Firstly, I must congratulate you on the recent successes that “ya’ll” have achieved in the industry in the recent past. Many of you have become staple names in many homes across Nigeria, Africa and indeed the world.
Now, hold on a minute!
Isn’t that just mind blowing? Who would have thought that Nigerian music could ever travel out of the shores of Lagos State? Time was when even Nigerians despised Nigerian music. No self-respecting “trendy” Nigerian would want to be caught dead listening to homemade music even as early as 2004.
Back then, it was more profitable to listen to foreign (essentially American) music. Most Nigerian musicians back then seemed to be confused about what they set out to achieve with their music. I can’t blame them because people used to believe that music was for the never-do-wells in the society so any fire-spitting and bible clutching mother always prayed against any of her children choosing music as a profession. The whole society seemed to laugh at the expense of the Nigerian musician; this is perfectly surmised in the age old Yoruba proverb that translates to mean, “Everybody loves to watch a mad person “perform” at the market, but none would want to be the mad person’s relative.”
The music videos I was exposed to while growing up were worse than the phone video recording that many teenagers take for granted these days. Yes, it was that bad!
Except your name is King Sunny Ade (KSA), Ebenezer Obey ,Pasuma, Obesere or some other fuji and juju heavyweight, you were not really a musician in the 90s if you were singing hip hop or contemporary music.
So how did the tide “suddenly’ change? When exactly did the table start turning?
Many would trace the genesis of the new dawn in the industry back to the days when Eedris Abulkareem, Tony Tetuila and Eddy Montana were still together as the Remedies. Even though the fame and fortune they amassed then can’t be compared to what obtains today; at least, they were able to draw attention to themselves. Of course, till date, Eedris is the only rapper I know who speaks in tongues while rapping. The Remedies held sway for quite a period of time until their “reign” was cut short by enfant terrible of that era, Ruggedman.
When Ruggedman came out with his highly controversial and scathing track, “Ehen,” it seemed a veil had suddenly been lifted off our eyes. He made us realize that we didn’t have to endure all the gibberish in the name of music that was continually shoved down our throats. He was like John the Baptist who came to clear the way for the savior.
Of course, “Ruggedy baba” wasn’t the only trail blazer of that era; we also had people like elDee and the Trybes family. After them came Styl-plus and before one could sing “do re mi,” hip hop and RnB artistes started selling out shows.
This emboldened the younger generation to come out and do music in their own way and gradually, the quality of music and music videos began getting better.
Fast forward to 2005 when 2face won the MTV Europe awards for Best African Act, and things have inclined forward at a very rapid rate since then.
Many other Nigerian acts have gone on to bag international awards and share global stages and platforms with the cream of the crop entertainers globally.
Now, if I may ask you, #Dear Artiste, what have all these translated to? Our “boys” are making six digits from shows; some are getting endorsement deals and money is literarily flowing their ways from different directions.
Has the structure of the industry improved? Is there even any structure? Most record labels in the country operate basically on the personalities of their bosses; think EME, Mavin, DB…the list goes on.
And, what’s with the recent spate of label desertion that has hit the industry? Is it that artistes have grown greedier and are making excessive demands from their labels? Or could it be that the musicians have finally gotten “wise” and are no longer afraid to demand for what they deserve?
Could it be that perhaps the labels are been crafty and shifty with the artistes’ careers and finances? I have so many questions spinning off the top of my head, but I’ll still “chill” for now.
In terms of lyrics, everybody knows I have a lorry load of things to say about that, but I wouldn’t. I have already written about that earlier (you can read it here: http://e247mag.com/index.php/lifestyle/item/2098-lyricism-101-vulgarity-sells-but-sense-sells-more).
Now, let’s talk about your lifestyle #Dear Artiste. I know you wouldn’t want us to “go there.” But go there we must. The life of an entertainer is an unusual and interesting one. Permit me to say even that it’s the best kind of life a person could possibly live.
I have rarely found people who were forced into entertainment. Entertainment is a calling, a lifestyle and the sheer amount of passion it can generate makes it a very potent instrument. Most entertainers are passionate about what they do. I know that if not for the business angle, many artistes would be willing to perform in front of a crowd for free. Some could even pay for it.
Even though some may not understand it, I’m sure you do #Dear Artiste. You see, it’s an addiction; a high incomparable to no other.
************ *********to be continued***************************