#JusticeforMohBad Is A Heartbreaking Cautionary Tale for Young Artists About the Nigerian Music Industry

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It has been over a week since the murder of 27-year-old Afrobeats singer MohBad, and the tragedy still hangs heavily in the air. The young and the old, the social media savvy and casual listeners… everyone’s heart is broken and there is just one thing on everyone’s mind – #JusticeForMohBad. But why has this case resonated so deeply with people? What is it about MohBad’s death that has sparked such a passionate outcry? Why have people taken to the streets to protest his death?

It is safe to say that the overwhelming oppression, bullying and harassment of the late singer, coupled with his pleas for help that went unheeded, struck a chord with Nigerians, leaving them with a heavy sense of guilt and regret.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023, was a day like any other, until the news broke that MohBad had been killed at a show in Ikorodu, Lagos State, after a friend of his had allegedly hit him with a ‘charmed ring’ during a fight. The news was met with shock and disbelief, with many Nigerians questioning the circumstances surrounding the death of the rising star. How is it possible that this young man so full of life was so casually killed? A ring, really? Who hit him? Is this attack related to his numerous complaints and reports of bullying, assault and harassment by his former label mates? 

As at the time of writing this article, the young singer’s cause of death hasn’t been determined, but his body which was hurriedly buried less than 24 hours after his demise has been exhumed for autopsy and investigation by law enforcement agents.

Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba, also known as MohBad, came from a humble background. He was a street kid with a bright future who worked his way up through sheer talent and hard work. A talented musician, MohBad, also known as Imole, was a rising star in the Nigerian music industry. Along with three other artists, he was signed to Marlian Music in 2019, a record label founded by fellow musician Naira Marley. MohBad was known for his catchy melodies and energetic live performances, and he quickly became one of the label’s most popular artists. He released several hit singles, including “Feel Good,” “KPK,” and “Ronaldo.” To even the untrained eye, it was clear to see that he was a star that was bound to keep shining brightly. 

However, what should have been the most memorable time of the young artist’s life quickly turned into an unending nightmare, as he encountered troubles with his label. As was revealed last year, MohBad’s relationship with label owner Naira Marley, was filled with major issues. In 2022, MohBad in a live video, accused Naira Marley of bullying, assault and harassment. He alleged that his label mates were after his life under the instructions of Marley, in a very public falling out which led to him leaving the label. 

According to MohBad, his woes started the day he expressed to Naira Marley that he no longer wanted to work with his manager, Naira’s brother, Tunde. Apparently, in that meeting where Tunde and other label members were present, things got heated and Tunde, along with some other artists present, violently attacked the now late singer.

From then on, MohBad’s life took a turn for the worse as he endured relentless attacks and harassment from his label mates, so much so that he lived in fear and paranoia, not knowing when the next attack would come from, or from where. He was blacklisted, and also prevented from doing shows. Despite the fact that he continued to share his woes online and to the Nigerian police, nothing was done. The reports included accusations of various crimes, including assault, battery, threat to life, and even kidnapping. The police investigated the allegations, but no charges were filed. Naira Marley and the other artists denied the allegations, with Naira stating that MohBad was on drugs and suffering a mental health breakdown, which is why he was acting so irrationally, but that their issues would be settled in-house.

In the wake of MohBad’s accusations, several videos surfaced online, lending weight to his claims. In addition to Naira, Zinoleesky and other label members, one name that repeatedly came up when describing the vicious attacks was Samson Erinfolami Balogun, known as Sam Larry. He is a Nigerian show promoter associated with Naira Marley and other influential figures, including government officials and the Elegushi family. There’s a video circulating online that shows Sam Larry disrupting MohBad’s music video, destroying equipment worth millions of naira, and threatening his life. Many allegations point to his involvement in various unsavoury activities. Because of this, people wonder: did Sam Larry finally get MohBad like he promised he would? 

Many individuals, including colleagues, friends, his father, and even his wife, have faced public accusations of involvement in his murder. As of now, numerous questions persist, while answers remain elusive. It is important to note that all the accused have come out to vehemently deny the allegations, and express their love for the singer, as well as call on authorities to do their best in investigating the matter. We await official information from the investigators. 

This whole situation has highlighted the extent of criminality within the Marlian Music Label, and honestly, within the Nigerian music industry as a whole. This case is still developing and so much isn’t known yet, other than speculation and conjecture, but we will add an update here on District234 as soon as the case is concluded.

For many young Nigerian artists, the music industry can be a dream come true. Signing to a popular label that promises to promote your music, make you a star, and give you a chance at being a part of a family is the goal of many struggling musicians. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers, especially when it comes to artist protection. 

Unfortunately in the Nigerian music industry, it is not uncommon to hear of artists being exploited, and these cases are a stark reminder of the lack of artist protection in the industry. Young Nigerian artists need to be aware of their rights and how to protect themselves from exploitation. There are a few things you need to remember before putting your name on any dotted lines:

• Do your research. Before signing with a record label, make sure you conduct thorough research to fully understand the terms of the deal. Ask other artists about their experiences with the label and if possible, read reviews online. 

• Get everything in writing. Once you’ve found a label that you’re interested in signing with, make sure you get everything in writing. This includes your record deal, as well as any other agreements, such as management contracts or touring contracts. When it comes to contracts, be ruthless so you are not exploited.

• Have a lawyer review your contracts. Before you sign anything, have a lawyer review your contracts to make sure that you understand all of the terms, and that your interests are protected. Do not assume that you can read and understand the terms of a cleverly worded contract as clearly as a lawyer can. Remember, you’re not signing a friendship contract, but a business one. Most businesses prioritize their profits over everything else.

• Be aware of your rights. As an artist, you have certain rights, such as the right to own your own music and the right to be paid fairly for your work. Make sure you’re familiar with your rights and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. 

• Trust your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal, even if it seems like a good opportunity. It’s also important to be aware of the potential for physical, emotional, and financial abuse from record labels and managers. If you are being exploited, speak up and seek help from others.

• Be watchful. Some music labels are simply fronts for all sorts of illegality, so watch carefully, lest you be roped into criminal activities, or even worse, set up as either a mule or fall guy.

MohBad’s heartbreaking story is not only a tale of personal tragedy, but also serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for artist protection within Nigeria’s music industry. Aspiring artists must be well-informed, cautious, and proactive in safeguarding their interests, and apparently, their lives too. 

The music industry, while filled with opportunities, also carries hidden dangers, and vigilance is the key to preventing exploitation and abuse. Be aware of the dangers of signing to the wrong label, and take steps to protect yourself from nefarious characters. It’s possible to pursue your passion in music while staying safe from exploitation. The creative journey needs to remain pure, exciting, inspiring, and secure for everyone. Speak up if you’re being harassed or bullied; you deserve to live your life to the fullest, in peace, and reaping the rewards of your hard work.

Ultimately, what we hope for in this tragic case is that justice is served, and that MohBad’s true killers are rightfully punished. We hope to see the end of bullying and harassment, as well as the gang and drug culture in the Nigerian music industry. 

Our heartfelt wishes go out to the family he left behind, particularly his young son. We would want him to know that his father was brave and inspirational, and that he has every reason to be proud. Rest in power, champ.

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