In every society, music has served man in many ways throughout civilization. Generations have gained enlightenment by the sheer power of beautiful lines stringed together into sweet melody.
Great musicians have inspired hopes in the face of despair, mobilized people to drive social changes and inspired optimism in the darkest hours in human history. As times have changed, some virtues may have been lost, unfortunately.
While the razzmatazz and glamour, as portrayed by musicians in certain genres of music—Hip-Hop and Afrobeats— have seen thousands of young men and women develop interest in music careers, popular music is killing many, the three weeks of chart-topping of the tickling-beats-with-toxic words-songs regardless.
Back to the young men and women dreamers.
Overall, hitting gold in the Nigerian music industry is hard, to put it mildly. Like everywhere else, it takes much more than what the up-and-coming artists think. Ask 2face, Wizkid, Davido or Timaya about their journey to the top and you will hear how you need to “hone your skill”, “work hard” and other buzzwords.
But we know how these things work!
We know that if you want to hack it in music, and entertainment as a whole, your ability to sing is not even your most reliable resource. Music careers are not built on singing skills. They are not built on connections to some higher influences either. If they were, B-Red, D’Prince, K-Switch and others would be bigger than many artists of today.
It’s all about image selling
Nigeria’s music industry is a big part of Show Business; the business that sells the pre-painted image of the artist to the public.
In this territory, nobody cares about your talent. The elements of the Show Business are not as concerned with your talent as they are with the money they can make off your musical career.
It is pure business. Nobody cares about you. Your only shot at success in this path is your ability to make money for those that are instrumental to your career success.
The music industry, at every time, is divided into categories of images that artists sell in their music—drug abuse, gangster, objectification of women, romance, sex, intimidation, lavish lifestyles cyber fraud, and all. These categories are more like operational niches for these artists. That is how they promote their music and build relevance.
These artists through their music market certain value systems to their audiences. While some of them practice the vices they sell through their music, many others are plainly acting.
All for the camera?
It came as a shock when, in 2019, Slimcase, announced that he neither drinks nor smokes. According to him, he is “just a good actor”. I couldn’t have believed this if he hadn’t said it by himself. Who would? The guy acts like he is on drugs every time.
The fact that his true character is different from what he shows his audience further underscores the notion that while some artists may be promoting the use of certain intoxicating substances – because they actually are heavy consumers of the same – for many others, it is purely business.
Future, the American whose lyrics exalts the use of drugs, has through his songs and in order to sell his music through his ‘public image’, presented drugs use as a means to manage personal travails and miseries, while he deliberately stays away from drugs.
The music world has promoted these values through artists for a long time. The unsuspecting fans, on their part, have become comfortable with the consumption of the contents of these musicians that the society has been driven to the edge of many evils, no thanks to contemporary musicians, who just want to make a buck, not minding the implications of their lyrics and art on the public.
To cut a long story short…
Music, just like every other human endeavour, has become more commercial today than ever before. And selling social vices and vain lifestyles and values as a way to view other persons has become like a stage name that musicians use for their singing engagements and revert to their real names when the show is over.
The only problem is that stage names are more or less harmless, while the messages of our favorite musicians shape our lives, positively or negatively, forever. When all is said and done, how how music shaped the society for good outweights the allure of money, blings and flings.
Tomorrow matters today!