I was chatting with a friend yesterday and our conversation centered around young artists we knew who were putting out amazing music and making waves within their own pool of influence. From our conversation, we made critical conclusions about these artists. 1.) They are all undeniably talented. 2.) They were and continue to push boundaries with their art. However, a problem remained. This was simply that the state of the Nigerian music industry simply wasn’t accommodating of these young artists for their genre of music.
I titled this post “The Importance of Pushing “OUR” Music” and immediately one would wonder who i’m referring to when I say “OUR”. The truth is that I really hate classifying artists and placing them in boxes. That’s what genres do. Although for the purpose of understanding this post, when I say “our” music, I am strictly talking about young artists who make music that is different from what is effectively the status quo -Afrobeat.
Now to the crux of this piece. Why is it important for us to promote our music? The simple answer is- if we don’t, nobody else will. Too many times have I heard people say “you can’t blow with that sound in Nigeria”. Any young artist trying to find his way in the industry will assure you that nothing is more frustrating than being reminded of that reality time and time again. Comments like this highlight the widespread belief in afrobeat as the prime sound in Nigeria and echo it’s domineering power over other sounds. How do we address the problem? A suggested solution has been for the artist to adapt his sound to the norm. I couldn’t disagree further. I believe that regardless of how successful an artist is in adapting to a different sound from his original, he/she loses an element of their authenticity and as such becomes a drop in the ocean of artists saturating the industry. We’ve seen artists who have succumbed to the pressures of the music industry to make afrobeat and haven’t had as much luck as they presumed *cough* Praiz *cough*.
It is important that as young artists we stick to our resolve to stay loyal to our sounds and become trail blazers for more young artists to aspire to make music that is personal and means something to them as opposed to being slaves to the streets (making music according to the template that has been regarded as a formula for good music/success). It is critical to note that our music won’t gain the attention it deserves unless we show eagerness in pushing it and the fight that remains is not for our music to be validated as good but to be recognised in the first place.
This is just my candid opinion. Feel free to agree/disagree with me and let me know what you think in the comment section below.