Unconventional title for an opinion piece, not so? “Nigerians will not have an evergreen song to boast of”; Well, I have spent the past couple of weeks trying to make up a list of evergreen songs released between the good old 70’s and now. Ranging from Fela’s crowd-pleasing “She go say I be lady o” line to Zulezu’s Kerewa, Mister Idibia’s “African Queen”, D’banj’s “Fall In Love” , Victor Uwaifo’s “Joromi” just to name a few… I stepped back and looked at how the Nigerian music industry had evolved over the past couple of years. Like I reiterate, more often than always, the entertainment industry is a dynamic one. A palpable characteristic of dynamism is that it is never at standstill. It is indeed fascinating how we, as an industry, have moved from a local to an international platform which is clearly delineated in our various collaborations with the “big stars of the west” such as Snoop Dog or Snoop Lion (whichever fits his personality), Akon, Rick Ross etc. Forgetting the likes of Onyeka Owenu with the rise of the new school pop culture, I have come to realise that my greatest assets, as a music lover, are my ears. It’s a matter of logic as you would say. But in the use of my ears and my inability to crown any recent song as evergreen, I have come to the very conclusion that it will be a matter of impossibility for us to get another evergreen song out of Nigerian artists as of now. Now before you sharpen your knives to slice my neck, let us take a very close look at my theory.
Before the rise of our present pop culture generation, music was the voice of the people and the individual who sang. Hence when you listen to songs from the likes of Fela, you would understand what was happening in society at the time. I don’t think I had an epiphany when I realised that very common words found in songs lately are komole, gbesoke, etc… Heck, we even have those who speak in tongues while they do their thing (N.B: if you don’t believe me, ask Tekno). Repetitive lyrics and repetitive concepts have become the order of the day. To me, when I hear a particular artist is about to drop something… Yaga! I already know what to expect. Looking at some artists, we are constantly being served the same recycled dish in the form of afropop. A new song will most likely possess one of these two factors: the woman factor or the money factor. The woman factor encompasses the female body, its moves and its desires. The money factor just contains the artists long talk about how much money they have, don’t have, are willing to throw away or probably borrowed to form hard guy. In worst instances, both factors can be combined in order to beget the nascency of a supposed “hit”. Mind you, I find the word “hit” to be very abstract. I see hit songs as temporary. They are good for the moment and, in cases of luck, can be played for 2 or 3 years in a row. A song being a hit now doesn’t mean it is evergreen. I’m here wondering if I’ll be able to listen to some present hits when my hair is covered in grey.
The bottom line of the matter is that we as audience have shifted our attention from the real essence of music. Other than hilarity, I find it interesting that our music industry has become transparent to an extent. Thus I have noticed how potential good music has been thrown out the window by record labels who break up, talented artists who work with whack management companies and established artists who have lost their hunger for the “best” trophy. All of them are now feeding us with hits that vanish into thin air even faster than a witch would. It all comes down to the “E go sell or nah?” tag. It is even more interesting to see that the beat of a song has taken over the importance of the lyrics. Our artist can be cursing us in a song but because the beat is sweet, I’ll be dancing to it while covering myself with the blood Jesus? Say no more for it maketh no sense.
What I personally demand from Nigerian music artists is good and quality music. I also demand international collaborations that accentuate the beauty of a song and not a downgrade. I demand these things because it is my fundamental right to do so. Though we have produced evergreen music in the past, the present doesn’t look like it will do same. Enough with the abridgement. Sure, we can only boast of very few artists who actually put out music that change the world. I’m referring to Asa, Nneka, 2Face Idibia… just to list very few. It’s safe to say that a lot of artists do not see their careers as means to make changes in society. I’d love to hear more than you asking me to hold you now, shake my ukwu or go sit down in a corner because you’re the finest in the country. Make music that will capture the hearts of your listeners and not their lust. If we continue at this pace, we will lose the bit of good music we have left and consequently not have any evergreen song to boast of within the next 5 years.
Now with that being said, I believe that music can be likened to an immortal bird that travels around the globe having no need of a visa… searching for evergreen pastures in the midst of the flood.
You can now slice my neck… figuratively that is.
– The Alpha Female