Recently I had a sit down with a known rapper in this climes and it was quite insightful, as a music lover and a Nigerian, I have come to realize how our artistes have lost the common value of story telling in their lyrics. Most recent musical materials are littered with stories centered around: strip clubs, bad b*tches, drugs and sex. A majority of them if not all always try to recreate such stories via their social media platforms.
After an artiste progresses from being upcoming to becoming an A-list, his lyrics change dramatically. From, the inspirational and depth filled lyrics to just hooks and a dope beat and the reason for that is usually unanimous:
‘When I started there was a lot to talk about, I wanted to be successful and great at what I do, I dreamt of acquiring wealth with my music so there was always something to write about, how I struggled or this and that and now I have this and that, so I don’t know. I sing about the life I am living now and it is what it is. I can fly private, I rent out mansions in every city I visit, and the women fall like never before, so it’s a mindset. I live it, so I write about it.’
Which is all well and good, no prejudice to their hustle and hard work, but what they forget is there is no such thing as ‘over achievement’. What one terms as success is just an end to a meet for something greater. So when I hear remarks like we are at the peak of our careers and it’s all drugs, sex and women you can sit and document in a 3 minutes beat. It is sad. We understand as celebrities and stars you have to feed the people’s fantasy and live a life that is sometimes unrealistic but good enough for your ego and Instagram followers.
International artistes like Drake, J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar, all in the peak of their careers, with the limelight constantly following them, always have a message in every song they put forth and it goes beyond the shallowness of an alcohol bottle and frivolities of life. In as much as there is the common macho display of excessive wealth and achievement. There is still a lesson to be learnt or bars that would make you evaluate and visit a dictionary. There is still the adequate use of metaphors and poetic rhythms. It goes deeper than women, money and drugs, they take it deeper than the basics. That is why most times when they drop an album or a mixtape, the Internet goes crazy, quoting lyrics and deciphering punchlines. Music is not only about flamboyance and the fame, it is an expression, it is a culture, there is a common trend and it’s art. It is with this concept their music system works
In a system like NIGERIA where artistes don’t pay attention to the craft, they just put forth the body of work and work at mundane things to evaluate their credibility. Like wearing the most expensive outfits, going on vacation every now and then and getting expensive automobiles.
Majority of our artistes do not infuse any sort of inspiration in their music, there is no value, unfortunately it is no relevance to them, at the end of the day they get the cheques and the most airplay. The few that still take out the time to get a qualified song writer and put in thoughts in their music are being kicked in the butt, with little or no airplay and no elbow room or recognition from bodies in authority.
The celebrated musical Taliban, Fela, was one in a million, putting deep thoughts into his music, with lyrics that are older than time. Addressing issues that are relevant and uplifting, not because he wasn’t financially satisfied or at the peak of his success, definitely because he would rather put out music that affects a person’s consciousness.
Educating and entertaining Nigerians since 1938. Fela once said: “Music is supposed to have an effect. If you’re playing music and people don’t feel something, you’re not doing shit. That’s what African music is about. When you hear something, you must move. I want to move people to dance, but also to think. Music wants to dictate a better life, against a bad life. When you’re listening to something that depicts having a better life, and you’re not having a better life, it must have an effect on you.”
It is not mere luck that the genre he created and gave a sound to is the most popular genre out of Africa, ‘Afro Beat’.
18 years after his death his music is still impacting, and changing mindsets of millions of people and generations unborn.
Music is a journey, each performer has a destination and in each individual journey there will be different experiences and lessons learned. We ask that you make yours relevant and worthwhile, make it better for the next performer and the listening audience, infuse hope through your music, yes we expect that certain parts come with the fame, but in the actual sense those parts don’t impact a positive change, so let’s curb the explicit and share hope.
Music impacts the world larger than we think, you engage people’s attention and impact their lives, so why not do it the right way?
‘THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS AND POPULAR LANGUAGE IS MUSIC.’