He is right. Phyno entered mainstream consciousness in 2012, after the release of his collaboration with Olamide on ‘Ghostmode’. This overnight success came after almost a decade in the back end of things. Phyno has hustled in Enugu as a producer. You can’t have conversations about the early pop scene in the Eastern music hub of Enugu without his name invariably linked with it. N6 has a full album produced by Phyno. Yes, this Phyno.
But ‘Ghostmode’ did the magic, and five years later, he has done nicely for himself, building a career that has impacted an entire region. The East has supported Phyno. They have bought his records, amplified his singles, propagated the spread of his name, and repped him with every opportunity that presented itself. Phyno is celebrated as a King from the East, deservedly so.
The idea of Phynofest is his ‘Thank you’ and warm embrace to his people. A lot of them have never experienced his music live. Due to the centralised music industry that we have had in Lagos, the average fan experience of Phyno has been far away, through screens and monitors, displaying Youtube music videos, and interviews. Many have never seen him in person. Phynofest changed that in a big way.
“I and my team believe we change lives through Phynofest,” he says. “As much as it’s a music concert, we have created an annual festival that celebrates the fans and with the support of partner brands we will give back to people.”
Phynofest began in 2015 when the singer filled out the 12,000 capacity Chuba Ikpeazu Memorial Stadium in Onitsha. Seeing its success, he moved closer home in 2016, to a larger venue in the 23,000 capacity Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu. And in 2017, he repeated the feat, only this time, it was bigger.
The fest kicked off on Saturday, November 18, with the ‘Street Party’ held in the Abakpa Nike area of Enugu, the hood where Phyno grew up and has shaped who he is as a global recording artiste of note. It was impossible to miss the love the hood had for their own. Events of the day saw Phyno engaged with children and all present, performance by upcoming acts, refreshments and lots of music.
The Phynofest concert held the next day at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium; and riding on the success of the previous year this year’s concert enjoyed class act performances and choreography by top performers like D’banj, Yemi Alade, Runtown, Zoro, YCee, Flavour, Timaya, Runtown, Rude Boy, Lil Kesh, Mayorkun, Duncan Mighty. The event was hosted by Olisa Adibua, with appearances from Nedu and official hype-man Ehiz. The upcoming artists were not left out as there were performances by next rated artists from across the country.
Highlights of the night were Phyno’s headline live band performance, Zoro’s entrance, Yemi Alade’s scintillating performance, the Kokomaster D’banj doing what he does best, and the list goes on and on. To round up events of the weekend, there was a post-concert after-party, powered by Hennessey.
“It’s a great feeling. when you see over fifty thousand fans come to support you. Phynofest is the first of its kind in Nigeria and it brings a certain level of satisfaction that not even money can buy,” Phyno reflects.
“Cinemas are to movies as venues are to music,” says Chin Okonkwo, the CEO of Eclipse live on an episode of Loose Talk podcast. And judging by that truism, Phyno has brought his art to one of the largest theatres in Nigeria. It’s the first of its kind in Nigeria for a headline artist to fill out stadiums twice. He has maintained his relevance, driven the culture, and opened a lot of eyes to the possibility of bigger concert venues in Nigeria.
He deserves credit for this. There are very few ground-breaking moments in the Nigerian music industry. You could list out the emergence of M.I Abaga who changed Hip-hop, the rise of digital music distribution, and our spotlight on international stages. Phynofest belongs to this class of achievements. It possesses both commercial and cultural significance.
The ripples of his actions are already manifesting. Olamide, his friend and frequent collaborator, is planning on filling out the Teslim Balogun stadium in Lagos, and I have heard whispers of other top artists planning similar moves in 2018. This excites Phyno.
“Entertainers should be able to hold their own shows and concerts and I believe most want to. However, it’s not easy to get the required backing to pull off an event of this magnitude. At the moment there are quite a number of entertainers putting together their own concerts,” he says.
“The numbers increase every year and that’s positive. We will all get there in good time. We have to remember the culture is the people and I have fans who are on the street and we need to take the show to them. If we invest in the people, we uplift the culture and that reflects on the strata of life.”
Phynofest will definitely return in 2018. It’s too significant and powerful to not be an annual occurrence. It’s incredible what Phyno has done, and he deserves more than just praise and respect.
Perhaps a statue from Rochas Okorocha?