Kiss Daniel’s Road to Independence and the Cautionary Tale of Lil Kesh

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Three years ago, Olamide got on the stage at the Headies Awards and waged war on Don Jazzy, Mavin Records and seemingly everyone in the Nigerian Music Industry because, like many others, he felt a legitimate “up next” artist had been robbed. In the 18 months prior to the Headies, Lil Kesh had ruled the charts with tracks like Gbese, Efejoku and Shoki. This commercial success thrust the young kid from Bariga into conversations he’d otherwise have been barred from, and he became a viable competitor in the street hop scene. Three years later, a once promising star no longer commands the respect of the industry or his audience, following a stream of sub-par releases. Following the news of Kiss Daniel’s split from the label G-Worldwide, it’s important to look to Lil Kesh as a cautionary tale against leaving the establishment and launching a record label of one’s own on the basis of a few hits.

After his 2016 debut album, Kesh revealed his plans to split ways with YBNL. There was no love lost because Olamide’s mantra had been establish the kids, give them a platform, and let them be free. In fact, as far back as 2014, Lil Kesh had claimed that YBNL was a family and that he was free to leave and do whatever he wanted, but he chose not to before his deal was done. YAGI was not an impressive piece of work, despite Olamide’s supposed guidance and mentorship. However, even stars like Olamide who have managed to remain in the public eye consistently have delivered numerous disappointing bodies of work so YAGI was not a surprise. A series of lukewarm singles like No Fake Love, Love Story, Baby Favor and most recently Rora, have proven that Lil’ Kesh is not the bonafide hitmaker it seemed. We could argue that the taste of fame, and his departure from YBNL doused the fire in his belly and made him complacent.  Typically, having labelmates sparks competition because artists inspire one another to do better and aim higher. Mayorkun and Davido on DMW exemplify this friendly competitive spirit, which is often the antidote to mediocrity.

This is where Kiss Daniel comes in. While he was G Worldwide’s flagship artist, the desire to meet the label’s profitability requirements provided the necessary pressure to produce back-to-back hits. G-Worldwide’s unorthodox policies prevented collaborations with other artists and reportedly held him back from brand endorsement, which might explain his desire to part ways with the label. Kiss Daniel must however take note of the lessons from the Lil’ Kesh’s story and understand that irrelevance is not too far off, even for the star of the moment. If the past three years are anything to go off, Kiss Daniel is talented, and with this split, he could make a move to the next level, however, the terms of his exit could remain a cloud over his head as suggestions thus far show that G Worldwide is not ready to let him go without a fight.


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