As we immerse ourselves in the sonic bloom of the remix of "Essence" featuring global pop star Justin Bieber, which at the time of writing this article is number 13 on the billboard hot 100 music chart and this has now become a ground-breaking moment in time in the musical history of Nigeria.
This sole track has solidified the efforts of our great forerunners like Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Victor Olaiya, Bobby Benson, Chief Osita Osadebe, Oliver De Coque, Celestine Ukwu, Oriental Brothers, Sonny Okosun, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Christy Essien Igbokwe, Onyeka Onwenu, Majek Fashek, Ras Kimono and King Sunny Ade.
Hence the need to understand what makes a good star feature. It is important to understand that good features can do a lot for the careers of all parties involved in such joined venture. In all honesty, can make or mar the lifecycle of an artist.
Good features can do huge things for anyone in the music industry from songwriters, producers, mixers, sound engineers, graphics designers, artists and a host of others. It can provide streaming numbers, visibility for all parties and grand success which translates to revenues, royalties and publishing rights.
Asides from numbers, visibility and success, good features also impacts positively on the craftsmanship of artists. These kinds of collaboration offer artists a medium to taste versatility, showcase their experience and express their skills as the gifted bunch they claim to be.
Such moments in time can make a song better, elevate its status like the recent bliss of "Essence" or the iconic "Brown Skin Girl" that became the anthem of every black, beautiful and enterprising woman in the world. The influence of good features is not limited to just songs, it also can uplift an entire album like when Michael Jackson collaborated on the "Dangerous" album with Teddy Riley who is credited as the creator of the new jack swing genre of music.
The "Dangerous" album was a world success, the album which was experimental work new jack swing, a new genre in vogue at the time. Dangerous is considered an artistic change for Jackson, with his music focusing on more socially conscious material and a broader range of sounds and styles. This album produced classic and great tones like "Black or White", "Heal the World", "Jam" and "Remember the Time" just to mention a few. The album will go on to be the best-selling new jack swing album ever, change the career stratosphere of both Michael and Teddy Riley and also showed that Michael could hold his own without his long-time collaborator Quincy Jones.
Another dynamic example would be when The Weeknd chose to work with the now-defunct Daft Punk on the breath-taking album "Star Boy" due to Daft Punk prowess with Electronic dance music (EDM for short) and this proved to be a profitable gig for all parties.
The album would go on to receive favourable reviews from critics, debut at number one on the US Billboard 200, with 348,000 album-equivalent units, 209,000 of which were pure sales, win the Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 2018 Grammy Awards and it marked the next "chapter" to The Weeknd's music. As of January 2019, the album was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and this crowned The Weeknd's status as the "True Star Boy" no hard feelings Wizkid, you will always be my personal Star Boy.
Well, such is the power of good features or should I say star features and in retrospect, there are factors to consider before choosing an artist for a feature and they are as follows;
1. The Star Power: This is the ability of the artists to complement each other, play to their strengths, cover their deficiencies and capitalize effectively on their star power influence on all grounds.
2. What the artist would bring to the table: Here you have to clearly define, what the intending collaborating act has to offer to this proposed partnership. This could be a larger fan base, streaming numbers, ambassadorial gigs and a host of others.
3. What does it mean from a strategic music point of view: One thing that makes an artist stay at the top of their game is to make great strategic moves in the music business and evolve with the times. A proven way is to collaborate with acts that usher in new sounds to the industry. Mayorkun is a perfect example of an artist that knows how to jump on trends and ride any sonic wave. Even other Nigerian acts are beginning to incorporate different sounds not native to Nigeria. The most recent is amapiano, a style of house music that emerged in South Africa in 2012.
4. The track record of the artist: This boils down to the consistency of the artist, how relevant the artist is in the current music conversation and finally, their ability to deliver hits. Great examples are Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Don Jazzy, Tu Baba, Dj Neptune, Olamide, Phyno, Flavour and the now-defunct P-Square.
Features are good for the music scene and business. They help nurture the music ecosystem of any country, continent and industry. So, they, therefore, have an indispensable place in music.