Greetings NotJustOk.com readers, this past week has been a solemn one. Last week began with ongoing meaningless squabbles among artists in our Nigerian (Naija) music industry. But midway, something happened that reminded us to rearrange our priorities and gain perspective. Dapo Olaitan Olaonipekun aka DA GRIN died.
As one of his fans who shared his music with friends, business acquaintances and even dates, I remain dumbfounded at the loss of a very young, talented and powerful artist. What amazes me even more is the tremendous impact his death has had on thousands and dare I say millions? I am convinced DA GRIN would have been stunned to know how deeply he connected with the many who had the privilege of hearing his work.
The tremendous outpouring on and offline struck a chord with me and had me wondering, especially these past few days, how many Naija artists today can boast of the kind of impact DA GRIN has had on us? What about all of us in our own little corners of the world? What makes us remember DA GRIN the way we have and will after he is long gone? In my observations, I believe DA GRIN possessed qualities of a great artist; which is why we all are witnessing the huge outpouring and grief over his death.
The qualities of a great artist DA GRIN possessed are numerous but for brevity sake, I narrow them to five key ones. These fve, I think, is what every Nigerian artist and all of us should strive for if we want to make the kind of impact DA GRIN has had on us:
- Servant Leader: DA GRIN was a “beast” on the mic. But beyond his immense talent, he had a very humble disposition. His body language on and off stage always seem to say,“ I might be on stage telling you my story through my music but at the end of the day, it is all about YOU; inspiring YOU to never give up in anything you want to achieve.” That is how servant leaders work. They don’t take the glory but instead focus on the needs of those they serve. Indeed the many who met DA GRIN testified to his unique down to earth quality, humility, empathy and his willingness to listen to the many who crossed his path.
- Attitude- DA GRIN had a good attitude, a rare commodity these days. He was willing to work on his craft and make it better by working with diverse artists with equally diverse personalities. We all know how difficult it can be to work with groups or individuals on any projects even if you all have the same goals. You have to deal with different styles, schedules, personalities, varying degrees of egos and attitudes. Yet, somehow, DA GRIN managed to work with numerous artists and in many instances helped shine or amplify the brands of the many he collaborated with. YQ, Naeto C, Sasha, Jazzman, Lala, Bigiano, Omawumi, 9ice, KSB, Carti Air, Ice Berg Slim, E-Jay and Pype, are just a few of these artists.
- Passion- “If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you.” ~T. Alan Armstrong. DA GRIN understood this quote so well and it showed in his work. It didn’t matter the haters, naysayers and his inability to afford “1 Redbull” as he put it in his song “Ghetto Dreams” off his Sophomore Album titled ‘CEO.’ He remained relentless and had a clear purpose on what he was called to do and he pursued his passion, passionately.
- Perseverance- DA GRIN’s Mi So Fun Yin Entertainment record label is a clear showing of perseverance. “Mi So Fun Yin” which means, “I told you guys/ I told you so,” immediately indicates there were many naysayers but he persevered. In “Ghetto Dreams,” DA GRIN tells us we can’t imagine the insults he received, people basically said he would amount to nothing. But, he stayed focused, he was determined, he hustled from morning till dawn and was now reaping the benefits. The ability to never give up, regardless of the odds stacked against you, is critical and what great artists/persons are made of.
- Gratitude –“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” ~Cicero “Thank you” is a luxury in this day and age. If you live in Yankee or Jand, don’t even expect it. It is also worse among celebrities whether they be within or outside Naija. DA GRIN understood the importance of being grateful to his fans, colleagues, God etc. Whether it was on his album, collaborations with others etc. he said, “Thank you.” Gratitude to those who helped you rise to the top: friends, family, spouses, boy/girl friend, colleagues, media, managers, PR team etc.” is part of what makes you a great artist/person like DA GRIN.
Let me end with this strong quote from Buck Rodgers an American Baseball player from the late 1930s. “There are countless ways of attaining greatness, but any road to reaching one’s maximum potential must be built on a bedrock of respect for the individual, a commitment to excellence, and a rejection of mediocrity.”
DA GRIN’s short life on earth is a reminder that it is important for us to find our own truth, understand our purpose and carry out our purpose in a way that has a positive powerful impact on the many lives we come across.
I am inspired by this young man and hope you are too. Have an encouraging and inspiring week and may God grant us all the ability to achieve greatness the way DA GRIN did. Now go make it happen!
Ms. Uduak Oduok is the President & CEO of Ladybrille Media Group, Inc. She is also an attorney, fashion model and journalist. She has over seventeen years combined experience in the fashion and entertainment industries and will be answering your NOT JUST OK basic Business of Music Questions. Have a question for Ms. Uduak? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading “Not Just Ok Music Question.”