What’s Been Going On…at Hennessy Artistry

Posted: September 15, 2009 in What's going on...

HENNESSY ARTISTRY 2009 KICKS OFF ON A HIGH NOTE

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Whatever Tokini Peterside did (or is doing) is obviously working and making the third time a charm, indeed, for Hennessy.

She has turned an almost moribund property (at least in Nigeria)  into a hot ticket and moved an underground albeit high-end brand into the mainstream. For those just crawling out from underneath a stone, we are talking about the Hennessy Artistry concert series which is finally hitting the right notes, no pun intended, in its third incarnation in Nigeria.

The first salvo in the 2009 edition of the Hennessy Artistry concert series was fired on Thursday, September 10, 2009 at Club Show 1 in Saipan. The crowd was thick by the time the event proper kicked off at about 10.30 pm; one and a half hours behind schedule.

In the house and chomping on their bits were the 5 teams; artistes on the verge with their beat masters ready to pull off some musical alchemy.

They all got the right royal treatment  when they stepped in complete with chaperones, red carpets, flashing light bulbs and interviews from journalists from NEXT, X2, STV, RHYTHM 93:7 AND BELLA NAIJA, the Hennessy artistry media partners.

In the house were home based celebrities from the world of music, comedy and the media; world renowned Asa and her sidekick Janet strolled in looking fly and then there was headliner MI and then Timi Dakolo whose single is burning up the charts.

Two performers, one female, the other male, set the tone with popular ballads and a jazz medley, before Tokini Peterside, Project Manager formally declared the night open at about 10.55 when she introduced the contestants.

First up was Ice Prince who started with “they call me Ice Prince and I am fly” and soon had the ladies in the house dancing to his reggae flavoured beat while Jessse Jaggz pranced about the stage. Goateed and dressed in black with a baseball hat, Ice Prince’s voice wasn’t very clear even though his flow was tight as he attempted some hard core lyrical pyrotechnics that got the audience screaming.

Ice Prince did a small skit, an acapella that had M.I written all over it before launching into his second song and displaying some killer swag and good stage craft.

Mo Cheddah was up next. The youngest and most petite of the five, Mo stepped on stage dressed in a skin tight, all black ensemble with sparkly belt. She exhibited good stage presence, had a fast paced staccato flow but because the sound system was so poor, all the audience heard was just the chorus.

Blaise came on looking sartorially challenged as always but clothes, for Blaise, don’t make the girl. Her voice didn’t carry well and the poor sound quality didn’t help either but her second song in Pidgin English had guys and gals bopping their heads to the banging beats.

Bez was good. The only none rapper in the line-up, the bad sound was a boon for his mid-tempo groove. Seemingly oblivious to the poor sound quality, Bez did like he sang; he didn’t “worry about a thing.”

“Zuchiya” one of his most well known songs has undergone a metamorphosis thanks to Cobhams. The song is now clean and crisp. First time we heard that song was at an Asa show at Civic Center and then it was no more than a sand encrusted nugget full of nothing  but potential.

The second song, “Stop Pretending”, bought back echoes of Raphael Saddiq smelled and tasted new and rough.

Jimmy Flames was the big revelation of the night. Fun, chubby, cuddly, teddy-like, gals were lapping his songs up. Like Bez, the poor sound also worked in his favour because of his mid tempo and mellow sound. The trumpet howling in the background had the crowd baying like werewolves. Tight!

If the first song was well received the second had all the girls screaming. A personal introduction of sorts, The song was mellow, smooth without any lyrical pyrotechnics. Someone pointed out that Flames seemed to be playing too safe and that a full album of same sounding mellow jams could be boring.

Well, safe and sedate seemed to have worked for Flames and when he sang “They call me flames Cos am hot when I hit the spot” you could tell from how the ladies in the house were feeling him that he had really hit the SPOT.

Asa who was called up to speak, by the diminutive compere Dizzy, said she was impressed and told the artistes to note that whoever wins would be ‘the voice of a generation and Nigeria.’

Alex Kothoor, head honcho at GDN, exclusive agents of Hennessy in Nigeria was smiling from ear to ear as the artistes performed and the excited audience showed them love.

VOLAR THUMBS DOWN!

Volar showed little love to Mo

Volar showed little love to Mo

Volar, the club situated downstairs at Jade Palace hit a low note on Friday September 11, 2009 when it hosted the Hennessy Artistry train on its second stop. The club didn’t allow Mo Cheddah conclude her set of two songs like the other contestants did despite entreaties from the Hennessy Artistry crew.

The evening started well and in the house to listen and spice up the evening were MI, Omawumi, Waje, DJ Rexy, winner of the Hennessy Artistry 2008 and a host of other celebs. The Hi-Notes band was on hand to back the contestants and this time, the sound quality was better.

Dizzy, the diminutive VJ with HIP TV, declared the show open at about 11pm, two full hours behind schedule but it was well worth the wait. All the artistes performed well justifying their presence in the series but it was Blaise who, with her voice back, had a better night than she did at Saipan.

Omawumi and M.I were brought on stage to assess the performances. Omawumi said that the performances had been impressive and backed Jimmy Flames to win. M.I first had a little banter with Dizzy which bordered on their heights (M.I is barely an inch taller than the MC) before commending the whole performances. He however refused to back any horse since he was the headliner and then Jesse Jaggz is his brother and Ice Prince is his label mate at Chocolate City.

Mo Cheddah was supposed to perform last but things went downhill; just before she came on stage with Knighthouse the power went off. And then after that snafu was rectified she was only allowed to do one song putting her at a disadvantage relative to her co-contestants because the Volar management threw the band and DJ  contracted by Hennessy off the stage.

Storming out of the building in anger Rogba (one part of the Knighthouse trio) gave vent to his disappointment. “We are not happy to have done only one song. All the other people in the competition with us did two. All the basic arrangements should have been made by now. But we are in this competition to win no matter what happens.”

Dokta Frabz complained about the logistics of the event. “It is not fair for Mo’ Cheddah to do only one song when we all did two. Something should be done to make it up to her so she doesn’t feel cheated.” Then speaking on his artiste, Jimmy Flames, he said he believed he had the best performance of the evening “… and our chances of winning the competition are high.”

Mr. Daz echoed the same opinion on Mo’Cheddah. But speaking of his artiste, Blaise, he complained bitterly that the sound quality of the previous day’s performances made her lose her voice. “Hennessy should step up. They are an international brand and we expect a competition of international quality. We expect a better outing next week.”

Despite all the drama, Jesse Jagz and Bez, who also spoke, maintained their opening day optimism about the show while still demanding justice for Mo’ Cheddah.

Next stop for the Hennessy Artistry Concert is Q Club, Ikeja where one of the teams will bow out of the competition.

PS You can catch the contestants on Silverbird TV tomorrow (Wed,Sept 16) at 7:00 a.m with Patrick Doyle
and on radio, Rhythm 93.7 Fm with Big time on the Afternoon Drive

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