Many years back, things were quite different in the Nigerian music industry. There were no digital media platforms like blogs, Twitter, Instagram and streaming platforms. New music was majorly discovered by listening to the radio or watching Tv or from DJ mixes. In the era before the internet became a big deal, even though Nigerian music wasn’t as diverse, we enjoyed banging songs from a number of talented artists. The entertainment scene was dominated by acts like Tuface, D’banj, Mo-Hits, P-Square, Omawumi, 9ice, and many others.
The Nigerian music landscape has recorded a lot of progress in the past few years. Not only has music consumption been redefined, but the creative processes of artists have also changed completely. The advent of the internet and social media has heavily influenced the entire field of music, making the creation of music and marketing it take different shapes as opposed to traditional means. The attention span of the audience has grown shorter as there is an influx of artists in the Nigerian music industry. Back in the days of Mo-Hits and the likes, there were only a few notable names who were consistent with their craft. There were many one-hit wonders, but those who could survive the tide were those who were able to maintain relevance no matter what it took.
It is imperative for an artist to constantly evolve while remaining true to his or her roots/origin. This is one of the things that helps artists remain relevant for a long period of time. It is evident in the careers of artists like M.I, TuBaba, Don Jazzy, and many others. They study the industry and fit whatever is the current order in their sound and imaging. As an artist, your utmost duty is to satisfy your audience while ensuring to deliver quality content. It is even much more important now that the competition in the industry is stiff and the fans have become much more conscious towards music. There is a medley of artists who are regular in the release of superlative musical content and this has made it easier for music fans to switch allegiance.
Some Nigerian artists have worked extremely hard to inscribe their names in the list of legendary musicians. Artists such as D’banj, P-square, MI, Tubaba, Timaya have toiled to earn their reputation. They have successfully managed to stand the test of time and are highly recognized locally and globally. They paved way for many other Nigerian acts and walked on thorny grounds so that another generation of artists could run on smooth grounds. Their OG status can never be challenged. They would forever be known as pacesetters and whenever music discussions come up, it is inevitable for their names not to be mentioned.
When you reach OG status (like Jay Z in Hip-hop) you have to do everything possible not to jeopardize it. You begin to make the kind of moves that business tycoons make. You approach the music business in a smarter way, controlling the scenes from the background. Chances are that the sound has evolved so much that you are no longer as smooth as you used to be. At this point, you become very selective and careful with the kind of content you put out. There has to be a balance. You don’t want to sound old school neither do you want to lose your original style. It is expected that you avoid ridiculing yourself because you are trying to blend in (imagine a DMX trying to pull a Tekashi69 just to get some buzz).
This is what I expect from our OGs. The Nigerian sound is not what it was a few years back. Only a few artists like Tubaba, MI, Timaya have managed to repeatedly refine their sound to satisfy mainstream. Without necessarily mentioning names, the OGs in the game ought to shift their focus away from making music to working on creating more efficient structures which can be really beneficial to emerging artists. They should invest more in new artists with fresh sounds instead of trying to whip a dead horse in the name of making music. It does not necessarily mean they have lost the sauce but rather that they no longer need to compete with fresher acts. Judging by the songs most of these OGs (with the exception of a select few) have put out recently, it would make more sense for them to operate from behind the scenes and not soil their legendary status with subpar content.