How A Failed Record Deal Made Giftty A Better Artist

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If like me, you’ve been following keenly, the rise and rise of Mr. Eazi, you may remember Giftty. Back in 2017 when Mr. Eazi had the music industry by its jaw, especially with the release of his Life Is Eazi vol. 1 EP which had hits like Short Skirt and Leg Over among others, you may also remember one of his most outstanding collaborations of that year in the form of Lori Okada with Giftty. The latter who was then signed to the Dee Tunes owned 56 Hope Road Entertainment seemed like he was on his way to superstardom before fading. But the singer is back at it and looking to flip things around.
It’s 2021, five years since signing his first deal, and Giftty is still steadily forging his way into the mainstream and carving a niche for himself in the process. As we discuss over a phone call, Giftty gives a glimpse of what he’s been working, what the journey has been like for him, signing the deal with Dee Tunes, and lessons learned on the hostile nature of the Nigerian music industry.
Where has the Giftty brand been since 2017?
I released a song last year. I dropped a song called Enjoy Myself with Asake, Ashidapo, and Shorae.
So how did that go? It didn’t seem like there was much of a conversation around that release?
My team and I have been working on a lot of stuff around that. Basically, I’ve just been in the studio trying to cook up music, trying to work on myself, my personality, my character. I’m just trying to be a better artist.
In between 2017 and last year when you released your last single, you said you’ve been working on trying to be a better artist, working on your character, and widely working on your brand.
You know the way the music business works, it’s not just about the talent. There’s a lot of work that goes on in the background. So I feel like I need to get a lot of things together.
Prior to 2020, you were signed to a label called 56 Hope Road Entertainment and Davs Records. How did that go?
That record label was owned by DeeTunes. But the deal didn’t go well so it kind of destabilized me. I’ve just been trying to do my thing.
Can you be more specific about the things that went wrong? Was it a case of deal-gone-bad? Was it poor management?
It was just a misunderstanding. I would not like to blame anyone for my own misfortunes. I was really not ready at that point in my life. But there also some other things that happened to the label, management, and myself. It was just a lot of misunderstanding and deal-gone-bad like you mentioned.
Do you have any regrets from then?
Actually, as a person, I don’t really like to dwell on my past. My past is my past. I just learn and move on. I’ve learned my lessons. Now I know better about how to engage in such situations to avoid a repeat. I’m just focusing on the positives and hoping for the best. I still don’t know everything and I can’t brag that I do. But, to an extent, I think I’m better than I was. I came into the industry in 2016 as a teenager. I’m grown now and I can make better decisions.
How old were you when you made your debut in 2016?
I was 19 years old.
What team are you working with now? Management? Record label?
I don’t have a record label. But I have a manager. His name is Folusho Ogunde.
So now, you’re just basically funding the whole thing on your own?
I can’t say I’m funding anything. We’re just dropping music and trying to build valuable relationships. I’ve been able to create some sort of relationship with a couple of producers. So I just work and we do the split sheet. So I’m still hoping for deals.
Since your return in 2020, what new industry trends have you observed? What are the things that you would say have changed since the last time you were around?
It’s still pretty much the same. There’s a lot of new guys popping right now. Back then, it was Wizzy, and the people coming up were like Reekado Banks, Korede Bello. But right now, you see Rema, Fireboy. I know Fireboy has been around for some time but he recently started gaining momentum. The tables have turned. There’s a whole lot of new stuff. And now there’s Tik Tok too, there’s Triller. The whole pandemic has also put more spotlight on the internet. Right now, if you really want to hold your ground, you need to have a grounded knowledge of the internet. You need to have people doing stuff for you on there.
What’s your plan like for an industry comeback?
I have the music sorted out. I’m making more. I have a lot of music in my pockets. I just need a good team. I just need people to hear me out. Listen to me. I want to be heard. You know how it feels. It’s not going to just happen overnight. I want to have people that can root for me in place and platforms where I can be heard. I believe that’s one of the most major things that I need right now.
So you’re still putting together your team?
Yeah, I just have a manager right now. We’re just working and keeping it moving steadily.
Now that there’s Drill music, Amapiano, Trap, and all kinds of new sounds emerging, what kind of sounds do you have in stock? What can we expect?
I’m trying to create my own sound. I’ve done Amapiano like twice. I don’t do Drill but I can do it maybe on features. I just focus on my Afrobeats, a bit of R&B and Afropop. That’s just what I’m working on. I’m trying to create something distinct that when you hear it, you’re sure that’s Giftty you’re listening to. I also do Highlife.
I know everyone tends to say that they believe in themselves and that they pay no mind to competition. But what really do you think about the competition in the industry? Do you feel like you’re ready to compete, ready to give it to them?
The way my kind of person is, I don’t think any other artistes up against me. I just focus on myself. I feel like the competition I have is myself. The only competitions I see are myself, my worries, the anxieties that I feel, the days when I feel down or exhausted or unmotivated. Those are the competitions I think I have. Slowly, by God’s Grace, I’m beginning to conquer these things, if not all. So if anybody drops anything, fine, I’m going to drop mine. It’s not like I don’t care about what anyone drops but I’m not trying to compare my sound to anybody’s sound. I’m just trying to do my thing. I know my sound is very hard. Even if Wizkid listens to my sound, he’ll ask “who’s this guy? This boy bad.” I know there are a lot of good artists but there’s more than enough room.
Talking about good artists, I’m sure you must have some producers and artists you want to work with. Can you give some names?
I love Sarz. I love BlaqJerzee, P Priime. There’s a lot of people coming up with different kinds of stuff. I see myself working with P2J as well. I feel like these are people that can relate to my sound. If I come up with something, they can complement my music.
Let’s say for instance you are working on an album now and you only get to put like three or four other artists on the album, who would you pick?
I love Tems. I think she’s incredible. Fireboy is dope. Burna boy and of course, Wizzy.
What key lessons would you say you’ve learned for other people to cue into?
You cannot do everything yourself. You cannot be too selfish and arrogant. Sometimes, you just get in your zone and you forget that it’s not all about you. There are people who have believed in you and made sacrifices. I’ve learned that, I’ve learned patience. You have to be patient when it’s rosy and when it gets cloudy. I’ve learned to be serious-minded, to not get carried away, to remain focused. Just focus on your thing and leave all these other things that will come in the form of distractions. We just get carried away by different things as artists. Also, God is the most important in this business that we do. I feel like without God, you cannot go anywhere, you can’t do anything. Don’t ever forget God. Don’t ever think that because you’ve ‘arrived, you can now play God. You cannot play God. These are just a couple of lessons that I’ve learned.
Do you see music as a business or as an art that you have a passion for?
Both. It’s something that I have a passion for. This is all I do and all I am. I put my heart and soul into it. That’s why, when it hit me, I really went cold because I put everything in it. I put all of my heart, my soul, my energy in. Also, at the same time, you have to make money. Music is passion and at the same time, making money.
On a final note, what’s a quick word you’ll love to send to your fans out there?
Keep believing in me. Don’t stop expecting because I have a lot to give. I’ve been working. I feel like I’ve not met the expectations of people that believe in me. I know there are still a lot of people that believe in me and are waiting for me to be that person they thought I would become. I’m trying my best. I live to make my people happy and proud of me. I don’t want anybody to lose faith in me, or un-follow me, or un-like me.
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