Founder of Kennis Music, Kenny Ogungbe, opens up on rift with Jaywon and other issues: Many years after he helped found Raypower 100.5 FM Radio, ace music producer and broadcaster, Kenny Ogungbe, now sits at the helms of the affairs of the Radio section of Daar Communications Plc.
In spite of the demands of his new job, Keke – as he is fondly called by his friends, associates and admirers to boot – still finds the time to oversee the running of Kennis Music TV, Prime Time Entertainment and, of course, Kennis Music, the records label that has nurtured some of the most successful singers the country has ever produced.
Having recorded about 71 albums as a producer and played key roles in the establishment of two popular Frequency Modulated radio stations in the country – Raypower FM and Rainbow 94.1 FM – Ogungbe comes across easily as a pace-setter and one of the most accomplished music producers of all time.
But the going has not been entirely smooth for the smooth-talking broadcaster, whose achievements include the introduction of the 24-hour broadcast in Nigeria. On the contrary, the road to success has been fraught with challenges.
“The challenges are still there, but they are not peculiar to the music or entertainment industries or the broadcast media. They include unstable power supply, inaccessible and formidable distribution networks, inadequate funding, piracy and lack of support from governments,” he says.
Quite recently, eyebrows were raised when Iledare Oluwajuwonlo James, aka Jaywon, decided to call it quits with Kennis Music – the same records label that brought him fame.
The singer was said to have written a letter through his lawyer requesting the termination of his contract with the outfit.
In response, Kennis Music issued a statement indicating that Jaywon had made known his intention to buy over the contract.
The records label also directed all members of the Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria and all broadcasters on other platforms to un-list the works (single performances or and collaborations) of the singer from their respective rotational play lists until his request to buy over his contract had been completed.
To those who feel that Kennis Music might have been a bit too hard on Jaywon, Ogungbe replies, “It depends on which side of the divide you belong. Many people are actually saying the opposite, especially those that know how the brand emerged. Please refer to the last press release published by Kennis Music. The situation remains the same.”
However, when reminded that the records label has lost some of its wave-making artistes in the past, he says, “You seem not to understand the business part of music. Who are these artistes? How many of them? Where are they now and how old are they now? Their contracts expired without an offer of renewal from Kennis Music. How many of them told you that they were offered renewal contract and they turned it down? With a few that jumped contract, either through their lawyer writing Kennis Music or they just jumped, 90 per cent of them were not offered contract of renewal. We never made it public in order not to disrespect them and for the sake of progress. I’m trained to believe in the maxim: ‘No permanent enemy, no permanent friend; but permanent interest’. Chief Dokpesi taught me that.”
But in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Tuesday, Jaywon denied ever saying he would buy over his contract with Kennis Music.
“I didn’t buy over my contract with Kennis Music. It expired and I had to move on,” he said.
He further told our correspondent that he is currently working on a collabo with YCube and he intends to record a new album soon.
On how to further grow the entertainment sector, Ogungbe, who says he would probably have become a pastor or politician if he had not taken to broadcasting and music production, accuses the Federal and State Governments of paying more attention to Nollywood than they have done to the music industry.
“Nothing has been done for musicians and music promoters or the platform that creates the global phenomenon that is turning positive heads to Nigeria. I guess no one understands that the federal and state governments have to pay attention to us,” he says.
In spite of this obvious handicap, he dismisses the notion – often held in some quarters – that a proper music industry is yet to berth in Nigeria.
“The Minister of Finance and Coordinator of Nigeria’s Economy, Dr. Okonjo Iweala, recently explained to the world the indexes that contributed to the increment of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product and subsequently placed her as Africa’s biggest economy. The aggregation of the businesses from music, comedy, movies, sports entertainment sector by the Statistician General of Nigeria played the official role,” he argues.