BOOK REVIEW: Secrets of The Streets by TEJU BABYFACE OYELAKIN
SECRETS OF THE STREETS
2016 TEJU BABYFACE OYELAKIN
PUBLISHED BY BANC & ALL PUBLISHING COMPANY LIMITED, ABUJA
Secret 1: The Secret of ‘Jamb Question’
Secret 2: The Secret of Boniface
Secret 3: The Secret of Puma
Secret 4: The Secret of Puma (2)
Secret 5: The Secret of King Solo
Secret 6: The Secret of ‘Bros’
Secret 7: The Secret of the ‘Monkey Work, Baboon Chop’
Secret 8: The Secret of ‘Banging’
Secret 9: The Secret of The Gospel According to M.I.
Secret 10: The Secret of the Scion
Secret 11: The Secret of Confam
Secret 12: The Secret of the Lay About
Secret 13: The Secret of Joe
Secret 14: The Secret of ‘Maintain your Shampion’
Secret 15: The Secret of O.Y.O
Secret 16: The Secret of Lilliput
Secret 17: The Secret of the Efiko
Secret 18: The Secret of Hip and Hop
Secret 19: The Secret of War Chest
Secret 20: The Secret of Titration
Secret 21: The Secret of ‘Wetin You Bring’
Secret 22: The Secret of The Last Card
Secret 23: The Secret of ‘The Latter Shine’
SECRET 1: THE SECRET OF ‘JAMB QUESTION’
I am willing to bet that you are not exactly rolling around inviable options at the moment, are you? The chances are that if you are seriously contemplating going into a particular line of entertainment, it is about the only viable option you have. I am assuming, of course, that I am talking to someone who is truthful with himself/herself.
Kick the doubts into a corner, will you? This is only your first step. It is literally a means to an end and not an end in itself. The chances are that where you are starting out in the industry is not where you will end up. Here I am 15years later and even though I will probably always be qualified as one, I am hardly a comedian anymore.
Hence, if you desire to know whether you are on the right path in the entertainment industry or not, ask yourself a question; ‘am I eating from the low-hanging fruit or have I chosen to stretch to pluck that which seems more alluring, but is way out of my reach at the moment?’
Stop subjecting yourself and others to JAMB questions at every turn!
SECRET 2: THE SECRET OF BONIFACE
What’s in a name? If you haven’t figured it out yet, you will soon. Without your telling me so, I know that you have agonized long and hard over what brand name to coin for yourself as an entertainer. If you are yet to pick one that is satisfactory to you and possibly to your clique of friends and advisers, don’t be embarrassed. All of us, without exception, went through this ‘agony’.
But that’s the thing about names, isn’t it? Not only do they grow on you but also, one’s achievements justify the name eventually. So, the point is pretty much elementary. It doesn’t matter what you call yourself really. If you do what you are supposed to do as you are supposed to do it, the world will eventually respect your name. Having said that, do not be ridiculous either!
Be careful not to choose a name that your family would be ashamed to repeat in public; a name that would cause them to deny you.
SECRET 3: THE SECRET OF THE PUMA
If you know anything about me at all then you know that I had a mentor-protégé relationship with my late father, Jacob Gbadegesin Oyelakin. While we had the normal father and son thing going, my visits to him in the twilight of his life were typical of a man trying to pass off a vast body of knowledge in as efficient a manner as possible, in a short period of time. There are several ways of becoming a superstar comedian these days – or a superstar anything for that matter.
You can record a skit on your phone and post it on the Internet and become an overnight sensation. Just like that! (I really find it hard not to nurse a grudge against the younger generation and the opportunities it has been given).
SECRET 4: THE SECRET OF THE PUMA (2)
Basket Mouth has gone on to become one of the greatest comedians on the African continent and every time I see him, my father’s injunction about making haste slowly comes to mind. Here was a young man who spent time preparing himself and stepped out when he had been reasonably groomed and the opportunity presented itself.
But how does one make haste slowly, really? It does sound like an oxymoron, does it not? Well, young entertainer, if you will lend me your eyes for a minute, I will be glad to explain. It simply means that while you must indeed make hay while the sun shines and you must embark on whatever venture life has called you to immediately, you must learn to bide your time while preparing yourself.
In short, don’t be a puma. Don’t be overly anxious. Take your time.
SECRET 5: THE SECRET OF KING SOLO
THERE IS A TIME TO COME OUT IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY AND THERE IS A TIME TO WAIT!
Simply put, not every day is quite the same and timing in entertainment is as important as anything else. Even for dying! I know of musicians whose brilliant songs did not go anywhere, simply because they chose to release their songs at the same time as another, bigger act with a bigger song; or a bigger act with a song not as good, but with loads of money to promote it; the permutations are endless actually.
As I said in the last chapter, you must make haste to prepare yourself, but you must be cautious in declaring your arrival to the world. As a matter of fact, having prepared yourself, there is a sure-fire way of knowing when you are ready to step out and introduce yourself and your talent to the world, lest you miss that window.
Timing, as I have said, is very important. You can have all it takes to succeed, but if you miss your timing, you may regret it forever. Or regret it for a while.
SECRET 6: THE SECRET OF THE ‘BROS’
For those of you looking to be mentored by someone you have identified as an achiever, if you cannot answer the question ‘What have you done so far’, which they are almost guaranteed to ask you – unless the evidence is obvious – then don’t bother. Because if you cannot point to any achievement, no matter how modest, to which they can relate, then you may be in for rejection.
In my case, I had the glowing testimonial of the movie Diamond Ring to point to. As I have also mentioned, I was something of a celebrated comedian on the show circuit back on campus as well, even if as a second option.
This is not the book for the details of the experiences I had while training under these two gentlemen – and there were plenty! I point you here not only to one of the benefits of having a mentor (and underscore the importance of having one), but also the level of preparedness that is required.
SECRET 7: THE SECRET OF “Monkey Work, Baboon Chop”
He said that at the beginning of every career, one is often naïve and consequently, people will take advantage of you and cheat you. He said that the problem with many young people is that once they ‘wisen up’ to the fact that they have been or are being taken advantage of, they spend a lot of time fighting (the people who cheat them). He said that this was wasted energy.
WHO ARE YOU???? SEE THIS UPCOMING ARTISTE O!!!!
Let them rant and froth at the mouth all they want. I can almost guarantee you that they will admire and respect you – even if grudgingly – and you will begin to build a reputation for doing things by the book.
SECRET 8: THE SECRET OF ‘BANGING’
There are entertainers whose achievements and careers you aspire to emulate who never graduated or never even bothered with a university education. I will be eternally grateful for the rare opportunity I was given to appear in a movie so early on in my career. I don’t think there is any way I would have turned it down and wouldn’t, if I had to do it all over again.
On the other hand, I do regret almost flunking out and eventually barely managing to graduate. It broke my father’s heart.
SECRET 9: THE SECRET OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO M.I.
UNLESS YOU HAVE CONQUERED YOUR IMMEDIATE LOCALITY,
DON’T BOTHER TO LOOK FOR ESTABLISHED HELP.
‘Immediate locality’ does not refer to your Local Government Area, although that may very well be a part of it. It refers to the primary point of deploying your skills i.e. where you were when you decided to become whatever it is you have decided to become.
There are, of course entertainers who may have to build their relevance from outside their locality: a classic case of a prophet not having honor in his own hometown.
SECRET 10: THE SECRET OF THE SCION
I have found that ONE of the MAJOR ingredients you need to achieve outstanding success is OUTSTANDING HUNGER.
There is nothing quite like being deprived to give you a desperate desire and compelling hunger to succeed. It is like a ravenous animal that lives within you that wants to get to the top one way or the other.
There is a particular desperation and keen drive that enters your spirit while standing in the rain, waiting to catch a ‘molue’ (Lagos commercial coach) or ‘okada’ (commercial motorbike) while you watch others drive by in luxury SUVs and other state of- the-art cars.
SECRET 11: THE SECRET OF CONFAM
Whenever you feel the need to ask anybody what they think of your new song/book/joke/dress etc, quash that feeling immediately!
Whenever you are looking for people to ‘confam’ the viability of your new project or work before you introduce it to the market, don’t ask anybody! Okay I am being overly dramatic. You should actually ask your closest loved ones and strategy team, but limit it to that.
SECRET 12: THE SECRET OF THE LAY-ABOUT
Lots of time + little to do = Start-up Entrepreneur/Entertainer
This means that it goes beyond the entertainment industry really. Never mind what anyone tells you or what you read, you will have a lot of time on your hands when you are your own boss and you are just starting out. Whether you are into events or catering or entertainment or laundry, when you are a startup, you will have more time than you’ll know what to do with it.
SECRET 13: THE SECRET OF JOE
A mentor of mine likes to say that you are the one who saw what you said you saw; therefore, it is your duty to make it happen.
Personally, I believe that if you have a vision that you are passionate about, it means that there must be people who need what you carry. You may not have met them and may have to go through a lot to connect with that market, but you will eventually, if you don’t give up. If you don’t give up, one day you will connect with your market and in the words of Fela, question go jam answer.
SECRET 14: THE SECRET OF ‘MAINTAIN YOUR SHAMPION’
If you think the best way to be relevant is to cut across every culture, you might just be missing the point. There is nothing wrong with cutting across, of course, if that is your natural inclination and if your inherent talents lead you in that direction. What you must not do is kill your inner and true African (or self) and aspire to have an accent or nature that is foreign to you.
There are many permutations to this counsel, but the bottom line is, be yourself. At the start of your career, however, drop the pretense and do you.
SECRET 15: THE SECRET OF O.Y.O
The point for you dear reader is this though: DONT EVER QUIT ON THE DREAM OR VISION FOR YOUR CAREER WHEN SOMETHING ISN’T WORKING. Look at it well and determine if you need to CHANGE TACTICS and MAKE IT HAPPEN FOR YOURSELF.
If opportunities are denied you repeatedly, look to see if there isn’t a way you can create your own best version of you. After all, there is a reason why you feel the way you do about wanting to pursue that passion.
The Yorubas say ‘Alatisheni ’nmo atishe ara e’, meaning, ‘you better than anybody know what works for you best’- the discovery of one’s authentic self is the bedrock of all success.
SECRET 16: THE SECRET OF LILLIPUT
Perish the thought that good intentions and originality will see you through. While those are important things to have, as they form part of the springboard for your takeoff, they are never enough.
Sometimes you will almost swear that there is a cabal deliberately opposing you simply because you did not play by the ‘accepted’ rules of doing business in your sphere of interest or business. You will almost feel like a conspiracy theorist, seeing knives, guns and canons in places where others cannot. It will be like a descent into paranoia.
SECRET 17: THE SECRET OF THE EFIKO
Beyond all the benefits of reading that have been touted over and again, I am of the unassailable opinion that reading will give you a glimpse of who and what you are going to become, albeit a hazy picture – none of us can predict the future with any degree of accuracy. But you will definitely know in which direction you are headed. You will know more than most. I particularly like that feeling of knowing something others don’t. Don’t play coy, so do you.
SECRET 18: THE SECRET OF HIP AND HOP
My experiences and observations however show that life generally only gives full returns to those who invest themselves fully and will give per time results to those who invest themselves part-time. Anything you are doing on the side part-time, will usually give you on the side part-time results.
Think about it.
On the one hand, there are those who have chosen to forego the comforts and assurances of a steady job and sure paycheck to brave uncertainty and chase their dreams in the creative industry. Those who are not sure what tomorrow will bring or where the next pay packet is going to come from, but stake it all on the belief that their talent, hard work and singularity of purpose will eventually vindicate them.
What to do then? Read on. For now, though, stop ‘hipping’ and hopping between two realms of possibilities. Sit down with one.
SECRET 19: THE SECRET OF THE WAR CHEST
Before you take any drastic step, calculate what your current level of expenses is per week or per month and then save enough to get you through the downtime that will be occasioned by your move. I recommend at least a year’s savings.
I should let you know from my experience, however, that even this kind of preparation will only cushion your discomfort, it will not eradicate it. What happens if you have saved 12 months’ worth of resources, but the downtime continues beyond that?
There is a level where, even when you have been diligent at saving, life demands much more from you as a price for daring to dream.
SECRET 20: THE SECRET OF TITRATION
WHEN YOU NEED HELP TO FULFILL YOUR ENTERTAINMENT or CAREER DREAMS, ASK, DO NOT BEG.
It may not be obvious to you, but there is a marked difference between begging and asking. One of my mentors qualifies beggars with a definition that is as amusing as it is apt: a beggar is someone who wants something for nothing. Therefore, from time to time, you will need help on your way to fulfilling your dreams and sometimes it will be financial in nature, but you must ask and not beg.
SECRET 21: THE SECRET OF ‘WETIN YOU BRING?
And that right there is one of the deepest secrets of meeting important people, including that mentor you have had your eyes on. Most people approach them from a point of need and to take. It’s always ‘what can you do for me sir, I need your help sir, I need sponsorship sir’ and so on.
Grabbing, grabbing and grabbing. It is a rarity when somebody shows up with a gift and asks for nothing in return. Even when they ask for something in return, it is still a rare occurrence.
Tackle each challenge on its own merit. If you can’t take the time to examine the personality of the person you desire to meet, maybe you don’t deserve to meet him/her.
SECRET 22: THE SECRET OF THE LAST CARD
Sometimes, you have to deliberately put your own back to the wall. This will include stopping some things in order to concentrate on others.
A teacher I respect recently said, “To get to the next level, sometimes, you have to deliberately kill what you built.” So, while it helps to have options, sometimes, the only way to beat the odds is to cut off all your means of escape.
SECRET 23: THE SECRET OF ‘THE LATTER SHINE
I put it to you most humbly, that the reason why most entertainers seem to faze out after a while is the lack of comprehension of this one principle: the principle of re- invention.
I must confess at this point that re-invention is a more advanced subject that ought to be taught to established entrepreneurs and entertainers, so I will not go in as deep as I could in this chapter. I will explore that subject deeper in another book, but I believe that even as an upcoming entertainer you need to know this now, as you will be far better equipped to succeed if you understand it from inception.
Expand your thought process and try to see further. You may not be able to see it all at this point and you might not understand what or where the next level is. Don’t worry about that; it will come to you. Life will literally push you along (remember the Secret of Jamb Question?). As long as you understand that there are higher levels to ascend to and are open to such leading, then you will be fine. Just be ready to yield yourself to what will most assuredly be an uncomfortable (but eventually rewarding) process when the time comes.
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