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The Untimely Death Of Social Consciousness In Nigerian Music by Mchayy(m): 2:18pm On Aug 27, 2015
In a country where cogent issues like gross irresponsibility by the government, coupled with other moral, social issues such as hunger, unemployment, injustice, lack of electricity, corruption, civil rights infringement, rape, crime, callousness, religious differences, and even death, are abound, we find it utterly bizarre that this generation of artistes find it hard to diversify on the subject matter in their music.

The legendary Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was notoriously and unrepentantly known for being a thorn in the flesh of corrupt government officials.

Even Eedris Abdulkareem gallantly managed to ruffle the feathers of the unfazed Obasanjo administration with ‘Jaga Jaga’, as the former president was forced to reply the erratic musician.

“Our government bad oh/ dem no wan give ghettoman job oh” lamented the vociferous African China some years back.

Such was the level of outcry against oppression and injustice by artistes in years past, as China, Daddy Showkey, Lagbaja, Majek Fashek, Onyeka Onwenu, Maintain, Ras Kimono, and a host of others became voices of hope and some sort of rebellion for average Nigerian citizens.

The ‘common man’ found joy and satisfaction in a brave and laudable representation of his plight by these socially conscious records.

The impact however, was undeniably felt by the government, as they sought to clamp down-as far as jailing-some musicians found culpable.

These crops of artistes were undaunted in their quest to bring about positivity or betterment to the lives of the lower echelon of the society.

To think the system of government ran then was a whole lot different from what it is now, in terms of little or no freedom of speech, yet these group of artistes were undaunted as music was their main or only source of showing their displeasure and grievance at the unpleasant situation of things.

It’s 2015 and things have drastically changed on our music scene, positively and negatively. Positively in terms of revenues now being generated and pumped into the entertainment sector, and also the worldwide recognition of our musical output by international bodies, one which was evidently absent in years past.

Most disturbing however, is the decline or death even, of the content of social awareness from the lips of our entertainment frontrunners.

Quite shocking, is that 99.9% of our industry ‘clowns’ name legends such as Bob Marley, Fela, Lucky Dube, 2Pac, Angelique Kidjo, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston e.t.c, as influences, when these are people who actually became respectable voices with their music in all ramifications.

Buying a typical Nigerian artiste’s album, you basically know what to expect in terms of subject matter and content; 30% repetitive love songs, 60% booty-rocking club songs, and 10% directionless, baseless music.

Love is a beautiful thing, one that should be preached and encouraged, but the appalling manner by which it is being projected by these new generation artistes is an utter shame.

Our artistes, rather than be voices for social responsibility and equality, parade themselves as political pawns, while their popularity is still being funded by ‘average’ citizens.

However, all social platforms and adverse conditions are also to blame, as factors such as poverty, greed, media bias, corporate organizations’ immorality, play a huge role in the projection of baseless music.

We wonder how long for, more recently released songs like ‘Ghetto Life‘ by Tuface, Blackface and Rocksteady, ‘Dictator Rap’ by Lex, Tec and Mojeed, ‘Fvck Em All’ by Beazy and Boogie, ‘Lokal Government’ by Tha Suspekt and M.I, got played on the radio waves, if at all they did. A testament to the hypocrisy of the media in shunning songs of this manner.

Of this new generation, ONLY Asa and probably Tuface have been able to masterfully balance the theme of social consciousness and feel-good vibes on their records on a constant basis, and they haven’t been any less successful than their peers. That is, apart from artistes like Seun and Femi Kuti, whose Afrobeat style of music naturally centers on being socially conscious.

Conversely, the inability or a total lack thereof of these musicians to constructively think, write and compose introspectively deep songs, could be attributed to their avoidance of sensitive subject matters, as it is a lot easier to instruct or compel listeners to ‘shake their booty’ or ‘pop some bottles in the club’.

These ‘clowns’ we call artistes see abysmal music as a quick and easy way to attain fame, popularity and wealth. Their hearts are barely in their chosen craft, purely depicted by the kinds of music materials they release.

They are almost all advocates of social awareness on their respective social media platforms, but rarely replicate that with the kinds of records they put out.

On the widely misused cliché, ‘dance away your sorrow’, as an excuse for tons of baseless club records, we beg to differ, as a socially conscious song can still adequately cater to the dance obsession, while still holding lyrically powerful message.

Beyond attacking the government through music, which is not the only purpose of writing this piece, there are little kids on the streets who are not there by their own volition, but by the injustice and cruelty of life, there are also unlawfully subdued citizens, morally abused persons, and a whole lot more.

Omawumi touched on the subject of rape on her song, ‘If You Ask Me‘, Mode 9, touched on the betrayal between friends on ‘Cry‘, while Naeto C touched on losing a loved one on ‘Blessings‘ ft Asa, and it isn’t a coincidence these songs are one of their biggest hits so far.

These are lingering issues that should be addressed and brought to fore, and what better platform than on records that can be heard across the world.

You might think these kinds of subject matter in your music wouldn’t ensure your mainstream appeal, but that is where adequate balancing is important and vital. It doesn’t necessarily box you in the ‘conscious’ corner.

Dear Nigerian artistes, including some bits of social consciousness and awareness wouldn’t hurt, it’ll only make your catalog even better.

Until the moment we all stand to acknowledge the power of music to influence and affect lives, this appalling trend would continue.


Re: The Untimely Death Of Social Consciousness In Nigerian Music by RaDaZaBaNa(m): 2:27pm On Aug 27, 2015

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