‘Sex sells’ stands as the universal truth in any entertainment industry, we however must be careful not to sacrifice it on the altar of talent and hard work, sidelining women participation in the industry.
The pathway to success for an artist in Nigeria is one of the most difficult roads to travel, but it gets a thousand times more gruelling for a female artist.
I recently had an interview with the talent manager, Godwin Tom and he shared some of his experiences managing a female talent in Nigeria.
”I’ve faced the most challenge working with female talents, because a lot of the time, we live in a very imbalance society.
There are some things I can go pitch for a male artist and I go pitch the same thing for a female artist, and the only thing the person is asking me is when is your artist available for lunch?
I have had people reach out to me to say, my boss will like to have dinner with your artist, how much will she charge for that, but you won’t come.” he states.
It is in this sort of web that a number of female artists find themselves in the music industry where they are defined more by how they look, and what they are willing to do rather than how good they really are.
And that is the box that Teni Entertainer is being subjected to, even though anyone with a listening ear can tell that she makes out-of-the-curve amazing music.
My first encounter with Teni’s music was quite accidental, I had stumbled upon her via a retweet that brought her music to my timeline, it was one of her minute long viral clips, but it was enough to trigger that feeling of discovering something mind-blowing.
The voice was contagious, her blend of high-life and fuji had a distinct appeal and the radiance with which she sang had an overwhelming hold on me.
Songs like ‘Boluwatife’ and ‘Amen’ released late in 2016 introduced her as not just a social media artist, but one knocking consciously on the industry doors.
Then she released ‘Fargin’, a song she says is a freestyle, dedicated to pervert uncles, and this was an immediate game-changer, altering the spectrum to which her music was being viewed.
At every opportunity, the Teni you see is exuberant, one full of life, one always wearing a smile and one who cared less what the world thinks about her.
”Music is the easiest thing I can do, I choose it cos I love it… this is my happy place.” she said in an interview with NotJustOk earlier in the year.
Teni is not the problem, the industry actually is. The scene is cracked in several ugly ways and Teni’s music is the beautiful patch that puts it all together and gives it some form of meaning.
Her relentlessness efforts have kept her fully in the orbit in 2018, with the release of the fire singles ‘Askamaya’ and ‘Fake Jersey’, hyper-dimensional anthems that expressed her free spirited nature.
While ‘Askamaya’ is fast becoming an anthem, ‘Fake Jersey’, a simple enough narrative inspired by the drama surrounding the Super Eagles jersey at the 2018 World Cup, was very well done that it sounds so pleasant and wonderful.
There is plenty in Teni that makes her feel like the girl next door, from her excitement after graduating from school which saw her break into singing in a local language that had the angels jealous, to clips of her messing around with her tailor.
Teni is clearly aware of her worth, her real worth and not what social media likes or comments state, she actually doesn’t depend on them for currency or confidence.
This is someone who has performed for past governors at a tender age, credited with writing a song for Davido, who has the likes of Adekunle Gold and Maleek Berry at her calling and has a superstar talent in her sister Niniola, but Teni has chosen to make it on her own terms, refusing to jump on a quick feature to stardom, creating a model of her own type of music and putting it on display for all to judge.
Watching her as she walked past me at the 2018 Headies to pick up her award for ”Rookie of the year”, in a category that also had the incredibly talented Peruzzi, I gazed upon a lady who has kept her eyes on the prize.
The lights flashed on her and the spotlight focused solely on Teni for the minute, but she was not here for the long speeches, she seemed to have discovered early on that the only thing that matters and that will see her climb on that stage and several others in the near future is the music and she can actually make it fun while at it.
She has embraced life through her music, this is what she lives for.
Teni who is alluring in her sound, elegant in her looks is steadily becoming not just the complete entertainer but a powerful force and creative energy for a generation of young artists.