them. My goal is to always outdo the numbers I did the year before and thankfully, my recent promotion strategy is paying off.
Today, my song moved up the charts by fifteen spots. That in itself is worth more than anything. Today is a good day.
The only thing on my mind today is:
The most common misconception about being an artiste is that people think that we are never broke. Maybe it’s because of the videos people see on TV or something. They assume that there’s always a large sum of money in the bank at any given time. They don’t know that popular people also run out of money.
Anytime I am broke, people don’t believe me. I have literally had people tell me I was lying when I told them I was broke. I don’t allow it to bother me, I live my own truth.
It’s not even in this period where there are no shows to perform that I will be pretending to be what I am not.
I am just waiting for all this to be over. Let the virus leave us, let’s return back to our normal lives – my whole life is literally the same routine of wake up, sleep, promote music.
It gets tiring.
I want to go out; I miss performances. I want to perform.
Check back every Tuesday by 9 am for more “A Week In The Life ” goodness, and if you would like to be featured or you know anyone who fits the profile, don’t hesitate to reach out. Reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to be featured on this series.