Virtual sit-down 2021: Episode 1
I had a sit-down with Eliot Oshiolehme Tenebe, an in demand A&R, PR and a hopeful Music Exec.Ogbeni Shinzu
It’s a Sunday night, I’m in my habitually dark room alone with my thoughts but busy making noise on Twitter and my WhatsApp status like I always do commenting on every issue that crosses my mind.
This time I’m commenting on rapper Dandizzy freestyles and indicating I’d be willing to listen to his body of work having been really impressed by his viral freestyle antics.
A friend of mine replies “Again, Eliot’s work” she had earlier on mentioned his work on Idowest Mafia Culture volume 2.0. At this point, my journalistic instinct kicks in and I knew okay this is someone I’d like to talk to.
My Name is Eliot Oshiolehme Tenebe, I come from Edo State. I’m an A&R, PR I won’t say a music Executive yet but maybe in the future, I’ll add that. I grew up in Rivers state, Eneka to be precise.
For some reason I do not know, I found some pride in identifying with a budding talent from my state, in my head “this was the next big thing and he is from my state!” Being someone who cares so much about his place of heritage you could understand my delight.
Still pretty fascinated and intent on getting out as much as I possibly could I queried
How exactly did you find music, what inspired you to go the A&R route other than the more obvious route which is being an artist yourself…or are you also one
Eliot acquaints me with his musical background, informing me his father was a DJ and that played a role in how his love for music was developed.
I picked interest in music completely when superstar by Wizkid dropped, My elder brother bought the CD plate then and played the record when I heard him sing I knew immediately that was going to be one of the biggest artists out of Nigeria and Africa.
While studying mass communication in the university Eliot immediately realised he didn’t want to be this guy, he wanted nothing to do with being in front of a camera so he decided…
..okay I’ll like to be part of the guys behind the camera that make everything happen and so in my final year I started searching for jobs online, PR jobs, I even wanted to be a cinematographer I reached out to a couple of top videographers that didn’t even answer me lol today most of them hit my artists up that they want to work with them and it’s really funny to me but amazing.
Finished with his university studies, Eliot travelled to Lagos with the intent of interning at a company he had previously reached out to while in Imo state. He will be disappointed though as they never picked his calls and he ended up squatting at the park for two days before finally contacting a family friend who sheltered him.
While I was there I tried to reach out to other people, my sister had reached out to her friend Dandizzy before then actually, so he asked me to come over I went and we spoke about working together he made me his personal assistant that’s how I started working under the music scene.
My friend Peter who’s a music executive and works with Notjustok advised me to go into A&R that I had good ears for sounds and I liked to research a lot that’s how I did a personal internship for myself and became one today.
Trust me now the story’s different, he says assertively.
Impressed with his story of resilience and determination we get to talking about his experience working with Dandizzy
When I met Dandizzy yeah he had a little fanbase from where we grew up in PH but that wasn’t where the industry was, I’ve always been the guy who saw young acts and says this person is going to be great! I believed so much in him and I still believe so much in him! So I’ll say In Lagos it was like us starting from the bottom! Big respect to my brother Dandizzy
Working with Dandizzy you have to be extra smart because he is extremely smart you have to be able to shuffle between his wants and his needs, talking about the music aspect you hardly can pick the kind of beat Dan likes to work on if we are in search of a producer we are always in search of different producers because he could pick any beat and if he his happy with it he makes the record!
It was easier working with him because he also comes from the south and we had like the same vision and still have the same vision to put the south side on the map! I’m really happy for every single growth we’ve achieved on this journey.
I heard you were the A&R for Idowest’s project, how exactly did that happen, can you also fill me in on what the whole process was like
I never really imagined myself working with a street artist to be sincere, When Smeezbeat reached out to me he said “I spoke to Idowest and the team about you and they want to work with you” I didn’t answer him at first till the personal videographer from the gang called me that he was from Smeezbeat that they’d like me to work with Idowest and I said okay I’ll be back in Lagos I gave them a date.
Eliot shares that a few days before his trip to Lagos he was robbed and so lost all the documents he had prepared to share with Idowest and his team.
When I got back to Lagos I went to Idowest’s place for a meeting and we spoke, as at that time nothing was happening in the camp though songs had been recorded.
Trust me this project is the least of Idowest’s songs he has so much more that would surprise every single person that hears it but maybe on the next project” Eliot shares excitedly.
On his advice, the song No Girlfriend No Problem(NGNP) ft Zlatan Ibile was selected as a promotional single the song was a success.
After that, we were focused on putting out Mafia Culture Vol2 and today we are here! Big shout out to Idowest for the opportunity Big shout out to 30BG crew Big Shout Out to Mafia Crew it was an amazing journey and we have more coming.
The A&R position is still a somewhat new position in the Nigerian Music industry although right now it seems like the trending thing as everyone now identifies as one, tell me a little about other A&Rs you’ve looked up to, tried to learn from, and if you have a relationship with any who has helped you so far
Eliot is quick to blame artists, whilst also sneaking in a quick shout out to OG A&R Bizzle Osikoya.
I think the artists are the ones that feel A&R functions are not important when dropping a project! Respect to Bizzle Osikoya he advised me when I first came into this field! And my friend Peter I’ll say I was an intern under Peter he taught me almost everything I know today about the music business.
I jump in with a defence for the artists pointing out artists generally have been ignorant about a lot and are basically learning new things every day, and this we both come to an agreement on.
More on being an A&R
What do you think it takes to be a successful A&R in the Nigerian industry, what would be your advice to prospective A&Rs
There’s no secret to being successful just do the right things if you can’t work with an artist walk away quietly
So in your opinion would you say you pick quality of the jobs you do over the bag?
The Bag brings quality in this business lately
We have a laugh over this as I indicate I also share that sentiment
I’d like to touch on what was probably your toughest/most difficult job to date, you might not need to share the name of the artist..but just share some insights
Also, so far so good how many projects have you worked on, if you could highlight some I’d appreciate
While he politely declines to talk about difficult jobs he goes on to share some light on projects in the works and his excitement for them
Lol, I’ll skip that, talk about the projects I’ve worked on rather, got the first official project with Idowest, Got a lot more coming from Dandizzy, Ayanfe, 1da Banton and maybe myself and Tek get to work on something soon but the other three guys projects are almost ready and trust me it’s a different kind of project Africa ever heard trust me!
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