Making Sense of Nigerian Music

Music, as the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines it, “is a series of sounds made by instruments or voices in a way that is pleasant and exciting.” It goes a step further to say that it is “the art of writing or playing music.”

Nigerian music, it appears has really evolved and is rapidly gaining worldwide popularity. At most parties and high-profile events, scores of Naija songs slam the airwaves. Everyone seems to have caught the Nigerian music fever.

But the mind-bugging question is, what do the lyrics of most of these so-called best-selling songs celebrate? Sex, Arrogance, Lust, Drug Abuse, Chauvinism, Rebellion, Alcoholism, Pornography, Blasphemy and the like.

As a child, I learnt that “the arts” be it music, theatre, painting and drawing, film, literature e.t.c are of great importance because they are the advocates of change and voice out the wrongs in society. They also serve as educators of values and virtues. Zig Ziglar, in his book, Raising Positive Kids In A Negative World is also of the opinion that great music can lift a person to heights of accomplishment and inspire marvellous contributions to society.

Growing up, my ears and eyes were privileged to have beheld the likes of Ras Kimono; a great crusader, Onyeka Onwenu; the elegant stallion, Tosin Jegede; the child star, Christy Essien – Igbokwe; the lady of songs, Majek Fashek; the prophet, Mike Okri, Essien T-boy, Felix Liberty, Stella Monye, Junior & Pretty, Princess Bunmi Olajubo, Sonny Okosun, Funmi Adams, Tony Okoroji, Chris Hanen, Daniel Wilson and of course; Nigeria’s Bob Marley, The Mandators. For me, these personalities are seasoned musicians because their lyrics had invaluable substance and as such, they could stand the test of time; any day and any time. If you think I’m mistaken, slot in an Onyeka Onwenu’s C.D. preferably the hit track, “One Love”, or The Mandator’s “Rat Race” or better still Majek Fashek’s “Send Down the Rain.”

Our Nigerian artists, these days are only interested in making computerized instrumentals without taking the pains to write superb lyrics that are pleasant to the ears and which will outlive them. Sometimes, I wonder when most of them become old and grey will they be pleased to listen to their immature and outrageous songs overloaded with empty phrases or better still, sit comfortably with their grandchildren to see their dirty videos often saddled with girls with humongous backs sides? For goodness’ sake, our society has a lot of sensitive issues (from rape, poor governance, terrorism, corruption, lop-sided education, poverty etc) begging to be addressed and what better way to do this than through music. No, not our artists, who prefer to sing about their lust for money, fame, cars, women and booze. Only a pinch of them writes sensible songs. Thumbs up to Tuface Idibia; he is an exceptional artiste, Timi Dakolo, Sound Sultan and Korede Bello; for his thought-provoking song “Godwin”.

I often worry about the young ones whom these artists do a lot of disservices. We all know that children and teenagers are impressionable and as such can be negatively influenced. These distorted words are sung into their minds with a tune, time without number and the impact is just unimaginable.

I represent so many concerned Nigerians who wonder what must have happened to all the good songwriters in this nation. It’s high time, our artists came back on track.

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Jane Ikegulu

Jane Ikegulu is an oracy coach who trains and grooms students as well as individuals on self-confidence, Phonetics and public speaking. She is a writer who delights in writing about the home and its challenges.

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