You Can't Stop This Beat! by Ebele Chizea

You Can't Stop This Beat!

by Ebele Chizea
Published on Tue, Feb 03 2009 by Ebele Chizea

I have always been a fan of music, and I have to say I’ve been impressed with Nigerian music lately for its diversity of style, bad(you know what) beats and rhythm that has progressed from the era of Highlife and juju sounds to our own blend of hip-hop, pop music and even rap.

Some people argue that our adaptation of an American style of music means we are losing touch of our unique sound. I do not agree with this assessment necessarily. For one, music did start in Africa, found its way in America (and all over) and is now being reinvented by Africans. I consider this a sensible and progressive cycle. Also it is a fact that even though more of our artists are singing hip pop, they have a way of making it uniquely theirs by expressing cultural undertones in the music. In other words, it is hip- hop, but our own version, usually telling our own stories and sometimes, even in our own languages.

Hip-hop music (and reggae as well) is a global phenomena that is igniting the world, and we are catching on! It’s exciting when I attend a multi-cultural event or party and 2face’s African Queen, for example, is blasting from the DJ booth. Or when people come up to me from different backgrounds and cultures to profess that they enjoy listening to musicians like Style Plus and Nice. They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, and it appeared in youtube in the form of a European young man playing “Gongo Aso,” a hip-hop/techno mix by a singer named Nice on his guitar. The whole performance in Yoruba too!

As for the more traditional forms of music, they still exist and enjoy major fan fare in my opinion. Artists like Lagbaja, who I would classify as a combination of juju and afrobeat and Sunny Ade are well respected and famous in many parts of the world. Femi and Seun Kuti, sons of the legendary Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti are also on demand world wide.

Another feature of Nigerian music that I am starting to appreciate is its inclusion of political statements that often condemn corrupt government officials. In fact, both Femi and Kuti have practically dedicated their music to this purpose. Another artist that does this is a rapper by the name of Nigga Raw. A name like that does not conjure up a serious musical artist, but he has some political songs under his belt including Obodo and Ko Gbadun; both lamenting the high level of poverty that exists in a country with so much resources but�poor management. This talented young man also raps eloquently in Ibo and pigin(broken English); interweaving both languages lyric by lyric so harmoniously like a pro. Most people can barely rap in one language talk of two!

There is a very popular 80's American pop song that states: video killed the radio star. In the case of our music, I will say video enhanced our radio stars. Music videos that pop out lately from Nigeria (especially in the hip-hop/reggae genre) are creatively and thoughtfully laid out. The best directors and producers are usually behind these videos as well. The musicians, I also find, are very talented, meaning, they have amazing voices and are excellent performers. They do not take their audience for granted. On that level, Nollywood (the movie industry) could learn a lesson or two.

My only concern with the music is that it does not showcase enough female performers, and even the ones that are available are not as in demand as the men. I am not sure if it has to do with the rigorous lifestyle and schedule artists often experience, which a lot of females, I would presume, find too demanding? Besides this minor issue, I give an emphatic thumps up to this area of the entertainment industry as I boogie!!


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