Thursday, 22 August 2013

How it All Began For P-Square

Jos may be in the news more often these days for all the wrong reasons, from religious strife to ethnic cleansing, but it's still the one city that keeps popping up when it comes to contemporary pop music.

But Jos was where it all started for them, where they started dancing and mimicking the likes of MC Hammer, Bobby Brown and Michael Jackson at St. Murumba college before the singing bug bit.

And to tell their story, one must refer back to another Jos story: a TV programme that held the country spellbound for about four years.

It was Cock Crow at Dawn, shot in Jos with a sound track by Bongos Ikwe.
And it was Bongos Ikwe who sang the immortal lines: "What’s gonna be is gonna be/ there’s nothing to do ‘bout it."

Apply those lines to the Okoye brothers who are without a doubt, Africa’s biggest pop stars and you have a success story seemingly fated by the gods.

How did it all begin?
The year was 2001 and well, the twins had registered for a talent show, the  "Grab Da Mic" competition.

However for some logistical reasons, they arrived at the venue late and long after the last performer was done.

Naija Ninja, Sound Sultan was the compere. The organisers said it was over but Howie T, who managed the duo at the beginning asked Sound Sultan to give them a chance.

Sound Sultan did and the Okoye twins blew the socks off the audience and won.

And they have not stopped winning ever since with their catchy pop songs and dexterous dance moves that have made them the darlings of listeners from Lagos to Lilongwe and Accra to Addis.

P-Square has become a global brand with hit songs and hit videos, as well as mass followings from the man on the street to Presidents in presidential palaces.

They travel the world like royalty, flying from capital city to capital city in style and luxury like the bonafide pop stars that they are.

It is a long way from the dusty street in Jos where they sang and danced in an A Cappella quintet called MMMPP, short for M Clef, Michael, Melvin, Peter and Paul.

Today, they own homes in the US and other world capitals plus a slew of houses in Lagos.

When they opened their new home in Lagos, US music star, Akon, was on hand for the house warming.

What is responsible for the PSquare magic?
It is a cocktail of music, dance, showmanship and outright Chutzpah.
The twins are savvy businessmen with their heads screwed on tight.

They put out hit songs, they sell out shows, they get the biggest brand endorsements and their videos are amazing.

Their tribute to Michael Jackson
on the fifth anniversary of his passing has been hailed the world over as a cinematic tour de force and fans are loving the song which has been on heavy rotation on radio and TV since it was released in June.

They even got an endorsement from Jermaine Jackson who praised their dance moves and expressed a wish to meet them. Their Alingo dance has even been adopted by Glo with a fictional story of its origin woven around it. That is the stuff of legend.

So, how do they do it?
Well, they keep it close to home. The P-Square brand might be a global one but it all stays local as in all "Okoye".

The P-Square brand is actually 3 people in one. Paul and Peter are the face of brand, the singing, dancing face while Jude Engees Okoye is their older brother and the one many see as maintaining a domineering and Svengali-like hold on the group.

With success and fans across Africa, the twins who have won or been nominated for the top awards on the continent and beyond, from MOBO to Kora, and Headies to AMEN show no signs of slowing down.

Just this week, they kicked out Wande Coal’s banging single The Kick from the top spot of the MTV Base Official Naija Top 10 Chart with their Jackson tribute, Personally.

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