‘It’s love songs season now oo’, Ego said while we were having our routine discussion about music. My wife doesn’t keep her knowledge to just medicine alone, she extends it to music and most times she is spot on about her points. I acknowledged that statement she made and posited that, it’s not just love songs but there is a general trend of beautiful lyrics, I call them ‘good songs’, coming back to the fore. Simple words, brilliant composition and well laid out melodic songs are top of the charts now and this is no coincidence. In music generally, there are always trends either influenced by what is happening in the society or by what the fans attention show they want to listen to. There was a time when songs like ‘African Queen”, Banky W ‘Capable”, Paul Play ‘Mo sorire’ were the top hits, songs that were lyrically crafted and beautifully composed. Then there came a time when it was ‘street’ as artists like Terry G and co came to the fore. Lamba is a common parlance in Nigerian music, which simply means a fad word or slang that can catch the crowd. Lamba season birthed a lot of stars where the emphasis was on finding the right word, phrase or Lamba that can penetrate the market. It was all about the lamba and not the lyrics. Even in the cases where the artists put work in the lyrics, the emphasis was still on the Lamba.
Years ago, I was in a studio with a renowned producer and a couple of upcoming artists who were trying to make music. The producer complained the artist was singing too much and I thought, is the purpose of making the song not to sing? Afterwards, the producer explained to me that he was only trying to help the artist, at that point no one was really listening to lyrics but Lamba, it was the peak of lamba season then. If you sang too much, you would be tagged a ‘singito’. Sense practically became nonsense and nonsense made sense. You just needed to invent one word or phrase or use a common word or phrase to catch attention. Deliberately crafting words and lyrics was made to look outdated as you only needed to get high and mutter some freestyle with the right Lamba. Current trends however suggest that singing is coming back to the fore. With artists like Chike, Oxlade, Omah Lay, Joeboy and Fireboy all ripping of the charts with beautiful songs. One might want to argue that Corona Virus and subsequent lockdowns helped kill the buzz of party songs and commercial anthems. However, it is noteworthy that at the height of the Zanku reign, Fireboy’s -Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps earned reviews that suggested a shift was coming.
That project is arguably one of the best musical work of 2019 with its feature simple song composition and arrangement a beauty. Zanku era was always going to come to an end and people wondered what’s next and it appears that it is lyrics season now. Zanku originator himself Zlatan went into the booth recently and came out a brilliant rap track ‘Road to CDK’. For so long after blowing up, Zlatan had undermined his lyrical ability, sacrificing that talent he possesses for Lamba. Rather than shouting ‘Astallah astallavi’, Zlatan chewed up the track with applied poetry demonstrating his undoubted talents. A look at the charts confirms the trend that it is lyrics over lamba, the top 10 songs feature not the regular commercial songs that have been topping the charts in years past. It has mid-tempo songs like Omah Lay – Bad Influence, Simi – Duduke, Adekunle Gold – Something Different and Wande Coal – Again amongst others. Is this new trend here to stay? Have we gotten over Zlatan and Naira Marley? Well, time would tell but for now let us enjoy the rise of lyricism again in Nigerian music. The crooners are topping the charts now, not the Shaku Shaku Kings or Zanku lords and the thing with ‘good music’ is that they last long.
Many commercial songs do not last long because they were created with a trend and once that trend is over, the music dies a natural death. Commercial/lewd music fuels our adrenaline, the dim lights, the speakers all programme us to dance with abandon. You actually need some level of intoxication to be able to do some of these dances. ‘Good Music’ mostly becomes evergreen, I can imagine Simi’s Duduke being an evergreen in 20 years’ time but can I say the same of Zlatan – Egungun be Careful remix? Definitely No! Time and tide change so does seasons change. It is lyrics season now, let the lyrics play.
Image Credit – punuwasu.com