Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nigga Raw, Hip hop Artist?

With Hip hop being the reigning genre of music across the globe, it is now fashionable for music artists to brand their music as Hip hop even in circumstances where the music is apparently not. Here in Nigeria and Africa at large, the artist will refer to their music as Afro Hip hop.

A pertinent question here is ‘what is hip-hop?’ Hip hop is a culture and hip hop music is one that has been influenced by hip hop culture or way of life. That is to say that the music is reflective of that culture and anybody who lives that culture can relate to it.

The bits that make up a culture include dressing style, manner of greeting, language style, most favored sport, most favored music and so on.

When Hip hop music rose, from the late seventies to the mid eighties, to become very relevant attracting followership, the next thing hip hop artists started looking at was how to propagate the music culture until it becomes a global phenomenon. If the music must spread successfully, it has to incorporate local cultures in order to gain acceptance easily. However, the local artist must preserve the Hip hop framework so that it can be recognized as Hip hop by everybody including Americans, without been told.

The obvious impression when one listens to Nigga Raw is that he is listening music that is largely Highlife whose original home is the South Eastern part of Nigeria where Raw comes from. Furthermore, there is an element of clowning in Raw’s music, something that is abhorrent in Hip hop. As if that is not enough, Raw has developed the habit of remaking the records of renowned Highlife musicians, implying that he sees them as his idols.

Timaya and Bracket Embarrassed in New York

According to a gist monitored on Peace FM Jos on Wednesday 21, 2010, Timaya and Bracket, Nigerian music artists were refused the chance to perform by New York music fans that prefer live performance as against miming which the Nigerians planned to doll out. This is a practice that is not only common in Nigeria but acceptable.
A live show is so called as it is performed live with all vocalists and instrumentalists on stage. There is a difference between playing from a CD and watching a live show. When music is played from a CD, there is nothing to suggest that it was produced live or via computer instrumentation especially if the software used is sophisticated. All that matters to the fan is the sound. If however the fan paid for a live show he will not accept a CD playing from somewhere in the background while somebody moves his lip behind a mic in the foreground. The fans must have interpreted this to mean cheating and an insult not only to them but even the city of New York, the Mecca of showbiz in the world. The implication is that we have been cheated so many times, here in Nigeria.
Here at home, Timaya and Bracket are big names that have sold millions of CDs across the continent. When it comes to live shows however, it has to be the real thing. That is how it is done elsewhere and the Nigerian fans also deserve the best. While in Port-Harcourt, I watched American Usher and Shaggy at different times. The shows were all live in the actual sense of it. Even when Shaun Paul came to Nigeria I monitored his show on the NTA and it was live with guitarists, drummers and back vocalists playing live. It was the real thing.
Despite the disappointment, there is however, a silver lining to the whole incident. It is a challenge urging the Nigerians to live up to global standards which, in my opinion, is in the interest of the Nigerian industry. Furthermore, Timaya and Bracket have been challenged to use their money to put up live bands and go back to New York to clean up the mess. Anything contrary will amount to a total defeat.
Should the Nigerian music fans learn about the New York embarrassment, only God knows how they will feel when next a big name in Nigeria appears on stage without a live band. It will however be good for upcoming artists who are financially weak to be allowed to perform shows without live bands as is the only way the growth of the industry can be sustained.