*Phone call to my Mum from 2001. I was in SS1*
Me: mum, I’ve found my calling. I know what I was created for I. I don’t wanna be in school no more. I wanna write. I wanna sing. I wanna be a superstar…’
Mum: Seun, think of it this way. Most of these celebrities in music and sports usually don’t have a back up plan. What if something happened to them and they can’t sing or play anymore? I know you are talented but I think you should work towards being done with schooling. Wait till you have a Master’s Degree so you can have something to fall back on. A Plan B…’
And that for me was motivation to try to get good grades and be done with school, even if it was gonna take me another decade. Soon as I had my MA certificate, we had a family meeting and I referred to that phone call. I expressed to them that I wanted to pursue my career in music. That it was time. That I’d have to sacrifice a lot. Birthdays, living with them, holidays… Everything pretty much, in order to focus on my career. They lovingly gave me their blessings, promised to support and have been since then.
I started releasing music as far back as 2008, demos actually because I wanted to have stuff on the scenes before I was ready to go professional with music.
I remember partaking in a competition called ‘The Underground’ in 2009 alongside about 9 other guys and I being the only female came out as the first winner and ‘Queen of the Underground’. It was empowering. I had won something. The name SAEON went from being on the lips of just my family and friends to lovers of Saeon Music.
Emerging as the Queen of the Underground got me noticed on blogs which gave me a platform to keep releasing demos including ‘Fever‘ produced by the late Sazzy (RIP), ‘Let It Go‘ produced by IBK SpaceshipBoi and co produced by Cobhams Asuquo, Recover From You ft Falz produced by JRS all of which were popular underground.
Fast forward a couple years, I came back to Nigeria. I was finally done with school, I plunged into the industry with no guide or mentor. I was an independent artiste who didn’t know the industry or even take the time to study it.
I felt I was ready! I had my family’s support. In 2012, I did a cover to Brymo’s Ara and gained popularity for it after Brymo himself released it on the radio as the best cover he had heard, giving me an introduction to the industry. I remember it getting massive Air Play and people reference it till date.
I put out my 1st single ‘Lie’ ft Flowssick based on ideas like ‘you need to do something for the streets/clubs, you need to do something more Nigerian’ — because in all honesty, I sounded too foreign. — And it got some attention. This should have propelled me but it wasn’t. Not like I had hoped it would.
Fine, people liked the record but the reaction wasn’t necessarily increasing the brand or SAEON Music Lover base. I didn’t have the numbers from before where I’d release something and get 10,000 hits in a day. My numbers weren’t growing.
I put out more songs ‘Jara’ & ‘Nekunek’ produced by Tintin, ‘Bust My Brain’ ft General Pype & ‘Awada Erekere’ produced by GospelOnDBeatz. One thing was apparent. I wasn’t getting the reaction from before. I wasn’t being consistent with my sound. I had put out a sound that wasn’t true to me, something I couldn’t really keep up with and so I wasn’t ‘getting the formula’.
I was listening too much to people’s opinion on how and what kinda music I should make that my opinion became mute and nonexistent to me, causing my efforts to drown in the listener’s confusion as to what the SAEON Sound or Brand was. All this happened between 2012 and 2014.
I then released Boogie Down ft Wizkid. I did what I could to push it the way that I knew how to. It was doing really well on the radio and I needed it to pop off in the clubs and on the streets. This was months before I got signed.
Dare I say the record was growing to became a hit but came with a lot of controversy after I expressed my thoughts about not getting as much support as I had expected and was agreed on. I suffered the backlash from that as people came for me. Some people I knew and most that I didn’t.
I actually had a couple death threats and tonnes of negative comments sent my way. I pretty much was on my own. No one had my back. Not in public. I remember getting just 2 phone calls from a couple people I considered as friends but majority didn’t say a word.
It wasn’t like they were obliged to but it would have at least encouraged me. It was as though the entire industry was against me. It was one of the hardest experiences I’ve ever faced.
The controversy never started out as a publicity stunt but happened to take place just before I released my first body of work, ‘I Am SAEON – The EP’, which was supposed to showcase my R’n’B strengths. Instead, it drowned in the controversy. To make things worse I had no support from the label as they held off completely from promoting me barely 5 months after signing me.
I wallowed in it. Honestly, it broke me. Not just the ‘altercation’ — for lack of a better word — but the fact that no one, not even the label stood with me, making me feel like I was wrong for spending my money and voicing out because I felt I hadn’t gotten my money’s worth. I felt even God wasn’t with me.
Now that I look back, I can admit that I was wrong, wrong for not being tactful in expressing myself and wrong for not being smart about it after the fact. I should have used the buzz from this experience to keep pushing out content because as they say. All publicity, positive or negative, is good publicity.
I could have even went in the studio and recorded a diss track (thank God I didn’t release it), I didn’t ride on that buzz because I felt I needed to pause as the controversies were trumping my artistry and God given talent, causing the listener base and industry to focus on the negatives. I didn’t want that to be the case for my career. I had to reevaluate. I had to regroup. I had to change perceptions and misconceptions. I had to let the music speak.
I went on the longest hiatus. Trying to deal, trying to encourage myself because that’s all I had, and my amazing family supporting me. But it became sour, I lost my zeal. Music had always been my to go place and I hated it. It brought me pain. I became so vulnerable. I hit rock bottom. I even found myself at a point where I was ready to quit music. I actually did. My passion for creating music died. I died. To self and to my past.
I told my family I didn’t wanna do music anymore. I joined Jobberman and various job seeking sights. It would have been weird to do a 9-5, not that I couldn’t, I just didn’t want to have to keep explaining myself just incase people recognised my face from being in the news. I started looking for schools. I wanted to leave the country. I wanted to get out the industry that had taken all of me and not given anything in return but a bad reputation. I was done.
It’s funny how man proposes and God disposes. I wanted something so bad that I didn’t take the time to really study its surroundings. Instead it studied my short comings and schooled me till it killed me. In that death to my self and my passion came a rebirth. I let go completely and found myself again.
I resurrected and fine tuned the #BoyChick with with the #87Swags in look and sound and the Swags broken down to represent my music, BackPacks, #MorudanBraids and natural hair, my demeanor, outfits and footwear (mostly gotten from the men’s section) and content in general. I had my family’s constant encouragement. I found God and since then been with me.
He’s been my constant charger, my battery, my power pack. He’s been my drive. I decided that if I was going to do this at least one more time, I was going do it my way. Do it how it came to me. Straight from my heart. No filter. I was going be myself. I was going do me. Whether or not I had any support from the label. I had God, my family, my talent. Therefore I had the tools to succeed.
I put out the R.I.C.O freestyle and BAM! I got the reaction I was once familiar with. The reaction from back in 2008-2012 when I put out demos and the cover to Brymo’s Ara. That for me was golden because it made me feel as though I was back on track and that I made the best decision doing me — infusing Rap, Hip hop and R’n’B — ‘TrapnB’. It was the beginning of the self acceptance I had longed for.
Next came ‘Storí’ with vocals from O-Jay, produced by Tintin. I bared out my vulnerability and feelings on the record and it sparked up more reactions. Positive reactions. It made the various countdowns in and outside Lagos. It made me feel people were paying attention. Like before when I put out the demos. But this time in bigger numbers. I was appreciative of what I had. Growing support.
Then I put out ‘Dé Bè’ featuring YCee, the Remix and Cypher featuring AT, Poe, Eva Alordiah, Ozone, Tesh Carter and YCee. Right from its inception, I knew it was more than just a commercial record. More than just a single. It was a movement and I couldn’t do it on my own, hence the various features. But more than that, it was a voice. It is the Nigerian Dream!
#DéBè signifies not just the English conjugation for ‘To Get There‘, It stands for Hope, Perseverance, Patience, Toil, Sweat, Trials, Failure, Retries, Repeats, Faith, Hardwork, Relentlessness, Assuredness, Grace, Favour and eventual Success.
#DéBè is the Nigerian Dream!!! It stands for the light at the end of the tunnel, the beginning right after the presumed end. It is My Motto. My Weapon. My Storí. My Gift. It is my way of inspiring everyone on their different paths to coming to their open space and fulfilling their destinies. My way of letting us know we’ve got to be ready to run our individual races ourselves like it were a one man relay.
That we’ve got to work hard and stay on our toes always. That we’ve got to be ready to do what it legitimately takes to get to where we’re destined to be. That we’ve got to pay our dues and go through the process. That even though God is the author and finisher of our faiths, our success lies in our hands. That we’ve got to grab our destiny by its cojones. That we’ve got to stop caring what people think and start believing in ourselves. That we’ve got to be sure of ourselves and not doubt our abilities. That God put something inside of us that makes us unique. That we weren’t made to be like anyone but ourselves.
So we don’t need to follow the crowd or copy. We have our individual blueprints and even if anyone stole it, they won’t be able to execute it like we would. So we need to hold on and keep the consistency. Keep aiming to be the better version of the best version of ourselves. Keeping our heads up and eyes on the prize and we will eventually #DéBè at our appointed time!
6 months after its release Dé Bè is still a hit. That for me is priceless. Because it has changed the fact that I went from not being heard, being mocked and abused or overlooked, being no where on the radar or not getting any AirPlay at all to being all over the AirWaves and on the countdown. It still is on some countdowns. It even got reactions from industry movers.
It has changed my Storí and caused me to realised that I have not just a fanbase but friends who love my gift, are inspired by it and who really wish me well. For that, I am grateful. Grateful for my support system. My family. I am elated that barely a year after I decided to give up my passion, God has turned it all around for my good. I am thankful for every #Morudan and soon to be #Morudan out there who constantly ride for me. I will continue to give you all a reason to remain in your decision to support me. I will give you the real me always. Good music always. I hope to inspire you with everything I do.
I still have a lot to do and I work hard everyday to get to where I wanna be and even past it. I’m on my lane. I’m on a journey and this time it’s my journey. It is my prayer that just as I’ve found my lane, you will all find yours. You will find your #DéBè. You will find your Nigerian Dream and achieve it!