Friday, August 20, 2010

The Rise and Prominence of J-Martins

If you think say na only you sabi, na lie. Plenty people dey wey sabi!

When next you see someone carrying a guitar, making a move to learn music production in a music studio or making noise about doing a music album, just leave him as you see him. Something within must have prompted him. Jamaican Eric Donaldson sang in one of his famous songs that one should not judge a book by its cover but to just turn the pages and read. I agree with him one hundred and ten per cent.
When J-Martins came out with that song of his that features Timaya and P-Square, I dismissed him. The makossa flair in that song turned me off. It is not that I have something against makossa but I was of the view that at a time like this when the Nigerian music industry is re-emerging, any peace of project must take into consideration the Nigerian flair first and any artist that fails to realize that, is lacking in knowledge of how the industry works and is likely not to do any good to himself and the industry at large. Martins eventually made me to understand through his most recent projects, that he was only passing through his music adolescence. Every body grows from somewhere. Like most other Nigerian acts be they D’banj, P-Square or Asha, Martins grew up in the eyes of the fans and should not be judged by his beginnings. The growth of Martins is however one of the most phenomenal.
Each time a big one comes out, he makes the fans proud. To them he is an assurance that the industry has come to stay and the local music industry will thus continue to represent the nation at the regional and world stage. There is no shying away from the fact that the Nigerian music industry is about the most prominent in Africa and is already making an impression around the world. The most recent project of J-Martins sends a message to Nigerians that the industry is more determined than ever to ensure that its prominence will never be floppy.
To me,” Cool Temper” is the song that drives me crazy the most. I used to hold my head between my hands whenever the radio plays it. It meets all standards and Nigerians who are yet to understand the man J-Martins need to listen to that song once again. Apart from the general bliss in the song, it has succeeded in re-enforcing the fact that as long as we remain Nigerians, we cannot run away from Highlife music. Anybody hearing this including J-Martins may be surprised that I am referring to the music as Highlife. I will come to that. All those lines of the song that talks about biscuits, moi moi and mineral, reflect the comic nature of Nigeria. The professionalism of the maker of the song is reflected in the modest nature of the song that seems to re-enforce the saying that you don’t get noticed by necessarily making the loudest noise; it simply takes making just the right noise.
There is the need to discuss what is Highlife to enable us understand if J-Martins music can be classified as Highlife. Good music is expected to reflect the culture of the people. Music, as part of art is also a mirror to the society, meaning that if reflects the society. The old Highlife music of Nigerian reflected the culture of Nigeria. In it, one could hear Pidgin English, Nigerian languages such as Ibo, Kalabari, Ibibio, Efik, the sound of the gong and other Nigerian native instruments. In J-Martins’ music the Pidgin English, the comic nature of Nigeria and the mention of words like moi moi, kulu kulu temper, mineral, etc is a reflection of the Nigerian culture. Though the native instruments of Highlife are not there, one could not pin the instrumentation to a particular genre of music. That represents the originality of the artist. Thus the music is a modern form of Highlife music just as I see D’banj’s and Bracket’s music.
From all indications, the Nigerian music industry is set to keep growing and J-Martins is currently one of the most brilliant colours of the industry.