Many music artistes attribute their art to giving people a voice and making the world dance. Yet, the evolution of trends in the domain compel that they look beyond these, and cash in from their impact on the world. It was therefore with delight that many a Cameroonian received news of the collaboration between Wax Dey’s Calabash Music and renowned South African label, Open Mic productions.
As part of the collaboration, singer, Jennifer Ewube is set to reinvent herself under the Open Mic Productions. Reacting to the news, she said it is a good period in her life where all the pieces of the puzzle are finally coming together.
In addition to being a fertile breeding ground for ideas and cultural interchange, a collaboration of this magnitude also means a market exchange. Open Mic Productions will not only be gaining access to Ewube and dancehall fans, but a broader Cameroonian audience to which it can build a trust base.
Ewube too will on her part, tap into the fresh energy of Mzansi’s music-loving population, a potential for drawing inspiration beyond her dancehall status. This would possibly result in Cameroon’s dancehall queen expanding to jazz, kwaito, and jive, and why not the now trending Amapiano with the cool dance moves.
Fringe benefits to this feat include but are not limited to enjoying the financial comfort of the high streaming numbers, the high percent of youths and young adults for whom her music is meant, and the multiple shows and performance options. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Master KG, Paige and other popular acts signed to Open Mic, only ices her cake.
Behind the scenes
Beneath the fancy pictures, the vibes and the smiles for the cameras, lies another phase of work. The production.
“The deal has three phases but not different from any artist to label dynamics. Composition and song writing is done by me and the producers we have, as well as we can work with other people depending on the sound we are looking for,” explained Ewube.
This collaboration is expected to bring out the best from both worlds, given the level of intellect involved. So far, Ewube noted, “we have worked with King Gunz and Mageek Feengaz from Cameroon and Mr Brown and Ben from South Africa.”
But make no mistake. Talent is heavy and costly to move around. Moving an artiste, their team and props is no easy business, and cash has to be spent. Open Mic Productions, will likely have the upper hand in bearing these costs.
Making use of the internet age and online tools could be one easy way to bypass the logistic challenges. Internet resources could limit physical meetings as well as greatly diminish costs involved in the realization of video concepts.
When the resources are available or at least, well managed, then comes the part of talent and the brains to produce. Ewube describes the process as a complicated mechanism entailing a lot of mental effort and concentration.
The team, she explains, works “… with different song writers as well and are open to contributions during working sessions. Marketing and distribution and management are handled by Open Mic Productions and Calabash Music. So it is a whole system and mechanism.” To her, “it literally takes a village.”
Over the years, Ewube has proven to be one of Cameroon’s dancehall powerhouses. Her hits speak for themselves. Top on the list include ‘Fall 4 U’, ‘On Melange’, and of course, ‘Comme Ça’ ft Bamenda Boy, Magasco. Four months ago, she released ‘Allo Bebe’ to solidify her place among top Cameroonian dancehall artistes.
Since starting music in 2013, 11 years ago, she has gone on to win numerous awards including the coveted Best Female Central Africa and Best Dancehall in Africa at the African Entertainment Awards in the US in 2017.
Despite having an impressive discography and a stronghold where she is venerated, she has been bold to put herself to the test, being ready to tweak even the genre she already conquered with a spice of Amapiano.
“The artiste, Ewube is the most important aspect of the deal; she is very talented lady who deserves this opportunity. Calabash Music is honoured to be a part of this vision,” Calabash Music explained.
In the same light, Ewube in her Journey of an Icon (JOAI) photo-shoot clip expressed the desire to move further into previously uncharted areas: “I am opening the curtains to the new era, a newer side of Ewube… the highest person I can bet on is myself because I know how I represent for myself or for people I care about”.
One merit the new collaboration gets, is a nod from the 80-20 movement which has over the past months, grown considerably. Though not a new trend, calls for the home consumption of Cameroon content back home have witnessed a rise. Unfortunately hijacked by persons who feel rudimentary and confrontational methods are most effective, the positive nodded they have expressed towards the move is one less burden to bear.
The dancehall queen too has been drama-free, and has always spent more time making her art than bickering and chasing quarrels or alarmist trends. This has given her a clean slate and like the proverbial kid with washed hands, she can now feed from the elders’ bowl.
Gunning for the top again
In addition to honing the work of Ewube and providing an entirely new music experience for South Africans, Cameroonians and the globe in general, calabash music believes parties involved will reap nothing less than the multiple benefits that accrue globalization and collaboration.
“This deal,” it explained, “will open doors for other talented Cameroonian artists and will contribute significantly to the joint venture agreement between Open Mic South Africa and Calabash Cameroon.”
‘VIP’ and ‘Testiomny’ are set to be her first two singles off the collaborative project. Open Mic Productions described the works as “full of spunk and energy”, an apt description of the energy she expends on her work and intellect.
The move adds to a long list of international collaborations that have again given visibility to Cameroonian music which has for a while now, been losing its status. From Stanley Enow’s feature with South Africa’s AKA, to Salatiel’s feature with the legendary Beyonce and Blanche Bailly’s hit with Nigeiran star, Joeboy, examples are plenty.
Calabash music believes that like these, the success of their latest move is anchored primarily on collaboration and unity.
“This agreement is a huge win for the entire country, but we must all work together to make it work. The success of this deal will determine the success of other great deals and collaborations and we believe Cameroon is ready. It is time to secure the top spot again,” it added.
With Ewube, Calabash Music and Open Mic Productions playing their parts already, the fans remain the last piece of the puzzle. Past the fat paychecks, popularity and posh lifestyle, the deepest wish of every artiste in the end is to have the world consume their world and like Oliver Twist, ask for more.