How To Export, Maybe
Feyi Fawehinmi

Not convinced regarding the slow beat thesis. What about the highest selling Nigerian song on youtube — Johnny by Yemi Alade 125 bpm. More like the popification of Nigerian music. Someone once said that Nigerian music is a mish-mash of styles. You hear the reggae influence, the afrobeat influence, the highlife influence, the Soukous influence, the hip hop bounce influence.

But the potent part of the jollofication of Nigerian music is the MTVification of African music which has made it travel far and wide. Nigerian music is accompanied by music videos that are seen far and wide whether on Youtube or Channel O or various TV networks. You no longer just hear Nigerian music you see it and that is where it sometimes shines (when our auteurs explore other themes other than booty shaking unclad video vixens).

For example many of the popular Nigerian songs whether its “Johnny” by Yemi Alade or Pana by Tekno or Mad Over You by Runtown or Davido’s “Aye” or Flavour’s “Ada Ada” or Wizkid’s Felaesque “Ojuelegba” or “Personally” by PSquare have one thing in common. Creative videos by Clarence Peters and his stunning visuals.

Certainly like everyone else I am excited by this generation of Nigerian music but at the same time, we should all put it in its proper context. Africa has been making great music for a very long time. Senegalese mbalax music, South African Township Jive, Congolese Soukous (probably the most complex rhythmic sound of them all) or Cape Verdian mourna have soared at various times. Has any Nigerian artist played to venues in the western world like Koffi Olomide who sold out in some of the biggest venues in Paris?

Finally, coming back to the title of your post, methinks the greatest lesson Nigerian entertainment industry has to teach Nigeria (especially those big bellies in government) is how to PRODUCE. Like my cousin prophetically said to me 7 years ago “We don’t have to listen to only beyonce, now we have our own music coming up.” So if other sectors of the Nigerian economy were dedicated to creating world class craft the way the musicians and movie producers are, Nigeria’s crack addiction to oil (whose appeal is tied to the nexus between the truck load of dollars it brings and the foreign goodies it makes available) would lessen tremendously. The Chinese for example don’t monitor the dollar yuen exchange rate as ridiculously as Nigerians because they produce a lot of what they need from steel to electronics.

For now, kudos to the Nigerian entertainment industry and hope that ecosystem deepens in Nigeria. For example, where are the Nigerian versions of Spotify? The Nigerian versions of MGM? The Nigerian versions of Rocawear and Sean John? The Nigerian versions of Rollingstone, Variety and Billboard and gossip rags?

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