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Reekado Banks’ Spotlight and Lowkey Album Releases


Reekado Banks dropped If You’re Reading This Its Too Late/Lemonade/TheNewOldFormat his first album, Spotlight. And the release was lowkey.

Reekado hinted that he was working on an album. He wrote fans an open letter that the album was ready. And just like every other pop artist we are expecting a body of work from (reads Wizkid and Davido) there was no precise release date.

Wiz and OBO are yet to release their much touted new albums. So, we camp on social media and look forward to notifications of their tweet. But when it comes- the not so surprise release or with a release date announced- it will work.

Maybe we should start with why artists chose this new-old format of surprise releases. And what makes it stick or flop.

This is an era where artists skip the middle man (labels and marketers). Think Frank Ocean with his new album.

The internet cuts through the veil separating the fans from the holy of holies. Announcements come from artist’s personal accounts. New acts can now get mainstream attention without label support. Radio stations (to a large extent) no longer determine the melody that our ear drums beat to.

The internet is the pitch fork fans and artist hold in this revolution.

It started in 2007, Radiohead announced they will drop an album that the fans can buy at any amount they want to- they dropped the said album a few days after. Fast forward a few years, Beyonce dropped her self-titled album. The hive and the rest of us got caught up. Then Drake, Kanye, Rihanna and almost everyone else.

But everyone else got it all wrong.

The surprise release was a part of an artistic statement that heightened the album feel. It didn’t fare well when it wasn’t. Take Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. The title piques one’s interest adding to its sudden release. Rihanna’s Anti?

Kanye’s Yeezus had us watch an artist paint a brazen image. The release complimented the body of work- distribution and art became one. A good number of others pulled this off and it worked fine.

Besides this, only established artists dared pull this sort of surprises .

When an unknown act drops a single/album/whatever, it’s a speck of dust on the proverbial sea shore. Until luck (reads algorithm) and or heavy promotion nudges him/her into the spotlight.

Otherwise you polish your image, create momentum, carry fans along and scream through the desert and mountain tops. When the album is set, you have your team come up with promotional strategies. Then pray it goes viral and drop the album before you lose our attention.

That’s pretty close to how it works.

But an established act with a proven track record can bend the rules. And they know that fans are anticipating their every move. But some still stick with the same-old format.

Except for a few one’s. And even those create some sort of foreshadowing for their surprise releases. For Beyonce’s Lemonade there was the Super Bowl performance, the announced showing of Lemonade on HBO and her lead single- Formation.

Let’s bring it back home. Some months ago D’banj released Emergency. The single can as well pass for a surprise release since we got a short notice to its release. It began with a tweet with “emergency” hashtag. A stunning performance of the new song at the CAF awards. And while we were still readying our twitter fingers to find out when he’s dropping the song- a link to it came up his timeline.

For D’banj, first there was a proven fan base (since 2005), a strategy to catch the eyes and the surprise.

While these musical projects pass as surprises, the artists were marketing themselves. And had become infectious that we were/are ready to have anything they touched/touch.

I will buy a new Jayz album when it drops, even if he doesn’t give a hint. That’s a fact. And you will only say the same for artists who have a proven track record. Not one who’s in the works.

So Beyonce, Kanye or whoever are now brands that sell the music. For them, the music over time defined their brand. Now you know what to expect from them (guess it’s not much of a surprise afterall). Good music, surprise or no surprise release, you’ll buy it.

We stalk their every move all thanks to TMZ, Linda Ikeji, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

I found out Reekado Banks released his album while someone lamented its poor release on twitter. Not that I was anticipating its release but it shouldn’t have escaped me that I only saw it after the fact.

I find LIB to be a place for artists who won’t otherwise cross my radar. That’s how it works. Seeing Reekado’s album promoted on the site showed he wasn’t anti promotional. He just didn’t do his due diligence leading to the album’s release.

I wonder what led Headies’ 2015 next rated artist to go lowkey with his album release date.

And based off my deductions on what makes a surprise release not just another proverbial tree falling in the forest. This is not the right time in his career to try out such lowkey surprise move. Besides he has the machine (a record label) behind him. Let the label do its job of planning out promotional tours.

When established artists skip the process and surprise fans, they embodied the machine themselves. The world is in their hands.

And the not-so-famous artist shouldn’t assume they can do same. They need to give fans a clear signal- where it’s coming from and when it’s coming. Let its taste be the surprise, until your brand is big enough to sell the music. But right now, you need all ears so the music can sell you.

At the end of the day Reekado won. Here I am, writing and you- reading, about an album, given all the promotional tour, we just might have talked about it in 140 characters.

Now, let me give it a listen.

A review?

Let’s see.

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