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Sunday, January 16, 2022

The Dominance of Nigerian Music in Africa

The entertainment industry, in general, has its glitz, glamour and gutter. This industry is ever ready and always in search of something new and exciting.

As we all know, beef and controversies are the lifeblood for a large chump of engagement in the entertainment industry and the scene of music is not spared of this wave. It was the beef and clashes between the west coast and east coast in the early to mid-90s, that contributed to the many reasons that made hip-hop reach its golden era at that moment in time.

The world is changing, all thanks to advances in science and technology. Digitalization is the order of the day, new social media sites are emerging, and new terminologies for beef and controversies are being invented. The most popular is clout chasing, and the entertainment industry in Africa, particularly Nigeria and Ghana have marinated in their fair share.

The most recent is the brawl between Burna Boy and Shatta Wale, which in my own opinion was nothing but a clout chasing exercise by Shatta Wale. So, before I go further with this piece, I would like to define clout chasing.

What is Clout Chasing?
According to Urban Contemporary Dictionary, it can be defined as when someone starts unnecessary drama about a person for no reason whatsoever other than to gain attention and start beef with or to make a little situation everyone‘s business when it has nothing to do with them.
Also, it can be defined as when someone speaks badly about another person that is better off and doing better than them, to start a meaningless beef to get their popularity boosted.

In recent times we have witnessed several cases of clout chasing enacted by these individuals who are called “Clout Chaser” and according to Urban Contemporary Dictionary, it simply means a person who strategically associates themselves with the success of a popular person or a currently contemporary trend to gain fame and attention. This personality disorder is often resembled as, “riding the wave” without concern for damage or integrity.

The music industry in Africa is a very vast one and Nigeria undoubtedly is the biggest player in it. There has been an age-long issue between Ghana and Nigeria. The whole saga resurfaced again due to the social media rant by Shatta Wale early this month about Nigeria, not supporting Ghanaian music. Stonebwoy’s methodical perspective further reinforced the overall point of Shatta Wale’s rant.

The problem is that this validates the sentiments and tension between Ghana, Nigeria and other countries across Africa over the past 15 years in the affairs of music. There seems to be a fundamental or should I say a localized problem our African brothers in musical arms have against Nigerian artists that appear to have no solution.

Many sad experiences in the past like the xenophobia attacks on Nigerians residing in South Africa in 2019, the Omah Lay, Tems ordeal in Uganda during the last quarter of 2020 and the proposed ban of Nigerian music in Cameroon last year. Nigeria and Ghana have been at loggerheads for the longest of time. We are like brothers, and share a lot of similarities in terms of culture, fashion, dialect, tribes, names, food and a host of others.

Ghana has accused Nigerians of not paying homage to them, as we have from the days of Fela in their words been inspired by their sound and eventually chunk out bigger acts than theirs. But the truth is that art will always inspire art because if art cannot inspire art, then art has failed. As a creative, the biggest honour is to inspire people and they go on to inspire others and the great cycle of art goes on.

There is a misconception that Nigeria does not acknowledge the influence of Ghana on our music but in actuality, that narrative is quite wrong even though many Nigerians are in real bliss of that fact due to lack of proper enlightenment but those that matter in the Nigerian music industry recognize that fact.

The crux of this piece is Ghanaian artists anger towards Nigerian artists for getting bigger when they borrow from Ghana but they don’t break even when they do the same. Ghana artists fail to understand that this is the era of Nigerian acts and they have had theirs and will still do in times to come. The Azonto craze of the early 2010s, the VIP era and the current push for South Africa’s Amapiano should be a good reminder that the sound of music is not situated at a particular point, place or moment in time. It rotates to the universal power of music and those moments have been spectacular to the sojourn of Afrobeats to the world.

Many ponder why Nigerian music seems to dominate the music scene in Africa but they fail to realize that at some point Nigerian music was not even in the conversation in Nigeria as a nation. Hip-hop and R&B dominated the Nigerian music space in the 90s and francophone music ruled the early 2000s.

Alaba international market played a huge role in making Nigerian music acceptable for consumption by Nigerians. Thanks to their efforts and other key stakeholders, we found our pop sound in the mid-2000s.

The status of Nigeria has a lot to play in this conversation, as the supposed “Giant of Africa” a lot is expected of her in all areas. We are the USA of Africa and every other nation on the continent looks to us for excellence. Whatever pops in Nigeria becomes bigger in all parts of Africa which we owe to our population, good taste in music, presence around the continent, excellence, great promotion, ingenuity, collaboration and drive for greatness.

There is a need to let go of the hate of Nigerian artists, music, pop culture and coolness of sound. The ability to make things better is uniquely a Nigerian thing and other Africans should not be angry if they can’t replicate. They should rather re-evaluate, re-strategize and collaborate with Nigerian artists to garner better results.
Nigerian artists don’t just blow up because of the music, they put in a lot of work, promotion, relationships, sacrifices and more to be where they are now.

The problem is that most African artists think because they are big in their host countries, they don’t need much promotion to attract hits, visibility across all borders and global brand endorsement like Nigerian artists. But the reality is that all these plaques are no mere feats. You have to do your homework, build relationships, collaborate, brand yourself to the state of marketability to attract global record label backing and endorsement and finally invest in promoting your art.

Nigerian music has a history of excellence that is why it is desirable to the rest of the world now. We need to unite and work together in harmony, artists such as Shatta Wale, Burna Boy, Stonebwoy, Davido, Wizkid, King Promise and Sarkodie need to put aside their differences and see the bigger picture, as the world is paying close attention to us now.

We have too many issues at hand, like western capitalism, racism, poverty, bad leadership and a host of others to tackle than to relegate ourselves to clout chasers, egoistic goofs and obtuse entities.

Solomon Obi
Solomon Obi is a writer and content creator. He loves sharing his innate thoughts on Nigerian pop culture. His hobbies include reading and movies. We all are on a voyage of discovery to unearth the never-ending infinite of knowledge.

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