I know you’ve read a lot of philosophical publications. I know you still remember every verse of Plato’s writings and you could quote all William Shakespeare’s lines worth knowing. But hey! We are not here to hear about that. And I know I know nothing…
I know you probably grew up among men who played The Beatles, girls who loved Boys II Men, university students who banged to the beat of 2pac’s ‘California Love’ and I know your mom loved Onyeka Onwenu and probably had a crush on Sunny Okosun. But hey…! This is not your growing up days, the name Sunny Okosun means nothing to my girl-friend, my nephew doesn’t have any connection to ‘Changes’ or ‘Dear Mama’ and lots of my age mates would be bored to death if they happen to be forced to listen to any of The Beatle’s album. You know why? In Ten seconds, Usain Bolt could go from being worried about winning a race to having people around him, hugging him for breaking yet another record. If that could happen in such short time frame, you can only imagine what would happen or had happened in decades.
I know you think Wizkid is overrated. I know you’ll rather spend your whole day dreaming of having a great burial when you die than listen to Olamide. I know you hate Davido’s guts and you think Yemi Alade does better showing off her cleavage than singing something worth listening to. And I know you can’t remember the last time you asked yourself ‘Who the fuck am I?’
I have issues with people who call any form of art commercial. I really don’t know what commercial music, painting, movie or literature means. Yeah… Yeah… I know you think J. K. Rowling is shallow but some kids would rather freeze to death, waiting for her next magical publications than read your greatest author’s work. So, let’s get real.
Don’t get this mixed up. I love arts, from every dumb painting I see by street corners to award winning movies and block-busters. I just don’t love people who think that the art they feel too intellectual to like are mundane, dumb or commercial. I really hate it when you think Iyanya should get a life, or curse Timaya, say trash about D’Banj or hate on my lovely Seyi Shey.
Ever wondered why Shakespeare wasn’t appreciated by his contemporaries when he was still alive. Ever wondered why critics hate Michael Bay as much as American Teenagers and kids love his movies? Art’s feet are swifter than Bolt’s. That’s why you don’t need a doctorate degree in music to get the highest download on I-tunes. All you need is a deep connection to your art, a deep connection to your immediate society and a deeper connection to the universe.
Wizkid’s voice may not be rated over Djinee’s or Etcetera’s or what’s the name of that guy who once won some West African music reality show? His lyrics may not be as intellectual as Bez’s or Cobham’s or Mode 9’s. But kids and Teenagers love him. Coz he’s a fine boy? I bet Timaya is too…
Life is enough nightmares. When we shut our eyes, we only want to dream. Sometimes our dreams seem too hard or impossible to reach, so we don’t want to waste time struggling to achieve them. Sometimes, they seem too shallow, dirty or evil, so we keep them to ourselves and avoid sharing them with others.
Then, someday, someone from nowhere gets high or becomes courageous enough to hop to a booth, scream about those dreams and slice the melody into some toe-trapping beat. What choice do you have but to dance to it and pretend you’re lip-syncing to some music, whereas you are just projecting out loud; your suppressed desires and dreams. When that nobody puts on some cloth you can’t afford, hang around some naked bodies you wish you could cum on, hop into a ride you use for your wall-paper and drives out from a house that can only be in your most colourful dream, you would be left with no choice but to play that video till you start feeling you could have them all. With that, your day is made and you wouldn’t worry about the traffic in Lagos, our regular power interruptions or your bitchy girl-friend.
So, don’t tell me that those guys sing trash. You just don’t understand Carl Jung’s Analytical Psychology. Don’t tell me the world scorns at intellectualism, the world only scowls at people too interested in showing what they know to care about what the world longs for. Wizkid and co may not understand a hoot about the subconscious or unconscious mind, the id, ego and other psychology terms, but they’ve associated with enough people and have minds open enough to unconsciously flow with the average guy’s fantasies. That is what every music critic should respect about them. And don’t be surprised when in twenty years’ time, people study Tuface, Tiwa Savage, D’Banj, Yemi Alade, P-Square, Chidinma, Wizkid, Seyi Shey, Banky-W, Waje, Don Jazzy, Omawunmi, Olamide, Simi, Phyno, Davido, Iyanya and co in school. That’s impossible, right? Study history, the classics of today were yesterday’s contemporary art; in many cases, yesterday’s trash. The popularity or general appreciation of art has nothing to do with logic but everything to do with universality. The teenagers and youths, who grew up enjoying those seemingly trashy songs, grow up, defining their taste of music with them in mind. When old, they’d still fall back to those songs and hate on the changes new comers are bringing in to the art. So, while old, an average guy of my age may still hold 2face and co as his standard of good music. But then, it would have changed to something else. In other words, is the style of the music the problem or your old fashioned music taste?
Now you may want to blame our music taste on Nigerian audience’s intellect. But we still listen to Asa. We loved Bez’s Stupid Song, shout aloud with Nneka when she sings ‘Heart-beat’, go moody with Darey whenever he performs ‘Not The Girl’, wish to be Rich and Famous when we play Praiz’ magnum opus, and cudgel our blames when Cobham Asuquo strikes his keyboard. You know why? The attachment we have for music goes beyond their genre to how they speak to us. And when a song has universal or cultural elements and sound intellectual too, we would play it and ask Google the genre afterwards.
Don’t get me wrong. You could play your Whitney Houston, or even dig up some Mozart but please, don’t curse or insult those young people who literally live in studios and slave themselves to provide young Nigerians’ insatiable need for entertainment. Leave their songs for them if you don’t like them but don’t call them formless. They may not fit into all the genres of music you’ve studied but that’s not enough reason to call them trash. If they should be termed anything, they should be…
This is how I want to end this long talk. Listen, lemme play you some Simi before you start asking me some ‘Jamb Questions’…
The full title is ‘In Critique of Those Who Criticise Nigerian Contemporary Music’