Jay-Z’s Roc Nation: Going to Nigeria ‘made more sense’ than South Africa

In recent times, the African music scene has become increasingly visible on the world stage, attracting figures from the global music industry.

Jay Z, Tiwa Savage and Don Jazzy. Photo: Instagram
Jay Z, Tiwa Savage and Don Jazzy. Photo: Instagram

Nigerian artist Wizkid has worked with Drake. Ghana’s Rocky Dawuni has received a Grammy nomination. Davido has signed with Sony Music.

Perhaps there is no greater indication of the world’s interest than the frequent reports concerning talks between Roc Nation and Tidal, both owned by Jay Z, and artists from Africa.

Photos of Jay Z and Nigerian songstress Tiwa Savage and producer Don Jazzy reached the internet weeks ago. Last year, Ice Prince was photographed with the ‘Hard Knock Life’ rapper. Jay Z himself has spoken about his company spreading its reach to the continent. A recent interview given by a Roc Nation staff proves the news stories are true.

The blogger Makho Ndlovu recently spoke with Roc Nation executive Briant Biggs, with the latter revealing the plans harboured by the record label regarding African artists. Biggs, who is Jay Z's cousin, explained the approach to doing business with the continent. “It made more sense,” he said, “for us to partner up with the individual artists and their labels out there and work out distribution deals with them. To give them proper distribution in the States and make sure they are getting proper publishing dollars and royalties.

“So by using our platform that we already built, we are giving them access to everything we have at our office to help them do the same. Build their brands and their companies like we did ours.”

Speaking about working with Nigeria first, he said, “For us, going to South Africa was basically useless because the majors were there. It made more sense to go to Nigeria because that's where film and music and everything else is happening.” 

Nonetheless, Roc Nation is looking at other African countries. “I am already talking to Sarkodie in Ghana to do something with him,” Biggs said. “I got something in Gambia, Gabon and Senegal. We have it all spread out. Even in South Africa I am grabbing one artist out of there.”

Perhaps addressing concerns that the entry of the US into African music is cultural domination, Biggs added that, “The goal is not to re-colonize our people by music, the goal is to help uplift them and get us working together.”



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