The question rouses the rhetoric: Which of our artists is ready for the Grammy? Femi Kuti’s musical prowess and energy is undeniably a force that cuts through industries, and his longevity is very well worth noting also. His sound creativity – the Afrobeat, cannot be disputed and hence his 4 nominations. That is no fluke at all. A little push on market and videos might hit the right key. In reality you can argue that Femi Kuti and Angelique Kidjo are not too far apart in terms of quality and continental impact. However Kidjo has just grabbed her 3rd Grammy award.
That propels me into asking the pertinent question; how many of our artists can actually produce or give a unique sound that cannot be traced to another song? Of course sampling has its limitations but it’s still a valid question. Observe the winners and countries of origin. If we observe, the names bandied about the Grammy’s threshold are mostly R & B superstars in their own right. Where are the rappers? (South African rap dungeon is arguably a step ahead of Nigeria’s if we are to countdown singing-rappers. Or even ethnocentric ones.) If they can elevate their game more chances could actually land Nigeria there.
It should be noted that art and authenticity are sired from the same stock and should be carefully studied by Grammy want-to-be-winners before anyone can suggest anything about winning a Grammy. To use a local street parlance ‘hammering’ isn’t always originality. ‘E don blow!’ So? What impact has it made, lyrics-wise, visuals, instrumentals and experimentation? Is it any different from what “blew” last year? There’s more to it. If we are not to be politically consoled with one, something has be birthed, unearthed – because it’s in them, pushed without unnecessarily following a trend, and marketed with a sort of unapologetic pride. That itself is the key to making things happen internationally.
Every generation has its ear and its kind of appeal and hence the reception of new sounds. And now, to stereotype a Nigerian; who can win the Grammy? But really, the questions is, Who is ‘actually’ ready to step up and do the work needed to win a Grammy?
Author: Dominic-Ayock Aboi