Monday, 10 August 2009

The Great Music Debate (2)

(A Debate Foretold) Naija pop: Balls & Bums for the Boys... Sense & Depth for the Girls

JUST as the last act for the concert signed off, the lady beside me, gave a huge sigh: ‘Good mercy, this is the first concert I would attend where these so-called Nigerian hip hop stars will not be holding their flies and screaming obsenities in the name of singing.” I turned sharply towards her, and she gave me a sharp, tough look ‘Oh yes, those boys that you guys promote in the media as superstars, can’t they ever sing without holding onto the flies of their trousers and singing about women’s breasts and bums... My God, they are so childish in their stage character and gestures; they abuse women’. Oh yes, they do, i nodded. “And you don’t see the girls singing about such nonsensicals about a man’s genitalia or how many men they have dated,” continued the woman, who though in her early 50s, is very pretty, her fair complexion glowing... the type that amorous old Yoruba men, would call ‘Atupa Parlour.’

Suddenly, her face reddened, signs that she was getting emotional about the matter at hand, “And yet those nonsense, juvenile songs are what you media workers will be crowning the best music or song of the decade or of the year... how many of you will allow the private properties of your wife, daughter, sister or even mistress to be so ridiculed in the public.. eh, how many of you?” I was speechless; not just because the person talking was old enough to be my mother, but because she was saying the truth.
But, I picked on her words... Yes... just what do those boys sing about beyond the ‘nonsensicals’ as she had termed it.

Indeed, the Nigerian music industry has exploded in recent times. The hyper activity on the scene has, no doubt, upstaged the days of yore when local TV and radio stations feed the public with foreign songs, especially from the US; a period when the craze for foreign songs, which most of us barely understood the lyrics or even make any sense out of them, were in vogue.
Days are gone when you go to a niteclubs and dance to American beats from dusk till dawn without complaining. Those days of Shaba Ranks, Patra, Buster Rhymes, Chakademus & Pliers, 2Pac, Shagy… these guys ruled the country’s music industry for long, and we had no option than to love them. No option! Those days, it was like a taboo to play a Nigerian song or video on air. A radio station was even so audacious as to decree that no Nigerian music except Fela will grace its air.
Today, things have changed; Nigerian songs are making waves all over the world, with the artistes winning international awards for their works. Even American superstars have seen reasons to collaborate with our artistes –– good deal!
But critically studied, much of the music coming from the artistes these days, especially the male folks, is shallow and meaningless in lyrical content, beats and composition. If the singers are not rasping about sex or some other lewd subjects; it will be about how many women they have bedded or dated or jilted; or about 419 and related issues; or what they call ‘beefing’ (abusing perceived enemies)… it’s like a band wagon thing!
Once an artiste sings about money, everybody follows. Then another sings about sex, and the rest will file in. The beefing has in fact become an industry, much in the light of the eighies’ rash of abusive songs by the Fuji musicians, who now in their late 60s –– and burnished with the wisdom that comes with old age (?) –– must be regretting those dirty words they were trading with their opponents on the scene then.
The exasperating part is that a good number of the so-called superstar artistes today can hardly play a single musical instrument or even do a live performance of their song, yet they answer ‘stars’, winning multiple awards every now and then. Their stage performance is characterised by the truly obscene act of grabbing their ‘scrotum’ and shouting ‘yea, yea’, hopping from one corner of the stage to another–– very boring and indeed insulting to sense of decency! Sometimes, you wonder how some of them got into music.

AND yes, the ‘Yellow Madam’ was right. These are the people we, the media, celebrate as the future of the industry.
The female artistes, in truth, have greater depth and more sensible compositions of songs and accompanying beats, yet they are always sidelined by promoters, the media and even show promoters.
The list of nominees for this year’s Hip-Hop World Award (2009) is out and how many female artistes made the list? How come? Who made the nomination? What are the criteria for nomination? Sometimes you wonder what music means to a lot of people, especially media workers, who are behind some of these awards.
Music is not just about crooning off-key and grabbing your balls; it’s not about featuring in multiple videos; surely, not about media hype; certainly, not about how much you spent shooting the video or having cheaply-sourced nude ladies shaking their bums and boobs in front of the camera. It’s not a band wagon stuff; it’s not commercial; it’s not about wearing blings and earrings or weaving the hair with different colours and shouting ‘yooo men, whatz up’… yet, these seem to be what some of the award projects set out to reward. Music is about depth; meaningful lyrics; proper arrangement and memorable beats... these are certainly off the radar of the some of award organisers in the country.

We need to tap the positive values of Hip Hop for nation building’
By Chris Uwandu
The write up by Dr Reuben Abati on the above subject matter made an interesting reading.

This is inspite of the barrage of attacks and reaction that has been generated by his observation (expectedly) from most Nigerian artistes.
For me, the write up should be seen as a wake up call to Nigerian artistes on the need to remain more creative in their acts.
Present generation of artistes only know Dr Reuben Abati as a writer and not a music critic, but that is far from the truth.
He has always been a creative and constructive analyst of the music industry way back.
That not withstanding, there are still some fundamental issues that were over looked by his write up.
First it must be acknowledged that hip-hop, as a form of music has become an international brand
Hip-Hop has changed dramatically from what was considered to be violent and intimidating form of music. It has become the mainstream or the default musical setting of the culture. As a result, Rap is now used to sell everything from fast food to cars, brand marketing and used to gain access to youth in danger.

Hip-hop has gone beyond being just about music, but has actually become a brand, a lifestyle and an urban culture that almost everybody aspires to be associated with – even big corporate organisations.
It is on this note that inevitably the rapper is now more than a musician but has become an entrepreneur that utilizes his or her craft to sell global brands of big corporations. Rappers are trendsetters; where they lead, others follow. They can revitalize a luxury brand by making it seem youthful and individualistic.
Russell Simmons, founder of DefJam Records, used his experience of marketing hip-hop to launch Phat Farm, which by 2003 had sales in excess of $260 million and was later sold for $140 million. Russell’s company, Simmons Lathan Media Group with access to 45.3 million consumers worldwide spends $18.6 billion annually on hip-hop media and merchandise.
Forbes puts the value of hip-hop, as a music and lifestyle industry, at $100 billion a year.
Hip-hop has also become an effective tool to communicate with youth under siege, using the language they understand. Social consciousness hip-hop workers have used the microphone and their message to speak to the youth about crime, drugs and have conducted workshops in town halls addressing the youth about the dangers of dangerous living.
Global examples have been used where hip-hop has become an effective voice for the plight of the youth, where even politicians and business people have appealed to hip-hop to help convey their messages.
Hip-hop can be used as a mobilising platform and as a practical tool in communicating with urban youth in their lingo and style.
Hip-Hop can be used as an entry point for mobilising and motivating urban youths to organise themselves and to engage in their own plans of action.
It is estimated that 80-percent of urban youth can be reached through Hip-Hop, which encompasses rap, graffiti, dancing and fashion
It has been established that Hip-Hop as a brand of music has its root from a fusion of mostly African contemporary music.
Expectedly, it goes without saying that being an Afro centric rooted brand of music, motherland Africa has a lot to contribute to what has become today the most popular brand of music in the World
Hip hop in Nigeria dates back to the late eighties and early nineties. Groups and solo artists during that period include the likes of Junior & Pretty, Daniel ‘Danny’ Wilson, Plantashun Boyz, Remedies with members Eedris Abdulkareem, Eddy Remedy & Tony Tetuila.

The late 90s and the early years of the new millennium saw the outburst of artists and groups like Eldee da Don of Trybesmen, Naeto C of W.F.A, JJC and the 419 squad and P-Square (d duo of Peter & Paul Okoye) became a part of mainstream Nigerian music after the collapse of pop trends like Yo-pop.
The availability of computers and cheap music editing software in the late 1990s and the 2000s enabled Nigerian musicians to achieve higher quality recordings, which quickly won over the Nigerian audience. As Nigeria’s Nollywood movies have done to Western movies, Nigerian hip hop has begun to displace Western popular music.

Nigeria has grown over the years to become the ‘seat’ of Hip hop in the African continent.Contributors to this ‘success’ includes the production skills of the likes of ID Cabasa, OJB Jezreel, Paul ‘Play’ Dairo, Don Jazzy, Ugly Beatz, Y.E.M.I., Puffy T, Cobhams Asuquo, Terry G,Big Lo as well as outstanding performers like Tuface, P Square, D’Banj, Naeto C, weird Mc, 9ice, Sasha, Psquare, KC Presh, and others.
Before the advent of hip hop music, the lack of acceptable and marketable repertoires in the past contributed a great deal to the demise of such notable recording companies like Sony Music (CBS) Ivory Music (EMI) and premier Music (Polygram).

Live and Let Live: Behold ‘Naija’ Music
By Adenrele Niyi
I have been accused of propensity towards aLaissez Faire (let nature run its course) attitude when it is expected that I should have a judgment on issues. Well, if I were asked my take on the raging debate about nomenclatures and ‘Naija’ (ooops! forgive me Uncle Reuben!) music, I would say bemusement and maybe some amusement.
Why? I’m bewildered that our artists’ think Uncle Reuben (no relative of mine) has committed the unforgivable sin by his tad bit ‘too critical’ observations. Reuben Abati coming down hard is indicative that he probably was driven by genuine desire for improvements in our content and individual artistic development rather than ruining careers. Also, the fact that those who determine the commercial success of a song are not necessarily discerning music followers should not be discounted. This affects the quality of songs.

Now for some fun arrow shooting!
My Bemusement

Recently, I read Don Jazzy’s interview with a well-known soft sell magazine. He was quoted as saying ‘D’banj is not a fantastic singer’ or something in that context. Oh, I must also mention that the vocally impressive Banky Wellington aka Banky W during a chat with a very ‘hip’ TV music channel said listening to M.I’s album made him feel awful about his (Banky’s) recently released album. And there is Eldee who, prior to being a Naija (what is wrong with my hands?) returnee, had lived many years overseas developing his art as a musician..!!? I’d love to see details of his recorded or produced songs on any American music chart, number on the chart irrespective.
Aaah! I bet nobody wants to be reminded of the 9ice debacle during the Zain organised musical tribute for Nelson Mandela. Or like a Next 234 columnist wrote, “who wants to know about 10 years ago when Wande Coal was in Mushin?”
Hear this creative friends, Naija’s artistic environment is not a dumping ground for mediocrity; loud and unequivocally clear. When our predecessors Orlando Owoh, Dan Maraya Jos, Victor Uwaifo (the guitar boy), King Sunny Ade, Oliver de Coque and tons of other exquisite artists started out, they did with live musical performances. They pounded the tough turf of road gigs and band rehearsals and learnt how to sync with different musical instruments. Small wonder Sunny Ade has been made Artiste-in-Residence, Distinguished Fellow and music Lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University? Eeehm, but he can’t speak ‘fone’ and maybe semantically straight English someone says. Who cares! I want him to transfer his ingenuity, stage craft and expansive musical knowledge, built from conscientious study, to my children. I’ll hire an English tutor for grammar.

Might I dare to oppose the respected leader of thought? My Amusement
Yes oh Uncle Reuben, I have bones to pick. It appears there may be a disconnection between you and people of this generation to which I have on good authority that you belong. Nevertheless, we refuse to allude our obvious incompetence to the inability of previous generations to lay sustainable life foundations.
It is though true that this current music generation is creating a spin-off industry of clothes makers, brand managers, show promoters, Alaba pirates and the list goes on like never before.
However, I can’t shake off the foreboding thought that every thriving human venture (prostitution inclusive) will spawn people who will feed off it.
Well, I can point accusing fingers at the 20th century Naija (you would have to get used to this word) musician, for tainting impressionable young minds (like mine!) with suggestive lyrics like ‘What do you have under, what do you desire; Sweet banana!’. I remember my father plugging my ears and later he out rightly refrained me from listening to this crap.
I still cringe when I hear 40, 50, 60 years old men gleefully talk obscenity at social gatherings or even in some newsrooms! Now, what do you expect? This new-age artists are a brazenly remodelled package of what had been. What we sow is what we reap.

As for the nomenclatures, I would rise in defence of Flora Shaw by asking that we treat her relationship with Lord Lugard with a little more propriety. In the prevailing Naija cultural setting, there is no such thing as a mistress. Besides, she ended up being his wife, so what biased history lessons are we giving uninformed readers? We also know that the nomenclature Nigeria is still being subjected to discourse and counter analysis… does it truly reflect our status as a blissfully content Nation?
Choosing a concocted moniker, as an artiste brand title, is globally acceptable. Banky W was on spot when he observed this aptly as keeping your eyes on the business side of Show Business. We must not adopt double standards; one law for all. If I am a journalist or author and choose to write under a pseudonym, as Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) or Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) did, it doesn’t mean I cease to be Adenrele Niyi. New Yorkers would never forget the cultural or historical import of their city just because it is called the Big Apple. Same applies to Lagosians aka Las Gidians or Nigerians aka Naija peeps.
I’ve had a good laugh and I am a woman under authority; page restrictions. Nevertheless, I wrote two interesting and enlightening articles earlier this year, one of which is presented here, prior to any of these shenanigans.
They were and still remain my candid take on what I perceive in our 21st century, all-the-rage yet deficient music industry.

...21st Century Naija Music: Ingenuity Or Utter ‘Crap’
I’m excited about Nigerian music for very good reasons. I have been listening hard to our artistes in recent times and if my auditory organs are still functioning in tandem with my brain, our musical art is qualitatively gearing itself to compete massively on a global scale.
Some justified cynics might ‘pooh-pooh’ my excitement putting it down to arty exuberance but that’s okay. I am open to criticism, after all, I try to dispassionately review my perceptions vis-√†-vis all relevant and available indices before converting it to an opinion. In other words, before I share a perspective with the hard-hearted, open-minded or gullible, I would have brood over it for weeks or months letting it gather self-sustaining momentum. However, to be brutally honest, a lot of trash pretending to be songs are increasingly being churned out of Nigerian ‘musicdom’. So, yes I have to agree with the cynics there.
In February, I attended a ‘much-touted’ album launch party organised by a rave record marketer for its equally hyped artiste. I refuse to mention names which can put that artiste’s career in jeopardy but really, shouldn’t we be treated with a little more respect when music is being composed?
Besides the fact that the album party was an arena to hobnob, see and be seen, nothing spectacular happened in this particular case to convince me that musical art was entering an explosive stage.
Our ‘unnamed’ artist performed three songs from an album of almost 20 tracks. The performances? Well, if you consider that a large percentage of the crowd was high on something; another percentage just grateful to be counted among the ‘cool crowd’ and obsessed fans, then the artiste may as well have slotted his CD into a disc player and gone to bed. It was that flat, no encore performance.
But of course, kite-high-sycophant Nigerians that we are, everyone cheered and roared after each performance. I sincerely pray that our ‘encouraging’ response would match the returns into the artiste’s bank account from album sales. At the end of the day, this is what counts to the marketer, record label and collaborators.

Now, fast forward to early last month.

On a drive from Ikeja to Victoria Garden City, I spotted ‘short, black’ M.I’s CD being sold by record hawkers and spontaneously I got a copy. Driving to the Lekki-VGC axis anytime from 4p.m on a weekday is the Lagos motorist’s worst nightmare... the traffic is horrendous and nerve-racking. My friend, who was doing the driving (thank goodness!), raised a sceptical eyebrow when I requested that we tried some hip-hop music (many Nigerians born in the 60s or early 70s still find it hard to decipher the whole hip-hop culture that is aggressively gaining ground).
Well, I was eager to pass that traffic-time assessing MI (Mr. Incredible)’s work for a subsequent review. Understanding the nature of my job, the gentleman graciously obliged me.
There begun our rapid conversion from born-in-the-70s-skeptic and justifying-my-salary-reviewer, to duly-impressed-by-talent listeners.
It isn’t rocket science, if you have an astute mind and seek to appreciate art for content rather than aesthetic appeal, then get set for an incredibly (excuse the pun) climatic rush obtainable only through works of pristine intelligence. Spunky Jude Abaga (M.I’s real names) has paid his dues in so short (again excuse the pun) a time. Talent can’t be purchased, it is either you have it or you don’t. Anyone who grew up listening to Snoop Dogg’s 1993 record breaking ‘Doggystyle’ album should listen to M.I’s ‘Talk About It’ and we can’t refute that we have a chartbuster on our hands. It wouldn’t be going overboard to audaciously line it up with L’il Wayne’s 2008 ‘Tha Carter III’ album, which got eight Grammy nominations and won three of the coveted gold statuette.
Creative hardwork, clever cocktail of songs and sheer ability have made M.I’s lyrically sharp album much talked about, the way Beyonc√©’s maniacal devotion to her abs and choreography makes her one the world’s most fascinating entertainers (hate or love her, it’s the fact).
Feelers from the industry say M.I’s album sold out (over 30,000 copies) the week it was released. Now which artiste or artiste management would not like to hear that eh..? Let’s also not disregard the number of shows or albums he features in/on. Someone said to me recently that maybe M.I is becoming too much of an accessible artiste, which could hamper his musical value. Well, I say make the most of your success M.I because the second you lose your fresh appeal or focus, likelihood is that we will forget about you.
Why am I harping on M.I.? Because debutante music artistes can learn a thing or two from him, Fela Kuti, Micheal Jackson,Victor Uwaifo, Tupac Shakur and just about any other giftedly successful musician.
Making music can be fun and rewarding but it is largely dependent on possessing the commensurate creative talent. However, it’s the wild energy and the resultant lyrical content that bothers the ‘worried-about-our-music-Nigerians’.

With every sense of fairness, as I already expressed, it would not do to bunch every artiste up into a crowd of musical rabble-rousers or empty barrels. Nevertheless, the swelling rank of shallow musicians is rapidly drowning the brilliant voices.
In retrospect, I have always contended that Fela’s inventiveness, though naughtily expressed, was not acknowledge nor hailed by critics; they were too focused on the lapses in his private life.
Interestingly, posterity has shown that the rebel ‘Abami Eda’, controversial life and all, was one of the greatest black music composer and instrumentalist (just listen to his horns) to come out of Africa and I dare say the world.
I’m sure Fela was not thinking about pleasing listeners or achieving enormous record sales when he composed music. He was singing from his heart, with the eye of a prophet, and the ears of a perfectionist about subjects that affected everyone but always got him in trouble with authorities.
Therefore, it gives me goose bumps to think that our new-age artistes are singing about drinking binges, skirt-chasing, wanton display of money etc out of the abundance of their hearts. Through music, (whether in Nigeria, America, Europe, wherever!), some artistes and their videos subtly or overtly seduce impressive youngsters (and foolish adults) to indulge in alcohol, marijuana, and absolute debauchery. What hope for our creativity as a tool for revolutionary social change!!? What about being a positive change agent for generations!!?
We have to stop this fad of making music in compositions so shallow a mosquito can’t even drown in it and lyrics so mentally lazy and egoistic it gives you a headache!! Puuuleeeeeze!
The Nigerian Censors Board and Performing Musicians Association of Nigerian (PMAN) have their work cut out for them. Some measures should be put in place and enforced to safeguard our musical assets and our ears. If this is done, then true gems or diamonds in the rough can be polished to bring out the glimmer which I believe is presently inhibited to properly sparkle within the obtainable music space.
This article was first published in National Mirror of April 1, 2009>
• Ms Niyi is the deputy editor of National Mirror

Re: A Nation’s Crisis Of Identity
By Felix Orisewike Sylvanus
Anybody, who has not read or shared in this great debate, is certainly missing something. It does make sense to give kudos to Abati.
One does not need a soothsayer to know the imminent danger the assertion by Abati poses for the career of the artistes he discussed in his write up.
And having realised that, as they rightly put it, they are businessmen and women, one can say that the tone of their response reflects anxiety and feeling that they could lose market value -- based on Abati’s article.
Indeed, one cannot rule out that possibility. Anyway, there’s nothing absolutely wrong with that. Man must survive.
Moreover, there is no definite systematic path way to following in every phase of our development.
No doubt, the country needs overhaul. Things are not done rightly. This is not only peculiar to the music industry alone. Movie industry and others share in this pathway to nothingness.
Our collective life as a nation symbolises this huge identity crisis.

A similar article to Abati’s was written in Sunday Vanguard more than a year ago about the present generation of Nigerian writers by Mr. Tanure Ojaide.
He described the generation as a crop of people who dwell much in the flesh – physical rather than writing from the deep.
Obviously, there is not so much difference between the two articles. Perhaps, a little!
The two focus on the obvious fact that creativity is lacking in composition in this generaion of work.
Wit the contention of the articles, one looks forward to attempt by the artistes to make amend where necessary. And on the other hand, the question of age gap and time changing will certainly require a definite answer.
I, as an individual, belong to this age referred to as computer age; the age of unbound knowledge and accessory.
Therefore, if I must share in this debate, I will take the aspect of creativity as a priority.
Once, I had shared my opinion on Facebook, but it received serious attack, which made me conclude afterward that it would take a hell of work to overhaul the level of ignorance among the youth.
I am a youth and I do not share in the view that one must act or do things the way one likes disregarding basic rules or principles.

Now, I am not so suggesting that music in the present should reflect the narratives of the 70s and 80s, but that a life-giving experience is needed to make sense of music and rendition.
Naturally, the form in which music is presented varies from time to time and place to place, as it has now, drifted from the so-called 70s and 80s.
Time changing, yes, but that cannot alter the concept of music or poetry. This is recating to Jude Fashagba’s contention on the idea of ‘free speech’ as propelling content of creativity as published in The Guardian Life last week.
One does not write poem outside its devices because scoring a poem requires such literary devices.
Composition of song shouldn’t be different in any way because music is part of art and art elaborate creations.
To this end, we should see music as a means to create a wide range of space for imagination and a way to educate even while we entertain.
It is not more of the physic than the psychological inclination.
It entails drama that has a beginning, middle and an end. Therefore, the mere focus on sound and beat and word (chorus), which sometimes sound like noise in most of the present songs need to be addressed.
In view of this, I would say the respective views of the various artistes who had lent their voices to this debate did so out of pretence or, mere shy away from the far-reaching truth.

I will conclude by answering the question about what a name connotes. What do I need to say? How do I make sense to myself that I need to inquire about my birth name in order to know whether they suit or define my life or not?
Of course, I have done that at one point in time when I needed some answer. I had consulted all the available dictionaries and thesauruses from which various findings led to the same path that my parents chose.
I believe in belief. I do not believe that one has to throw away his conviction all in the name of sharing in the belief of others. No one in the rightful mind should; philosophy implies love of knowledge while the relativity of knowledge is diverse. Therefore, one does not need the permission of fellow man to formulate his own creed.
To state the fact here, the sorts of names flying across the nation among our youths and the various artistes are only stage names or nicknames. I will, however, submit that defacement of names shouldn’t create or generate any issue at all. But when considers the self artistic display of the various artistes under this siege of name defacement one could jump up and say, “ah, there is so much in a name”.
Orisewike Sylvanus writes from Ikeja, Lagos

A Hippy Temper, A Hopping Anger
By Chris Paul Otaigbe
I HAVE followed keenly the raging argument about the new Nigerian entertainment pop culture; and having read the arguments from all sides, I came to some understanding of the sentiments and the emotions that have continued to coat this national identity-defining argument.
For the older generation, it is not easy to let go of the music legacies of the great Artistes of post-independent Nigeria till the early 90s, including Victor Olaiya, Victor Uwaifo, Dennis Osadebe, Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Sonny Okosun, Sir Shina Peters, Oliver de Coque, the legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Kris Okotie, Alex O among others.
The love, respect and therefore bias for these generation of artistes is not out of some sentiment. It is founded on hard-won merit.
Their music, like Dr Abati rightly posits, has sense, sound, shape and skills. They made sense which is critical in anything we do: be it in business, politics, relationship, let alone entertainment. Especially entertainment. It is all about logic!
Of course, you string some sequence together and make art but it does not necessarily mean it would make an enduring sense. You don’t want to make some music or movie that would make sense briefly only to later collapse into a loose string of sequence that you may later be ashamed to identify with in the midst of serious minded people.
This is the mindset that surrounds, to a great extent, most of the hip hop music in Nigeria today. This is the fate that has always befallen the one-hit wonders that continue to hit the nation’s music firmament.
That kind of art — in music and movie — then become disposable piece of entertainment.
Unfortunately, however, it is this type of art that is giving Nigeria the current rating it is getting globally — funny enough.

BUt in this debate we are faced with the logic of the baby and the bath water.
The younger generation feels, rightly so, that they deserve the respect of the older generation for taken entertainment to the level they could never attempt in spite of the relatively stable environment they had in their time.
The Old school, on the other hand, insists that the ‘succeeding and seemingly prospering mediocrity’ does not entitle them to be taken seriously by time-tested principles of merit.
I have always been grateful to the new but younger generation of artistes we have today, for the major reason that (as senseless as their music or movie may seem to more serious minds), it has helped create activity and vibrancy on the entertainment scenes in the country.
It is not their fault that they are reigning now.

The perfectionist tendencies of the real artistes, which could have blessed the country with quality artistic offerings have been denied by the insane, unstable and frustrating environment as Nigeria’s. Only the hustlers with tendencies for ruggedness needed to brave all odds can survive i te environment.
This ruggedness, the largely ‘mediocre’ generation of young Nigerian artistes, have in excess. And it is symptiomatic of the current national poliy: Rogues, robbers, sick minds, deformed brains and illiterates now hold sway as those who rule over lives.
They are not making sense, they have thrown decency to the dogs and we are all plunged as a polity and as a people into perpetual darkness. That is why they will never see anything wrong in the fact that we are all in darkness.
As Pat Utomi said, our sense of outrage has died. It died because theirs (the ruling elite) is already decomposing in its grave. Of course, there is a tiny few who are decent among them though.
Unfortunately, they are the ones the demented minds that largely populate the palace of power refer to as old school or mad people or radical minds.
But note that these misfits in power wield a lot of wealth and influence and people even those who are supposed to be educated, enlightened and decent follow them sheepishly and stupidly.
That is why the rogues, robbers and murders are honored by revered institutions — traditional, educational and religious — in the country. What is the result? Desecration of all that is sacred and noble.
You see it is a mind thing. It is what your mind is fed with that you give out. You can’t give what you don’t have. Don’t forget that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

It is about the minds of these artistes in question, that is the issue. Not what they come out with. Their product is the end result from the substance of the larger mind. Which we all like to call the mindset.
So arguing with them over what they produce would be a time-wasting fruitless venture.
I respect Jude Fashagba’s defense of his ‘generation’s art form in his article The trial of Reuben Abati. He has his own points, as expressed here:
“To say the truth, I know no songs of Banky W, but I was made supremely proud, when taking a one hour boat from Lungi airport to Freetown in Sierra Leone, 90 percent of the songs the deejay played and advertised was made in Nigeria, by these same boys who have braved everything against all odds. Forget the oil, the major export we have is the Nigerian spirit, the attitude of making it against all odds. See how much we have been saved in foreign exchange by the fact that Tuface now sells more that Boys II Men in Nigeria, and Nollywood saving all the sums that hitherto went to Bollywood and Hollywood? True some of the songs and films may be close to rubbish, but to use Fela as an example of morality was excessive.”
I cannot agree with Fashagba any less. The other day I stumbled on The Gambian Tour of P-Square and I was proud of that young duo and proud to be a Nigerian.
Yes, the evolving superstar status of these young boys and girls do give our country a great deal of respect all over the world.
They may not be doing it right, but they are making fame and fortunes out of the nonsense. But the question is should we then because of immediate pecuniary reward desecrate the sanctity of the art and sacrifice it in the alter of frail fame and fortune. I guess Fashagba’s mates will say ‘to hell with quality… let’s do the don jazzy jare’
Reuben Abati, in his article (A Nation’s Identity Crisis) also agrees with Fashagba on the popularity front:
“In Nigeria, it is now possible to hold a party without playing a single foreign musical track, the great grand children of Nigerian music is belting out purely danceable sounds which excite the young at heart. But the output belongs majorly to the age of meaningless and prurience. The lyrics say it all.
However, I have to disagree with Abati and agree with Fashagba, on the issue of Fela being used as an example of morality.
Fela was a legend only on the strength of his unrivaled art form and his socio-political commentaries which found a place in the hearts of many the world over.

Having said that, Fashagba need to know that one of the key elements of good music or a good movie is the elevation of its language, the nobility of its creativity and the edifying force of its message.
Regarding drawing a body of criteria by which a work of art is critiqued or measured, I have always said that Critics probably do not have the absolute right to arrogate to themselves the power to sit in judgment over a piece of art that the creator labored and sweated to produce. However, there are basic principles from which the Critic can draw his authority. They are: appeal, substance of the message of the art, the tenure of its interest value and most importantly, for me- logic (this is where sense resides).
Coming to the issue of their art form and its decimation of our national identity, I will agree with Abati partially. Yes, they may seem to be committing such a crime in the way they go about, ironically though, promoting the image of the country. But one thing is clear; they have drawn the greatest level of global attention to Nigeria. That they have succeeded or are succeeding in adulterating the name Nigeria is also a function of the depth of their mind. I am yet to see any American musician, even the craziest among them — young or old — call America ‘americo’, ‘americool’, ‘amerishit’ or ‘amerigbishgbashgbosh’ no matter their grievance against the system. They rever the name, respect the flag and worship the identity.
Our young ones here get it wrong here. Because, a bunch of never-do-wells, perverted minds in power have plunged the country into some state of hell does not mean that we have to tear the flag, rubbish the name and desecrate the identity of our beloved country.
Fashagba insists: “I have seen the American flag and indeed the elements of the flag redone in creative ways and heard their national anthem sung in slow, mid and fast tempo, so I have no reason to complain about mine being sung anyway. Instead, I praise the people who in spite of the charred and unimpressive present opportunities and the irrelevance of the basis of these national symbols, still found ways to give them new meaning and revive them”.
Despite the madness of the evolving school of frivolous art, the younger generation still has a mind to respect the music identity for their country.

This is why I am fully in support of Benson Idonije’s position in his one of his articles in his The Gurdian column, titled Nigerian music and the search of definite identity.
Despite the current globalisation, which tends to bring all cultures together, nations are still able to hold their different cultures together — especially in terms of the advancement of music. There are young musicians all over Africa who seem to be influenced today by the hip hop craze, but in the midst of this foreign influence, their cultural heritage takes pre-eminence and reigns supreme.
As a result, the music of Ghana remains highlife, a musical culture, which we both embraced together in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Ghana has some of the wildest hip hop stars in Africa, but underlying their hip hop music is a highlife melodic culture which also tends to determine the progressions of the music. This way, bubble gum music which is merely meant to be chewed and spat out is being swallowed by listeners who find an enduring element in the music.
There are young hip hop musicians in South Africa, like Nigeria. But in South Africa, the youths have been so turned on by the culture of jazz that they are able to take hip hop music to a high level of creativity. The likes of Soweto Kinch are doing extraordinary things with hip hop.
And of course, underlying the entire musical process is the mbaqanga rhythmic feeling with which the likes of Miriam Makeba, Letta Mbulu and Yvonne Chaka Chaka and others broke into the international mainstream.
No other music in the history of African pop has had such a widespread and lasting impact as the guitar-based music of Zaire and Congo. Known in the West as Soukous, this quintessential dance pop is still referred to at home as rumba.
And this has influenced the young crop of musicians who are leaning towards contemporary trends only as stepping stone for finding their own individual directions. Furthermore, since one definite direction has been set for them by the Zaiko Langa Langa dynasty — fronted by Zaiko, one of Africa’s most enigmatic outfits, the youth know exactly how to evolve without destroying their musical culture.

On a final note, Fashagba made the big blunder of comparing D’ Banj with Tina Turner; he says: “However, music and poetry have always been on the precipice of free speech and to extend the point, of discovery. Tina Turner’s ‘what’s love got to do with it’ has worse lyrics than D’banj’s ‘you don make me fall in love’.”
Just as I said earlier, it is a matter of the mind.
Young Fashagba, like most of his mates, is expressing himself from the depth of his limited mind. I thought he went overboard at this point. To prove this to myself, I had to bring D’Banj and Tina Turner to sing their songs for me to compare their lyrical strength:
Just as I said earlier, it is a matter of the mind. Young Fashagba, like his most of his mates, is expressing himself from the depth of his limited mind. I thought he went overboard at this point. To prove this to myself, I had to bring D’Banj and Tina Turner to sing their songs for me to compare their lyrical strength:

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