Since the time when the highly percussive rhythms of Fela Anikulapo Kuti reverberated across Africa, the Afrobeat sound has filled the world, with people from different parts of the world unable to resist its tunes and rhythms.
While the quality of the musical genre meets and, perhaps, exceeds global standards, technology has played a significant role in making it ubiquitous. And discovering and accessing it has become very easy with the advent of music streaming platforms.
However, music consumption could be on the eve of an evolution linked to emerging technologies like blockchain to create non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Iyobosa Rehoboth, popularly known as Prodigious, is in the midst of this evolution, helping one of Nigeria’s biggest artists connect with fans via blockchain.
“My name is Iyobosa Rehoboth, but I also go by the pseudonym Prodigeezy. I am currently a Product Development Manager at Floats Metaverse Systems. At Floats, we research, design and distribute crypto-economic opportunities for Africans. This means a lot for us, but the main thing is to bring as many people as possible into the blockchain in an innovative and user-friendly way.
Before Prodigeezy focused on integrating Africans on blockchain and building metaverses, he was just an avid storyteller with a camera.
“When I finished film school, I went back to Lagos, Nigeria, and I researched who was doing what and who was doing the most interesting things, and back then music was just very, very fascinating to me.
“I just thought it was a great way to express yourself visually because you could pack as much as possible into a three- or four-minute clip. So I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to shoot clips for one moment.’
Prodigeezy is responsible for successful music videos such as Falz’s This is Nigeria and Burna Boy’s Boshe Nlo. However, after making a career as a music video director, his foray into the emerging tech world happened due to his childhood love for technology.
Technology before music
Growing up, Prodigeezy enjoyed doing all things storytelling and art; however, technology also had a special place in his heart. His father was a scholar and pastor, so there was never a shortage of information; he constantly imbibed knowledge in his childhood.
“I was absorbed in a lot of passive learning and imitating the behavior of people around me. My upbringing was, to some extent, conservative, but I really liked staying indoors and reading books.
“I read a ton of books and watched a lot of television. After a while, I was privileged to have internet, which was rare for a Nigerian kid in the early 2000s, but it just changed my life trajectory.
Books, television, and internet access have turned Prodigeezy into what he describes as a full-fledged nerd; he was almost always indoors playing games and surfing the web.
He couldn’t get into a university immediately after high school, so he had an extra year to learn about computers, games, and many other things that suited his interests.
Interestingly, he entered the National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT), where he studied the basics of computer network engineering.
“I already knew where I was going back then and I wanted to be a computer scientist or an engineer. Either way, it just had to be computers. You barely had to know me for an hour before you realized I was a nerd.
When Prodigeezy finally entered college, he discovered another interest – graphic design – which was a good source of income for him. He only liked school because he studied computer science and could realize new areas of interest.
Unfortunately, his streak of learning and discovery was interrupted by strike action, a common occurrence in public universities in Nigeria. Back home, the zeal to keep learning and discovering new things was not there until her father gave her a delicious surprise.
“My father gave me a camera as a gift; it was a Canon 600 D DSLR. It wasn’t something I was crazy about at the time, but I mentioned it in passing.
Although he wasn’t enthusiastic about the camera when he got it, that’s why he became a music video director.
Out of curiosity, he tried to figure out how the camera worked. Several YouTube videos later, he began to understand. He started taking pictures everywhere he went, and it became a habit.
Before long, cinema and photography became his new interest, but his father did not like his new obsession. This is understandable, since he was mostly out of the house taking pictures until very late at night.
Eventually, his parents acquiesced after he convinced them that he had found his new passion and was ready to make it his career. He then studied cinema in India.
From music to technology
“It was an amazing time in my life, learning about filmmaking, the science of storytelling, emotions, and basically how to paint the right pictures with visuals.”
Upon his return to Nigeria, he landed an internship at Aje Filmworks, where he learned a lot and made good connections. From there he moved to Aristokrat Vision Production.
His company – Global Creative Operations (GCO) – was launched in 2018 and is now an established production and creative team. GCO evolves into a technology company as Prodigeezy infuses its exciting pandemic findings into the business.
Much like the faculty strike that led to his obsession with the camera, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 gave Prodigeezy another opportunity to pause and make discoveries.
“During the pandemic, I discovered virtual reality (VR). As always, it started out of curiosity, but I jumped down the rabbit hole and discovered this new immersive experience, and suddenly my love for computer logic returned.
He decided to get an Oculus Quest VR headset and immersed himself in the world of virtual reality. Without the distraction of work, he continued to learn more about virtual reality.
Blockchain meets virtual reality
While learning so much about VR, he came across the Metaverse, Web3, NFTs, and the blockchain ecosystem. By the end of 2021, he had learned so much about the space and was considering integrating an NFT product into his business.
The idea of Wizkid, Burna Boy and Davido NFT
“I told my guys that we had to start a new business because this is the future, and that’s how Floats was born. And a lot of my attention went into that.
He created Floats Metaverse Systems under GCO, and they started working on some exciting projects, none of which took off. And then they had a crazy project idea to bring Wizkid, Davido and Burna Boy – the biggest Nigerian artists – together.
“At the end of the year, we started toying with this idea of a collaboration between Burna Boy, Wizkid and Davido as NFT.
“It was an incredible idea. we got prototypes, did the artwork, created a custom smart contract and did it all. And it was with a thin team at that time, but it fell through.
Anyone familiar with the Nigerian music industry knows it would be a cold day in hell before Burna Boy, Wizkid and Davido, currently Nigeria’s hottest artists, collaborate. Having worked in the music industry, Prodigeezy knew this, but what he had planned was bigger than the Big Three rivalry.
He went on to present the idea to many other artists. Yet no one could imagine merging NFTs with music the way he did until he met Daniel Benson, known professionally as Bnxn and formerly Buju.
“We finally made it through Buju, and it was a heavenly game. He was already exploring how to creatively interpret his journey through comics and give it away as a limited artifact to his fans.
“So we said, ‘You know what, that’s cool. Let’s do this as part of an NFT project, as part of a larger community,” and the conversation kept growing. Buju really cares about his fans, like he really loves his fans, and he really wants to be an innovative force as a musician.
“He doesn’t just want to make music; he is a creative person and he wants his creativity to extend to his relationships with his fans.
According to Prodigeezy, Buju has always been about giving back to fans, and NFTs were a great way to do that. The Heads by Bnxn NTF collection was created for Buju fans to connect with him and enjoy sales.
The NFT Project will have 10,001 unique NFTs of Bnxn’s face – the kind used as cover art for his hit song Italy. NFT holders will automatically have access to physical and virtual Bnxn concerts. They will also be able to claim ownership of certain songs and clips, which will make them eligible to receive streaming revenue.
Although the sharing agreement has not yet been created, 10% of the project’s profits will go to a creation fund, and the community will vote on which project the money will be used for.
In addition, being part of the Heads By Bnxn community also gives access to training on all things Web3.
Prodigeezy, Bnxn and the team behind the project have bigger plans beyond just being an NFT collection.
“We are also big on the metaverse. We did a lot of experimenting and we made a game a few months ago. Our goal is really to be able to replicate this virtual space of Benson’s creation in the metaverse. And that means virtual concerts and all that it means to be an artist.
“As the technology evolves, we will continue to build more around it. This is the roadmap we promised the community. Benson also supports this, and he gives us a lot, from music to many other resources.
Combining NFTs with music is still new to the world, and Prodigeezy is easily a pioneer in the field. According to him, the community is on the verge of achieving something groundbreaking, and while he doesn’t know what the final image will look like, for the first time in a long time, true freedom is coming to the creative space.