Osagz of Pulse TV actually set the ball rolling for this topic after an episode of his #FactsOnly series.
A cosign is a stamp of approval given by a well respected artist or usually an artist who has gained a fair amount of commercial success to an upcoming, relatively unknown or lesser successful one. It is simply a word of mouth that can come in form of a shout out acknowledging some form of likeness to the persons music or bars, a song feature or even getting signed on to his stable.
Lil Wayne opened doors for Drake who then got successful enough to cosign Kendrick and A$AP Rocky on some levels, Jay-Z cosigning Kanye (We all remember the public passing of the Roc-a-Fella chain), Eminem for 50 Cent, Olamide doing same to Lil Kesh, 2face for Dammy Krane, and the list goes on. The aforementioned are of course the more successful examples.
Everywhere in life really, assistance is needed by a higher individual; Tinubu cosigning a relatively unknown Fashola to become Governor (though some tag it “godfatherism”), Ali Baba practically cosigning every other comedian in the country, even on a daily basis, recommendation letters and/or references are essentials in getting jobs.
The practice of a cosigning is nothing new, but it can be said to be more essential and impactful today.Factors including greater competition and other limitations especially financial.
In 2011, Kendrick Lamar got a major cosign from four heavy weights; Kurupt, The Game, Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg. During a concert, he was passed the West Coast torch. A cosign puts you on the map, makes everyone suddenly pay more attention and automatically raises the bar of expectation by which your art will be judged. It’s a two pronged fork – it can be a gift and a curse (Read this interesting article on the downside of specific cosigns here). It took 50 cent from being that kid on the block doing drugs to the rapper selling 872,000 copies of Get Rich or Die Tryin’ in one week. Mainstream success is easily attained from a larger crowd liking your material, liking your personality or even liking the clique you are attached with. For example, I stuck to Dammy Krane’s music because of his affiliation to 2Face.
In this age where a Youtube video review/like, friends like on a facebook page, a twitter retweet and online positive album or brand reviews automatically sets one’s interest off to clicking the page, a cosign could easily be the push needed to set your career off. Young Thug initially surfaced as a solo artist mid-2011, started dropping songs, got signed by Gucci Mane and getting little buzz along the way, he had the essential ingredients to stake a claim in the (t)rap scene but it didn’t click till sometime in 2014. A cosign from Birdman and a group mixtape with him and Rich Homie Quan which was acclaimed upon release set him on his way – he’s now one of the easily recognized artists in/from Atlanta. The cosigns from Kanye, Drake et al came later.
It is important to note that something is usually brought to the table by the artist because when it comes down to it; an artist’s flow/ delivery, subject matter and overall sound are as important as the cosign itself. The budding artist must be able to step up to the challenge and increased expectations. Patoranking got the baton from Timaya and stepped up to drop one of the hottest songs of the past year, whilst many others do get a solid cosign and are unable to use it to their advantage.
America vs Nigeria
“Do I need a co-sign from Dre or Jigga?/
They can make me much bigger/
But do I need em though?” – Kendrick Lamar
Drake at a point in 2014 went on a cosign spree, rapping in the club to Young Thug and quoting Dej Loaf lyrics on his Instagram Page. It is said that her YouTube page saw significant increase in video views the day after, then the expected ensuing cosigns. She has since gone on to achieve some success, even featuring on an Eminem track.
iLOVEMAKONNEN had been in the game for years as a Producer/ Songwriter, dropping 5 projects in his Drink More Water Mixtape Series. He was even scouted at some point by Mike Will Made It, but it was not until Drake took notice and cosigned him by jumping on the remix of “Tuesday” did his career officially kick off – even getting a Grammy Nomination for the remix. He is now signed to OVO Sound – Drake’s record label.
Getting the stamp of approval from a well respected artist is almost as important as getting noticed by a Major label, so why should the Nigerian Music scene be different? Many argue that a co-sign is as irrelevant as an Awilo feature over here, this is a train of thought I do not totally subscribe to.
Delta state born Joshua Iniyezo popularly known as Solidstar burst into the scene when he got a co-sign from 2face who guest-versed the 1st single of his debut album, One in a Million, this went on to become an anthem and shot his solo career on a perfect start.
Boogey is another emcee who has gained quite a bit via a co-sign, you may want to argue as to how that has fared but I could easily point you to tens of many other “twitter rappers’ with sufficient skill and an even larger body of work that are still relatively unknown, unsigned and unheard. Boogey received co-signs from three heavyweight rappers in Terry tha Rapman, M.I and Modenine and got to feature on their mixtapes respectively, he has since gone on to release 2 projects, receive decent airplay spin on radio stations, a ‘lyricist of the year’ nomination, released a video for Sanctum which is a fan’s favourite. The world awaits fulfilment of the potential he carries.
Another act currently benefiting off a cosign is Runtown, he had been dropping singles since 2010, got featured on J Martins 2nd album, shot a video but no one took notice, until 2014 when through the help of Timaya, a Davido cosign in the form of a feature on Gallardo, everything’s clicked since then.
Maybe the biggest beneficiary of a Cosign on this side of the world is Star Boi Wizkid, as a Surulere boy myself, I remember first hearing about Wiz sometime in 2006/07, kid been buzzing on our streets, working with OJB and like we learnt from his Ojuelegba hit single, sleeping in Mo dogg’s studio with Silly (Who is still doing music but yet to hit it, no cosign maybe?), then came 2009, when he featured on M.I’s “Fast Money, Fast Cars”, this drew major attention as he went on to feature on Kel’s “Turn by Turn” and then got signed to EME. 2 solo albums, self owned label, multiple awards, successful tours, solid brand and endorsements on his shelf, the rest like they say is history.
Whilst it may be argued that some of these acts would have blown even without a co-sign or like someone said, he sees it as the older artist riding on the wave of the relatively new one, Cosigns are golden now more than ever due to the amount of new talent coming through on a daily, so for a music lover, interested in fresh sounds and giving upcoming cats a listen, with like 50 new songs dropping on blogs daily, high data rates which makes downloading or listening to them all almost impossible, are you more likely to listen to a random song you just stumbled upon online or one that a Modenine or M.I cosigns.
I am of the opinion that the same way a cosign works in other climates, it is that effective here also, especially when the person you receive one from is a man of the people. A cosign is becoming more and more the strongest and cheapest form of promotion for your music out there and can easily be turned into a mixtape/album campaign, a social media hashtag or even help earn a series of shows. For the successful artists, who have you been able to bring under your stable and how many people can point to you today as a player in their success story is just as important. Listen to Osagz say it all below and co-sign someone today.
I find it interesting that both here and in America, to the best of my knowledge; this practice is more common in the Rap/Hip-Hop/Hip-Pop genre and occasionally the Pop genre. It is less common in the R&B genre. The cosign (in America) usually comes in the form of signing to a Major Label.
Just like some things in life, the known way is not the only way.