Greetings. My name’s Blaqbonez.
I am probably the most loved rapper underground – Hennessy Vs class captain 2016, RhythmFm Freestyle Fury Winner 2016, last mixtape with over 60,000 engagements in streams and downloads, first rapper with a cover of the box, already got co-signs from Modenine, Vector, Terry tha Rapman and many more, got every top blog in the country putting up my songs regularly.
I believe if given a record deal I’d be an immense asset to the establishment, being the voice of the next generation of rappers, pick up from where M.I, Ice Prince, Jesse Jagz (the first Choc Boys) left off.
I pray for a favorable reply. Thanks. Have a lovely Sunday.
On 20th March 2016, Blaqbonez reportedly sent this message (we have added some punctuation for effect) to the Instagram account of Nigerian record label, Chocolate City. 5 years later, he has the top song and project in the country, both released under the aforementioned label. The lesson many will learn from this story is that dreams come true. However, the lesson they should learn is how to make a good pitch. Everybody dreams, dreams come true when people put in the work. This post is about Blaqbonez and his peculiar work.
Have you seen Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel? Exquisite film, that. It tells a romantic, colorful story of a famed concierge called Monsieur Gustave H. and his befriended protege, Zero. The first time they meet, Monsieur Gustave interviews Zero for the position of lobby boy at the hotel. After a list of helplessly underwhelming responses to introductory questions, Monsieur Gustave eventually, sternly asks, “Why do you want to be a lobby boy?” Suavely, Zero responds, “Well, who wouldn’t, at the Grand Budapest Sir? It’s an institution.” Monsieur Gustave’s face broadens into a smile.
He nods and says, “Very good!”
A good pitch is incredibly important to scarce opportunities that come with great risk. And oh boy, isn’t a record deal one of those? Record labels take a huge risk, investing in artists. They do all they can, to ensure that there are returns on these investments. And ROI is hardly dependent on talent; artists have to be marketable, level-headed, and hardworking. This is why unsigned acts push. They have to fight for visibility, audience. Nigeria has maybe 200 million people. The high rate of unemployment and poverty results in a disproportionate amount of people who want to use their “talent” to strike gold. Yet, everywhere you go, there are people as talented as you. Want to learn how to push?
Welcome to the Blaqbonez masterclass.
Born Emeka Akumefule in January 1996, Blaqbonez is a Nigerian rapper signed to 100 Crowns, an imprint of Chocolate City Music. His is one illustrious story. At 13, he discovered that he could rap. Three years later, he won Terry tha Rapman’s Zombie competition. It immediately set him on the path to artistry. Those many things he claimed to have won in that DM to Chocolate City, he won – runner-up of Vector’s King Kong competition, Rhythm FM Freestyle Fury, Hennessy Vs Class Captain. These achievements are dwarfed by what he would later become. Yet, they are something. And the concise way they were listed earned him a deal at a leading record label.
Chocolate City Music is a subsidiary of Chocolate City Group, a 360-degree media, and entertainment company that consists of a music label, music distribution company, and management consulting firm. They even own a lounge. The company is located in Lagos, Abuja, and Nairobi but operates in the UK, US, South Africa, and Ghana. In March 2019, the company announced a partnership with Warner Music Group. The US-based entertainment and record label funds Chocolate City’s operations and uses its extensive network to promote its artists.
In April 2021, Chocolate City Music announced Abuchi Peter Ugwu as its new CEO. The company had been previously led by M.I Abaga, who exited the label in March 2020. Meanwhile, 100 Crowns defines itself as a label dedicated to rap, the only hip hop label in Nigeria. Asides from Blaqbonez, it houses A-Q and Loose Kanyon, who also double as co-owners. 100 Crowns is most known for The Coronation, a hip-hop live show dedicated to underground rappers.
100 Crowns and Chocolate City have been undoubtedly important to Blaqbonez’s rise in Nigeria’s tedious music scene. However, Emeka Akumefule came ready. Between August to September 2018, Chocolate City and 100 Crowns ran the L.A.M.B project – a series of hip hop albums released by them to reawaken the genre. Blaqbonez’s Bad Boy Blaq was released as the last of three releases. Here is the fascinating part – itwas Blaqbonez’s eighth project. Eighth. At 23 years, one artist had released seven projects, independently. Many have commended the deft curation of his latest project – Sex Over Love. Well, he didn’t start today.
You must recall how well Mamiwota did. Featuring Oxlade, it gave a new, exciting look to that classic combination of rap verses and a melodious hook on a love song. A reissue of Bad Boy Blaq was released in February 2019 and titled Bad Boy Blaq Re-Up. It mostly consisted of remixes from the original project. Blaqbonez was coming up, he had increased his capacity to feature, and he did. Denied was remixed to include Dremo and Psycho YP, PLAY was remixed featuring Ycee. Mamiwota (Remix) made room for Moelogo and Vector.
However, Good Boy featuring Boj and Ckay quickly became the fan favourite. Here is what Blaqbonez did then. He slapped the title of the song on merch, added some art, and invited orders. In weeks, he sold out bags and t-shirts. Everyone wanted to be a “good boy” in February 2018, the same way they wanted to be part of Falz’s Sweet Boys Association in September 2018.
Blaqbonez has always toyed with alter egos. To promote Bad Boy Blaq, he was a “bad boy”. After the Re-Up, he was a “good boy”. Next, he referred to himself as “humble” during interviews. From July to September 2019, he was the opposite of humble, as he proclaimed himself the “Best Rapper In Africa”. By October 2019 however, he was “Mr. Boombastic”. And by the time he released BBC, he had become “Emeka The Stallion”.
Blaqbonez understands that his fashion and social media presence can be an extension of the themes he pursues in his music. So, when he explores these alter egos, he makes them believable. He puts on an entire act – with nomenclature, memes, and skits. He goes as far as he can. During his BBC phase, Blaqbonez moved around with a big black cock. As in, a bird he called Bisi. He shared videos of it and took it along to every interview. This artist has redefined promotion. Everything he does is catchy and purposeful.