Yemi Alade recently kicked off a storm when she stated in a recent interview that there was no number one artist in Nigeria, as she commands the same audience as the likes of Wizkid and Davido.
Her comments has since generated mixed reactions but looking deeper, all Yemi Alade has stated are nothing but pure facts.
Couple of weeks back, Yemi Alade wrapped up the European leg of her Black Magic Tour with another successful concert at the 1,500 capacity Melkweg center in Amsterdam, Netherlands after sold out performances in places like London, France, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Belgium among others.
With the tour also billed to hold across several African cities and the United States in the coming months, Yemi Alade alongside her Ova Sabi band, have arguably toured and performed in as many cities as any other artist from the continent over the past few years.
Yemi Alade in April sold out the 800 capacity O2 Islington Academy arena in London, becoming the first female Afrobeats artist to headline an event at the venue.
The same venue that hosted one of Adekunle Gold‘s biggest and much publicized feat last year before his recent concert at the Indigo at the O2 Arena, but somehow, her feats have largely stayed under the radar and not gotten her the approbation or mention that she deserves, especially back home.
Is this a mysterious case of a her gender counting against her? female artistes not showing each other enough support as claimed by popular OAP, Dotun or just a prophet not getting recognition in her home town?
Yemi Alade has also won a number of awards including for Best African Female at the 2015 and 2016 MTV Awards and recently, ”Best Performer” at the 2018 Headies Awards, adding to an ever increasing cabinet of plaques.
Her journey to the top has not exactly being smooth as Yemi Alade admitted to releasing over 10 songs that one one paid attention to till she put out Johnny, which made her a household name not just in Nigeria but globally.
How she started
Yemi Alade first came to prominence when she emerged winner of the Peak Talent Show in 2009.
Despite releasing her debut single, ‘Fimisile’ in 2010 which featured veteran rapper, El Dee tha don with an accompanying video and ‘Ghen Ghen Love’ two years later, it wasn’t until 2013 when she got her major industry breakthrough with Johnny which was produced by Selebobo.
A song she said came about after she had contemplated quitting music and thought no one will like.
The singer is one of the most viewed African artists, both male and female on YouTube.
The video of her hit single, Johnny has the most views of any Nigerian artist with over 91 Million views, while her Bum Bum video hit 6 Million views in one month. The album King of Queens peaked at No 1 on the iTunes Africa chart.
She has also been crowned Best Female Artist twice at the MTV African Music Awards (2015&2016), nominated for the Best International Act, Africa at the 2015 Bet Awards, and 2014 MOBO Awards.
In 2015, she bagged the Headies Award for Revelation of the year, and also the Future Awards Africa Prize for Music in 2016.
So where lies the problem?
Hence it begs to wonder, when the likes of Wizkid and Davido feature on the big stage internationally, their profile gets a jump and almost instantly becomes a trending topic.
Support is an essential part of the show and industry observers feel she is not getting enough of that here, and for an artist that has attained the status of a bonafide superstar, why is that of Yemi Alade any different?
Sometime in 2016, Yemi Alade became a trending topic on Twitter, as Nigerians made jokes out of her lyrics and questioned her song writing skills.
In an article published by renowned music writer, Chiagoziem Onyekwena, also known as the Chiaman, he opines that being a female in a society like ours has worked against her and she would be more respected if she was a he;
”That’s the reason why it has been frustrating to watch the achievements of Yemi Alade, the princess of Nigerian pop music, being swept under the rug, while her artistic shortcomings become regular trending topics on the internet.
The singer is now executing her plans for continental and global domination with the kind of tenacity that, if we had seen in a male artist, would supersede their flaws and make them rank among the greatest of their time.” He concludes.
Media entrepreneur and broadcaster, Fola Folayan toes a similar path, for her, ‘‘Yemi Alade is getting mention at home but unfortunately, not the kind she deserves.
Much dragging about her supposed shallow lyrics instead of how she’s been our biggest female music export in recent times.
If Yemi Alade was male, and packing out venues across Europe and Africa, she will get more accolades at home.
Media personality, James Silas, is of the opinion that claims of her lacking a local appeal may be vague at this point and it may just be down to her team not doing enough to expose her feats.
‘While her fans may cut across the whole country, event promoters are the ones that need to engage her for the fans and if that’s not happening in Nigeria, as much as it’s happening outside, then we need to expand the conversation to include the Yemi and her management.”
It is without doubt that Yemi Alade has achieved a steady and illustrious career among the new generation of pop stars.
There also seem to be a guarantee that we will look back many years from now and appreciate how she has an African goal and is almost individually succeeding on her terms.
While some see her comparisons with the likes of Wizkid and Davido as an exaggerated state of how she views herself, considering the fact that Davido performing in a place like Suriname and Wizkid selling out the 20,000 O2 arena are stuffs of legends, she does have a point and the numbers to back up her claim.
This debate will likely not end but what is however conclusive is that Mama Africa has a point, so whenever the discussion of the biggest names in the country presently comes up, it is about time, we show respect and include the name, Yemi Alade in the conversation.