I am a music lover. I listen to a wide variety – as well as mixed genres – of music. In my opinion, music does not serve one singular purpose. There is music that I listen to for the lyrics, there is music that I listen to for the calming effect, there is music that I listen to just because I want to dance and have fun. In my opinion, they are all legitimate forms of music and one is not necessarily superior to the other.
I have heard people bash much of popular Nigerian music for being too much of “club bangers”. In other words, dance music. That is correct. Things are largely skewed in that direction. What makes it often really bad is that there is much to be desired in the lyrics. Most of them are about celebrating (or aspiring to) success i.e. money, women, achievements, etc. Much of it is about the artiste hyping himself or poking fun at would-be detractors. The truth is that we are largely reaping what we sow. I sat around for years as motivational speakers repeated to masses of their listeners the need to keep their eyes on success and to celebrate themselves. The result is that we have built a generation of narcissists. We did this to ourselves. Whether it is a good or a bad thing will depend on where you are sitting in the stands.
Many of those complaining about the state of our popular music endorse the popular motivational wave. Why the two-facedness? In a country in which people go through extreme situations to make it, and in which we wholeheartedly subscribe to a school of thought that says “keep your head up, talk success, brag success, think success, celebrate yourself!”, why do we have a problem with our musicians who do those very things via music?
Also note that traditionally, much of our music was and still is celebratory in nature. Think of the music played during our various festivals. Many of them had/have no lyrics – just upbeat percussions for dancing! We also celebrated birth, death, child namings, house warmings, and everything under the sun. And we celebrated them all with upbeat music and dance. So, this is not new and it is not going away. Dance is in our history and has been a major part of our musical heritage. Dance is us! Sometimes, I think that those who gripe about too many of our songs being dance are people who cannot shift their feet on the dance floor.
Having said that, again, I admit that we need other forms of music. We cannot live by dance alone. But that is why it is a global village. What you can’t or don’t produce, you look for elsewhere. When I want to dance, nothing beats Nigerian music, and irrespective of the lyrics, I will get grooving. I love my hit tracks from P-Square, Lagbaja, 2face, Wande Coal, Chuddy K, WizKid and others. Many of the foreign hits from the 80s are also great dance songs. When I need songs to soothe my head and soul, I know where to turn – to the John Legends, Mariah Careys, Whitney Houstons, Yanni, Jill Scotts, and more. To be honest though, much of the lyrics of these songs are idealistic and paint things like love in horribly simplistic ways. At the end of the day, these R&B and soulful songs mostly do not bring any practical value to the table than the money-cars-women bangers of the Nigerian dance scene do. The only exception I can speak of is John Legend. Whoever writes much of his music has his head screwed in reality. That the music is slow doesn’t mean it is better in real value.
Lastly, I listen to other music for the lyrics. For example, Gospel music – and certainly not Nigerian Gospel music, which is mostly money-cars-food. What most Nigerian Gospel musicians do is remove women from the lyrics (maybe replace it with food or health), insert God or Jesus somewhere, and for the most part, there is no difference between the club bangers and Nigerian Gospel music. Note that I didn’t say all of them. In my opinion, the Gospel is a message, and Gospel music should communicate that message in clear terms. Much of Nigerian Gospel music….duh. I get my fix from elsewhere. Newsboys. Michael W. Smith. A few others.
At the end of the day, yes; I agree that we could use more quality stuff from the Nigerian music scene. I do think though that those campaigning against popular upbeat music are wasting their time. There is too much stress, too much wahala, too much pain, too much sadness all over the place for the majority of Nigerians to do away with upbeat music that celebrates their aspirations to wealth, fame and success (however each person may define it). So, to dance music, and to more of the other types.
It is Friday, and I am in the dancing mood. Let’s go….
Personally personal personally
Personally personal personally
Personally, I rock your body
I promise you go home
You won’t tell your daddy
I’ll give it to you like you’ve never had it
Swimming chin chin like speaking Chinese
Ehn! na wetin be this
Baka boomboom! Na wetin I see
Saga! And she no wan gree
She talk say no wan leave
Eh – I no go lie… *music fades*