One age-old adage of the Nigerian society goes thus: “If a man cooks soup for the public, they will finish it. But if the public cooks for a man, he will never finish it.” This describes the Nigerian music creative process at the moment. The people are the current creators of music, and they decide what the artiste creates.
How many times have you complained about the dearth in quality of our pop music? We complain all the time about the lack of depth, the repetitive and shallow lyrics, the similar instrumentation, High-tempo addiction, and many others. And we put the blame on the artistes.
Truth is, your blame is misplaced. To find the real person to blame for this turn and lag phase in our music, find the closest mirror to you, stand in front of it, and point fingers. Yes, point fingers at the reflection you see in the mirror.
You are the problem. You are the disease, and you are the cause.
The entrance of D’banj in 2004, and his fast rise to god-status in Africa set us all on this path. Don Jazzy had come back, found success with Tongolo, stepped up the tempo, and rolled out hits, after hits, and created the man, immortal, captain and legend, D’banj. Prior to that, 2face Idibia, was still on his throne, with mid-tempo music being fed to the populace, and everyone was trying to fit in.
But his baby mama problems created a dip in form, and he was overthrown by Psquare and D’banj. The quality of music still stayed mid-tempo from Psquare. The Okoyes’ 3 studio album “Game Over” was already a hit, with no High-tempo song. On tracks like ‘Ifunanya’, and ‘No one like you’, they poured their heart and voices in, and were judged by melody and talent.
D’banj also came out strong with his best album “Entertainer”, where he made everyone go wild with ‘Fall in love’. ‘Igwe’. ‘Mo gbono feli feli’, and ‘Suddenly’. The tempo still remained strong, but on the title track, he did mouth gibberish, and people loved it.
We can factor in a couple more signs that we were headed down the drain, but the marker for what ruined us, and gave us a taste of nonsense, is Terry G’s mega hit song, ‘Free madness’. Nigeria went wild. We embraced the singer, and his senseless music. This was an acquired taste. We had seen a song that required no level of intelligence to understand, and we jumped for it. The scales were tipped in favour of that tempo, the radios gave it numerous spins, videos were rotated on air, and like all trends, and the music makers jumped on that bandwagon.
Terry G, in a manner of speaking, killed Nigerian music. And we have never recovered. That’s why we have our pop sound in its current state.
But why is the blame squarely on you? It’s because you never lost that taste. We have become enmeshed in our old ways, and forced our acts to still go down that line. We can argue that the quality of musicians have dropped, with progress in technology enabling many talentless wannabes to come forth with work. But we have patronized them, and left the real stars to drown in poverty and obscurity, or they have changed their act to suit your taste. You have the money, you have the power. The stars need you to patronize them. They have to make you like them. That’s how they stay in business.
Right now, we are at fault. We have cooked for our stars, and they can’t consume our desires totally. We Nigerians have ruined Nigerian music.