GRAMMYS: BRIAN SOKO – Beyonce’s Zim connection

Brian Soko (in white) and The Order on the podium at the Grammy Awards last Sunday
Brian Soko (in white) and The Order on the podium at the Grammy Awards last Sunday

Andrew Moyo – Leisure Reporter

ZIMBABWE has done it again! Right on the international scene where the glitz and glamour of the music industry dazzles the world!

And who has thrust the country at the epicentre of the world’s music industry? It’s the humble 23-year-old “Chiredzi boy” Brian Soko who scooped the music industry’s most prestigious prize, the Grammy Award, at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles last Sunday.

Sounds like some fiction, but the world’s music industry bowed down to Soko and his production crew, The Order, as they walked away winners at the recently held 57th Annual Grammy Awards for their production effort on Beyonce’s hit song, “Drunk in Love”.

The song went on to scoop the Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance Awards, but The Order may as well brag about the Best Surround Sound Album Award, which went to Beyonce as they produced two tracks on her album, “Jealousy” and “Drunk in Love”.

But who is this young man making waves in the “land of opportunities”?

Soko, the multi-platinum producer responsible for making the beat behind one of the biggest songs in 2014, came from humble beginnings and hails from the small town of Chiredzi.

As a young boy, Soko got to experience life in different cities across the country as he also lived in Masvingo, Harare, Mutare and Chinhoyi.

Soko went through Goldridge and Hillcrest primary schools as well as Lomagundi College.

On the global front, Soko had short stints in Lusaka (Zambia), Newcastle (UK) and South Africa, before moving to the USA where he studied sound engineering in Tampa, Florida, graduating in 2012.

It was at university that a friendship was born between Soko and his partners Rasool Diaz and Andre Proctor as the three went on to form their music production crew, The Order.

The Order started making a mark in the music industry after being discovered by Detail, a well- established songwriter at Young Money Records.

They have since produced over 20 hit singles which include Birdman’s “Tap Out” and Lil Wayne’s “No Worries”.

They have also done production for other huge artistes who include Future, Drake, Ashanti, BOB and Teyana Tayler, among many others.

Soko is also the co-founder of Anashe Media Group, a management, marketing and production company focusing on the African music sector.

In 2013 The Order signed a publishing deal with Warner Music.

Through Soko’s brother Prince, who is a managing partner at Anashe Media Group, The Sunday Mail Leisure got the hotshot producer to share some of his experiences and thoughts.

“I have always been moved by music and I started rapping at an early age, but I got into music production as a result of not having much to rap about as a teenager,” said Soko.

He said his early experiences as a music lover were mainly influenced by African greats of yesteryear.

“My early influences were African music greats of the 80s and early 90s such as Oliver Mtukudzi, Brenda Fassie, Yvonne Chakachaka, Lucky Dube and some Central African artistes like Kanda Bongo Man.”

Soko met his partners by coincidence as they were housed together at university.

“I met my partners in my first year at university as we were randomly housed together and we just shared the same passion for music so we took it from there.”

Soko said 2012 is the year the heavens smiled on them as it was the year they got their first big break.

“We got our first big break in 2012 with the release of “No Worries” by Lil Wayne and we moved to Los Angeles soon afterwards.”

He says he is not much of an expert when it comes to African music as he has just started working with South African artistes.

“I am beginning to get more involved in African music so I am no expert but I chose to start with South Africa as there is more infrastructure in terms of major record labels, publishing and also because they have the biggest hip-hop scene on the continent.

“I believe we need to start keeping better track of radio and TV plays and do more to make sure our artistes as well as producers are receiving their royalties. From what I have seen so far, it seems like the majority of artistes’ main source of income is doing shows, producers do not get paid for that and without royalties we are discouraging parents from wanting their kids to be producers and thus the music industry is not seen as a respectable and lucrative career choice.”

He went on to say that the reason why local music is lagging behind is because of limited funding in the industry.

“It is difficult to compete with the US music industry as our (African) musicians are not incentivised to improve the quality of their work, but I think we are making good progress,” he said.

Soko revealed that he is working with a number of Zimbabwean artistes.

“I am actually working with Zimbabwean producers like Simba Tagz of Showtime Records, Tatenda Kamera of Kamikazi Entertainment and Shayzar Zimanyi of Mix Masters Entertainment. You can expect some exciting new stuff in the near future,” said Soko.

The artiste believes in hard work: “It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, competitiveness and patience. I would advise upcoming producers to start or join a strong team of like-minded people to push themselves so that they can improve.”

The Zimbabwean music producer has hit singles in South Africa with songs like “Mission Statement” by KO, “Sgelekeqe” by DJ Vigilanti as well as “Pumakim” by Casper Nyovest.

Soko along with his crew were also honoured at the Broadcast Music Inc (BMI) Awards last year as “Drunk in Love” scooped two awards.

He has two older brothers, Arnold and Prince, the former being a film maker/director and is responsible for Mike Jones/Slick Watts’ “Danger” video.

Soko moved to the USA at the age of 14.

Soko said to the Sunday Mail “I just hope the people of Zimbabwe are proud of me for this achievement”

LIST OF SOME OF THE MAJOR ARTISTES AND THEIR HITS PRODUCED BY THE ORDER

Nicki Minaj – “Mona Lisa” and “Wamables”
Tinashe – “Pretend”
Teyana Taylor – “Mybe” and “Do Not Disturb”
Whiz Khalifa – “True Colours”
Nelly – “!00k” and “Give U Dat”
Ashanti – “Count”
Jenifer Lopez – “I Luh Ya Papi”
Future – “I Be U”,” I’ll Be Yours” and “Side Effects”
BOB – “Ready”
Beyonce – “Drunk in Love”, “Jealous”
Drake – “Own It”, “305 To My City” and “Paris Morton Music 2”
Rich Gang – “Tap Out”, “100 Favors”, “Burn The House”, “Sunshine” and “Million Dolla”
Tyga – “Show You”
Florida ft Future – “Tell Me When You Ready”
Lil Wayne – “No Worries” and “Curtains”
DJ Khaled – “I Don’t See Em”

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