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Urban Central


Through history, art has always inspired art to birth a wave either in purity or watered down ‘subart’. Denying the foregoing makes you either an ignoramus or a fraud. If art can’t inspire art, art has failed. The consequence is it lacks beauty, essence and eclectic nature to resonate with the human mind which is an unnoticed fundamental feature of art — it is the precedent which triggers the human mind for appreciation. As a young producer, my early days were characterized by mastering the art of certain producers across several terrains. In fact, I once remade She Fine by DJ Khaled’s beat on a blessed Sunday morning that we deemed Church dispensable in 2011. This art helped get the grips of production in rudiments and tricks, while helping me carve out a sound.

In more recent musical history, samples are a quintessential feature. A lot of times too, artistes and labels remake classic songs. Other times, labels specifically ask producers to recreate the magic of a particular song for radio plays and demographic acceptance of a particular artiste. A recent example is the reruns and regurgitations of DJ Mustard’s signature ratchet sounds and more recently the Caribbean dance hall sounds popularized by Drake on One Dance. On the plus side, a person like me gets the pleasure of similar sounds reworked as something different, other times however, it’s a representation of wanton laziness and utter disregard for originality. While the latter is understandable, it’s the least pertinent worry which is the annoying reluctance of artistes to acknowledge their source of inspiration.

Over the years in Nigeria, we’ve witnessed a few sonic movements and artistes have successfully jumped on sonic trend waves like the Jay Sleek inspired American dance sound, interpolated with snare patterns on each bar as done on Tuface’s Implication which Samklef picked, reworked and popularized through several hits for other artistes, or the K-Solo era of mad pristine ratchet sounds or the era of Terry G’s unique beat patterns and light trumpet sounds, while others have failed. Between 2013–2014, fresh off fascination with Francophone artistes and reworked Makossa/soukous vibes ,Nigerian artistes also jumped on the South African House sounds of mental Uhuru and Heavy K productions while turning Mafikizolo and Uhuru into walking clichés. The most recent wave that has hit almost like never before is sampling the Ghanaian commercial percussion kick, skip and double kick drop style and string sync patterns which conveniently accounts for 65% of Nigeria’s mainstream radio hits since Mr Eazi became a household name.

A week ago, Eazi once again stirred the Nigerian pot of perceived disloyalty by rightly attributing a significant chunk of Nigerian hits to Ghanaian influence and pronouncing his emergence as the chief proponent. Like the first time which resulted in him apologizing on Television and a mixtape flop, preceded by a Twitter campaign for his head and making the account balance and parentage of few right supporters of Eazi’s claim like me the toast of twitter while claiming my head looked like cold doughnut, the backlash was significant that I’m not sure Eazi’s career will recover from this episode despite his factually accurate allusion.

Is that to say Nigeria had not Ghanaian inspiration in sound patterns before Eazi blew up? No. Baddestby DJ Neptune featuring Olamide, BOJ and StoneBwoy is an example, Social Media has been awash with tales of how 2face and Tony Tetuila were forerunners of this crossover, the million dollar question is this, has it ever been this major? No. It’s difficult to turn on music on radio and not get at least 3–4 songs of that pattern. Songs from Runtown’s Mad Over You and several other of his hits, Dice Ailes’ Miracle, Reekado’s Problem, Falz’s Jeje, LAX’s Run Away and several other songs we wouldn’t have to think hard to discover especially since September 2016. The problem though remains the complete denial by Nigerians — artistes and music lovers alike — to acknowledge the inspiration, which makes me, ask why?

To this, I grouped the answer into 2 reasons namely; Ignorance and Ego.

Nigeria has always thought Ghana low to her and history is littered with significant examples endorsing the affirmative. With the millennial demographic of both Nations and the social media era, recent history is riddled with several episodes where war of words and shading took center stage, with Nigeria usually ridiculing Ghanaians on issues of their usually dark skin tone, their Nationals doing menial jobs in Nigeria and the historical occurrence of when Nigerians sent Ghanaians parking from Nigeria. An event which earned a type of bag the title Ghana must go. In a way, I think Ghanaians have accepted their subordinate status because they’re usually less vocal during any face off and turn to sycophancy in endorsing any Nigerian that endorses Ghanaian phenomena.

Across several walks, Ghana has found itself relying on Nigeria; their actors have made Nollywood home and flagship artistes like Sarkodie release songs for the Nigerian market like they have a fixation on cracking the market. For me however, the war isn’t quite dissimilar to the infamous war of roses; an endless bloodshed — this time wordshed — and aggressive onslaught by supposed kin in quest for claim to superiority of pedigree, driven by pointless rivalry, greed, lack of reasoning and blind falsity peddling. But really? Should there been an inferior or superior in art? In wars like this, there is usually no eventual winners and both sides end up losing it probably due to poetic justice. Why can’t we all coexist in the same world and flourish while we acknowledge each other’s strong suits? The war of roses might have been seen to end with a York-Tudor king, but the Tudor line ended with no heirs at the end as Queen Elizabeth I had no heir.

The conflict for superiority between Nigeria and Ghana has degenerated beyond jokes, quips and anecdotal statements and into a petty dismissive appetite for something as flimsy credit. We are biting Ghanaian styles. Why is it so hard to admit that we’re? Why should we contribute to an already erratic historical rivalry? Why continue a pointless need for superiority where none is needed. The industry is big enough for both industries to simultaneously coexist in mutual creativity and inspiration.

It’s almost like Nigerians don’t even wanna know if we’re biting Ghanaian styles on not. They aim to protect that vain respek by all means and It’s just childish. Even the ones who should know better and douse the situation like Runtown and Spinall have remained in the doldrums of ignorance, with the latter subtly addressing Eazi’s first debacle by calling him a fuckboy to which I have no words but pity for Spinall’s level of ignorance which I will address later.

This ego, like many of the facet of this conflict is unnecessary or at best misguided. Ghana should get credit for setting dance floors across our country on fire, despite some of our producers reworking the sounds. The problem of this ego for a lot of Nigerian cynically dismissive dissenters has remained ignorance, not of the superiority they’re loathe to seeing African piss on, but of what Ghanaian sounds actually are.

During both episodes of Eazi’s claims, all reason flew out the window and no one cared to verify Eazi’s claims. Theirs was not to lose to a sworn adversary and it makes me laugh. A lot of these Nigerian keyboard warriors and validity commentators argue from spumescent ignorance against Eazi’s claims because they’re completely oblivious to what Ghanaian sounds are. The problem however doesn’t stop there as it stretches to Nigerians denying the influences even if they recognize these sounds.

I’d like Nigerian music lovers to do us all a favour and research Ghanaian commercial sounds like Tonga, reworked Tonga and a few other sub-genres for clarity, and culminating a storied history of infamous claims voiced with fists banging the chest in confidence. I’d have loved to describe it to you, but I might end up describing Apala and that will help nobody. What I can do however is do a short list of songs that will point you in the right direction after this piece.

Is this piece about supporting Ghanaians or chastising Nigerians? No. It’s about Nigerians realizing the laughable war propelled by ignorance and ego is bad enough, and shouldn’t escalate beyond quips and anecdotes. Taking personal offence to a fact does you no favours, particularly your blood pressure. Disputing Eazi, every minute for the next 10 years won’t change the fact that Ghanaian sounds have inspired majority of our hits since 2017. Rather, this article is inspired by my little Sister asking me why most Nigerian hits have the same beat patterns, despite initially disputing Eazi’s claims. She belongs to category ignorance but no one tells her. Please pray for me that she doesn’t read this…

Currently in the African musical terrain, the South African House, Makossa and Ghanaian — original and reworked — Tonga sounds are the most popular dance sounds. Nigeria currently has no major, original distinct dance sound. We are slaloming between and above Caribbean dance-hall sounds while we sometimes intermittently, with snares rework western pop sounds and native Nigerian folk sounds to arrive at the “Pon Pon” sound. Anyone worth his onions knows the ability of Ghanaians to churn out varying styles of dance beats is stuff of legends. The never stop reinventing and they’ll always be at the forefront alongside Nigeria, South Africa, Francophone Countries and Tanzania. This is also not the first time we’ve borrowed inspiration from Ghana in the last seven years. After Wande Coal freestyled on Q Beats’ Kiss Your Hand beat, Nigerian producers bit the wave for several reworks that any culture fiend with a good pair of ears could separate songs of this mold. Currently, Ghana dey win, let them win.

However, Eazi can keep mum for a minute. He’s annoying the way he wants his influence to be acknowledged. He doesn’t have to shove it down our throats, we know. His appetite for recognition is laughable and he seems angry that he’s not getting the level of recognition, he feels he deserves as my homie Segun (@Illustro_ on Twitter) put it. His sense of entitlement is comical, Eazi, be humble, sit down.

Overt influences across boarders are here to stay, therefore Eazi’s claims on the use of Ghanian slangs which he supposedly introduced reek of toxic self entitlement. Africans have been utilising American and UK slangs for decades and a cursory look through Twitter today and you’d be hard pressed not to find tweets with words and phrases like “ends” ‘mans” “ops” “merky”. I don’t see any UK act claiming he introduced the larger African audience to these.

In the same vein, Ghanaians shouldn’t be salty about it, and also acknowledge the Nigerian influence over the entertainment sector, but we shouldn’t kill each other or intentionally ruin careers over the pointless rivalry. We’re interrelated in more ways than music, movies and dance, but in culture, lifestyle and proximity of environment. We should be closer, be more willing and open to sharing and admittance. No one wins in a game of ignorant superiority.

The art is the most important, music is life. Let the art win.
A short list of some Nigerian songs with Ghana influence;
1. Runtown — Mad Over You, For Life
2. Illbliss x Runtown — Alhaji
3. Reekado Banks — Problem
4. Dice Ailes x Kesh — Miracle
5. Tekno — Pana
6. Lil Kesh — Fake Love, Ki Lo SeleGanGan
7. Viktoh x Kesh — SkibiDat
8. Falz — Jeje
9. LAX — Runaway
10. Davido — IF, Fall On You
11. YCee — Juice
Let the percussion patterns inspire you the find more.
P.S: I wrote this piece before Eazi’s pointless debacle, but augmented with certain relevant facts for contemporary relevance.

By PennedMusingsNG for Urban Central @Weird_Liberal on Twitter

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Urban Central is the Internet Magazine for the millennial mind, focused on the issues that matter for an evolving generation. Do follow us, Urban Central.