Music they say is food for the soul. It is a form of art that can be used to for different purposes- it could be for relaxation, entertainment, empowerment, motivation, protest, etc. Nigerian music, over the years has evolved massively, as music and the entertainment sector generates huge revenue for the nation and employs millions. Nigerian artistes are on big stages both locally and internationally. In the recent past great artistes like Fela and Femi Anikulapo-Kuti, Ras Kimono, Majek-Fashek, etc. were known for good music and they paved the way for young musicians and serve as an inspiration to them. These older men are known for critical music, singing about the ills in the society and using music to inspire the masses. The music they made thought lessons and was used as a tool to propel change. A lot of the songs also gave the masses a sense of self-esteem and pride as it taught them about human rights and fighting the corrupt system.
In recent times, most of all the music we hear on radio, television and internet in Nigeria are mostly about love, party, sex, alcohol, drugs, guns etc. Why are young Nigerian musicians afraid to delve into social issues? With all the violence and problems in the society, (Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, SARS and corruption etc.) we would have expected our musicians to react to these issues through songs. Some of them only react if they are affected directly, which is mostly done on social media. The question then is: why do they not sing about it?
I think most artistes in this generation go into music because of the money and fame; everybody wants to be a big star, drive exotic cars and have paparazzi follow them about, and all that stuff. They really don’t have that passion about societal issues or even when they have it at the beginning, they get carried away later on. Sponsors and record labels are business minded, so when a record label or sponsor spends money in developing and marketing an artiste, they are in a hurry to make the money back and would like the musician to make the kind of songs that are currently trending.
Some say Nigerians don’t listen to lyrics; they just want to dance to the beat, but considering how Nigerians still love the older stars of yesterday that made political songs, maybe there is room for a musician that sings these type of songs (and not just “shake your bum-bum” and “shaku shaku” music). Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the dance jams like everyone else. I just think we need other forms of music. As we mourn the legend Ras Kimono and remember great musicians like Fela, let’s hope musicians like this return to the Nigerian music scene soon.
Yes! We like to dance and have fun but we also want music that can appeal to our soul, music that corrects the ills in the society and music that preach love and kindness.