It is no longer news that Nigerian music is earning global acceptance and listening. This has been happening a long time before now but there is hardly any Nigerian musician who has achieved mainstream height at home, Africa and outside of Africa at the same time.
For a long time, Africans have been doing fine within their continent even before the social and electronic media came to our aid. African music has always found a way to diffuse freely within the continent. African arts such as Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Brenda Fassie, Nel Oliver, Angelina Kidjo, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Awilo Longomba, Koffi Olomide, Magic Systeme and more have made music that cut across boundaries.
However, African sounds have been good and yet, quite creepy at the same time on the mainstream. Some African acts are raving and more appreciated outside of their country. Yeah, there are. Wizboy and J Martins are faring much better in the francophone West African countries, these guys are big stars there and better off there where they appreciate their works. Angelina Kidjo is an international artiste and has won the Grammies but in her country, Benin, I wonder how many people listen to her. The like of Awilo Longomba and Magic Systeme were the Francophone artiste to breakthrough into Anglophone Africa countries. A lot of dynamic attributes to African music and waving outside of the continent. Many that did so well outside of the continent hardly fare well in Africa.
Well, it is the 21st century and thanks to the digital age and globalization, the world just got smaller. And all of the International record labels that have left Africa are coming back signing our artiste. Well, this time something phenomenal is about to happen and they know it and the signs are here.
Afrobeat is about to take over the sound waves. We have been on a question for too long and it is, are these young African arts doing Afrobeat or Afropop? We are confused about their genre of music but I think this is it. Afrobeat is beyond a genre of music, it is a lifestyle, a culture and a movement.
The late legendary Fela who started Afrobeat had always had this ‘Africanness’ in everything he did. Afrobeat music has surpassed a genre. Let’s us demystify the Afrobeat element. Today, Afrobeat is a subculture. It is the way Nigerian music is made today; the use of Pidgin English, the African swagger and carriage, the African fashion and the mélange of African and western sound. There is a heavy Afrobeat influence in a lot of ‘Naija music’ today but unfortunately, on a greater measure has lacked the revolutionary trend. It has delved deeply into materialism and the fast life.
Nigerian artiste such as Wizkid, Davido and Tekno are the recognized bearer of Afrobeat to the world which has led to the question of ‘who international pass’. Presently, there are two contenders which are Wizkid and Davido. These days, Nigerian artistes hardly do well at home and oversea.
Wizkid is a phenomenal artiste and is a harbinger of hope shone to the world already. He is a legend and I think he is well-deserved one, he has paid his dues. This is a guy that has been in the studio since the age of 11, made his first recording 3 years after and have watched the great artiste like 2face, Sound Sultan, Naeto C do their thing in the studio. He was under the tutelage of one of Nigeria’s best pioneering and veteran modern Naija sounds music producer, OJB who is now late. Wizkid has been in the underground for too long and when it was time to pop out of the caterpillar. A new breed of music artiste came out entirely.
He is one of the hottest that ever did it, as at between the year 2012 to 2015. Wizkid dropped vibes that were banging the chart and street on the somewhat monthly basis. From his own songs to those on which he was featured on and some we felt was his.
Another Nigeria artiste who did this was Olamide Badoo. Olamide is the most hardworking Nigerian artiste I have ever known. ‘That guy sef para’ Track after tracks, he has been giving it to us ‘hot hot’. For the past four consecutive years, he has been releasing two albums per year and delivers so well on every one of them. Last two years, it was three and the second was ‘Street Kings’, a joint album alongside Phyno. Both rappers have held it strong in the industry with their ‘Street take over’ Well, Olamide seem not to be concerned about the international feel. Let’s say he is just doing his thing.
Back to Wizkid, he is an international figure already and achieved a milestone with his collaboration with Drake on the global hit, “One Dance”, which reached number one in 15 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. He is one of the richest and bankable artiste in Africa. He decided to sign to Sony Music after he was to choose between offers from either Sony Music and Warner Bros. He joined Chris Brown on his “One Hell of a Nite” world tour in May 2016. In addition, he has been nominated five times at the MTV Europe Music Awards, three times at the American Music Awards, once at the Grammy Awards, as well as four times at the World Music Awards. Plus, he has a good working relationship with international artiste such as TY Dolla $ign, Future, Rihanna, Young Jeezy, Wale, Damian Marley and more and has collaboration he is yet to do and release.
His latest body of work, Sound From The Other Side (SFTOS) which is somehat a EP is a success. “Come Closer” in which he featured Drake was another. He is major, give it to him or not.
Davido, on the other hand, is waxing strong and seem to be too hot at home. “If” is one of the biggest songs this year and even the great RnB legend, R Kelly had to do a cover of the song. Like that wasn’t enough, he broke out with “Fall” which is even far buzzing that “If”. He has a couple of international stints going on too. In June 2015, Davido dropped his collaboration with Meek Mill titled “Fans Mi” and lately released the long awaited track, “Pere” featuring Rae Sremmurd and Young Thug. He’s got it going on in the international scene too. The icing on the cake for Davido, was his 2016 distribution deal with Sony Music. His EP, Son Of Mercy was good but fair in outreach and didn’t reach expectation. Davido, notwithstanding is a dynamite to blow. Only time will tell.
Tekno, the golden boy of Africa made his first imprint in the industry in 2013 with “Holiday” featuring Davido. However, he began the big bang last year 2016 and his music began to transcend beyond the boundaries of Nigeria. Tracks like “Pana”, “Duro”, “Rara” and “Yawa” have made Tekno, no doubt the golden boy of Africa. He was one of Africa’s hottest last year but this year, he has gone somewhat cold after “Yawa”. He still has Africa is his grip, notwithstanding. However, trying to play into the ‘international’ contest with the likes of Davido and Wizkid is still a big deal for him. He can still surpass them even it appears he has pulled out of the drag. However, his dexterity as a musician and producer gives him an edge.
There is this guy, no one is talking about and he is like fire blowing through dry leaves. He made his breakthrough last year from Accra to Lagos. He is the originator of Banku music and he is doing great and wonderful. He goes by the name, Mr Eazi.
Mr Eazi broke through with “Hold Up” and has been doing good ever since. “Leg over” has been smashing the chart and street and has been receiving global listening. Recently, he even performed on The Late Late Night Show in the US where he gave an electrifying live performance and he is tagged by Apple Music as ‘afrobeats movement’s rising star’. He is making global wave as the fusion of popular West Africa sound, urbanizing the trend. Mr Eazi is a musical whirlwind from Africa and knows no bounds. On a low, he is one of the most sought after artiste but his mouth seems to be loose cannon that unfortunately, may not make him ‘blow’.
Wizkid, Davido, Tekno and Mr Eazi are having their international swings.
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