Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Alaba and the Nigerian Music Industry

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery” –Bob Marley

Ha! The Nigerian music industry has gotten bigger and bigger, since the mid-2000s. Sadly, not everyone who ventured into it came out with a beautiful story. To a large extent, the Nigerians scooping the millions of naira in the industry are from the south of the country. 

So, what is the fuss? There are, definitely, more than one issue here. The most important issue, which has always come into my mind is what I want to speak about here. In Nigeria, if you want to make it big, then your music must find its way to Alaba International Market, Lagos. The marketers in Lagos are said to have given conditions for the kind of music they consider to be fast-selling. According to them, you have to sing in Nigerian street English. We call it Pidgin or Broken English. But that is not all; it has to go with a lot of jargon. When I say, “jargon,” I am referring to utterances that are gabbles, without meaning.  You could listen to Davido, Tekno, PSQuare, e.t.c, to get a feel of the type of lyrics that are rendered that way. This is a high hurdle that has stood in the way of artists who are native to the rest of the country, starting from Benue up. This is because Pidgin English has a southern face. It feels heavy on the tongues of those of us outside of the south and does not flow naturally as a result. So, the music sounds dumb, irritating and turns one off.

When you make a song, it is a copy of a song that is already performing inside of you, after something had inspired it. So, when someone insists that you play something else, there, definitely, would be problems. Furthermore, music is an art, the creation of beauty, the reflection of identity, which bestows originality to your music. Once originality is missing, you know that the music has failed.  It works for them in the south because they are reflecting their identity, their nature. So, when a marketer in Alaba tells you to reflect it in your music, he is telling you to reflect a nature that is not yours. You surely would fail.

Again, music is an art, and art is the creation of beauty. Beauty comes from diversity. If you make your music well, it will sell, as long as you speak the kind of English (or any other language) that you are comfortable with.  If you tell someone to sing only in a particular way, you are putting chains on the legs and arms of creativity. Music is a synonym for creativity. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dismantling Tekno Miles into Bits

I knew about Tekno from one of his earliest songs, Dance, sometimes in 2013. The song was everywhere: underground, above the ground, in the sky, in rivers, and anywhere else.  

Then, I didn’t know his name. In time, I learned that his name is Tekno. You know a musician is creative even from the sound of his name. I told myself that this guy promises so much for the Nigerian music industry, that he was going to bring his contribution to the role Nigerian contemporary music is doing to the name of the country. 

Today, after hearing the brilliant pattern of rhymes in his song, Diana, on radio, I decided to look up the song on YouTube. I found and downloaded it. Then I went on to download the controversial Pana. Then I downloaded Rara, Samantha, Where, and, even the video to Dance. From this downloads, I saw that Tekno is, indeed, Avant Garde. There is always a new feel in every song, a feel that has never been heard in the history of Nigerian music. Thanks to the vast options presented by music software. But one has to know the worth of these options and know how to harness them. Tekno is one of such artists. 

In the video of Dance, Tekno is younger and full of energy, so much that one could feel a reserve of the energy, saved for the long future ahead.  His music is a mirror of the Nigerian character. He plays the new contemporary Nigerian pop in a way that satisfies. I want to call the style Azonto, but that name is becoming less heard. The music straddles to also include Afro-beat. 

I had been pessimistic that the young Nigerian musicians of today may not be able to play Afro-beat in a way that satisfies, because what I have heard in the past are artists trying to play up the inborn traits of Fela Anikulakpo Kuti, the inventor of Afro-beat rather than playing their own brands of Afro-beat. Just as Wizkid, Tekno proved me wrong. 

Listening to his music, The Nigerian feel is heard and seen in the Pidgin English that flows spontaneously so that originality is not lost. You hear it in elements of the music, and in the dance that is decorated with Igbo native dance effects.
The Nigerian music independence is with us, and, if you fear that there won’t be artists to continue the good works of Tuface, D’banj and the others who led the way, you are making a mistake. Tekno, the Bauchi born artists, is a reason for you not to fear.

Friday, June 30, 2017

How Jamaica Almost Sank

I have heard about it, but I couldn’t feel it: the greatness of Jamaican Reggae Icon, Bob Marley. It was until 1998 after I had watched a video of his song, One Drop. Something happened while I watched the video. It was like magic, but it happened. 

 I started collecting his works and listening, and I came to the conclusion that the greatest of his albums is Uprising. After listening to songs like Pimper’s Paradise, We and Them, Forever Loving, Could you be Loved, I started wondering how it was in Jamaica when the album came out. To me, it seemed that when the album was released, it was too heavy for the island, making to wobble back and forth, like a ship about to sink.

I came to the conclusion that, for those who doubted that Bob Marley was the King, the release of that album must have changed their positions.
There is something awesome and extraordinary about Bob Marley and plays up clearly on that album. 

 Sadly, it takes the right ears and mind to understand it. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Free Download of How to Become a Music Maestro

Book Download


The author of this book wishes to note that the book is copyright-protected and the download of the book gives you the liberty to read and use the knowledge gained. It does not, however, gives you the right to duplicate the book, or any portion of it, for the purpose of distribution in any way. Doing that, therefore, amounts to a crime, punishable by law.

Besides the knowledge this book aims to impact, the author understands that other factors not contained in this book do influence the outcome of a music project: whether successful or otherwise. Hence, this author will not be held responsible for your inability actualize your music dream. 

If you accept our terms, click HERE to start your download

Monday, April 24, 2017

I’m Under Pressue to Change My Style

Kefas at Eyana Kpaja

Kefas Sabo is a reggae artist that holds the promise of becoming the next big star in Plateau State and beyond. After watching his music video for his award-winning song Seventeen Questions, I vowed to meet with him.

Kefas told me that he was born in Zaria, Kaduna State, his native state. At age six, he moved to live with his aunt, who worked with a federal health institution, in Plateau State. Since he moved to Plateau State at a very tender age, all his education was in Plateau State, starting from primary to the polytechnic, where he obtained a Higher National Diploma in Mining Engineering. 

He discovered his music talent after joining his church’s band in Barkin Ladi town. In the band, known as Sammies band, he met talented members such as Iliya, James, and some other guys who love reggae. His talent became manifest when he was given a chance to lead the group. He discovered he flowed well, not only with the band, but with the congregation that resonated with his lead role, sometimes becoming emotional and crying. 

Kefas, who loves Jamaican Christopher Martin’s reggae crossover, talked about how his songs get revealed. The songs often come as a bouquet that involves the melody and the lyrics, while he walks along the road, or when he is alone in a quiet place. When that happens, he says, he records the melody using his phone. Later he develops the lyrics fully. 

Kefas is extremely proud of the way his music move people. When he ministered with his music for the first time, there were two women who sat on the front row. They laughed at the first line of his songs because it sounded frivolous: “I’m angry because there is no salt in my meal…” But then, in the course of the song, there was this line that said, “Someone is crying because he hasn’t got what to eat…” Kefas said that, after this line, he noticed the expression on the faces of the women changed; they started crying. At the end of the show, they approached him and told him he was anointed.
Kefas has enjoyed some of the rewards of his talent. While at the Eyana Kpaja Orientation Camp, during his youth service, he won Airtel’s Copa Has Got Talent contest, for which he received the sum of N200, 000.00. He also won the PRTVC/Sauti Lab Award for the Best Reggae Artist of The Year, 2012. Each time he walks along the road, children mime his songs and point at him.

Kefas’ songs are rendered in both Hausa and English. I asked him if he thinks that doesn’t affect the complexion of the music. He said that, for him, it boils down to ministering. When he sings in Hausa, he is targeting the large Hausa-speaking population of northern Nigeria, and when he sings in English, he is targeting the English-speaking population. He says that one of his songs titled, “Which Image are You,” has been used by an American pastor, each time he’s preparing to deliver a sermon in the US. 

As for challenges, Kefas says he is facing a challenge that is truly mountainous: a lot of people are telling him to change his music genre to Nigerian R&B. How he reacts to this challenge will confirm (or do otherwise) the saying that reggae can bring down Babylon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

My Music is Africa’s Dream Sound –Daps

Daps in his studio

All my life in Jos, I have never heard a jingle that as creative as it. It is that Hausa jingle, which started getting aired last year, 2016, on Peace FM 90.5. It urges the people of Plateau State to unite for its prosperity: ku zo mu daga Plato ta ci gaba.

I never suspected that the very jingle had been made by Daps, one of Jos town’s most talked-about and long-reigning music artists.  This is because his vocal idiosyncrasy did not manifest in the jingle. So, I was shocked when the Plateau Radio-Television Corporation’s, PRTVC’s, Director of Programmes, Sunday Ali Gyang, told me Daps made it. 

I met Daps at his studio in Kabong, at the Gada Biyu suburb of the city. I had heard his voice for over ten years, but had never set eyes on him. He wasn’t anywhere close to the picture that I had built in my head: short, with a crude look. 

Daps said the rhythm and the message in the jingle just came naturally. Given that the song actually exudes a Plateau ambience, I asked how he achieved that. His answer was simple: “it is a gift.” Then he adds, “I love ethnic sounds. My music is Africa’s dream sound.”  As to why the voice does not sound like the voice we are used to hearing, he revealed that; even though he wrote, founded the melody, and produced the song; his younger brother, Sha Gwom, and an obscure security guard who is responsible for that Central Plateau feel in the jingle, performed it.

This jingle is the latest of Dap’s jingles for PRTVC. Before it, he had two other jingles for the pioneer radio station, one of which has been aired for more than ten years.  But in my opinion, this recent one is the greatest. It is original, not just because it talks about the uniqueness of Plateau State, but because, listening to it deeply, you get the impression that the maker was, from the beginning, conscious of the need to approach the music from an astonishing angle and was able to achieve just that.

Done with the jingle issues, I then asked Daps about his international connections that saw him working with other artists from around the world. He talked about one Margaret Motsage from South Africa, James Vincent from Texas-USA, and the Spanish Project in North America, etc. Daps has also done international movie soundtracks and was nominated for one of the best African Soundtracks for the movie, Seventy Six, which was released this February. 

Daps is of the opinion that if upcoming artists really want to actualize their music dreams, they need mentors. It is the mentor that guides an artist towards designing his music style. According to him, “skill is good and comes naturally, but there is a limit to where it takes you, and there is a limit to where discipline can take you. The mentor brings discipline into the musician. The best musician is not he that is skilful. It is he that is disciplined.”