Saturday, July 21, 2018

Music and Your Community

I had just finished watching one of Tekno’s music videos when I decided to write this.  The video brought to mind the immense musical talent of the artist. I was compelled to recall a well-popularized fiasco when he performed in Kenya, sometimes in 2017, when I was left wondering how things went wrong for one who is so vastly talented.  

What often comes to mind, each time I recall that Kenya incident, is what a Kenyan fan had said while spitting his frustration. The guy posted on Facebook, that Kenyans do not wish to shape their music in the path of the Nigerian music industry. The statement could mean that he knows that Kenyan music was supposed to sound Kenyan. But since no Nigerian had asked Kenyans to design their music to sound Nigerian, the implication is that he is ignorant that music is supposed to mirror the community from which it is born.

Music is an art. Art is the creation of beauty. Art will never expect Kenyans to design their music to sound Nigerian. If you come to Nigeria, you will know that we listen to music from everywhere around the world. Even though we listen to all these forms, we only get inspired to create music that is ours, music in which you find the Nigerian character, notably in the parlance, dance, costume, and remnants of Nigeria’s music past.

So, what is expected from Kenyan music artists is for them to get inspiration by any good music, not minding where it comes from. The spin from the music would then trigger new songs, songs that would endure through generations. Yes, music that mirrors society from where it was created endures, as it makes the people proud, playing what they feel belongs to them. On the other hand, music that fails to reflect the community from which it comes is fleeting, like a candle in the rain.

To end this, I want to recount what I learned reading the history of Reggae. According to the article, Reggae is the end result of the mimicry of American pop. The music evolved to embody a Jamaican identity, a character in which there is only a small fragment of the American music culture. It is the same with Nigerian contemporary music industry. When it started, I was a strong critic of the music, asking why there is that constant effort to sound American. But just about a decade and a half later, we can confidently say that we have finally found our own music independence as well. If the Kenyan music industry is still uncharacteristic of Kenya, they should just carry on. Eventually, it will begin to reflect a Kenyan identity.