While lots of pundits criticise Nigerian music for its lack of content, nobody can argue against the fact that Nigerian music has taken over the African continent. We even had protests in Kenya calling for a ban on Nigerian music, from their radio stations and clubs so as to give their indigenous artistes the chance to showcase their stuff.
So why is Nigerian music popular on the African continent and even making waves internationally even with its ‘apparent’ lack of content? Well there is no one single reason but a combination of reasons which are outlined below.
1. It’s A Numbers Game
Lets face it, it’s not actually a level playing field. Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa with close to 200 million citizens. Some states in Nigeria are more populous than some African countries. So of course Nigerians produce more music content on the continent than their neighbours.
This does not mean Nigerian music is the best, in my opinion about 70% of them is crap. But the few good ones they produce, simply outnumbers the ones produced by other African countries, it’s just simple maths.
2. Their Diverse Cultures
Nigeria is a mix mash of over 500 tribes. Each with their unique cultures and style of music. This provides a vast resource of samples and styles for our artistes and contributes to the richness of our music.
A close listen to some of their songs will reveal different elements not only from the different ethnic groups they have, but also from Africa and the world at large.
3. They are innovative
Nigerians have very little faith in their government. Quite frankly they never expect anything from them. You want something done, you get it done yourself.
Back in the 90’s when Nigerian music was hardly ever played by any local station, because of its lack of quality, rather than take to the streets carrying placards like some of our African brothers, they accepted responsibility.
They started by cloning foreign music (mainly American), and from there blended it with their local style, forming a fusion of Western and African and called it Afropop. Ghanaians also developed their brand of music which they called Hiplife.
Gradually Afropop grew in quality and replaced foreign music in clubs, parties and radio stations, to the point that over 90% of songs played in Nigeria right now is produced in Nigeria.
They did not blame others for their inadequacies, they simply forged a way forward.
4. They Are Rich
Pound for pound Nigerians are the richest people in Africa. They have more money to invest compared to other African countries.
This can easily be seen in the quality of the music videos they produce. MTV Africa announced that Nigerian music artistes produce the best music videos in Africa. The global growth of their music industry anchors on this.
5. Sheer Charisma And Bravado
The pair of Peter and Paul Okoye
Of course there’s no denying the Nigerian swag which naturally transcends into everything they do. Ladies naturally love swag (which is why African ladies love Nigerian men and why their men hate them) and as we all know, it’s women that determine music trends. Besides nothing makes music more believable than confidence.
6. They Are More Exposed
Nigerians are more exposed than their African neighbours. Yes I know other countries would argue, but it’s the simple truth. Nigerians are naturally curious, adventurous and more industrious. They travel more in search of greener pastures and bring back foreign cultures with them.
In the late ’60s, Fela the Nigerian musical genius journeyed to Ghana to find a new melodic direction. It was there that he first called his music Afrobeat.
7. Population Of Nigerians In Other Countries
Nigerians of course are avid travelers. There is no African country that there is not a strong Nigerian community, some in their millions. And as they travel they bring along their music and import the latest ones from home.
For this reason their movies and music are readily available in almost all African countries while the reverse is the case for the other countries. Which is a pity when you consider the large market Nigeria has. Any musician that is a hit there, always smiles to the bank.
Hate them or not, Nigerians are the best at what they put their mind to do and not just in Africa. Unfortunately, this applies to both the good and the bad. Their booming music and movies industries though, happens to falls into the good category.