EEDRIS STOP 50 CENTS FROM PERFORMING IN NIGERIA
President of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Mr Charles Oputa (Charly Boy), who was invited to intervene in the dispute between the crew of the visiting American artiste, 50 Cents, and Eedris Abdulkareem, speaks about the altercation, in this interview with Entertainment Correspondent, Richard Eghaghe, and he was his blunt self when he said the organisers.
What is your reaction to the sudden departure of 50 Cents and his G-Unit Band?
It is a sad situation. I am personally not too happy. It is a big loss to his fans in Port Harcourt and Benin, who have been full of expectations of his coming. This is the kind of thing that could happen when you don't have that synchronisation between corporate bodies and the custodians of this industry. This was what we have always been afraid of, and we held several meetings with NBL to point out our fears and the need for us to collaborate. So, for me, it is sad that it all ended on a bad note.
You where in fact called to intervene in the dispute. How successful were you?
NBL didn't invite me. It was Eedris who called me to say there was a problem and that he is not too happy with the neglect of the Nigerian artistes on the bill of the Star Mega Jam. He complained that they were being treated like cheats and that I should come to the airport fast to resolve the problem. So, I ran to the airport. On getting there, I discovered that it was a little thing that couldn't have been counted as anything.
Apparently, Eedris and others were seated in the aircraft waiting for 50 Cents, waiting for a long time and they were later asked to vacate their seats that it was the VIP section. That was how the argument started.
If PMAN was to be involved in that event, that kind of thing won't happen. There would have been a good rapport between the home artistes and the visiting artiste. There wouldn't have been this kind of discrimination.
We saw this during the Wyclef show and we made sure that there was this closeness between Wyclef and our own artistes. So, that was what really happened. Thank God it didn't degenerate. We were able to calm frayed nerves. But the 50 Cents crew felt a little bit uneasy with the situation. Not because of that particular incident, like they told the Corporate Affairs people, but because most of the things NBL was supposed to do, they were not providing them and they were having a running battle with some characters from Cosse. In the future, we are going to insist on handling the hospitality aspect of foreign artistes' visits.
The picture is like a direct confrontation between Eedris and 50 Cents. Was that the true situation?
50 Cents was not in the picture at all. It was 50 Cents' people, NBL people, against Eedris and his people. There was no contact, no exchange of words between Eedris and 50 Cents himself.
Who were the VIPs?
I don't know who they were and who they were referring to. I think Eedris took that as an insult on his part and a challenge. He refused to vacate. I think one of 50 Cents' people tried to push one of Eedris' boys out of the chair. This resulted to some scuffle between them.
Were other Nigerian artistes not in the plane, to intervene early enough to calm the situation?
They were, but they decided to be meek and quiet.
What was the relationship between NB and PMAN regarding the Star Mega Jam?
Like you know, once it involves Nigerian artistes or entertainment, we always want to be there. May be we should begin to read the riot act to them. We left the hospitality part as an option. We were willing to work with them but they didn't incorporate us from the very word go. It was like we were forcing ourselves to be part of the event. We weren't too comfortable with that. So, we left them.
You were not in the 50 Cents show in TBS, Lagos and Eagles Square Abuja, why?
ries (NB) Plc., made a mess of the organisation. Excerpts.
HOW IT ALL TORN TO JAGAJAGA:
This year's edition of the popular international music project, Star Mega Jam, for good or for bad has gone down as an epoch-making event. From the onset, the project bore all the trappings of a successful show until it was forcefully brought to an abrupt end last Saturday to no fault of the organisers. Prior to the commencement of the four-day musical tour, the organisers assured all of a hitch-free concert. And a hitch-free concert they were hosting before Eedris Abdukareem, one of the artistes on tour decides to throw caution and civility to the winds.
Just before what most Nigerians have described “Eedris' show of shame” in Lagos on Saturday, the Southside Jamaica-born, but US-based rapper born Curtis Jackson, 50 Cent and his Nigerian colleagues on tour entertained audiences in Abuja and Lagos on Wednesday, December 1 and Friday, December 3 respectively.
The Abuja which held inside the Eagle Square ground in Garki, Abuja went smoothly. Ace stand up comedian, Gbenga Adeyinka set the arena in ecstatic mood for the night of musical extravaganza with rib-cracking jokes and musical mimicking of popular Nigerian artistes. He stood out as a performer that night, entertaining his crowd of listeners with jokes and thrilling entertainment.
Gyration crooner, Tony One-Week whet the audience's appetite for a night of musical fulfillment when he took the stage with scintillating dance steps and vibes of his palmwine music. Tony One-Week started by warming his audience up with a medley of his popular numbers, especially from his debut album, Gyration, before new tracks like “Holy Ghost”.
Safe for the energy of Gbenga Adeyinka, the Abuja show was almost a drab. Though it takes ages to transit from one artiste to the other, there was no provision for a DJ to fill in the gap. The show wholly depended on him as the anchor.
At about 12:30am, the star act of the Mega Jam, 50 Cent and his G Unit group appeared on stage to a tumultuous welcome by the ecstatic audience. Wild screams rent the air as the fair-skinned rapper sound out on his mike. “Hallo brothas, sisthas. Hallo Nigeria!” signaling his readiness to perform. Though his performance was nearly marred by the poor sound production from the woofers, he was determined to give his best. 50 Cent danced and frolicked about the stage as the crowd surge threateningly forward to touch him. While the security attempt to push the crowd back, he screamed: “Leave ma people! Let ma brothas come near!”
At this point, he reiterated his appreciation for the warm welcome accorded him by Nigerians right from when his plane touched down at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos on Monday, November 30. In appreciation, he dipped his hand into his pocket, brought a bundle of $50 notes and spray into the teeming crowd who scrambled to grab the notes. He did this three times at intervals spraying about $15,000 before wrapping up his performance in Abuja. He would repeat the same act during his performance in Lagos.
He was so overjoyed while playing for the crowd in Abuja that he jumped into the surging crowd giving his bodyguards and the venue security nightmarish time to fish him out of the crowd that enveloped him. Even while his bodyguards and security try to push the crowd away from, he sinks deeper into the screaming crowd of youths struggling to touch or shake hands with him.
Daddy Showkey who took the stage after 50 Cent in Abuja was nearly mobbed by the ecstatic crowd who surged forward to catch a glimpse of the Ghetto Soldier. Shouts of “Ghetto Soldier!”, “Showkey Bobo!”, rent the air as he made his way through the teeming crowd to the stage. It took spirited efforts by his bodyguards and security personnel at the venue to help him find his way to the stage among his teeming fans who fall on one another trying to shake hands with him.
Once on stage, Showkey thrilled his audience with his Galala style. His razzmatazz on stage still continue to enthrall music lovers wherever he goes. He kicked off his impressive performance with at about 2:30am with “Who Get Moto” before meandering through his rich library of tunes bringing live on stage melodies like, “I Thank God”, “Dyna”, “Fire Fire”, among others.
Of course, Eedris came on after Showkey in Abuja. He apparently could not hide his unfounded disdain (or is it animosity) for the visiting rap star, 50 Cent. Soon as Eedris grabbed the microphone, he fumed: “50 Cent na oga for America, me I be Oga for rap for Nigeria!” His rowdy performance span songs like “Mr. Lecturer”, “Jagajaga” among others.
The seemingly bored crowd heaved a sigh of relief when he eventually left the stage at about 4:00am for the one who pundits adjudged the star act of the night, Abass Akande Obesere. Soon Gbenga Adeyinka announced the name Obesere, the make-shift zinc fence of the Eagle Square came crashing as the ecstatic crowd of spectators who could not make it into the arena fall on one another trying to catch a glimpse of the Fuji star on stage. The situation was definitely out of control of the security personnel who watched helplessly as the surging crowd of Fuji lovers trooped to the dance floor frolicking to Obesere's vibes.
The energetic performer did not disappoint his fans. He dished out hot Fuji tunes from his repetoire and even compose songs extempore in praise of the peaceful music lovers who thronged the venue, the organisers of the show and the visiting artiste, 50 Cent. He gave the same account of himself at the Lagos leg of the show, sending the ecstatic crowd at Tafawa Balewa Square dancing and screaming wildly for hours non-stop.
By the time Obesere rounded up his performance at about 6:30am in Abuja, the crowd were still asking for more.
The Lagos show would not end until the Omode Meta N'sere crooner, Tony Tetuila thrilled the crowd with his popular numbers. Accompanied by his Ghanaian friend and collaborator, Tic Tak, Tetuila enchanted his audience with scintillating rendition of his popular numbers like, “Fefe Ne Fe”, “You Don Hit My Car”, among others.
The performances in Lagos were tremendous improvement on the Abuja gigs. This is probably due to the defective musical equipment supplied during the Abuja leg of the concert. The sound from the woofers in the Abuja show left much to be desired.
The organisers, the artistes and the Star Mega Jam were about repeating the same feat as achieved in Lagos and Abuja in Port Harcourt and Benin last Saturday and Sunday respectively before Eedris Abdukareem decided to inject his 'jagajaga' attitude to human relations into the show thereby bringing the tour to an abrupt end. Eedris, who is playing his first concert at any musical concert of Star Mega Jam proportions unfoundedly put up a fight with the visiting artiste, 50 Cent over sitting arrangement in the aircraft chattered for the purpose of conveying the American rap icon to the concert venues. 50 Cent and his band had to leave the country prematurely on the advice of the American Embassy in Nigeria.
First Class Palaver: A Premeditated Miscarriage
That Eedris Abdukareem was largely responsible for the abrupt termination of this year's Star Mega Jam is no longer news, what's news is the event that lead to rapper's 'jagajaga' act and the event handlers' laspses.
Eedris started giving signs of his somewhat predetermined plan to scuttle the musical jamboree when he forcefully hijacked a 32-seater Coaster bus for his six-man band upon arriving Abuja for the first leg of the show on Wednesday, December 1. Practically shoving his bewildered band members into the bus, he bellowed “Make una enter! I go show someone now say I get craze for head! All of una dey craze!” apparently referring to the organisers.
Of course, the astonished organisers were forced to arrange for more vehicles to convey other artistes - Tony One-Week, Daddy Showkey and Abass Akande Obesere, their band members, journalists, agency staff, Nigerian Breweries personnel and other crew members that came with the chattered ADC Aircraft from Lagos for the show in Abuja.
At the hotel, Eedris its was also reported to be spoiling for a scene. However, reason prevailed and everyone was saved the embarrassment.
As Tony One-Week recalled in sister newspaper on Wednesday, since 50 Cent and his crew could not leave Abuja as at the time most people were ready on Thursday after the show, Nigerian artistes on the entourage - Tony One-Week, Daddy Showkey, Eedris and Abass Akande Obesere were asked to occupy the aircraft's first class. In fact, Daddy Showkey and Obesere at first declined with Showkey saying jokingly “I never travel first class before. Wetin be the difference between that place and here wey we dey?” When the hostess insisted, he and Obesere agreed, but with a condition that this reporter and another colleague accompanied them to sit in the first class. Tony One Week on his part bluntly refused saying “If the plane wan jam anything na una wey dey first class e go first affect. I go don jump commot before e reach me.” We all laughed over it.
Of course, Eedris arrived about half an hour later sweating and panting. Normally, one had expected him to stop by and say 'hi' to senior and fellow artistes like Daddy Showkey and Obesere who were now in the first class compartment with the writer and a colleague behind them, Eedris simply walked pass, arrogantly disregarding the presence of the duo. He walked straight to the economy class and approached by one of the hostess who apparently asked him to move to the first class.
Good Money, Bad Services
For the agency or agencies that handled logistics for the events on behalf of the organisers, the service has not justified the pay.
Entertainment writers got first sign of a wobbly logistic arrangement when the agency handling 50 Cent's itinerary could not immediately secure an apartment for the visiting artiste and his G Unit crew at the Eko Hotel & Suites. The musicians who flew eight hours from America with his crew to Nigeria were kept waiting for about an hour in the lobby before they finally got a room to lay their head.
It's a good thing that the agency thought of giving all the artistes involved in the show 'big treat' by hiring an aircraft for the purpose of conveying them to the various venues, but they should have done well to put each artiste in their rightful place. Or what does the contract signed said about sitting arrangement in the plane.
And the Jagajaga Show of Shame
Like Macbeth, Eedrees Abdukareem decides to sting his visitor for doing him no wrong. From the onset, Eedris had began to make it obvious to those who know him that he was going to disrupt the show.
Playing after 50 Cent's performance in Lagos, Eedris did not only claim he is the 'oga of rap music in Nigeria', he chides his crowd of listeners for scrambling for the money 50 Cent threw to the crowd. “Him dey try tell us say Nigerians na beggars? This na insult on my people.”
The following day, it was apparent that he has been waiting to take his 'revenge' for whatever it is he thought 50 Cent has done him. According to reports, while waiting at the airport lounge minutes before he boarded the plane, he had promised that “I am going to show these people (organisers) that Nigerian artistes deserve respect.”
Once on board, he deliberately sat on the very seat reserved for 50 Cent in the first class compartment of the aircraft insisting that “This is where I am going to sit!”. The same first class seat he bluntly declined two days earlier.
And as narrated by eyewitnesses, one thing led to the other, a scuffle ensued between his men and those of 50 Cent. An embarrassed Eedris who had one of his thugs injured reportedly ranted: “Let us get to Port Harcourt, 50 Cent, I will show you that this is my country. I will deal with you.”
A Knock for the 'Foolish Press'
According to eyewitnesses, Eedris soon realise that he had ignited a scene he couldn't handle. In a desperate bid to draw support from his embarrassed country men and women who watched in astonishment as he harassed the visitors, he started screaming:
“You see what they are doing to me? You see? Nigerian pressmen, una dey see wetin dem dey do me? I, the greatest rapper in Nigeria? I you (press) can't join me in this fight, then you are all fools!”
After he had thoroughly embarrassed himself and the country in the process, Eedris approached one of the journalists on board the plane, Just Akpovi-Esade of The Guardian and asked: “How do you feel now?” Before Justin could reply, he started reigning abuses on him saying: “You should be ashamed of yourself. You, a press man being asked to go back and be screened by the security again in your own country. Now, how do you perceive my action in the plain?”
Justin politely told him that he went too far in his search for respect. This further elicited more insulting words from the rapper.
“You have sold your brother. You see why this country would not get better? You see what the press is doing to this country?” By now, his bodyguards/thugs were closing in on the journalist. At last, the worst happened. They grabbed him by the throat, shirt and trousers tearing his shirt in the process. Eedris refused to caution them as they prepare to beat him before fellow journalists intervened to save him.
Catalogue of Shameful Publicity Stunts
Eedris' idea of rap music is definitely at opposing ends with civilised norm. Obviously, Eedrees is one of those rappers who mistook rap music for violent antagonism. He first exhibited this when he prop up unnecessary quarrel with DMX when the former visited Nigeria sometimes ago. It was reported that he attempted doing the same when the R&B star, Usher Raymond visited last year. A section of the industry pundits argued that he is doing these things as publicity stunts. If that is the case, what kind of publicity did he hope to get from fighting his visitor as an African. Doesn't he know that he stands to gain from these stars if he conducts himself well? If nothing, this latest row only goes further to damage an already battered image of himself and the country as a whole.
Commotion in Port Harcourt
While Eedris was brewing his disgraceful scuffle with his visitor in Lagos, scores of passengers were kept stranded in Port Harcourt due to the inability of the ADC aircraft to arrive Port Harcourt. Oblivious of what was happening in Lagos, angry passengers screamed and shouted, reigning abuses on disheveled ADC staff at the airline's counter at the Port Harcourt International Airport.
When the news of what actually happened filtered in, people gather in groups discussing the issue. While some argued Eedris may have been right, majority argued that he should not have put up a fight with a fellow artiste visiting his country for whatever reasons. In fact, some were outright cursing him for causing people so much pain that evening.
ADC staff have to scramble for seats for the enraged passengers in another airline to calm frayed nerves in the oil rich city.