The concept of hiring songwriters is highly overlooked and misunderstood in the Nigerian music industry. This is because a lot of Nigerian artistes do not see a need to involve songwriters on their projects, even when it would give their music a better art form and an improved overall quality.
A lot of Nigerian music makers seem to find it enough to focus on the sound production, the repute of featured artistes, promotion, while they put less attention into the art form of music.This impropriety is encouraged by the fact that a lot of Nigerian music lovers would celebrate such music, even when important components like lyrics has been diluted, over a more complete music form.
Since most Nigerian artistes view the music business as a spectators sport, they tend to make structural adjustments to their music, and in most cases, they model their songs to get increased commercial success. This explains why a lot of made-in-Nigeria music would score low in a lyrics assessment test.
Music critics have been quoted to consider a lot of these songs good for dance, having great vibe but shallow in depth and sometimes flawed with incoherent content. Artistes like Yemi Alade, Lil Kesh have been criticised in the past on this basis. Even Wizkid, with his undeniable chorus composing ability, was not spared when he included incoherent lyrics of ‘Ogunmola eleniyan, Fashola eleniyan, Baruwa eleniyan …..‘ into his song, In my bed. A song with a loud sexual theme.
It might not seem a conspicuous dent but lyrical porosity has an insidious effect of denting the music. Although this is tolerable by a lot of fans, credible award organizers keep their eyes peeled for the lyrical content of songs, in their assessments. Lyrically-off songs can be likened to junk food, made in a rush, consumed in a rush, and so they tend to go down the pipe even faster.
The need for Nigerian artistes to make high quality music is not encouraged by the light negativism that ensues artistes hiring songwriters. It is a misconception to think less of the hubris of an artiste on the basis of having hired songwriters to make hit records. Not a few of the internationally celebrated artistes collaborate with songwriters to make music of the highest quality, with Kanye West and Drake on the long list. Wizkid, although guilty of compromise on In My Bed, was celebrated and awarded for writing the record breaking One Dance song by American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).
Another songwriting success story is the Password co-written Gobe song performed by Davido. Even with Davido’s enviable portfolio, with numerous hit songs up for selection, Gobe would still be considered one of his best songs. The thorough work done on the song is evident and appreciable. A lot of the song’s beauty is in the lyrics and the melody. Although the degree of Password’s contribution to the song is exclusive, it is speculated that there could have never been a Gobe song without his contribution. If there was, it could have lacked some of the elements that made the song so lovely and fine. This shows just how hiring songwriters can improve the quality of a song.
In addition to that, a songwriter and the performer, in a case where they are different persons, would need to maintain a professional relationship to make this system work. While working on adding quality to ones music, it is also important to avoid the occurence of scandals that originate from allegations of intellectual property theft, music beat theft, unpaid royalty etc, some of which we have seen pollute the ambience of the industry over the years. The blessing of performing a well-written song should be enjoyed without the curse of scandals and relationship breakoffs.
Nigerian artistes, at all levels would do well to increase the attention given to lyrical content of their songs, whether they work with a songwriter or the song is self-written. This way, we are guaranteed of making better grade of music, which is important now that the world is paying attention to the music industry in Nigeria, with songs by Nigerian artistes being exported increasingly. The door to global music appears now to be open to Nigerian artistes, this implies that the bar has been raised, and the stage is now bigger. Players in the Nigerian music business; artistes, performers, promoters, managers, investors and the audience should all makes sense of this reality. We cannot afford to serve our music half-done. To be frank, without striving to make music in the best possible way, Nigerian music would at best achieve commercial success, but the gates to the global awards and recognition would remain shut to Nigerian artistes.
This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets