Toks Asher Music is my first love
Tochukwu Toks Young Umezulike, aka Toks Asher Young, as he is popularly known, is an artiste manager, producer and music entrepreneur.
Back in his secondary school and university days, he was the go-to-guy for friends when they wanted to know the current songs, who sang a particular song or the title.
“I always listened to the radio just to know the current hit songs and know the artistes or band that sang it. After secondary school, while pursuing admission to higher institution, I used to hang out with a friend who worked in a music shop back then in Enugu called Music World. The company had its office at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium,” he says, wearing a long smile. “I also hung around Deejays at events, bought mixtapes and had DJs dub songs to play in friends’ cars during holidays.”
He always had lyrics of songs cut out from magazines or will listen to the songs and write them down and at one point fancied himself as a rapper/artiste.
Born in Adazi but from Umueji, Ufuma, in Orumba North Council, Anambra State, he grew up in Enugu and attended Ekulu Primary School, Enugu from 1978 to 1984, then Sacred Heart Seminary Nsude from 1984 – 1988, before proceeding to Special Science School Ihe, Awgu from 1989 to 1990.
Tochukwu graduated from Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka In 1998 where he studied Electro-Mechanics and did his mandatory one year national service in Ise Orun Council, Ekiti State In 1999.
After NYSC, he moved to Lagos with his love for music, but life got serious with looking for a job and how to eke a living, which made him push his love for music aside despite realising he just had ears for good music and couldn’t rap or sing to save his life.
In 2007/2008 a friend called Juju Loves also a dancehall artiste living in Amsterdam was recording his debut album. Juju wanted to get the late OJB to produce a few tracks for him and also Tubaba on a remix, he needed help with these, Toks made that happen with the help of the late Chukwudi Bambino Anachina.
After that Juju asked him to be his manager and that was how his journey in music began.
“At first, it was just for the fun of it, but a year later, I met General Pype and realised I could actually do this for real as a career,” he says.
Toks has been lucky to have worked with some great industry mentors, like Kenny Keke Ogungbe, Dayo D1 Adeneye, Obi Asika and Ayo Rotimi who helped guide him along on the journey and so far so good. It hasnt been all smooth or rosy or easy but he is loving every part of the journey till date.
Co-founder and managing partner at Podium Worldwide aka Poduim Vybez, Toks specialises in nurturing and managing budding talents. He is also an Amateur Model and has modelled for ZIni Coutures 2017 Summer collection.
Talk about all the artists/brands he has worked with and the story behind each one, he has this to say: I was co- founder and managing partner at Podium Worldwide aka Poduim Vybez, where I executively produced the 2009 monster hit Champion by dancehall artiste, General Pype, he says.
Pype was nominated as Next Rated Artiste in Hip Hop World Awards popularly known as “the headies. champion remix later went on to win the Channel “O” Music Video Awards for Best Ragga DancehallVideo 2010.
He currently manages multiple award winning hip hop artiste and Special Assistant Lagos Liaison to the Governor of Imo State, Naeto Chikwe aka Naeto C, Award winning Afrotrap Star YUNG6IX, popularly known as Swaggalomor or King of the South (K. O. S) rising medical doctor and urban contemporary act Kollydee and emerging rap artist Grindha.
In June 2014, Toks was contracted by former Etisalat now 9Mobile as talent/event manager for their Cloud Nine musical event series held in Port Harcourt and Abuja, Nigeria. Cloud Nine was aimed at bringing two musical artistes one of the older/golden generation and a younger artiste to perform their individual songs and still collaborate on a fusion medley of their songs and perform it live together.
While Patoranking and Bright Chimezie performed at the Port Harcourt event, Mike Okri and Niyola performed in Abuja.
His perception of the Nigerian music industry today? Tochukwu says, “it has become even more diverse in recent times. With the advent of afrobeats and the alternative genres it has been growing and crossing over progressively. It’s a really exciting time to be involved in the music industry. Nigerian artistes have been dominating the music scene in Africa for a while now. Afrobeats has been at the forefront of the musical evolution in Africa and in the past five years with the likes of Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy to mention a few championing the revolution in Nigerian music.”
According to Tochukwu, “the collaborations with European and American artistes and especially the collaborative Lion King themed “GIFT” album by Beyoncé featuring several African artistes has also been lauded as a positive step in the right direction. The album though it put a spotlight on African artistes, was criticised by mostly Eastern African pundits for not being all inclusive because most of the artistes on the album were mainly from Western Africa. Already the results are visible with lots of labels and platforms like Google, YouTube etc. now seeking to gain inroads in the Nigerian and African music industry.”
He adds, “I strongly believe that in the next couple of years there will be a boom leading to an influx of more labels seeking out African and Nigerian talents to sign on and showcase to the world.”
His advice for young Nigerian artiste? He smiles. Well,” he says, drawing a long laugh. “Most Nigerian artistes do not know the difference between having a proper label and a label imprint. These days, every one forms an imprint and without even a proper registration of the label name as a limited liability company they claim they are record label owners.
He continues, “also being a good artiste or musician doesn’t automatically translate into a good label executive or make you a certified A & R executive. Music is my first love and I believe that for an artiste to do good music, you need seven major things — Self-belief, perseverance, hard work, humility, loyalty and last, but not the least, continuous self-reinvention and constant reading. Always be original do you all the time, be inspired and motivated by someone but always strive to be you because no one can be you better that yourself.
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