Once African entertainers feel that they have conquered their continent and subsequently the UK, they then seek superstardom in America. Collaborating with American artists seems to be the most logical way to get onto the iPod playlists of American listeners. However, are the benefits of these features really worth the costs? If an international act jumps on the song voluntarily, the situation is a win; when they charge, the prices can be anywhere within the tens of thousands of dollars (USD) and beyond.
The benefits may include an artist review or interview on an American publication (i.e. The Fader, Hip Hop DX, etc.) and perhaps more YouTube views and Instagram followers. What about the money? Are Africans acts being booked more for shows and are they selling more volumes of music through album sales and digital streams? Artists like Ayo Jay, Wizkid, and Davido seem to have benefitted from international features, but what about Ice Prince, Sarkodie, Sean Tizzle, Anatii, Diamond Platnumz and Kelvin Boj? The American feature seems to be effective for gaining a headline, but the reaping of the long term benefits is a slow process.
After hearing several of these international collaborations, it is questionable if these American artists put the same amount of effort forth on verses for African artists that they put in for features with their peers and for their own songs. Are the recipients of these features pleased with the work or do they just accept it because they are happy to be associated with a Yankee artist? Do the fans even enjoy these collaborations?
Several African acts have had American artists as features as a means to gain international credibility and popularity. Is this strategy at all effective? The objective of a collaboration is to create a symbiotic relationship so that both parties involved may share each other’s fan base. Do the African acts truly benefit; are they getting more bookings both domestic and international, and have these collaborations influenced other American artists to collaborate?
Some of the dollar amounts of transaction prices have been made public, and the price tags have been far from slight. Davido admittedly paid $200,000 USD for a Meek Mill feature on his song “Fans Mi,” and Sarkodie allegedly paid $25,000 USD to Ace Hood for his verse on the song, “New Guy.” Through streaming services, endorsements, international tours, Youtube views, etc., did these artist collect a return on their large dollar investments?
When featured on a song, it would seem that the featured artist would promote it as if it was their own. After all, their name is attached to the song, which reflects their craftsmanship and brand. International collaborations are opportunities to share fanbases. However, American artists do not always assist heavily with promotion. When the international collaborative record is released, there is often little promotional effort on their social media accounts via Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other popular platforms.
Considering the lackluster attitude and assistance on verse quality and subsequent promotion of the song, it begs the question, do American acts respect African stars as peers and even as friends? Do these entertainers hop on African tunes just for a paycheck, to demonstrate their versatility in a different genre, or even take on these projects as a charity case to feed their egos? Although these African artists may still be fighting for music real estate within American audiences, they are stars back home and should be respected as such.