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Humblesmith, Davido: When can you say a guest artiste ‘owned’ a collaboration?

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Owning someone on their song still remains an extremely difficult feat, one that can be done by the best and most popular talents in the game. But it is possible, has happened, and will happen again.

Humblesmith is a star these days. The singer who many got to know because of his ‘Osinachi’ single has been hustling since 2014 professionally, when he released his debut single, ‘Chairmo’. Backed by N-Tyze Entertainment, with PR run by Pace, the singer had gone on to release other singles including ‘Boogati’, ‘Love me’, ‘Na you’, ‘Na you’ (remix), and ‘Shoki’.

But it was the original of ‘Osinachi’, featuring Phyno that began to generate enough attention to his corner. That traffic was pedestrian until Davido was added to the remix. Davido brought with him enough stardust, verve and skill to make him cross the divide into a bonafide hit jam. But there was too much Davido. The HKN star carried the song with him, and became the true star of the project. In other words, he owned the collaboration.

What exactly does it mean to own a collaboration as a guest artiste? Owning a collaboration as a guest artiste, simply means outshining the lead artiste (owner of the song), to the point where it is assumed by listeners that you are the owner of the song. This mostly happens when the guest is given the hook and a verse, or when there is a call-and-response format for the delivery. Sometimes, it is just the strength and energy of the artiste being too much for the host. Take the case of Illbliss and Terry G on ‘Aye Pon Gan’. Terry grabbed it all. Hook, line and singer. He relegated Illbliss to second place. He wasn’t the only one who fell victim to the power of Terry G. AY.com, the singer, was also mowed down in ‘Pass me your love’, as Terry rode home with the jam.

A more recent version of this can be found on Solidstar’s ‘My body’, where Timaya stole the show on the dancehall single. Very few people actually believe that Solidstar was the owner of the song. Wizkid is another beast of a guest. The ex-EME man was a champion of this, besting his label mate, Shaydee on ‘Won gbo mi’, and also going on DJ Maphorisa’s ‘Soweto Baby’ to conquer.

How do they do this? First, the problem lies with the handlers of the host artiste, and also whoever A&Red the song. A good A&R will always want guests to bring their A-game to the studio, but sometimes, moderation is sacrificed on the altar of need. If Wizkid goes into the spirit, and decides to guest you with more than you anticipated, do you look a gift horse in the mouth? No. You grab it with both hands and ride home screaming out your lungs. It is now the job of the mixer and masterer to find ways to create a balance. Many times this has worked. But some occasions give those sound engineers no freedom to moderate, hence the final product is a hit song, but with very little benefit for the artiste and his financiers.

Owning someone on their song still remains an extremely difficult feat, one that can be done by the best and most popular talents in the game. But it is possible, has happened, and will happen again.

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