THE FUTURE OF THE NIGERIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY: a need for diversification with respect to genre and variety

“Music is the purest form of art…therefore true poets, they who are seers, seek to express the universe in terms of music. The singer has everything within him. The notes come out from his very life. They are not materials gathered from outside” – Rabindranath Tagore

“Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid” – Frank Zappa

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity, there is beauty and there is strength” – Maya Angelou

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together” – Malcolm Forbes


I am sitting in this extremely pimped keke napep riding to the market to purchase the groceries for the month. The driver is a young hustler wearing a tee shirt with a bold inscription on it – Come Let Us Fuck. He is whistling and singing intermittently. Olamide’s Shakitibobo is playing on the stereo he attached to the small dash board of his ride. Gosh! The same noisy songs again! I haven’t gotten over the hail of abuse and noise pollution my ossicles passed through at Iya Bisi’s daughter’s naming ceremony. From Pasuma Wonder to Lil Kesh to Olamide playing on the DJs turntable…the place was another aggregation of noisy and rachet sounds.

Music is life…that’s why our hearts have beats! This is a popular adage. But in honesty, I guess the person that coined that adage would be rolling over his grave if he mistakenly listens to the current crop of songs Nigerian artistes dish out on a daily.

Every single up and coming singer in Naija doesn’t take any time or effort towards deciphering what type of music he/she can do perfectly. Naa, Naa, Naa…every one of them has turned to Afro-Hip Hop artistes dishing out the same noise they call music.

Big booty girls don’t even need to sit their asses at home anymore, crying that they don’t have any jobs. Just take a quick stroll through the streets of Obalende and you would behold some up and coming artiste shooting a music video in the slums. Simply show him your Curriculum Vitae (which in this case, is your Ass-set) and you are on your way to making some money that would get you a cheaper version of the Brazilian hair you’ve been craving for.

Personally, I believe there is a need for diversification with respect to genre and variety instead of doing the same thing over and over again. Everyone mustn’t do the same Afro Hip Hop brand of music. What happened to Neo Soul, Pop (not the Afro one o), Funk, Rock and other genre of music? Gone are the days when Nigerian music was associated with some form of originality. Fela was a pioneer of Afro Beat whose lyrics taunted the evil ones. Majek Fashek literally sent down the rain on the drought plaguing our lands. Sunny Okosun started a mental and intellectual revolution with his songs. Christy Essien Igbokwe sent shivers down the spine whenever she sang. Onyeka Onwenu left you wondering whether she was the reincarnation of Minerva, the virgin goddess of music and poetry. Even Flavour Nabania who claims he is doing Highlife has abused and bastardized that hallowed genre of music to the extent that Chief Osita Osadebe’s ghost would slap him repeatedly in his dreams and haunt him forever.

I understand the economic situation of the nation is as bad as a wizard with haemorrhoids. Therefore it is safer for musicians to do the type of music that would put food on their table and guarantee daily bread. No one wants to take any risk and do the kind of music that doesn’t guarantee quick cash and fame. After all, records sales are not rewarding but the shows are. For example, how many show promoters would be willing to bill Bez Idakula for a show and watch the members of the audience sleep halfway into his performance? The struggle is real, I understand.

Every street urchin wanna sing nowadays. Just last week, I saw a lil’ kid of about ten, all [fake] gold everything, skinny jeans and a bucket hat, singing about the love he had for a lady. I don’t blame him sha. If it were in our days, mortar, pestle and koboko would be used to deal with him and take him back to his books. Even the ones that try to do alternative genres of music in Naija are easily frustrated to end their nascent careers. The artiste Etcetera started off doing Neo Soul, Contemporary R&B and Soft Rock. He released two critically acclaimed albums before his record company X3M Music decided not to renew his contract. He went into hibernation for a couple of years and resurfaced not too long ago. This time, he came back as a bitter writer who uses his platform on the blogosphere to attack artistes, OAPs and managers. Majek Fashek was also frustrated to the point of using ogogoro as breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thank goodness some good Samaritan came to his aid and took him to a rehabilitation center. Soon, it might become a common sight for such frustrated artistes to go crazy and be roaming the streets.

The artistes would continue sacrificing their talents and craft on the altar of fame and cheap indigenous popularity. I laugh whenever I watch Nigerian artistes talk about winning a Grammy. And I ask myself whether they’d win the Grammy by shouting on top of their voices in records with little or no originality. Maybe in their dreams, I suppose. These artistes shouldn’t blame music organizations such as BET when they don’t get nominated during the awards shows. They should rather work on making their music more appealing to a global audience before they even wish on getting nominated for the Grammys. They should rather borrow a leaf from artistes such as Nneka, Femi Kuti, Ade Bantu, Keziah Jones, Asa, etc. These are the ones doing the bit they could to reposition Nigerian music to an ever growing global audience.

So I am sitting gently in this ride, a hefty trader with halitosis by my side, and the driver still whistling to the tune of yet another Naija noise (sorry, song). I hope and wish that a day would come when I can attend a rock concert somewhere in Abuja, Lasgidi or even Abakiliki, with members of my favorite band playing on the stage, alongside a Nigerian rockstar. I’d request to come on stage, play a couple of guitar riffs and eventually jump into the crowd gleefully. Oh, what a good day it would be! I am sick and tired of the same bunch of Naija artistes lip synching over the same ol’ kpekirikpekiri beats.

Until then, all a brother gotta do is keep hoping and wishing and hoping and wishing and…


Now Playing: Postcard by Etcetera

Word to Mutha: This work is STRICTLY the opinion of the writer. No Love Lost; No Love Found…It is what it is!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s