Don Jazzy #Enigma Competition: Levelz Changes Enigma Competition Level + Top 10 Contestants

I miss discussing Africa here. It feels like ages since I had a post on Africa’s fashion and entertainment industries legal shenanigans; and most importantly narrowed it to my place of origin, Nigeria, West Africa. If you all recall, I introduced you to Don Jazzy last month, a recording artist and executive of Mo’Hits Record. My introduction was in the context of him, along with his label mate and co-business owner D’Banj, signing a music deal with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D music. Kanye’s music label has since signed a record deal with Island Def Jam.

So, you met Don Jazzy at that point. Don Jazzy is in the news again. Thankfully it continues to be for GOOD reasons. In this instance, Don Jazzy launched a talent search for emerging artist. He did not explicitly limit the search to Nigerian artists but since he teamed up with, a website known to debut exclusively only Nigerian music and artists, for the most part, the response, needless to say, has been overwhelmingly from Nigerian rappers and singers.

What is at stake?

1. Winner # 1 receives $2,000 +an opportunity to feature on MTV Africa, MOBO, BET awarding winning artist D’Banj’s upcoming album.
2. Winner #2 receives $1,000
3. Winner #3 receives #500

What are the rules?
1. Artist download the beat
2. Although not stated on the site where the competition is officially published, Don Jazzy has requested all artists entering the competition name drop “its Don Jazzy Again” on his twitter handle in announcing the competition on twitter.
3. All beats are to be emailed to NOTE: Many artists have emailed their entries as well as provided it online. The competition has garnered so much attention on twitter, it is now trending or has trended at some point (i.e. one of the more popular searches on twitter).
4. Don Jazzy, Notjustok and a panel of judges would make voting available to the readers and guests to vote after July 31st, 2011,  when the competition closes.

Okay, now we know the rules. Now I’ll tell you my top 10 so far and lessons that emerging artists can take away from this social media twitter competition.

Choice #1 Levelz – An educated man or woman can be intimidating to the average person but now add “highly intelligent” word play lyricist and honestly, a case is made for why all emerging artists should stay in school and get an education. Levelz is a rapper and physicist. I can do no justice to his accomplishments so just visit the interview he did with and get caught up. Levelz totally blows the competition away. Making no apologies for how smart he is (why should he?), he delivers word play upon word play that might take ages to unravel.

NOTE: If you an artist thinking of rapping, do yourself a favor and stay in school so you can change levelz like levelz.

A few word play I dug:

“I’m Soyinka, I’m big here.” -Soyinka is an author, poet and a Nobel Prize in Literature winner you should know.

“I’m Just African Shakespeare”

“I ain’t grinning. I am thinking da grin that is why I hooked it up.” – It could mean a big wide grin like my signature grin OR or it could mean, sadly, for Nigerian,  the late prolific and indigenous rap star Da Grin who died in a car crash last year. Read my article about Da Grin here.

My other 9 Choices:
#2- T-Money
#6- @Hoodbilli


#1: Understand the Power of Twitter: Just this April 2011, E-marketer reported that there are over 21million US twitter users. We haven’t even touched other countries and continents.

  • Twitter users are young, smart and tech savvy.
  • 14% of twitter users range in age from 18-29 years old.
  • 33% are 25-34years old, US twitter users are more educated than the average user.
  • US twitter users have higher income, they are early adopters and they spend a lot of time online.
  • 79% are more likely to recommend brands they follow
  • 67% are more likely to buy brands they follow.
  • Granted, these stats pale in comparison to Facebook but the point is as an emerging artist, your audience is waiting to be tapped into. When a competition like Don Jazzy’s shows up, you get in the game! (Sources Edison Research 2010, PEW Research Center 2010)

#2: It’s Irrelevant Whether You Win, Get off the Bench and Get in the Game: For a competiton such as Don Jazzy’s social media twitter beat competition, it’s irrelevant whether you win. The publicity generated from a competition by an artist like Don Jazzy is worth entering the competition. You attract publicity, have a fair chance of standing out, winning new fans and gaining media attention.

#3 Presentation is everything: Hoodbilli a young talented upcoming artist took the time to create graphics and also record a video for the enigma competition. Any label looking to invest in him can immediately see a return on investment in terms of work ethic and also understanding the basic fundamentals of the business of music. Don’t approach projects half-heartedly. You either do it or you don’t.

#4. Tell a Story: Levelz did this so well and so did all the artists I chose. Their stories have such cross range but there is still a story.

#5. Develop your vocabulary: Learn and know the language you rap in. It is old news to those who read this blog that while I have an eclectic taste in music, I immensely enjoy hip-hop music. Why? It’s intuitive for me. It’s wordplay. Wordplay is what I do as a lawyer and is my essence. So for me, it feels like a natural gravitation to like/enjoy hip-hop. As I continue to study  hip-hop and its greats, I see that indeed I am not off with my sense that word play and lyrics play a huge part in what makes successful hip-hop artists . A big part of the craft is the ability to use words, very well. I think often, however, rappers feel that rapping is all about dropping the “f” bomb and all sorts of assorted curse words on a track. Sadly many are used to meaningless nonsense that hits the airwaves and confuse hip-hop for hip-slop. There were so many entries that were nothing short of hip-slop for the current competition. Some of these entries have been shared online and they amount to felonius assault and battery on the ears.

This is a clear reflection of a limited vocabulary and a big need to learn and know words. If you are going to rap, you should know how to use words. It is that simple. My choices also can definitely clean up their lyrics a lot more by expanding their vocabulary and learning how to use words well. Emerging artists need not look far than even those among their circles. Artists like Blitz the Ambassador, X.O Senavoe,  among others, show that it is really a commitment and mastering language. Expand your vocabulary beyond the four letter word. Also, be willingly to deviate from the norm to think through your story and what you have to say.

Okay, I’m done!