Friday, July 24, 2009

On The Great Music Debate

TOSYN Bucknor said "You know what's worse than someone trying to get your attention? Giving it to them." I would say: "There's nothing worse than an elder correcting you and you refusing to take it." As a member of the so-called hip hop generation who pays great attention to the lyrics of the music I listen to I am of the opinion that majority of the artistes ruling the airwaves are very far from achieving the greatness of legends like Bob Marley, Fela Kuti and Michael Jackson. And if you're wondering why I'm comparing artistes of different eras? Blame D' Banj. He dubbed himself "the African Michael Jackson".

Whilst Bob Marley died before I was born my knowledge of the legends mentioned above indicates that they are greats who changed the face of music for many years to come. Michael Jackson's music is for people of all ages. MJ is remembered as a great because his music passed for something few of today's hip hoppers produce: Meaningful music. Man in the Mirror, Heal the World, They don't care about us and Black and White are proof. Fela's music is timeless because 12 years after his death the music he made while alive is still relevant to the problems we Nigerians face today. I was only five when Fela died but I know the man as much as I know today's artistes. The same goes for Bob Marley.

A careful study of today's music leaves us with the reign of meaningless music. In recent times, a study of the Nigerian entertainment scene has seen the most popular songs talking about what I would call the 4 Gs- gold, guns, grass, green (money). Maga don Pay (Kelly Handsome), Shayo (Durella), Shayo (Bigiano), Bobbe Fc (DJ Zeez) Booty Call (Mo Hit's All Stars), Bumper To Bumper (Wande Coal) provide the evidence. What examples by perceived role models? I'm old enough to tell what's good and bad but I worry for my baby cousin who sings Wande Coal's "You Bad" without knowing what it means. Nowadays every one seems to be getting into music. Listening to the radio and not hissing nowadays seems like a dream.

I'm a Banky W fan and carefully studied his article in response to Dr. Reuben Abati's own. He made mention of Shawn "Jay Z" Carter's entrepreneurship skills. Hear Him "You were also right in that we look up to people like Jay-Z, who took their music and created multimillion-dollar empires." What he did not make mention of is the fact that Jay Z's latest single is titled " Death of Auto tune" in reference to the voice-enhancing software that has been made use of by artistes in recent times. Jay-Z himself stated that the point of the song was to "draw a line in the sand", saying that while he appreciated the use of the Auto-Tune by artists with an ear for melody like T-Pain, Kanye West, & Lil Wayne, far too many people had jumped onto the technology and were using it as a crutch. One of the partial inspirations for Jay-Z to write the song was hearing Auto-Tune being used in an advertisement for Wendy's fast-food chain. It made him realise that what was once a trend has become a gimmick. In other words Jay Z called the bluff of his contemporaries who had turned the industry on its head. Why can't the likes of Banky W, M.I, Asa, and Etcetera who we can classify in the make-sense category call the bluff of their colleagues who give music a bad name?

On the track "The Entertainer" off the album titled same, D'Banj proceeds to insult we the ever-listening audience. The hook of the song goes "I'm an Entertainer, I entertain". Towards the end he then proceeds to say a bunch of senseless tongue-twisters only he and his Mo Hits acolytes would be able to explain. He adds "Na you're pocket". Implication: He can say whatever he wants in a song and still get rich because people would still patronise him. What a message! After this he will drop another album and millions of Nigerians would spend their hard-earned naira to buy a CD in which he insults them. Why don't we make the artistes guilty of these crimes sit up by making them realise the impact of their words?

When Dr. Abati speaks it is not because he hates us but because similar mistakes were made by artistes of his generation. Shina Peters, Ras Kimono, Majek Fashek for example. So why can't we swallow our pride?