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The return of P Square and why Rudeboy is winning

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P Square are more likely to realize that people have moved on and that the soundscape and industry has changed drastically since their disbandment.
What could the return of P Square mean?
What could the return of P Square mean?

On Monday, August 18, 2020, a video surfaced on social media about the return of erstwhile Nigerian superstar group, P Square. In the video, Peter Okoye [Mr P of P Square] can be seen accepting responsibility for their issues before saying, “We’re back.”

Some Nigerians got giddy at the prospect of some quality love music in the spirit of lamba. But as it turns out, the video is old – it was initially released in 2015. In fact, Mr P has since responded to the video via his Twitter account, @PeterPSquare that, “Stop wasting your time… that’s an old video 2015… Forever MrP. The Prodigal Album Loading…. #MrP.”

In 2015, Mr. P recorded the video to end rumours that P Square were finally breaking up after yet another fight. The rumours continued into 2016 when media reports claimed that the group had disbanded over the role of their manager. That break up would not stick as the group continued together until their infamous row in September 2017.

Nonetheless, Twitter continues to react with humour and excitement;

Humour

Cynicism

Excitment

Why did such video leak though?

Murmurs on the street is that the video might have been leaked to promote Mr. P‘s upcoming studio album, The Prodigal. Others have also theorized that the return was never on the cards, and someone just had a devious intent.

Could P Square return to the glory days?

P Square were the biggest Nigerian acts at some point. In an episode of Loose Talk Podcast, legendary Nigerian producer and MAVIN Records boss, Don Jazzy revealed that the move to create love songs on D’banj‘s third album, The Entertainer was heavily inspired by P Square‘s ability to have large female fan bases and sell-out stadiums across different African countries.

However, it’s been three years since that ill-fated, “Brother shame on you” video surfaced on the internet and went viral. Their last album before then was Double Trouble [2014]. ‘OMG’ which was one of their last singles together didn’t catch fire at all. 2015 to 2017 witnessed a tiring P Square that had overachieved by outlasting itself and fan expectations.

2015-2017 was P Square‘s fifth wave in the Nigerian music industry. After launching onto the scene at the 2001 Grab D Mic competition sponsored by Benson and Hedges, and releasing their album the same year, their KORA Awards nomination just three months later was the start of their superstardom.

They ran with on that peak of powers, stardom and creativity for 16 years and released two classic albums. However, times started to change on them because industries and soundscapes evolve. More importantly, Nigeria has since undergone a change of guard and a widening of listener palettes that the three generations after P Square has been struggling with.

Yes, you only ever need one hit to make a comeback. But even that hit could mean nothing if it doesn’t catalyze into sustained success. The truth is that from the look of things; if P Square were to return today, it will be a big deal. But Gen Z is in vogue now and they don’t really care about P Square like we millennials do. We millennials now have jobs and families to cater for.

P Square will always be potent via endorsement and live shows because they have an incredible lifestyle brand, but the music side is very hard to predict. They are more likely to realize that people have moved on and that the soundscape and industry has changed drastically since their disbandment.

Metric

While Rudeboy has had successful songs like, ‘Reason With Me’ and ‘Audio Money‘ since they started off their solo acts, M. P has continually struggled to make successful songs that capture the sustained attention of listeners. Even Mr. P that has found some success has had sustained success.

He has released other singles that have simply failed to catch fire. The funny part of this discourse is that; the music they have actually been releasing have been good, people just don’t care like they used to.

Why is Rudeboy winning?

It’s very simple; he has always been more of the artist in the group, Mr. P is also an artist, but he’s more of a performer. Before they released their video album off songs from Get Squared, both members of P Square used to dance. As discussed on A Music In Time Podcast by former Editor-In-Chief at Pulse Nigeria, the presumption was that they were both singers.

But as we were to discover, Rudeboy was a producer, songwriter and the better singer of the two. In fact, word on the street is that most of P Square‘s songs were performed by Rudeboy with Mr. P simply lip-syncing. On the other hand, Rudeboy largely stopped performing choreography with the release of, ‘Bizzy Body [Remix].’

Rudeboy also understands the concept reactive music. He makes resonant songs that appeal to emotions and get people talking. His two biggest songs, ‘Reason With Me‘ and ‘Audio Money‘ are reactive. ‘Reason With Me‘ is created on the emotions of the average Nigerian man and his sentiments about life and love.

It was destined to catch fire. ‘Audio Money’ is created on the concept of deceit and money – Nigerians can relate to that. Aside from that, while Mr. P has largely made good music, he’s focused slightly too much on his strengths – energetic, fast-paced music filled with a lot of dance moves. People don’t really care for choreography anymore.

More so, Mr. P is in his 40s now – there’s a thing as brand representation. Nigerians are not exactly interested in seeing a 40-year-old man dress cool and perform sleek dance moves on Afro-pop songs. The crazy thing is that the fan base don’t even realize that’s why they don’t like the music, but it’s why the music isn’t selling.

It’s a stale gimmick. More so, Rudeboy is more strategic. In his video for, ‘Take It,’ he featured Mercy Eke of BBNaija barely five months after the conclusion of the reality TV competition. Eke, who is famous for her ‘pungent – albeit allegedly ‘manufactured’ – ‘behind’ was scantily clad in the full glare of human optical paparazzi.

Rudeboy‘s songs are also more musical than the more frenetic energy of Mr. P. Then, there is the issue of vocal performance in a soundscape where great vocals have been winning over the past 18 months. Over the past 18 months, the biggest Nigerian stars to emerge have been Fireboy, Rema, Joeboy, Omah Lay, Tems, Oxlade and more.

One thing they all have in common; great vocals and Afro&B songs. We move…

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