If it were a football match, it’d be regarded as a haul. A return of four statuettes in any awards ceremony is a remarkable feat anywhere in the world. Like a sudden storm on a sunny day, Teni’s sweep of many coveted categories at The Headies came as a surprise. She has had a good year, but not even the bookies envisaged her outstanding success at the event. For someone who chose to jettison the script for female artistes, her wins and continued rise to becoming a force to acknowledge in an ultra competitive industry holds a few lessons for the discerning mind.
The durag, baggy clothes wearing tomboy is one of the rated artists in the music industry today not just due to her obvious talent, but also because she’s unafraid to take ownership of her personality. There’s so much rhetoric about owning our narratives but the struggle many have imbibing this advice is testament to how difficult it can be to do exactly as one is led to in the face of unrelenting pressure. But people like Teni show us how.
In the not-too-distant past, a respected curator of the hip hop culture in Nigeria predicted that the Uyo Meyo singer wouldn’t achieve any major honours in the Nigerian music sphere. His reasons-she was fat and unpretty–a mix that did not bode well for songstresses who had to sell sexuality along with whatever aptitude they had. He noted that even with a healthy dose of sensual posturing and talent, the industry was still tough for female acts who have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts to get the same recognition. Outliers like Teni stood no chance.
Less than two years down the line, he has been proven wrong; on an embarrassing scale too. The industry neophyte he gave no chance of success has gone on to accomplish far more than anyone conceived in a short time.
But what’s the lesson in this? What can the rest of us take away from the metamorphosis of Teni and how she has forced even the most vehement naysayers to admit she’s doing something right? I’ll share a few:
Ignore negative criticism and focus on your craft
The typical reaction from the average artist would have been to lash out or hurl insults at Osagie when he pronounced Teni’s quest for musical stardom dead on arrival. But she displayed a rare maturity when she chose to ignore the slight. Instead, choosing to channel her energy into her artistry, churning out hit after hit. Between giving her followers a good laugh through Instagram skits and a relentless commitment to her craft, she has risen above hate. Many times, we are so concerned and upset about the bad things people say or do to us, We moan, we vent, we plot a revenge, when all we should be doing is maintain a laser focus on achieving our goals, and in doing so, prove them wrong. The critics’ job is criticise, yours is to focus on your craft.
Do it your way
Everyone seems to have a predetermined set of methods and principles they implement to achieve their goals. And often, we try to convince others to adopt these principles in the belief that they must be sacrosanct since they worked for us. The trajectory mapped out for the female artiste in Nigeria is unambiguous when it comes to dressing: be sexy. Wear revealing clothes and shoot sensual videos that will hold the attention of the audience until the next shiny material catches their attention. Again, Teni defied this rule. In a move that could potentially repel a fickle audience, she stuck to her unconventional style of dressing, daring true music lovers to concentrate on her craft and her craft only. So far, it’s paid off! Nobody holds Teni to any standard when it comes to dressing. We have accepted her maverick style. You can do the same too. You do not have to kowtow to trends or norms because you’re afraid of being mocked. Stick to your beliefs, push your brand the way you deem fit; you might be met with a few raised eyebrows, but eventually everyone will adjust and even come to respect and admire your guts.
Let Teni be your inspiration to go hard at those dreams. That’s it for this week, folks!