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May 27, 2017

Whatever Happened To Content In Nigerian Music? 

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Written by: Nesiama Esther
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A large chunk of what we now listen to as music are products of energetic dissipation of empty sounds. Only few musicians are trying to keep up with the trend of the legends. But 10 out of 100 percent is not a pass mark.

The Nigerian music industry has undoubtedly achieved overwhelming success in many areas and is unarguably one of Nigeria’s biggest job-creating sectors today as it creates opportunities for complementary services like music/movie production, event management, DJ services, equipment purchase/leasing, marketing, retailing, etc.

The snag, however, is in the product being sold. Majority of Nigerian musicians now dish out obscene lyrics. If it isn’t about a girl’s ‘front and back’ (breasts and butts), it will be about wild partying, drunkenness, smoking, fanciful wealth and at other times it is about sex.

It appears the easiest way to sell songs in the industry today is to be meaningless and portray women as sexual objects. Making women look like pleasure givers who are meant to satisfy clothed men, sipping whiskey at parties with friends as the women ‘shake dia booties’. Musicians today are working really hard to outdo one another in the lewd, shameless game.

Vulgarity, sensuality and sexuality have become the mantra of the industry. One seems odd and old-fashioned if one’s music is sane and has a positive message.

These days, it is common to see morally upright young people who once sang in the church choir, metamorphose into propagators of party and sex gospel, because they have become musicians. It is not also strange to see juveniles, as young as 21 and even 17 singing vulgar songs and showing obscene and embarrassing videos, yet enjoying the patronage and applause of their fans and even support by multinational corporation who hire the singers for product endorsement. Music which was meant to be food for the soul has become poison for the mind.

The present day style of music can be classified into three genres: money-driven, women-driven, and alcohol-driven. These kind of songs have been the talk of the industry for some years now and have put the power of rhythm over lyrics. Considering the power music has, one could be quick to conclude that our music industry has hastened the decline in our value system. Almost every music video you watch on television today will one way or the other communicate seduction or obscenity. Every nonsense now makes sense, as long as the beat is danceable!

Music should be driven by motivation, value, culture, function and education. That was the case of Mike Okri’s Time na money:

Use your time well

No waka waka

No gossip gossip

Money no dey come from heaven

Do better thing money go come… .

This happens to be one song that inspired a couple of the wealthy people we have today. It was a song played virtually every morning from our local radio to admonish both young and old on using time wisely. Even with the lyrics in vernacular, it forbids procrastination and spurs one into action and taking of decisions.

Also, Felix Liberty, popularly called “Lover boy” was the toast of music lovers in the 80s. His music literally seized the airwaves and no party was complete until popular tracks like Ngozi and Loverboy were played. He was successful like his peers, Chris Okotie, Dizzy K. Falola, and Jide Obi.

Before this generation of musicians, the artistes that stormed the scene immediately after the Nigerian civil war were also brilliant. They were true musicians who could play at least one musical instrument and not the singers of today whose songs are made of sequenced, computerized sounds.

In pop and soul music, a seeming drought hit the scene from the late the 90s when the aforementioned generation were beginning to withdraw from the scene. Foreign music took over our airwaves and in social activities. It remained so until the Ajegunle music revolution led by the likes of Daddy Showkey. IF YOU SEE MY MAMA was a hit that delighted all. It still delights and Daddy Showkey commands respect for the revolution that led to the rebirth of what one may now call Nigerian music. Nigerian musicians have carved a niche for themselves in terms rhythm. Their rhythm has character and can easily be identified.

No thanks to western hip-hop influence, contemporary Nigerian music has come to be defined by their “beats”. Nowadays, all it takes to do music is a couple of rhythmic nothings; accompanied by perspiration hip swinging sound, then it’s a hit! The “good old days” might as well be thrown into the abyss of history.

​Today, content doesn’t sell in music, ‘beats’ do.

Reference/Sources: Vanguard, Wiki

Also published on Medium.



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