The Cliché in Nigerian music

Posted by @Tobi_tx on August 16, 2013 in AUDIO, Feature, News, Social Views · 37 Comments



193ff148 The Cliché in Nigerian musicnigerian industry naija Lyrics

I remember when I discovered music as a child, thanks to my parents who constantly played the likes of Fela, Ebenezer Obey, Lagbaja. Koko-below is one song that could never be overlooked, the lyrics and beat got to me every time. I feel the lyrics have a story to tell, bringing the audience closer so they can connect from an emotional standpoint. Emotions are what drive great songs; they give you that feeling to hear more.  A day without music to me is a day wasted, but there is something about the song that grabs me like a hook on guitar or a catchy melodic bass line or a groove that sets it up.

Sometime between the late 90s and now, the content of songs in the Nigerian industry has changed. You rarely concentrate on the lyrics and we promote this because they’re hits that we can vibe to, beats became more important that lyrics. Rappers are forced to change their style just to suit the popular demands, Lyrics matter. I shouldn’t even have to say this but I’ve had this chip on my shoulder for a while. It gets heavier every time I get a promo without lyrics which is 99% of the time now. It gets heavier every time I hear someone say, “Lyrics don’t matter to blow”. This chip has become very heavy and it’s time to cast it off, at least for today.

Nowadays, I often hear these counter-arguments: “the vocals are just another instrument or texture” or “the music is really what’s important”. Well, vocals are always another instrument and texture. Lyrics, when presented in a rhythmic and sometimes melodic manner, are part of the music. It’s not enough just to sound good.

Meaningless lyrics often get a free pass because of the underlying music. Ideally, both parts are good. Hip-hop faces this problem often. The radio is riddled with “great beats, awful MC” (hello, Kelly Handsome). And, to be honest, I can put up with that more than “awful beats, great MC” (hello, D’banj). But the pleasures of “great beats, awful MC” are temporary. What lasts longest and means the most is “great beats, great MC”. This applies to all music with vocals. The best things in life are great total packages and the best things in life should be the only things we seek.

I’ve been privileged to meet some of the pioneer artists, songwriters and producers in the Nigerian industry and I noticed these guys don’t really put as much effort into lyrics as they used to in the past, a good beat, couple of rhyming hooks an you’re good to go with that “hit”. Most artists in the Nigerian industry don’t realise how important lyrics are. People draw emotion, strength and most of all, happiness from music. Lyrics can mean one thing to one person, and something completely different to another. Just like no two people are the same, neither is they’re taste in music. Lyrics make people feel like they belong, and that others feel the same as they do. For others music is simply an escape form they’re world. For me, it’s both a feeling of belonging and an escape. There is nothing I love more than escaping into the rhythm and lyrics of a great song.

Just as you shouldn’t watch a foreign film without subtitles, you shouldn’t listen to music with words without knowing what they are. One should not pass judgment on something without perceiving it in its entirety but since everyone’s a critic now, and reading music critics is a great way not to enjoy music, this priority is just as important for listeners.

So we should not volunteer to be ignorant in music, which, if you’re reading this, is probably important to you. Music feeds the soul, it saves lives, it is a source of power and it should be the last place where people don’t have the full picture. Listening to music without knowing the lyrics is like eating food without knowing its ingredients. It’s irresponsible; if music is important to you, take the time to embrace it fully. Know what that guy screaming at you is saying.

What grabs you first the music or lyrics? Why?



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  1. We all should also know this is a global case not just a Nigerian case. Lyrics and beats of course, the beats is sort of the fuel to any music but the lyrics is what burns out the real flavour. As far as am concern Nigerian market is not all about the lyrics, just pure party vibes and that's that. But to be honest with u I like what some of the artist who started from Jos are doing to Nigerian music, pips like Bez, Asa, Jesse jagz, kahli abdu et al. A good artist is one who tries to harmonize a dope lyrics on great beats. Sometimes I feel dz artist communicate to me via their music, shit sinks deep into my soul. So generally its lyrics and beats that make a great song but as we all knw u either be a real emcee and end up broke or be a wack emcee and make the guapp (kheengz).

  2. aikay u are a fool 4 saying olamide is talking rubbish, olamide is nt only rapper bt entertainer, if u like follow rhythm or lyrics, dnt abuse musician pick ur choice, olamide rep d street,

  3. the best rapper whom ?o?u refusing 2 host his song in yõu??r godam site ?o?u A??r???? Dope lyrically,?o?u said ????t all….where do we get †?h?????? trash from if not from †?h?????? internet.?o?u wud never find upcoming artist track on †?h?????? blog;i a

  4. u'v got it all figured out bro.. nice analysis but, a little contribution here. the first thing that connects an audience to a music is the melody in that given music. remember, music is a universal language…. thats why u can listen to an Indian song and get goose pimples without understanding the lyrics. Am Ibo, but i've come across lots of Yoruba songs, Arabic, spanish, even Hausa Songs that give me goose pimples just because of the melody in the given music.

    However, I might not be able to relate with the artist or his subject matter cus of the SEMANTIC NOISE as Linguists may call it but am enjoying his melody. LYRICS is only a SECONDARY ish that audience may consider after considering the MELODY *Bitter truth*. A lot of Dope rap Musics get less attention because of little or no MELODY atleast in their choruses or the song as a whole. bottom line, MELODY in Music comes first before the Lyrics…

  5. dats 4 dose who listen 2 dose kind of shit!

  6. This article is stright up trash bcos it aint gon stp ya'l 4rm promoting al diz trash music..Bloggers are responsible 4 al trash music being put out 2day cos everyone is on d internet nw n the blogs hav been kinda empowerd wif jorneying these sngs 2 listeners ears.Ya'll jst collet money 4rm pple and host their sngs weda dey gud or nt.Ask urslf diz question…'wen last av u hosted a random sng wif an unknown artiste wif great lyrics on ur site?'..d question u r posing at d end of d article shld also b posed 2 urslf!…jst take a gud luk @ d SA music industry…dey accomodate al genres of music bt here we jst gat afro beat nd evn rappers r on dat shii nw evn mode…Ogbeni na una dey fuck up! Im an artiste whose sng has been hosted on dis site b4 nd i paid hugely 4 it despite d fact dat it wz classic material.I stil dnt undastnd al d forming in uploadin d sng of an artiste 'who hasnt blown yet'..Ya'll r d fuckin cause nd if u reali luv music dat mch den ur conscience shld b killin ya'll…wen gud sngs pop up in ur mail,upload dem…im particularly bittered cos i hd sngs whre i wz reali spittin real ish nd ya'l refused 2 upload em despite d pleading bt oda top blogs lyk urs hosted dem n gave it mad reviews..4k ya'll mehn..Ya'll caused dis shit!

  7. how would you call d banj a great mc

  8. Maybe that's why some songs I listen to aren't cliche. I would confess that I sometimes like to listen to what's in vogue; but really what you wrote is nice. Some suggestions: Asa, Nneka, Emeli Sande, Bez, etc.

  9. For me, its the l.yrics…and the flow on a nice beat…these days everyone wants an instant classic and end up singing the same noisy thing…truth be told Kelly Hansome is the only one I repeat only one still saying something meaningful in his songs, just that not everyone hears igbo, but yall wld be happy to hear Olamide talk rubbish on a nice beat by pheelz, cmon its time we appreciate nice music

  10. pls how can i get a music page for upcoming artiste on tooxclusive thanks help me out.


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