As a child, my passion for music was not as vociferous as it now is. I was more interested in watching the cartoons like Flintstones, Jetsons and football matches. However, I am pretty sure of one thing, for those who liked music, it was unheard of to go around shouting about your passion for Nigerian music. It was something you did on the low key or ‘Under G‘ as Sauce Kid would say.
Fast forward to the year, 2004, fresh off the dissolution of the collective Plantashun Boyz, 2Face Idibia released ’African queen‘. With that song, the raised eyebrows local music received within my social circles diminished instantly. Everywhere you went, all you heard was ‘You are my African queen, the girl of my dreams’. On the back of this song, 2Face received critical acclaim across the globe, with the song featuring in the B List Hollywood movie ’Phat Girls‘.
Not long after, D’banj with Don Jazzy as his partner and corroborator returned from the United Kingdom to see what the local scene held for him. Before you could say ‘It’s Don Jazzy again’, he was the MAN. ‘Kokolet, ‘the koko’, ‘tongolo’ entered the dictionary. He built on this with ‘Why me‘, which helped in solidifying the reign of Mo’Hits as the reigning collective.
D’banj might gain criticism for his supposed limited lyrical ability, in his stead Dare Art Alade fresh off his placing as 3rd at the African version of Fame Academy; ‘Project Fame‘ was able to resurrect R&B in our shores whilst also ensuring those who took fault with D’banj had deep lyrics to be pleased.
The Nigerian scene was facing a steady growth, P Square had become household acts, Faze was on a high, and Modenine was budding. The local music had revived itself from ‘outcast’ status to preferred choice. With this, artistes of Nigerian heritage based abroad like Naeto C, Ikechukwu and Banky W returned home. ‘My Name is Ikechukwu‘ was a hit and convinced rapper Ikechukwu that his calling was to cater to his people first. Banky W’s remix of Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella‘, this time replacing it with ‘Ebute Metta‘ made us smile as we engaged on a trip of some sort round the geo political zones. Naeto C’s ‘Sitting on top’ and ‘You know my p’ told us who he was. ‘Kini big deal’ signified his rise to household name. M.I too returned home and made us the ‘Talk about it‘ album.
What next? How does one sustain a project that has shown steady growth? You look at the world around you and cater to it. 2Face once again the trendsetter, looked to R. Kelly for help. This collaboration raised eyebrows amongst the general population who felt it was unoriginal. Although people like Sound Sultan and eLDee da Don had worked with acts like Wyclef Jean and Young Joc respectively, this one gained the most attention. In 2010, we saw Femi Kuti receive a Grammy Award nomination. Femi had been previously nominated in 2003 whilst King Sunny Ade takes the honour of being the first Nigerian to receive such critical acclaim after being nominated for Grammy’s in 1987 and 1988. We are in the third month of 2011, and we have had Tiwa Savage receive a Grammy Award nomination based on her co-writing a song off Fantasia Barrino‘s album. Let’s not forget the Mo’Hits and Snoop Dogg collaboration that has gained so much attention. Then came the tweet from Kanye West. If you haven’t heard about it, this is how it read; ‘@kanyewest: Yo @iamdbanj and @donjazzymohits get back to NY asap there is still work to be done’. Kanye freaking West?! 14 time Grammy Award winner was asking our own D’banj and Don Jazzy to come and complete what we assume is a collaboration. In a short while, the Mo’Hits label has put Nigeria on the globe. They weren’t satisfied with Snoop Dogg, they went for bigger fishes. Not to forget, last week Darey announced collaboration with another Grammy Award winner, Chamillionaire.
My message? Hard work and persistence does not kill. Nothing is impossible. The growth of the Nigerian Music industry in this short while proves this. So when next that little task proves difficult, remember D’Banj and Kanye West are working on something together and let it spur you on. When next your road is rough, think of what the product would look like. Never lose the faith, never lose the plot. Everything will make sense one day. (As cliché as it is, notice how the word ‘Impossible’ looks very much like I’ m possible)
This post first appeared on Readers Island, please read the originial post: here