It seems the world can no longer party without Nigerian music.
At CNN’s Juneteenth celebration in California, USA, this week, Nigerian musician, Davido, illuminated the event.
Two weeks before that, not only did Burna Boy entertain millions of spectators at the European Champions League final, he was interviewed by a cast of CBS Sports analysts in Istanbul, Turkey.
Nigerian Afrobeat music is phenomenal and the world cannot hear enough of it. Nigerian artistes are producing mega hits and have become household names in all continents.
At the 2022 Qatar World Cup, Davido wrote his name in the history books at the most watched sporting event in the world appearing as the featured artiste during the closing ceremony.
His peers, Patoranking and Kizz Daniel also performed during the tournament. These three raised the Nigerian flag on the world stage without kicking a ball.
Early in 2023, the American National Basketball Association All Stars Game was a Nigerian music night, when Grammy-winning Burna Boy, Tems and Rema grabbed the Vivint Arena in Utah, with no American artiste performing.
During the coronation of England’s monarch King Charles III, Tiwa Savage was a highlight of the ceremony, as she rendered her single, ‘Keys To The Kingdom,’ before a global audience.
No country has been better represented and recognized on the world music stage in the past year than Nigeria.
Many things may not be working right in Nigeria, but its music is healthy, vibrant and rolling foreign currency in.
Nigerian music is doing great things for the pockets of musicians, but even more for the Nigerian brand.
The potential of Nigeria as a world leader cannot be better illustrated than through its contemporary music.
But Nigeria didn’t get here in a sprint and today’s musicians should not have the impression that they created this amazing result unassisted.
While they have earned the credit for creativity, they should also realise that all they did was reinvent what was already being experimented by the previous generation.
Anyone with an ear for music would observe that Afrobeat is fundamentally Fela Kuti’s music, with other styles thrown in – such as juju, highlife, fuji, rumba, kwaito, calypso and reggae.
It is a fusion, a potpourri that brings local Nigerian and other black music into an interesting intersection.
Through experimentation, Nigerian youths have managed to create a music that attracts the attention of global listeners, who have been yearning for something fresh.
Many things may not be working right in Nigeria, but its music is healthy, vibrant and rolling foreign currency in
Much credit to young Nigerian musicians and more dollars to their pockets.
They are climbing heights never imagined with their creation.
Burna Boy, Whizkid and Tems have won the most coveted music award, the Grammy, in a space of two years.
While they were not the first Nigerian musicians to win the Grammy, they are the first home-grown artistes to achieve the feat.
Their predecessors were in the diaspora, including Babatunde Olatunji, Seal (Henry Olusegun Adeola), Sade Adu and Sikiru Adepoju.
The legends of Nigerian music worked for years without reaching the heights the younger generation have taken Nigerian music to.
We have come a long way from the first nomination of King Sunny Ade at the Grammys in 1984. In recent years, Nigerian artistes are not only being nominated more frequently, they are being recognized outside of World Music genre.
Whizkid’s joint award was in the Music Video category, while Tems won for a contribution to the Best Rap Music with Drake and Future.
Between 1984 and 2010, there were a total of five Grammy nominations for Nigerian local musicians; but there have been 10 nominations just in the last 12 years – all going to Afrobeat musicians.
Fela Kuti, the undisputed originator of this genre did not aspire to be a popular musician.
His focus was on creating authentic African music, which his study of music at the Trinity College of Music in England gave him the expertise to explore.
In his experimentation, he had travelled to the US, explored black African music of the likes of James Brown before returning home to try something new.
With the influence of his American collaborator, Sandra Izsadore, Fela kept experimenting, thinking not about the Grammy, till the end of his career.
Sunny Ade, who was nominated for the Grammys in 1984 and 1999, was another experimenter. Unlike Fela, he had no formal music education.
But he had played the guitar so much and so well, he is the only Nigerian musician on display at the Music Instruments Museum in Arizona, USA, featured next to Elvis Presley.
When Sunny Ade played ‘Ase,’ with Stevie Wonder on harmonica on the 1984 album, Aura, I regarded that as the height of Nigerian music.
As it turns out, it was only the peak for that generation. The new generation is soaring.
Sunny, Fela, Ebenezer Obey, Segun Adewale and many other musicians who performed on the international stage left their footprints on the sands of time, but the new generation have surpassed past achievements.
Nigerian music, Afrobeat in particular, is influencing the world and giving Nigeria a super-duper brand. Afrobeat is the best thing that has come out of Nigeria since jollof rice.
But there are reasons to be cautious. Today’s musicians can run out of gas because many of them lack depth.
There is an over-reliance on technology in the production of Afrobeat music.
The time, preparation, expertise and effort that someone like Fela would pour into creating a song is not required anymore.
Afrobeat has become a kind of Lego that can be put together rather quickly.
While the productivity rate is high and the ride can continue for a while, a change in technology can have far-reaching implications for the artificial beat and automated tunes in today’s music.
A Nigerian music entrepreneur, Mallam Okwechime Abdul, explored the lack of depth in a writing and expressed worries that foreign music entrepreneurs, who are in search of authentic Nigerian music, are running into a dead end.
Nigeria should not accept that it is only through manufacturing and agriculture that the nation can be great and prosperous
According to the music business impresario, who had worked closely with Fela and Femi Kuti and a lot of up-and-coming artistes, most of the music producers in Nigeria today are mere beat makers who cannot produce music that will endure.
He said, “Dadakwuda, Ikwokrikwor, Fuji, Apala, Sakara, etc., are music forms lying dormant, raw and needing producers with ears to turn them around into platinum. Have you ever wondered why such giant records companies as Barclay Music and Universal Records are here? They have come in search of the African beats believing that, since our singers could be burning down concert halls all across the world, there should be more to get from home.
“But alas, they are met with lazy beats makers masquerading as producers, doing exactly what they are used to where they were coming from. People who merely mix tones from their consoles to generate beats. Nobody is seriously exploring or exploiting the raw African beats into the consoles to make music.”
Foreign music entrepreneurs are yearning for more of our music.
The question is if we can give them more; because if we do, music can easily become Nigeria’s major export earner.
Nigeria should not accept that it is only through manufacturing and agriculture that the nation can be great and prosperous.
Our musicians have accomplished far more than oil and education have done in projecting Nigeria’s image, while collecting hard currency in the process.
A strong music, movie, fine arts and creative industry can bring Nigeria great riches and a good name.