Sunday, May 15, 2011

Back in the Day, When I Was Young, I'm Not a Kid Anymore...

I have entirely too much time on my hands today, so I'm going old school Nigerian music on you guys.

I was going to do old school African music and throw in some Judith Sephuma, Miriam Makeba, etc, but I think I'll keep this narrow. There's some classic cuts here, but lots of awesome songs are being left out. There's no Oyeka, no Daddy Shokey, no Majek Fashek, no Zubi Enebeli. Maybe this post will have a sequel, but I'm not sure there needs to be a definitive list, do you?

Looking at Nigerian music then and Nigerian music now, there's some key differences. For one thing, raggae's influence on Nigerian music has definitely died down considerably. I wonder why that is. For another, there's been a marked change in theme. The preoccupation of such songs as "Obaro" (move forward, or something -- I don't speak the language) and "Ota Dehin Lehin Mi" (Enemy, get behind me), and "Walakolombo" (a promiscuous woman) are very Nigerian, but I'll argue that one sees them a lot less in music now than they do in Nigerian films. Even though it has not completely abandoned its political streak, Nigerian music nowadays is more preoccupied with themes one sees in American music: getting the girl, veiled sexual references, and rappers' braggadocio. Nigerian films, I think, are more derivative of Nigerian society, and therefore much closer to the Nigerian psyche than Nigerian music.

I wonder what will happen once we lose legends like King Sunny Ade, Lagbaja, and Obey. Today, one sees few people taking up high-life or high-life inspired music, all music derived from Nigeria, to be honest. I'd hate to see it die off in favor of this infatuation with all things American.


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