The wide-eyes realization of the absence of foreign music on Nigerian lips and platforms these days mystifies me; it feels like you slept ten years ago and woke up in 2019 to overwhelming arrays of Naija tunes everywhere; when about a decade ago, foreign songs were still the deal!
What happened to the likes of Akon, 50 Cent, Tpain, Rihanna and Beyonce? When did Nigerians stop loving “imported”? Is it that the “un-favorability” of the Nigerian space for business has forced music from abroad to seek greener pastures like investors?
I remember growing up to the cries of Wasiu Ayinde Marshal from the man-size speakers that blared daily on a raised, wooden stage, just outside the house we lived in at a bus stop in Mushin, where a record seller advertised his collections at the raised noses of residents who wouldn’t part with their dime for anything short of the sounds coming from America. Only Agberos, the likes of Broda Shaggi, Danfo drivers, Bus conductors and elderly citizens patronized Baba Wosilat, the record seller.
Haruna Isola’s Apala, Fuji, Fela Anikulapo’s afrobeat, Salawa Abeni’s waka and Ajegunle’s galala music among other Naija genres were the predominant sounds that blasted from his woofers. However, on our phones, and in the privacy of our rooms, after shutting the door and the windows to prevent the sounds from creeping in, we would turn on the TV or slot in a CD to listen to Brick and Lace, Wyclef, Westlife or Celine Dion, depending on the mood.
Those days in Mushin, Celine Dion was the only thing that made boys soft; she was the nightingale whose voice rode across lands and seas to summon a gale strong enough to down your spirit. Her voice was cupid himself; fine and naked. The arrow in that voice would send the warmth of love to your cold heart without a tear, so that your eyes rejoice. And though it’s raining, her songs would make you rend your coat. And feeling “loved-up,” you might woo a goat. You’ll sail on her notes day or night like the Titanic on the sea—smooth-sailing, until the iceberg of her pitch hits you; that’s when your spirit drowns like a shipwreck in the ocean of love.
So rewind to 2009; I think I drowned and passed out in love, listening to Celine Dion. Nevertheless, today, 2019, I woke up in Surulere to the heavy percussions and vibrant sounds of Motigbana. Then, another upbeat song, Able God followed and it got me dancing. I stepped out and saw that the world is feeling the vibe and catching the flu of zanku and shaku shaku. Pops of Naija songs continue to blare from the DJ’s woofers—and at the sound of kpo…kpo…di…kpo…, Nigerians roar as everyone is doing legworks, scattering the floor, raising dusts and erasing foreign songs from the sands of time. Well, regardless of what changed, I’m loving the acceptance of “our” bubbly sounds.
This article was written by Afolabi Thomas; connect with him on IG here