Otile Brown and Willy Paul are now fully-fledged A-list celebrities but they arrived at this position, this highly sought after place through different methods. You see, there are largely four ways guys find their way into becoming A-listers. The first is through accident. An artist becomes an A-lister after their song goes viral. From that position, they are able to leverage that instantenous fame and keep churning out jingles that go viral. Think Lil Pump on this one.
The second is through sheer force of talent. The artist has no real career plan and they are simply putting out music. They keep releasing songs that at first are sleepers but eventually, that artist begins to rise up song charts. These are the artists who always seem like they are shocked or surprised by their fame. Think of the Weeknd. Willy Paul fits this mould.
The third is when an artist is an industry plant. What that basically means is that they appear out of nowhere and even before they can grow their organic fanbase, media houses and corporations rally behind and really push them. These are artists like Chance The Rapper or Lizzo who seem to have come up from nowhere and are the darling of companies or identity politicians pushing agendas. When they have public performances, they do not seem to have as strong a fanbase as their corporate backers make it appear. Locally, Victoria Kimani and Kagwe Mungai.
Then there are artists who are not just a talented force but they have their own strategy and handlers who help push their brand. These are guys like Diamond Platnumz who carefully curate their brand and image. They carefully select artists to feature in their music and they can clearly be seen to have an ultimate goal for their careers and clearly defined parameters of success. Sauti Sol and Otile Brown come to mind aswell as Khaligraph Jones.
Today we are going to be focusing on the main differences between Otile Brown and Willy Paul. You see, both are talented. Willy Paul more so because he had to leverage his talent to overcome gospel industry mafioso who had tried to shut down his career like they had done so many others. Otile Brown too, has had a long journey to superstardom. He started off without a plan and languished at the very bottom of the music industry totem pole until he finally had an epiphany that he has to be more proactive in how he manages his career.
Right now, very few Kenyan artists can be said to be truly A-listers. Kenyans who can perform in not just Nairobi and Mombasa but Tanzania aswell or Rwanda and attract a crowd. Off the top of my mind there are the Nyashinksis, your Sauti Sols, your Khaligraph Jones, Willy Paul and Otile Brown. There paths to stardom were ultimately different but they are now the superstars.
Otile Brown can be seen to have decided to become a lot more careful when you look at how he addresses his controversies. He doesn’t just allow them to run unchecked. He usually tries everything possible to shut them down, even going as far as to attempt to scare their purveyors with legal consequences. He takes care of his image and has began hitting the gym to ensure his body is the type women (his core audience) will swoon for. He is even meticulous in how he dresses. Even his mannerisms are carefully curated. Haven’t you ever asked yourself why someone from some back-water village in Mombasa is attempting to be debonair? Or you only associate that term with pizzas?
Willy Paul on the other hand has adopted a sprezzatura attitude. It is a carefully managed devil-may-care approach to life. He is actually a very snazzy dresser and you can tell he is mindful about his image. He usually bumbles through his insults though, whenever he is angry. His controversies are usually clearly just a case of him allowing his virility to drive him into unnecessary issues. He thinks with his small head and not his coconut. He is loud and abbrassive, he is unrefined, essentially, he is a bad boy and it works wonders for him because at the end of the day, all that is secondary to his talent.
That is why I would argue that one, Otile Brown, is curated success while Willy Paul is chaotic success.