Thursday evening in my room, doing nothing else than tweeting and listening to music from
Paul Play, titled “Forever”. Classic isn’t it? Yeah, good and conscious R’n’B tune from way back. Then it crossed my mind that I been wanting to write this article, so here I am. It’s a topic that makes me sad anytime I think of it, and not until recently when I listened to a radio show did I notice how deep the issue had eaten deep into everybody involved in Nigerian music. Respecting, honouring and thanking Nigerian musicians that have in one way of the other contributed to the growth of music in Nigeria.
Every building that stands firm has a good structure and a good foundation. Foundation is very key; a building that sits on a bad foundation is bound to collapse later in the future. The blossoming music industry we all are enjoying today, is as a result of the tireless hard work, dedication and resilience put in by several artistes in the past. There was a time when you would listen to a Nigerian radio station for 24hours and no Nigerian song will get played, and there were times when you would go to a club or party and all you hear are foreign songs. It’s different today, it didn’t just happen by chance or by mistake, some artistes put in effort, even when we rejected them and classified them as crap. They did it for the love of Nigerian music as a whole and for the growth of the industry.
I listened to a radio show on City FM, hosted by K-Show, he had Rasqie as his guest, [for
those who don’t know or remember Rasqie; he did popular hit song of the late 90’s titled“Soji”] and K-Show asked this question: “What will you say kept you going way back”. His reply really moved me, Rasqie said “Way back, we did music for the fun of it, even when the people didn’t accept it, we kept pushing and hoping that someday, our people will accept our own music, and even if they don’t accept it in our own time, at least we would have laid a good foundation for the next generation of musicians in Nigeria”.
I would have loved to address this issue generally, but I would rather address specific groups of people that make up the Music and Entertainment Industry in Nigeria.
Like the name implies, we are fans of what we personally classify as good music, or music that makes us happy. Really if we stay as just music fans, I don’t see any reason why we
would have problems respecting past artistes who were more like pioneers of the music industry in Nigeria. But majority have gone from music fans to fans and groupies of artistes, and there is where the problem comes in. Many have also gone from being music fans to gossips, when music fans starts to judge how good an artiste is based on material things instead of the art of music, there is bound to be disrespect. Music is very lucrative today, compared to the past when it wasn’t really lucrative.
Social media has helped in showing how the majority of so many music listeners think in Nigeria; we tend to talk down and sometimes insult past artistes who made music that
contributed to the growth of the industry. This shouldn’t be so at all. These people are the pioneers, they sacrificed their time and efforts for almost nothing in return, and the least you can give them is respect that they deserve for contributing to the growth of music in Nigeria.
Some go to the extent of comparing music of the past to the present. It is only logical for the standard and quality of music made today to sound better than that of the past [minus lyrical content]; that is what growth is about, it is about getting better and better, doing better than what has been done before. And for those that go about saying one former artiste is broke and stuff, you need to grow up and reason, are you for the music or not? Because if you are for the music, all that should matter to you, is the music and nothing more. Besides it’s simple logic and common sense for popular artiste of today to have more money than those that did it when nobody was interested in Nigerian music.
NEW SCHOOL ARTISTES
Sometimes I wonder why an artiste will disrespect a pioneer of the art that is putting bread on his or her table. I listened to Ice Prince’s album and the first track of that album touched me; he paid homage and gave respect to past hit makers of the Nigerian music scene, same goes to Faze for his track “Originality”. An artiste should understand that stardom is only for a while, you might be on top today and tomorrow you are down there seeking relevance.
Making music way back was more tedious and difficult than it is today, I am sure older music producers would agree with me. Making money off music way back was so difficult, it was almost impossible, because the Nigerian market wasn’t even ready to listen to them. They laboured tirelessly with almost nothing to show for it, just to make sure that you new artistes have a platform and a solid foundation for you to flourish, and the least you can show is respect for them. They are like your parents, you do not disrespect them, because some day too you will be classified as old school and there will be a set of newer artistes that will run the scene then.
New school rappers are more at fault for this, more like internet and social media rappers. Majority of you think that the fact that you can put a couple of rhymes together, you have arrived. Some go as far as using derogatory words on social media against the pioneers of the art they claim they represent. These same artistes you feel you are better than [lyrically], made a name way back with what you classify as crap today. It takes more than talent to be a star, and it takes more than talent to be remembered when your time is over. Discipline, dedication, hustle, hardwork, are just a few qualities that makes success and leaves your name in the sand of time.
Like I said earlier, it’s only logical for the quality of music being mad today to be better than that of before. But as a rapper, if what you put down as lyrics isn’t even close to what the pioneers did, then you shouldn’t even be in the rap business at all.
Word of advice to new artistes making it today; respect your predecessors, they gave you a platform to make it today. And for those who haven’t made it, and still feel you can bad mouth those who did it in the past and made a name for themselves, then I don’t even know what to say to you, because you haven’t made a name for yourself, how much more fame and fortune. Focus and make that music so that you will be remembered in future.
ON AIR PERSONALITIES
These set of people are those who are seen as those who should know better than other people when it comes to the art of music. These are the people who the fans rely on for music. These people hold vital positions, because of the large audience they feed; anything they say about music gets to more ears than any other person. These set of people are meant to be objective and always learn to put aside favouritism as much as possible when doing their job. Professionalism is key for anyone who finds his or herself in any of these category.
I never really imagined that the problem of respecting older artistes had spread to these set of people, till I listened to a radio programme on Cool FM last week, where D’banj the koko master was a guest on Freeze’s show, and to be honest I was disappointed at the level of unprofessionalism displayed by Freeze. He made a statement [asides all the Don Jazzy jabs and subs] which I will never forget. He said and I quote “Who is Eedris Abdulkareem? Is he a celeb? Because I only deal with celebrities and superstars”. I was shocked to my bones that a renowned presenter who has been in the business for a long time would show such a level of disrespect and unprofessionalism on National radio. It is unethical for any “On Air Personality” to rubbish a pioneer of hip hop music in Nigeria, for any reason at all that is related to music. If presenters who should know better can disrespect veterans of the music scene on radio, how much more the music fans?
In conclusion, pioneers of music in Nigeria should be respected and reverenced for the part they played in the music industry we have today. If they didn’t do anything way back, we won’t even have an industry today. Remember it all started from somewhere, and it can only get better.
I believe in Nigerian music, do you? I believe in honoring the people who laid the foundation of what we enjoy today, you should too.
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