My work environment has made listening to a lot of music with a larger percentage being West African music, my daily life. This has risen lots of curiosity in me to want to figure out why this music is highly appreciated and consumed by my countrymen and women unlike what we have locally. The requests people throw at our DJs are mostly for Nigerian and Ghanaian music compared to that from our very own artistes. They dance more to that kind of music unlike the latter. This has had me wondering for a long time what our musicians are doing wrong, what are they not doing and what can be changed where.
It goes without saying that Nigerians and their music have taken over the world. Their influence has been felt for years through hit songs like Rita Ora’s R.I.P sampling Nneka’s Heartbeat big stars like D’Angelo and Macy Gray joining Femi Kuti in the Water No Get Enemy cover from his father’s original song. We also can’t ignore the same touch on big tunes like Drake’s One Dance and many more.
So what are Nigerians doing right that we could pick out and try to emulate in our industry?
Nigerian artistes make music for Nigerian people..
When you listen to most of their songs, though relatable, you can tell it is for their people through the use of Pidgin and other Nigerian tribes. This means that before the world can appreciate this music, their country is already sold and jamming hard. Are our artistes making music for us?
Most of them draw so much inspiration from those that came before them..
It’s not that hard to point out how much top Naija musicians stan for their legends. In this case I want to use Fela kuti and his influence on big Nigerian artists. Your faves Wizkid, Burna Boy, 2Face, Adekunle Gold and others have talked about their musical inspiration coming from Olufela with some of their biggest songs being sampled from his timeless hits. Here we see talent that pays homage to those that pioneered their thriving industry. Other legends that have helped in the growth of this booming industry include King Sunny Ade, Osita Osadebe and Sir Victor Uwaifo. look them up!
They have incorporated new age music genres with those that were founded by their people..
Some of the old Nigerian genres you can easily pick out from Naija music include Afro Jùjú and Highlife. Afro Jùjú has been described as a a mixture of Jùjú music and Afrobeat while Highlife, music that uses the melodic and main rhythmic structures of traditional Akan (From Ghana) music, but is played with Western instruments. A recent example of Highlife music is Wizkid’s Manya which is a remake of Ahomka Womu’s VIP By embracing these genres, they have managed to win hearts in their country and the world over with that uniqueness.
Their Afrobeats are actually just about the beats!
Before anything else, their songs are about the beat. The beat has to be appealing to their audience first before they can actually try to listen to the lyrics. No wonder people will be on their feet the moment a Naija song comes on!
So, what can we learn from our West African brothers and sisters? Share your views on the comment section or on Social Media!
Image from Connect Nigeria