Over the years, Nigerian music has always been an eclectic combination of both Western and indigenous styles of music. It contains their culture reflecting in our kind of music and this is as a result of the changes in our orientation over time due to the way we emulate the Western culture. The evolution was gradual from time to time. A quick inference can be drawn from the transformation of the music of Oliver De Couque, Ebenezer Obey, Sunny Ade, Kuti and so on to the style of Tuface Idibia, P-Square, D’Banj etc. Commercial music sprang up in the evolution process and brought about more sophistication and it naturally became more recognized than the conscious type of music. M.I, a renowned contemporary rapper said in his debut single “Crowd Mentality” that no matter how you try to sing about the truth, it would not change a thing as the world is screaming “Please Entertain Us”. This statement undoubtedly draws our consciousness to the fact that commercial music is what an average listener wants to consume. Although this trend is dominant in Nigeria, it has exhibited itself in the international hip hop scene bringing about the decline of genres like conscious rap, political hip hop and the rise of electro hop, hip house and alternative rap.
Commercial music is now recurrent, strike that; like an old “Iroko Tree”, commercial music has a solid footing in the music industry. Observations have shown that Nigerians are happy people; they do not want to be held down with their problems or the fact that they have problems, hence “dance away their sorrows”, an opportunity commercial music provides abundantly. Ruggedman, a respected artiste in the industry once said that if you play any Nigerian song in a party, it suggests that you want the party to come to an end, but nowadays foreign songs are hardly played in such gatherings. It can be argued that this is a result of the improvement of the quality of Nigerian music or the commercial force which they now possess.
Tons of artistes have emerged over time and have been able to interprete the minds and thoughts of the people into danceable rhythms, make music that revolves around the lifestyle of youths and even as far as recording songs in a convenient key or pitch to enable listeners sing along with ease. They also portray the daily street life, happenings that occur in our society in a comical way, so people tend to relate with it more than the deep conscious music which most times might be melancholic in nature. The importation of street slangs and some uncensored words into music has also helped commercial music thrive to a large extent and made it very phlegmatic. All these makes a commercial artiste push more records than a conscious one. Case study: Wande Coal and GT Tha Guitarman; they are both very good vocalists but the guitar strummer’s music is more conscious while the “Mo’ Hits” belter has his aim at clubs, parties, streets and so on. Therefore his musical style has gained him popularity and record sales while the reverse is the case for the latter. Commercial music has created room for social groups like group dancers to choreograph eye-popping routines with might be a little difficult to accomplish with conscious music. Youths love going to social centres, parties, clubs to mention a few, and a typical deep or conscious song which preaches about the truth or change in the society cannot fit in those kind of settings hence commercial music has the upper hand. Talking about the use of slang and importation of words; Lynxxx and Saucekid imported words “Utunu”and “Sinzu” respectively just to have a distinctive edge not forgetting eLDee Tha Don’s use of the phrase “Na Wash” which is slowly becoming a part of Nigeria’s popular culture.
Nonetheless, there is a part of the population that consumes deep and conscious music. These types of people are very circumspect about the type of music they listen to and most times condemn commercial music, tagging it a myopic type of music. The sad thing is that most Nigerians lack the patience to listen to convincing and cogent of conscious music and the melancholic situations discussed in them. They feel it isobscure, so conscious music hardly functions in social situations. There is also the Nigerian society, which is a clumsy one. Patience is not in abundance yet commercial music which are embellished with a lot of immoral words which are not socially appropriate find success. Yet the presence of stans of deep and conscious music in the Nigerian music scene cannot be undermined, they choose what they listen to and the music they make due to taste and do not want to jump into the bandwagon just to distinct themselves. Modenine, Yemi Sax, GT Tha Guitarman, Overdose and Etcetera can be argued to fall in this group. Notwithstanding, some artistes pass conscious message in a commercial way, they spice up the lyrics and make it satirical, accompanied by a memorable groovy instrumentation. Afro-pop singer Omawumi achieved this in her song “If U Ask Me (Na Who I Go Ask)”, which brought much needed attention to child molestation; other artistes that have explored this style include Sound Sultan, eLDee Tha Don, 2Face Idibia, African China etc.
Without a doubt commercial music has reached its crescendo in the Nigerian music scene and it is unshakable, at least for the time being. In a nutshell, both kinds of music are still relevant because they will have their pool of listeners even if that of commercial music is larger. The need for reflection would arise from time to time and deep or conscious would come to play.
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